Several games featured different components powered by artificial intelligence, including car racing, shooting, and strategy. For instance, neutral characters or enemy bots are the excellent use of AI in games. The main objective of Game AI is to share a realistic gaming experience with players while playing on a virtual platform. Also, it helps retain players, increasing interest and satisfaction rates for a longer time than usual.
The division AI and game development are growing side by side; currently, games are being designed with AI algorithms to improve their visual effects and patterns. The gaming industry's future depends on developing artificial environments with virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality. It's a significant step to incorporate AI in game development to make them more interactive and smarter than ever before.
1. How Will AI Transform the Way of Video Game Designing and Playing?
AI let’s play! AI runs on great information given to it and uses this data to make characters able to live and perform basic actions. The important data generated via AI is used to create a virtual environment with different scenarios based on the characters' game, actions, and motives and make them realistic. AI algorithms are given specific information to get exceptional responses for a specific stimulus. A great amount of data is required to train AI algorithms that are not easily accessible and making it challenging to apply in all fields; rather, its features are limitless.
2. Do AI Games Use Actual Artificial Intelligence?
AI is a broad term and not necessarily a model that learns from gamers' actions. In 1958, William Higinbotham developed the first video game, "Tennis for Two", by working at the Brookhaven National Laboratory. Space-war was the first computer-based game created by Steve Russell from MIT; this game was developed on a PDP-1 mainframe computer. Both games were made without the involvement of AI, and it was not even considered a feature of smart video games. Space invaders, Pong, and Donkey Kong were the seminal games using simple and scripted rules. Early AI was used in stored patterns, for instance, hardcoded AI in alien design in Space Invaders. The player must shoot the aliens before they reach the bottom screen; in this way, the movement of aliens was pre-coded in a stored pattern.
The use of artificial intelligence terms in game development is inaccurate as most game developers are not real researchers. An AI programmer doesn’t need deep knowledge regarding artificial intelligence from an academic perspective. The reason might be due to the two facts:
- Firstly, AI is a giant branch of computer science, and it is not as simple as it seems to incorporate its complex models in games.
- Secondly, the major goal of games is to entertain players. There are easy tricks and ways to solve the puzzles effectively. The players are not interested in the involvement of AI in games as they will not buy a game only because the developer installed complicated algorithms in it.
It is good for game designers to understand the academic concept of AI techniques for game programming. Further, most general video games use only pre-decided patterns to be followed. The earliest video game, Pong, only allows opponents to face each other. However, opponents under computer control were developed in the early computer space (1971). A fast expansion was seen in artificial intelligence in the last years as the technologies and techniques behind it are promising to improve lives through every aspect. But one of these applications is the use of AI in video games that comes with no economic advantages. Here, the concept of NPCs (in-games non-person characters or bots) is not considered as these are the basic game part and developed with AI to give them a real-like look. The focus is on the actual AI processes involved in playing a video game like a human or independent character when buttons are pressed on the controller side.
3. Use Of AI in Games Development
I. AI in Pathfinding
The key to the success of any game depends on the fast speed it provides, and here AI plays a significant role. Pathfinding in the games with the best AI is related to detecting the shortest route or path between two points that gaming characters must cross. Thanks to artificial intelligence, pathfinding is a difficult task to win the video game. It means that NPCs are trained to move from one place to another with passing all obstacles coming their way. Artificial intelligence provides enemies with the power to safely pass in a dynamic surrounding without colliding with other things in the way.
The core element of video games is intelligent pathfinding mechanisms, making the best AI in games. The moving character might be a person, a combat unit, or a vehicle; the genre can also be an action game, a role-playing game, a simulator, or a strategy-based game. Several algorithms involved in pathfinding are not much efficient, but their study help in introducing new concepts incredibly. A few games having smart AI-supported NPCs are XCOM, Enemy Unknown, Halo: Reach, and Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist.
Two commonly used AI algorithms for games to control NPCs are mentioned as:
Finite State Machine Algorithm: Most widely used way to control NPCs is using FSM or scripting decision tree. However, it has a drawback as a developer first considers all possible conditions that an NPC can face and then sets a specific reaction according to the situation. In this way, their actions become predictable and make it boring as a personalized gaming experience is lost. FSM-based video games, Call of Duty, Battlefield, and Tomb Raider are the games with good AI.
The Monte Carlo Search Tree Algorithm: MCST algorithm involves the transcendence of boundaries as in Deep Blue for pre-programming and results in adaptive learning. It uses random trials to react to a specific situation. Firstly, it was a good algorithm for making unique moves. It observes all possible moves of the human player in response and then makes the most appropriate move, and it goes on. Its name “search tree” comes from the occurrence of all possible moves like branches coming outward of a stem. The good examples of MCST algorithm applications are Total War: Rome II and Darkforest.
II. AI in Character Designing
Game character gives the player the original attraction and feels; unattentively created characters lack visual appeal and user interest. But the creation of a dynamic 3D character in smart video games is a big challenge as giving gestures and facial expressions to the character are not easy. Artificial intelligence-based 3D animation creation makes it easier to create unlimited 3D animations until the creator loves one of its created expressions.
III. AI in Object Detection
The latest technology involved in object detection is deep learning AI techniques. Modern gaming based on AI’s object detection technique offers a real-like immersive gaming experience via visuals. Intelligent tools like TensorFlow help in excellent object detection in video games.
IV. AI Algorithms for Games
The best game AI algorithms are significant in game development. For instance, researchers worked on the Minimax algorithm and said they introduced gaming theories in mixed things for intelligent game development. These strategic decision-making game theories are based on a mathematical formula to make corresponding decisions.
V. AI in Game Analytics
Like other fields, AI is also involved in offering revolutionary changes in gaming analytics. It offers better insights and freedom of fault evolution within a game development project quickly. Thanks to AI, as it becomes easier to detect problems in gam analytics, analysis suggests required changes and fixes them for a better gaming experience.
VI. AI Making Games More Realistic
Artificial intelligence comes with exceptional potential to improve the visuals of video games, making them more natural and realistic than ever before. Deep learning helps game characters and environments to mimic the real ones while algorithms understand the changing ever-growing game data. Smart video games appear more realistic when NPCs act like humans walking, moving, emotion-expressing, and running. Plus, the involvement of Virtual or Augmented Reality with AI opens new ways to add reality to the virtual gaming world. For instance, Pokémon Go is an augmented reality game that proved the future of video AI games as immersive and attractive. These are playable on mobiles, Playstation, Xbox, and computers.
VII. Smarter AI Characters in Video Games (NPCs)
One of the special applications of AI in video games is its potential to control the behavior of NPCs. The games without AI seem boring as there is no predictable change appearing during playing games. The real pleasure of playing video games is competing with NPCs that react unpredictably and surprise the player.
4. Seven Game Companies Using AI
Located in Copenhagen, Denmark, Apex Game Tools was founded in 2014. It comes with artificial intelligence solutions and tools for several game genres. APEX performed its research and the related work of other research universities and institutions in machine learning in video gaming, cybernetics, and algorithms.
One of the exceptional products developed by APEX is Utility AI that is made for computer games as a scoring framework. It offers various decisions, scores every potential choice, and then artificial intelligence does the work. Many companies and developers use APEX tools to empower their games. Utility AI is used to load a weapon, take over, attack, or fire in shooter games.
This digital interactive entertainment industry is located in Redwood City, California. The company is a global provider of gaming content and services to about 3 million gamers. EA strives to offer an exceptional portfolio of game franchises as EA Sports, Battlefield, The Sims, Madden NFL, and Need for Speed. Electronic Arts' experts recently developed a character that can play Battlefield 1. Besides this self-taught agent, the company also offered a 3D gaming environment to navigate deep learning networks.
Opsive is an indie company located in Raleigh, North Carolina, creating assets and games on the Unity development platform. Its unique AI solution, Behavior Designer product, specializes in creating behavior trees for Unity Engine. Further, this AI for game developers help them to produce agents with the shifting of the task; it results in the behavior development of non-player characters. Behavior Designer is currently used by various games, for instance, Immortal Redneck, A Dragon Named Coal, Warcube, and Creativerse.
It is a leading popular game development company in Irvine, California, with unique StarCraft, Warcraft, and Diablo games. StarCraft game has single and multiplayer modes in the strategy-based game. Researchers found it interesting for testing and analyzing AI implementation due to its real-time functioning. Artificial intelligence products mastered tasks such as broad game Go, but StarCraft popped up with new challenges where, unlike broad games, AI cannot see the entire space. Blizzard AI released SC2LE, a set of tools in partnership with Deep Mind to catalyze its strategic game StarCraft II as an environment to research AI.
In London, the leading AI research company DeepMind was created in 2010 and acquired by Google in 2014. The organization came with several research roots and was responsible for creating the computer program, AlphaGo which is used to play the old board Chinese game Go. The program trained thousands of amateur and professional games to learn the gaming strategy. The next version of artificial intelligence product is AlphaGo Zero that played against itself and learned the game by surpassing the human playing level. AlphaGo defeated a professional gamer in 2015 on a full-sized board. Moreover, highly expert game players are beaten by it.
This software company, functional in Miami, Florida, specializes in the research and development of advanced AI. Artificial Contender is its featured technology efficient at providing behavior capturing game agents. The agents created by this company are well-programmed and have a more natural developmental style as controllers train them to learn human behaviors better and to play styles than in simple AI games. AC technology is already used in sports games allowing athletes and real celebrities to train games according to their interests. The industrial impact of this technology was shown in the development of SONY’s This is FOOTBALL, where the agent can dribble, shoot, pass, and perform multiple tasks like professional players.
Spirit AI, located in London, England, specializes in developing digital interactions similar to humans via adopting artificial intelligence. The company came up with two exceptional AI products in the gaming industry having separate roles, Ally and Character Engine.
Ally uses machine learning in gaming and predictive analytics as an anti-bullying bot and identifies any abusive behavior or language within players’ chatrooms and communities. Its major purpose is to create a friendly gaming environment for all players without discrimination. It is currently used in online games for detection and intervention in harassment scenarios. However, the company is striving to make it available in virtual reality environments. SDK and an authoring tool, Character Engine, allows communication between digital characters and real players and makes it highly sophisticated via natural language processing. Its conversational context understanding enables characters to make the best response or create a new one.
The most beautiful thing in artificial gaming is creating a great environment and the presentation of exceptional scenarios. It is done by altering the intensity and flow of gameplay, making it more fun for the players. In the future, more games will be produced by AI controllers for a better user experience. Plus, AI for game developers provide them a ground to to test their codes and improve them at their best for incredibly rocking results. A game app developer, Logic Simplified believes in introducing new technologies to keep this ever-changing market up to date.