The simulation of human intelligence processes by machines and particular computing systems is what the world of artificial intelligence is all about. An intelligence that can mirror human thought and interaction to an extent where it can do certain jobs for them.
We have seen many applications of AI in industry sectors. In regards to the entertainment niche, Artificial Intelligence continues to diversify day by day operations. Video Games are an essential part of almost every person out there. After a tiring day of work, we all relax with a video game whether it is on our handheld device or dedicated gaming rig.
AI In Video Games
The goal of ai in video games is not limited to competitive gameplay. Rather intends to create the most enjoyable AI for players to compete with. The inclusion of AI in games dates back to the early 90s when Wolfstein 3D came out. But, the AI non-player character (NPC) was on its beginning level at that time. It implemented simple concepts. Such as evading the player’s attacks and attack when the appropriate time came, all in an enclosed finite state machine.
So now we can anticipate the AI in games we play nowadays. If you keep the above state machine in view, you can understand that there are only a few states where the AI will switch between. And these states essentially can be memorized. However, that is not always the case. An example is Dark Souls 3 in which the creators have programmed the AI to anticipate human mistakes. Essentially, this makes the game very unforgiving.
Types Of AI In Games
So essentially, there are two basic parts of an AI in games as per Julian Togelius, an associate professor at New York University which are pathfinding and finite state machines. All NPCs are in particular states and they navigate through them as you progress in the game. Hence, making decisions and introducing some sort of automation in the game.
We also need to understand that there is a difference between an AI system designed to interact with human players. And the other one aims to play a game with human-level intellect. The most popular is the IBM Deepblue which bested world champion and grandmaster Kasparov in a game of Chess:
While the human mind can remember a lot of patterns, it is no match for the memory of a machine and in the case of that match above, DeepBlue was capable of calculating millions of possible combinations in a second and memorizing the techniques of former opponents. Essentially, that served as a basis for the computer to get smarter and smarter until the time came that it was able to beat the grandmaster.
Learning Through Video Games
Trained AI is also capable of learning real-world skills through video games. For instance, in a team deathmatch where there are an AI commander and AI group members. The AI commander can offer an analysis of different combinations if a certain AI member had gone through a different route or chosen a different method of defeating the opponent. This is reinforcement learning and forms the basis of improvement for the NPCs. There is a lot more AI Research going on in the area.
Why Does AI In Gaming Matter?
In a world where competition is growing and people are constantly looking for improved experiences, there is no surprise that those in the world of gaming are on the lookout for tools and resources through which they can enhance the experience for their users.
The inclusion of AI in gaming, therefore, is simply aimed at doing just that. Enhancing the experience of players and making sure that each gamer gets a different experience on any particular device that they might use.
Gaming in today’s world is no more restricted to mere consoles or big desktops but is instead more mobile than it ever was. Gaming is now simply a part of everyday life with it finding its way onto the handheld, portable devices that have only added to its popularity.
Users now expect developers to provide them with immersive gaming experiences on multiple devices such as smartphones and VR headsets. All in an attempt to create an experience as they’ve never felt before.
How do developers then provide this to their users? That is where AI comes in; which helps to deliver console-like experiences across multiple device types while instituting a different experience each time.
How AI Is Revolutionizing The Gaming Industry
Let’s just look into various paths through which AI is transforming the gaming industry. Explore how it is coming up with new ideas rather than traditional gaming.
Making Games Smarter
A-based voice intelligence was already changing how certain games were relying upon. Now, these assistants are expanding their scope to incorporate even more intelligence into gaming genres.
The emphasis, therefore, going forward from these developers is to create stronger frameworks inside games through the utilization of design acknowledgment and reinforcement realizing which would enable in-game characters to ‘self-learn from their own behavior and evolve along the journey.
In simple words, this means that many characters within the game would be charting out their own individual paths based on their interactions with you. This makes the entire experience that much more interactive.
Making Games Real
About 10 years ago our video games would house graphics. They were known to be top-notch and any huge progression from that particular state was nothing more than a dream.
However, there have in fact been staggering progressions in 3D visualization techniques, physics-centered stimulation. Moreover, the incorporation of VR/AR within games that have enabled the creation of visuals that might not have been envisioned a decade ago and take the user to the virtual world.
Gamers too, on the other hand, don’t really need just great animations anymore but instead require games that can mimic the real world and create a holistic experience for them. This ‘interactive’ experience is one that the AI is working hard at creating with a focus on creating environments that can interpret and react to the player’s in-game activities while also foreseeing any future moves and charting out the story accordingly.
The ‘present’ gamer gives great weightage to how a game ‘looks’ and ‘feels’ which incorporates not just the visual appearance of the game but also the interactivity that surrounds it. Gamers want an experience that changes along the way and creates vivid scenarios and environments that are key to keeping gamers glued to their chairs for long hours.
AI steps in here with the ability to customize scenarios and help the gaming environment evolve along the way. This is possible by incorporating a wide array of tools that structure the game in a manner that supports both interactivity and character development.
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At the core of this transformation are the game designers investing their time, energy, and skills to create such environments that involve gamers in an experience unlike any other.
So with the games improving on their techniques and development, the developers too will need to skill up on these AI techniques. Also, learn along the way to create smarter, realistic, and rather intelligent games.
Reinforcement learning, which is a subset of machine learning is one such tool that developers are sharpening their skills on. Since it holds the potential to change the entire gaming landscape by creating environments unlike any of those seen before.
Through the inclusion of such AI mechanisms and the upgrading of their own game development and technical skills. These developers have embarked on a mission of bringing about a great overall change in the gaming industries that they currently operate in.
Mobile Gaming Made Smarter
A huge part of modern-day gaming is mobile gaming i.e. games played on mobile phones or handheld tablets that provide both easy access and portability to the users.
Developers are in the midst of exploring a variety of machine learning and AI algorithms that could transform mobile phone games within the limits of their power restrictions. This is evident in the shift that you can see in the visual appearance of mobile games over the years. Also, in terms of their intelligence and the interactivity that they offer players.
While this change might be rather gradual. There is no denying the fact that AI has slowly begun to create a concrete presence in the gaming industry. It is creating a change in areas that were distant a few years ago.
There is a lot to talk about AI in video games but right now they are in infancy. Due to one reason that the human mind can’t keep up but they certainly add a whole new level to video gaming which was never before, provided we implement it right. There’s still a long way to go however but what is certain is the fact that AI is here to stay in the world of gaming.