Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts published in “Game AI”

Artificial intelligence for games: it can’t not work. If it doesn’t work, by hook or by crook – fix it!

[twenty twenty-four day eighty-one]: a quick thought on the game awards

centaur 0

The awards ceremony for the Independent Games Festival (IGF) and the Game Developers Choice Awards (GDCA) are held back to back on Wednesday nights at GDC, and I tend to think of them as "the Game Awards" (not to be confused with the other award ceremony of the same title).

The awards are always a mixture of the carefully scripted and the edgy and political, with plenty of participants calling out the industry layoffs, the war in Gaza, and discrimination in the industry and beyond. But one of those speakers said something very telling - and inspiring.

See that pillar on the right? Few people sit behind it willingly; you can't see the main stage, and can only watch the monitors. But this year's winner of the Ambassador award told the story of his first time in this hall, watching the awards from behind the pillar, wondering if he'd become a "real" game developer.

Well, he did. And won one of the highest awards in his industry.

Who knows, maybe you can too.

-the Centaur

Pictured: Top, the IGF awards. Bottom, the GDCA awards. I don't have a picture of the Ambassador Award winner because I was, like, listening to his speech and stuff.

[twenty twenty-four post eighty]: that gdc filler post

centaur 0

At the Game Developer's Conference. I hope to have more to say about it (other than it's the best place to learn about game development, and has the awesome AI Summit and AI Roundtable events where you can specifically learn about Game AI and meet Game AI experts) but for now, this blogpost is to say, (a) I'm here, and (b), I'm creating some buffer so tomorrow I can write more thoughtfully.

Yeah, there are a few people here. And this isn't the half of it: it gets really big Wednesday.

Blogging every day.

-the Centaur

[twenty twenty-four day sixty-seven]: my new game console

centaur 0

SO! I am the proud owner of ... an Atari 2600+! This console, a re-release of the original Atari 2600 from 47 (!) years ago, only a notch smaller and with USB and HDMI outputs. It plays original Atari cartridges, though, which shall be my incentive to hop on my bike and visit the retro game store in nearby Traveler's Rest which has a selection of original Atari cartridges among all their other retro games.

The first game I remember playing is Adventure, which came out in 1980, and, while I can't be sure, I seem to remember first playing it in my parents' new house on Coventry Road, which we didn't move into until early 1979, just before my birthday.

In fact, as I dig my brain into it, we played Breakout in the den of my parents's old house on Sedgefield Road, so we must have had access to early-generation Atari. Our neighbors when we moved had a snazzier Odyssey 2 :-), and a few years later another friend from school had an even better game console, though none of the second-generation units I looked up online seem familiar to me.

Therefore, by the process of elimination, either my parents got my Atari 2600 for Christmas for me sometime around 1977 or 1978, or one of our relatives or babysitters loaned us one when we lived on Sedgefield. I have distinct memories of getting a Radio Shack Color Computer in Christmas of 1980, a grey wedge of plastic with a massive 4K of RAM, and remember programming games on it myself - perhaps because I didn't have an Atari to play with; this makes me think that, at least at first, the Atari was actually the "better game console" my other friend from school had, and that I went over to their house to play.

Regardless, I solved the first level of Adventure in minutes after cracking open the Atari.

No big challenge, but apparently I still got it.

-the Centaur

Pictured: the box, and the unboxed start of Adventure.

[fifty-three] minus twenty-five: momentum is real

centaur 0

Now, see, this is what I was talking about last time. At the Game Developer's Conference today, after a long and informative series of talks, I ended up having an impromptu roundtable about language model planning, followed by a dinner with a friend talking about the history of the conference from a behind-the-scenes perspective.

The discussions were fascinating, and there are potentials for integrating these new language model technologies with older techniques like logic programming to very good results.

But, by the time the dinner was done, I was exhausted, and crashed back at my room, trying to sleep off some of the effects of two nights of rich dinners, no sleep, and hard-core information overload.

But I still had more work to do, creating my slides for the upcoming HRI in Academia and Industry Workshop at the AAAI Spring Symposium Series, not to mention my document updates on the main social navigation benchmarking paper itself. And, of course, all of that could not get finished in one night, not if I want to get up early enough to attend what are sure to be packed talks tomorrow morning.

But my point, and I did have one, is that if I had relied on myself to blog at the end of the day "when everything was done", I wouldn't have blogged at all, because everything is NOT done. But, since I had momentum from earlier in the day, it was easy to pull up the window and put together a quick post.

This post.

So, momentum is real. Once you start doing something, it's easier to keep doing it.

-the Centaur

Pictured: Various lines and slides from today's GDC, and a nice dessert from Amber India.

[fifty-two] minus twenty-six: oh yeah, gdc

centaur 0

Oh yeah, I only offhandedly mentioned - back at the Game Developer's Conference!

Hi Mom! Oh wait, she's gone. That ... went dark fast, Francis. Well, hopefully she's watching up there and is not too mad that I'm still wasting my time on such frivolous things. But, I got my job at Google through the AI Programmers' Roundtable in ... 2005, I think it would have been, so this is not frivolous to me. And it's a great place to find out what's going on in the field ...

... and I must say, the first talk out of the gate got dense, fast!

Just how I like it.

Back into the fray!

-the Centaur

Dave, We’re On Your Side

centaur 0
The biggest "current" in my mind is the person I am currently worried about, my good friend and great Game AI developer Dave Mark. Dave is the founder of the GDC AI Summit ... but was struck by a car leaving the last sessions at GDC, and still is in the hospital, seriously injured. Dave is a really special person. I've been going to GDC longer than Dave, but it was he (along with my friend Neil Kirby) who drew me out of my shell and got me to participate in the Game AI community, which is a super important part of my life even though I don't do Game AI for my day job. Dave's friends and family have set up a Go Fund Me to help cover his medical expenses and the travel and other expenses of his family while he remains in the hospital in the Bay Area. I encourage you all to help out - especially if you've ever played a game and found the AI especially clever. Dave, you're in our prayers ... -the Centaur Pictured: Dave (on the right) and friends.

Just Checking in on the Currents

centaur 0
SO! Hey! GDC and Clockwork Alchemy are over and I'm not dead! (A joke which actually I don't find that funny given the circumstances, which I'll dig into in just a moment). Strangely enough, hitting two back-to-back conferences, both of which you participate super heavily in, can take something out of your blog. Who knew? But I need to get better at blogging, so I thought I'd try something new: a "check-in" in which I try to hit all the same points each time - what am I currently writing, editing, programming, etc? For example, I am currently:
  • Listening To: Tomb Raider soundtrack (the original).
  • Reading: Theoretical Neuroscience (book).
  • Writing: "Death is a Game for the Young", a novella in the Jeremiah Willstone multiverse.
  • Editing: SPECTRAL IRON, Dakota Frost #4.
  • Reviewing: SHATTERED SKY, Lunar Cycle #2 by David Colby.
  • Researching: Neural Approaches to Universal Subgoaling.
  • Programming: A toy DQN (Deep Q Network) to stretch my knowledge.
  • Drawing: Steampunk girls with goggles.
  • Planning: Camp Nanowrimo for April, ROOT USER, Cinnamon Frost #3.
  • Taking on: Giving up alcohol for Lent.
  • Dragging on: Doing my taxes.
  • Spring Cleaning: The side office.
  • Trying to Ignore: The huge pile of blogposts left over from GDC and CA.
  • Caring For: My cat Lenora, suffering from cancer.
  • Waiting For: My wife Sandi, returning from a business trip.
Whew, that's a lot, and I don't even think I got them all. Maybe I won't try to write all of the same "currents" every time, but it was a useful exercise in "find something to blog about without immediately turning it into a huge project." But the biggest "current" in my mind is the person I am currently worried about, my good friend and great Game AI developer Dave Mark. Dave is the founder of the GDC AI Summit ... but was struck by a car leaving the last sessions at GDC, and still is in the hospital, seriously injured. More in a moment. -the Centaur Pictured: Butterysmooooth sashimi at Izakaya Ginji in San Mateo from a few days ago, along with my "Currently Reading" book Theoretical Neuroscience open to the Linear Algebra appendix, when I was "Currently Researching" some technical details of the vector notation of quadratic forms by going through stacks and stacks of books, a question which would have been answered more easily if I had started by looking at the entry for quadratic forms in Wolfram's MathWorld, had I only known at the start of my search that that was the name for math terms like xWx.

GDC 2017 AI Summit in Progress 

centaur 0


Lots of great content …


... and this year I have pages and pages of notes!


Stay tuned …


... or check the talks out in a few weeks on the GDC Vault!


-the Centaur