I just finished reading a really good 6-part blog post about game design, emergent behavior, and artificial intelligence by the creator of the game AI War.
A quick overview of AI War stolen from the wiki for the game:
Cooperative RTS (real time strategy) game (1-8 players) with numerous unique ship types.
Challenging AI in 26 styles, 20 additional with the first two expansions; many with unique superweapons.
Insanely high unit counts: 30,000+ ships in most games.
Lengthy campaigns featuring up to 120 simultaneous planetary battlefields.
Different Every Time: 16 billion procedural maps, each with specific units.
A focus on deep strategy that you don’t get in most RTS games.
The blog goes into his general design approach which is different from many other RTS games on the market. Most AI in this genre seeks to imitate how a human player would act, and is usually easily exploited or has to cheat to offer experienced human players any challenge. The developer of AI war took a different approach, instead of trying to imitate human players he just tried to create a challenging adversary. Instead of fighting a poor imitation of a human player, its like fighting skynet.One of the most interesting parts of the blog series was the type of AI he used for individual units. He explains in the post that the traditional mechanism for creating AI is to use branching decision trees. So if situation A occurs do action C, if situation B occurs do action D.
In AI war when enemy ships jump into a solar system they have to determine which targets they want to attack. Instead of using branching decision trees, he created a preference system for targets. (what follows is a general idea of how it works, but the creator would probably cringe if he read my description) For example an expensive player factory may be worth 5 points while a cheap one might be worth 3 points. If the expensive one is defended, that is minus 2 points. If the cheap one is vulnerable to the type of damage that a ship does, that is plus 1 point. Add in a bit of randomization and fuzzy logic (changing how many points get added or subtracted) and you get a fleet of ships that is very responsive to a situation.Reading the blog gave me a little more hope for my own project of making economic simulation games. My first introduction to programming had me looking at decision trees, and that had me very worried. It has also made me re-think exactly how I should approach a game. Trying to predict humans is the fatal flaw of any policy maker, and perhaps trying to imitate them is the fatal flaw of game AI programmers.
I was thinking earlier today about what the most successful game genres are that exhibit emergent gameplay most successfully. This is interesting to study, but also necessary to think about when designing our own games to exhibit emergent gameplay and simulate markets.
To a large extent, the success of game in exhibiting emergent gameplay is a function of its popularity: as the more players there are playing a game, the more (diverse) content they will generate, and the more likely players will substitute their own ideas for inefficient game mechanics, others imitate them, and ultimately ingrain them into unintended game institutions.
Sometimes this also requires the ability of developers to scale a game, to expand it to massive gameworlds on servers capable of servicing thousands, even millions, of players. But again, this seems to be a function of the demand for a particular game – you won’t see massively multiplayer games that players by and large do not like. Small, independent games can still attract players and/or turn a profit, but they do not garner a critical mass to require large servers or worry about scaling. Perhaps this is because their genre only has a small group of devotees, and a “mainstream” game requires a genre that can capture the masses. Continue reading →
Below is a quote from a website of one of the major alliances in EVE online. Their plans are to crash a part of the EVE economy by cornering the market for an essential fuel. They speak in a lot of lingo, but that is the basic jist of their plans. This is fully within the games rules, and I’m guessing that the developers will not intervene.
help release this pubbie from his eternal burden. by suicide bombing him.
It’s time to inflict Goonswarm’s rage on Empire once again. Jihadswarm was a way for Goons to cause suffering and rage in unsuspecting pubbies, who (naturally) had no idea that they could be hurt in empire space. Unfortunately, Jihadswarm had few lasting effects on the EVE universe. By hitting everywhere, it failed to hit hard enough in any one spot. That all has changed now, as the finance team has come up with a way to hit a small slice of empire space, and yet have a much larger impact. The isolated pain of random pubbies is not enough. It is time for Goonswarm to hurt everyone in EVE, and so reap the misery of a wronged universe.
Perhaps my colleagues and friends can help me out, since I neither play Minecraft nor have a deep understanding of computer science, but this astonished me nonetheless. It seems players in Minecraft have accomplished a great feat and made computing recursive by building simple computers within the game world.
Carl Menger explained the origin of money as a market phenomenon, the unintended consequence of people pursuing their own ends in the market. Money is the result of human action, but not of human design. Here’s how it works: Continue reading →
Back in 2008 mineral prices in EVE online reached an artificial bottleneck that the developers had not foreseen. The problem was fixed soon after it was recognized, but the story itself highlights how interconnected artificial economies can become.
There are some basic gameplay aspects that need to be explained before I can proceed. First of all most of the goods in EVE online that players use are produced by other players. These goods are constructed using 8 basic mineral types. The minerals can be sold on markets just like any other good, and their prices tend to dictate the costs of all player made goods in EVE. The most common mineral type is named Tritanium. It is required for the construction of just about all goods, and it is traded in large quantities everywhere in the EVE universe. Continue reading →
It was once a goal of mine to create a basic economic simulation. I wanted to recreate the process of actual markets. I never got to the point where I realized how difficult this would be. Luckily for me Ryan Safner had a similar vision, and had worked much longer than I had to create a world with an integrated economic system. He realized, and I have come to realize, that to create a working economy there has to be an efficient, effective, and motivated feedback mechanism. The easiest way to achieve these goals is to introduce a human element to the system. Continue reading →