Take one of your favorite games that wasn’t co-op online, now take the computer-generated enemies and make them push-overs. Not too much fun when it’s actually done. People want a challenge when they are playing a game, something to feel accomplished about. Whether it was the challenge of beating all of “Skyrim” with only bare-hands, or surviving in “F.E.A.R”, the computer will try its best to take down even the greatest of gamers. But how has the programming behind it changed? How has it become what it is today? How is it used in various games?
Artificial Intelligence was first used in computers in the 1950’s to outplay humans in a game of chess and checkers. Chess and checkers were used as a base because the games are easy to access for a computer, checking if a piece was there or not, and then deciding what do to do based on those situations. The computer would learn by playing itself over and over to look at patterns and within a short amount of time it could play against and beat many players. The first time one of these computers beat a person at chess was in 1958, but most people think of “Deep Blue” from 1997 being the biggest win for machines. While playing chess is mostly algorithmic, the hardware was too primitive at first to be able to do anything faster, but as hardware was able to be advanced, the programs have become faster and faster while playing.
Fast-forward about thirty years from the first chess machines. Games have become more mainstream to the public with the advent of the Nintendo Entertainment System along with personal computers, among the many games available are RPGs. While most games have some form of A.I, RPGs have possibly the most use of it, having to counter the player in everything he/she does. Among these games there are the “Final Fantasy” series, the “Fire Emblem” series for Japan only at this time, “Dungeons and Dragons”, “Dune II”, and “Warcraft.” Outside of RPGs the first-person shooter genre had also gained better playability. “Half-Life” is known for being one of the best FPS games for its time, and its ability to cause ambushes to the player, strategically handling CPUs to heal each other and cover fire, and hilarious NPCs.
From my own experience against some of gaming’s greatest minds, “Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War” and “F.E.A.R” have some of the most notable A.Is. “Fire Emblem” games can be a cakewalk when the player learns how to use the weapons triangle/magic triangle (if there is one) and what makes each class useful, but for not only the length of the chapters but the enemies are indeed intelligent. Each squad of enemies for each castle has its own A.I, so what one castle in the chapter does will probably have a mostly different pattern, or in some cases the player characters (even those with major holy blood such as Sigurd) can be ambushed and killed by ten or fifteen enemies in one enemy phase. “F.E.A.R” is one of those games that not only is smarter than the player in many cases, but makes you fear what may happen next. The game taught me that I was pretty bad at FPS games, but that enemies know what they are doing. Enemies can surprise players by jumping through windows to startle the player or using surrounding elements such as bookshelves or crates to take cover. While in FE the enemies often fought independently from each other, “F.E.A.R” was able to keep enemies in groups, sneak around, ambush the player, or take cover. “F.E.A.R” is often noticed for being one of the best games with A.I and is definitely a great game to play.
Today, A.I has become a crucial part of game design. From enemy generation and control to creating impossible challenges for the player. The Carolina Gamer’s Club was able to host an A.I competition as a part of Indie Bits, a festival held to celebrate southeastern independent interactive media, showcasing the use of many programming languages such as Java, Python, and C# to create the best A.I for a game that focused around four enemies fighting each other. We had some success with it, but our hopes are to expand our venue with it and market it as a great chance to test student’s coding skills.
A.I has become an interesting topic over the years, from human-robotic interactions such as with Kasparov and Deep Blue or imagined interactions such as with David Bowman and HAL 9000. Its usefulness in computer controlled enemies makes it an indispensable tool for game developers to give a player a tough but fair challenge. Ultimately the future of A.I programming may come from a video game, or the next iterations of chess, it is all up to programmers.
Middleton, Z. (n.d.). The Evolution of Artificial Intelligence in Computer Games. Retrieved from http://web.stanford.edu/group/htgg/cgi-bin/drupal/sites/default/files2/zmiddleton_2002_1.pdf
Larson, E. (n.d.). A Brief History of Computer Chess | The Best Schools. Retrieved from http://www.thebestschools.org/magazine/brief-history-of-computer-chess/