Artificial Intelligence (AI) has fascinated us for generations, with androids and robots featuring in sci-fi books and movies in many forms (and not all these androids are benevolent and helpful creations).
Every day, as technology grows and develops and more innovations are created, AI is becoming more and more part of our lives, in everything from the cars we drive to the games we play.
AI, machine learning, and deep learning are all facets of the technology in use today, and while we might not have autonomous androids able to make their own decisions to help us around the house yet, we do have some pretty awesome technology running our favourite games too.
What is AI?
In essence, the point of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is to create a simulation of human intelligence, allowing machines to process inputs in a way that is analogous to a human.
The greatest demonstration of that is in machine learning, which is the focus of much of the AI innovation that is available right now. This involves feeding the AI huge amounts of labelled data for training, which it then analyses to look for connections and correlations. The AI then uses this information to create patterns that it can use to predict things for the future.
This is why chatbots like ChatGPT can produce exchanges that are almost completely lifelike – because they have ingested so much data that they can create what could pass for human conversation.
AI in Gaming
In gaming, the AI in use is machine learning – but used in very specific ways. Developers use AI in their game development to create a more immersive video game experience for players, making it adapt to the way a game is being played and the preferences of the individual player.
AI has been featured in all sorts of games for many years, even from the earliest iterations of gaming experiences like Pacman – the ghosts are all programmed to act in specific, different ways, depending on the input that they have.
Online casinos are a growing video game niche with developers incorporating AI into their games. Slot games in particular are one of the most favoured casino games, mainly due to the number of slots with bonuses providers offer and the technology allowing themed graphics for individual slot games. It is expected that more slot developers will introduce AI into their slot game creation in future years to help improve the gaming experience and create more immersive titles.
Enemies in modern games are a bit more developed, but still very similar – enemy soldiers that are not played by a human are programmed to respond to cues like the noise of a step in the game and will search for a player until certain parameters are met (such as they have moved out of the area or are hiding effectively).
What Does AI Do in Our Games?
To create these more adaptive and challenging games, AI can be used in several different ways.
Non-Playable Characters are featured in many different games, having roles as diverse as random background characters to forming enemies that need to be beaten. AI-controlled NPCs move, react, and behave as if they are being controlled by a human, which means that they are more unpredictable.
The NPC that you need to speak to for the next part of your adventure might respond differently to you if you are covered in blood (as in Red Dead Redemption), or the enemies that you must face coming into a battle zone will be in completely different places on each restart.
They won’t be walking through walls or getting stuck in doorways, which makes it much more interesting.
Landscapes and Pathfinding
The other main way that AI and machine learning is changing our gameplay is through creating landscapes and backgrounds. With the innovative technology of machine learning, players are being evaluated as they move through the map – using data regarding player ability, movement, and decisions to create different game landscapes that will challenge the player in the right way.
AI is so useful for developers in this, as they can set certain parameters and let the machine render vast, detailed landscapes that would take a human thousands of hours to replicate.
Like the work AI does in making NPCs more realistic, machine learning, patterns, and correlation are all used in the way decisions are made and affect the landscape and the game itself.
With decision trees one of the most-used bits of technology here, a player will have different reactions from other characters depending on the way they approach someone and what actions they take.
This ‘cause and effect’ part of the game is really complicated, but effective machine learning makes it fast and almost natural.
Developers want to know what players are doing in their games, and AI makes it easy to not only gather information but also to analyse it.
Throughout the game play, developers can see where players might struggle with a particular part of the game, or where they might get frustrated. It can also highlight any places where there are bugs or glitches that need to be patched to improve the gameplay for the players.
This data mining provides all sorts of feedback about their game that they would not have necessarily had directly from players or even beta testers, which can be used to make changes in the future.