Steven Woodcock has been a programmer for over 15 years, programming in many languages, over many platforms ranging from the Intel i740 to Model 2 Arcade machines to Cray supercomputers! His programming experience ranges from weapons programming, defense simulations to real-time 3D gaming, and Artificial Intelligence. Mr. Woodcock maintains a site on gaming AI that is widely considered as the best site of its kind. We were certainly grateful that Steven Woodcock could give us the opportunity to interview him.
1.) Which genre of gaming (flight sims, action, RPG, etc) do you feel AI is benefitting the most from.
Last year I'd have said the RTS (real-time strategy) games were doing the most interesting AI work; this year it's the first- and third-person shooters that seem to be advancing the art.
2.) What aspects of AI do you look for in a good game?
I look for an AI that isn't scripted, something that does different yet plausibly correct things given identical situations. I look for an AI that isn't predictable, one that can surprise me by doing the unexpected. I look for an AI that doesn't have to cheat to beat me.
3.) Where do you think gaming AI will be in 10 years?
I see slow but steady advances, nothing major. Given that we'll be getting more and more CPU cycles I expect AIs to be come richer and deeper than they are today, able to consider more options than they have time for now. I expect we'll see a lot of speech recognition integration into games, and that we'll see more attempts to model emotional behavior in adventure games.
4.) Do you think the AI-equivalent of 3D accelerator cards will ever become available?
No, probably not. The market isn't there to make them a good case commercially, and increasing general CPU power will make them moot.
5.) When programming a game, how do you approach the AI?
I first try to learn all I can about the game and how it plays from the player's perspective. This lets me know how the AI is expected to behave and the situations it must handle, and from that I can began to piece together a design.