12.17.12

An artificial intelligence that makes videogames

Videogame developers may be soon be out of a job:

Back in March, Ars wrote about PhD student Michael Cook and his artificial intelligence machine called Angelina. Angelina was special because she was creating games from scratch with little help from her human counterparts. By dividing the concept of a computer game up into three defined “species,” or sub-tasks—maps, layouts, and rulesets—Cook and his compatriots at Imperial College in London helped their system auto-generate some simple platformer games.

A Puzzling Present is the latest example of what Angelina is capable of. 

Instead of a simple platformer with maps and obstacles, the latest games by Angelina now include new mechanics for the player (in this particular seasonal game, the character is Santa Claus) at each level. For example, in World 1 of A Puzzling Present, hitting x (or a touch-screen b key in the mobile version) gives Santa an anti-gravity power that sends him to the top of the screen and hitting x again sends him back down. In the second World, hitting x gives Santa an elasticity function, which causes him to bounce ever faster against the surroundings above and below him. These mechanics, Cook says, were created artificially by ANGELINA for this particular game...

It will be a while before AI can match the full creative potential of developers. For now, Angelina needs to be used in conjunction with a human, but any developer could benefit from this kind colloboration. An AI like Angelina can help them develop mechanics or explore their games in ways that hadn't antipcated or considered. The game isn't that great, but I've played worse created by humans. 

Michael Cook:

...I think Mechanic Miner is the first bit of research from the ANGELINA project that could really benefit the mainstream industry, rather than threaten it! If this technology was built into tools given to designers... it could suggest new game concepts or alterations to levels...

Playing Angelina's earlier games show har far she has come, especially with her ability to develop novel mechanics. The jump from her first game to A Puzzling Present is striking. I can only imagine what an equally large improvement over APA will bring. We will just have to wait and see what Michael and Angelina deliver next.