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The Challenges and Follies of Building a Generic AI engine. Dr. Paul Kruszewski, CTO © 2000–2004 BGT BioGraphic Technologies Inc. Overview. AI.implant: Post-mortem the first 4 years

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the challenges and follies of building a generic ai engine

The Challenges and Follies of Building a Generic AI engine

Dr. Paul Kruszewski, CTO

© 2000–2004 BGT BioGraphic Technologies Inc.

  • AI.implant: Post-mortem the first 4 years
    • I thought I was going to talk over game could teach film but it is really about what we learned from all of you
  • The vision
  • What went right
  • What went wrong
  • Pleasant surprises
  • The vision’ (Take 2)
the mindset
The mindset
  • Background
    • Procedurally modelling of branching patterns (“the tree guy”)
    • My Virtual Model
    • Just quit my job as CTO to start-up a company
  • Convergence between film and game
    • Crowd simulation vs game AI
    • I felt they were solving the same problem but didn\'t know it
the vision
The vision
  • Build an AI generic game engine
    • Different markets
      • Special Effects (SFX) : digital extras
      • Video games : AI middleware
      • Simulation: digital soldiers
    • Different users
      • Animators
      • Level editors
      • Programmers
    • Roll out / Adoption
      • Film
      • Cut scenes
      • Game engines
      • Simulation
the vision5
The vision
  • Build an AI generic game engine (cont.)
    • Architecture
      • Character based
        • If it moves in an intelligent way, it’s a character (e.g., human, bird, fish, etc.)
        • Otherwise it’s physics
      • Real-time
      • C++ SDK
      • Integrated as visual plug-ins into art packages and components into game application
      • Data-driven
what went right
What went right
  • We survived as a company
    • Dot com crash
    • Many (AI) middleware companies came and went
what went right cont
What went right (cont.)
  • Overall architecture was correct
    • The character / vehicle paradigm
      • Humans
      • Fish
      • Flaming Cows
      • Tanks
      • Space ships
      • Spiders
      • Weird bipeds
    • Tools went well
      • Integration into Maya/max was key to every sale in the entertainment space
what went right cont8
What went right (cont.)
  • Customers used it in all three markets
    • For film and video
    • For game cinematics
    • For a PS2/Xbox game (PSI-Ops)
    • For simulators
what went wrong
What went wrong
  • $
    • VC crash; money came more slowly and more expensively
    • Game industry shakedown
      • developers went broke after they bought the product but before they paid us
    • Price slashing in animation
    • All of this naturally affected our execution
what went wrong10
What went wrong
  • Technology
    • We initially built something that no one liked
      • Game people said that it was only good for special FX
      • SPX people thought of it as a game engine
    • We built the wrong things first
      • Animation
        • An AI system was no good if you couldn\'t
          • control the underlying animation
          • render things out
      • Game
        • People really cared only about the path finding
        • Didn\'t want level editors/animators to author things
        • Build decision trees instead of FSM
      • Focus was on flocking and decision making
        • Pathing and animation control turned out to be the hot stuff
what went wrong11
What went wrong
  • Technology (cont.)
    • Too ambitious
      • Too split on the two markets with two different pipelines
      • Too many tools
      • Wide but not deep functionality
    • Consoles are hard
    • Bleeding edge tech causes you to bleed
  • Culture
    • Learning the 3 cultures took longer than we thought
      • speaking game with a heavy film accent
    • Really underestimated the resistance to middleware
      • You can\'t argue on cost-it really has to be better
    • It is a very new field so we had to make up a lot of stuff including language
interesting twists
Interesting twists
  • Military simulation
    • We really expected the military to be ahead of us
    • KMW uses our system to drive tanks and control all humans
  • Decision trees
    • Wrong choice for game (should have used FSM) but animators love them
  • Did a lot of things that weren’t AI (we really thought somebody handled them already)
    • Surface solving
    • Animation control
  • Essentially turned Maya into a game engine
moving forward
Moving forward
  • Challenges in game AI
    • Complex worlds
      • New graphics cards allow huge worlds
      • Physics creates dynamic worlds
      • Automatic tools are no longer an option
      • Navigation meshes are becoming the core data structure
    • Complex characters
      • Integration of all human systems to form intelligent skeletons
        • AI driven NLA
        • IK/FK
        • Ragdoll
      • Volume
        • No more ghost town (Craig Reynolds)
    • Parallelism
moving forward cont
Moving forward (cont.)
  • Industries
    • Game will continue to be the most dynamic environment for innovation
    • Animation (SFX). It is really becoming a question of playing the game with the record button on
    • Military is most open to these techniques
    • Convergence is happening, I was just out by 4 years
      • Film, games and simulations use the same database (Blackhawk down)
    • Most users want a drag and drop system particularly in sim and film
  • Dan Fu for inviting me
  • My team back home for building such difficult software
  • All the customers who have helped us along the way