(Note: classroom location change)
Tu,Th 4:35 - 5:55
Bunger-Henry, room 380
Mark Riedl, firstname.lastname@example.org
228 Technology Square Research Building
Office Hours: Tu,Th 3:00-4:00, and by appointment
In 2000, John Laird and Michael van Lent justified interactive entertainment as a domain of study in AI when they posited that computer games could act as testbeds for achieving human-level intelligence in computers, leveraging the fidelity of their simulations of real world dynamics. There is an additional perspective on AI for games: increasing the engagement and enjoyment of the player. This perspective is consistent with the perspective of computer game developers. For them, AI is a tool in the arsenal of the game to be used in lieu of real people when no one is available for a given role. Examples of such roles are:
This course is an exploration of advanced AI techniques as applied to computer games for the purpose of creating engaging and enjoyable experiences. This semester will focus on an emerging area of game AI: procedural content generation. The field of computer games continues to grow. In the world of computer games, content is king. However, content, in the form of levels, virtual characters, art assets, and stories, remains a significant bottleneck in the development of new games, new genres, and new player experiences. Consequently, two emerging trends in the computer game industry are end-user content generation and procedural content generation. This class will explore (a) the emerging field of procedural content generation and (b) the extent to which intelligent computational systems can facilitate end-user content generation.
The purpose of the course is to provide students with an in-depth understanding of the issues and principles underlying advanced AI techniques to be used in games. Topics of study may include:
The course will be conducted in seminar format. Discussions will center on key AI research systems and publications. Students will lead discussions and lead discussions comparing and contrasting particular approaches as described in publications. Periodically, the instructor will lead in-class activities related to course material.
Course projects: A course project, broken into four phases, will require students to build a fully functional game system utilizing the knowledge from course material. The instructor will define the projects, but the students will have vast leeway in implementing the vision of the project. Students will be provided with a skeleton game engine. Students will work in small teams. Each phase of the project must be “defended” in class presentations. At the end of the course, a complete working game must be demonstrated.
Presentation and discussion: Most classes will revolve around discussions of reading material, led by students assigned to cover the reading material. Students will present on the reading material and help lead the discussion.
Critical writing assignments: For every in-class discussion, some students will be assigned to write a discussion synopsis. The purpose of the synopsis is not to critique the presenters, but to summarize the discussion and identify common themes and conclusions about the reading material. Topic synopses will be one-page in length. Additionally, one student will critique each project defense. The project critique is a half-page document meant to provide constructive feedback on the project as if it were being evaluated for commercialization.
Coursework in artificial intelligence such as an introductory course in AI or a game AI course is required. System building, game development, or game design skills will be helpful but are not required.
Grades will be determined by (1) class participation, (2) in-class presentations, (3) critical writing assignments, and (4) group projects.
All assignments and projects will be graded by letter grade. The course grading policy is that any assignment that has been turned in on time that receives at least a ‘C’ can be resubmitted at any time for re-grading without penalty.
I reserve the right to modify any of these plans as need be during the course of the class; however, I won't do anything too drastic, and you'll be informed as far in advance as possible.
I expect you to understand and follow the honor code.