Schedule Readings Homeworks Project

Game AI

CS 4731/8803 GAI

Fall 2008

Tu,Th 1:35 - 2:55
Bunger-Henry, room 380

Mark Riedl,
220 Technology Square Research Building
Office Hours: Tu,Th 3:30-5:00, and by appointment

Teaching Assistant:
Pei Yin,
230 Technology Square Research Building
Office Hours: Tuesday 8:30-9:30, Friday 4:30-5:30, and by appointment

General information

Artificial intelligence is often used to market computer games. But the artificial intelligence used in contemporary computer games is often not as sophisticated as the state-of-the-art studied in academia. As processors become faster and more graphic computation is unloaded on to GPUs, more sophisticated AI become possible in computer games. How can artificial intelligence be used to create new forms of entertainment? Artificial intelligence must support the entertainment and engagement of a user. This is a perspective on artificial intelligence that changes the meaning of "optimal" decisions, behavior, etc.


  • To survey approaches to artificial intelligence that can be applied to games and entertainment
  • To develop an appreciation for the complexities of using artificial intelligence to create an engaging experience for the user
  • To explore new forms of entertainment that cannot currently be achieved in contemporary computer games
  • To acquire skills in thinking about and application of artificial intelligence as a way of creating engaging experiences


Introductory course on artificial intelligence. As we explore artificial intelligence, it is essential to understand the basic toolkit of approaches to solving problems. Entertainment and games often requires specializations of these basic approaches.

Required materials

You will be required to purchase a license to Unreal Tournament 2004 to complete the homework assignments and (for CS 4731) the final project. Please note that UT2004 is NOT the same as Unreal Tournament 3, which is currently in stores. The easiest way to get a license of UT2004 is through Valve's Steam service (Steam is a service for downloading games and connecting with the online gaming community). Steam sells UT2004 for $14.99; you will be required to create an account.

    UT 2004 Requirements:
    Supported OS: Windows 2000/XP
    Processor: Pentium III 1.0 GHz or AMD Athlon 1.0 GHz or faster (Pentium® or AMD 1.2GHz or greater recommended)
    Memory: 128MB RAM (256MB RAM or greater recommended)
    Graphics: 2 MB video card required (64 MB NVIDIA or ATI hardware T&L card recommended)
    Sound: Windows-compatible sound card
    DirectX: DirectX 9.0b
    Hard Disk Space: 5.5 GB Free
It's been known to run on Mac's running bootcamp. Please notify me if you do not have a home PC that meets these requirements and arrangements will be made for you to be able to use campus lab machines.

The best development environment for UT2004 is WOTgreal, which is annoyance-ware unless you purchase a license. I strongly recommend it.

There is no required textbook.


  • Readings: There will be 4-6 readings weekly consisting mostly of conference papers, journal papers, and book chapters. These will be provided in electronic form through T-Square. More info on the readings are here.
  • Computing: Campus lab machines will be made available if necessary.
  • Web: Most information and announcements will be available on this webpage and through T-Square.
  • UT2004 programming resources:


Class schedule can be found here.


Homework assignments can be found here.

Information about the final project can be found here.

Abstracts of readings can be found here.


Coursework will consist of class discussions, homework (for CS 4731), a final project, and other related activities.

You will be required to participate in class discussions. This means contributing regularly and productively. You will be required to lead at least one discussion (two for CS 8803). This means preparing audiovisual (e.g. slides) materials for one of the readings, presenting an overview of the reading, and putting forth constructive discussion questions for the rest of the class to consider. You are also required to submit to the instructor via email paragraph summaries that compare and contrast the 2-3 readings for each class. These summaries must be submitted before each class begins.

There will be 4 homework assigments (required for CS 4731, optional for CS 8803 GAI). These assignments are designed to familiarize you with Unreal Tournament 2004. CS 4731 students are required to complete their final projects in UT2004. CS 8803 students have the option of choosing other game platforms, but UT2004 is strongly recommended. Thus CS 8803 students are strongly enouraged to work on the homework assignments.

The final project is a team project that will begin just before Fall Break. You will be responsible for forming a team of 3 people and inventing an idea for a game that uses AI in a novel way. The AI must be based on readings from the class (CS 8803 students can also pick from other topics with instructor approval). You and your team will consult with the instructor to create an idea for using AI in a novel way to create engagement in a computer game. Your team must meet with the instructor and receive a sign-off on your game idea. You will pitch the idea to the class. That is, you will pretend that you are a startup game development company and present your game idea to the class as a persuasive argument for why an imaginary investor would want to greenlight your project. One other project team will be assigned to assess your pitch. You will then develop your game concept with periodic input from your assigned assessors. You must have a working demo by the end of Finally, you will present your working game demo/prototype at the end of the class.

Each project team will be assigned to assess e.g. critique one other team project. You will thus be responsible for evaluating the other team's project idea based on the concepts from the class. You will be graded on your ability to apply course concepts to the critique.

Your final grade will be computed as follows:

  CS 4731 CS 8803
Participation 10 10
Lead discussion 10 20
Project critique(s) 10 10
Reading summaries 10 10
Final project 40 40
Homeworks (4) 20 (5 each) optional
Final report optional 10

Presenting and Leading Discussions

Here are some notes on presenting and leading discussions. Presentations and discussions should last a total of 20 minutes. The first 7-10 minutes should be a presentation that covers the basic details of the paper and reinforces certain points about game AI.

Consider the following for your presentation:

  • What is the problem and/or motivation?
  • How did they solve the problem?
  • Enough details to get the points across
  • What is interesting?
  • What is troubling?
  • What questions do you have?
  • How can this be used in a game? As flair? As a principal mechanic?
  • What types of games or entertainment can this afford? And how might games be different if this were used?
  • How might the AI need to be changed to make it useful for games? Simpler? More complex?

Also, when leading and participating in a discussion, consider the following:

  • Have questions
  • Though experiments
  • Don’t be afraid to have an opinion. You can’t be wrong.

Finally, consider seeking additional sources for additional perspectives into the paper, including author web sites, other papers by the authors, and downloadable movies and demos.

Project Pitches

See the course project page for more information.