How does Artificial Intelligence(AI) work in video games

AI in video games

When we are talking about AI, the first thing that comes into our mind is, an evil computer tries to destroy the world and humanity. But AI is not completely like that. Believe me or not, you’re using AI all the time. For instance, your smartphone camera, smart speaker, self-driving car, etc. Not only in just smart devices but AI also uses in video games creation.

You probably play some video games that use AI, like Red Dead Redemption 2 or God of war. But smart device AI and video game AI are not the same things. Although the core design and core concept behind AI are the same.

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The AI in the digital system is self-learning, fast but at the same time, they’re completely unpredictable. With the right tools, the developers really push the limit of AI in video games.

Over the years the AI in video games become really good and challenging. Just try to beat chess at high-level difficulty. It’s pretty much impossible. But AI inside of a video game is basically the same core set of principles for decades.

In order to understand how AI works in video games, we need to know about what AI is.

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AI in games

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What is AI or Artificial Intelligence?

Now by the name, you might think of some kind of machine or computer, that can learn, apply knowledge, and take a decision itself. It’s like a virtual mind running inside a virtual space.

I don’t know if you ever played doom 3, but that’s definitely not how it works. So how is something Artificial Intelligence works within the game world? Well, the answer is No. Intelligence defined as the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.

Artificial Intelligence In Video Game

In fact, Artificial Intelligence in games is based on not completely, but most of the time if-then condition. It based on some decision tree that helps the game assets, NPCs or enemies to perform a certain action on some condition.

For instance, a classic game like PAC-MAN at different points, the ghost tries to understand where you’re on the map and where you’re going. And based upon that, whether they try to chase you or run away from you.

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The results seem a lot like intelligence, it seems like it reacts itself. It often does the things, which the developer assign for certain condition. The more condition, the results seem more intelligent.

If you know about programming, you might guess what I’m talking about. But if not then the conditions are something like that. If the player in front of the enemy, shoot at the player and if player not in front of the enemy search for player or circle around something.

It’s not a groundbreaking AI, but it is video game AI none the less. And what’s remarkable is that in today’s modern game the video game AI concept doesn’t really change much over the years.

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How much Artificial Intelligence we can add to a game?

Well, how much AI has to be in a game, it depends on how much complex conditional logic the developer has applied. The complexity gets way much dipper, depend on how much developers can think or how the game is designed.

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E.g. If-this-and-this but not-this-then-that. The more complex the condition the more intelligence the entity seems.

Even the best AI in video games is not supposed to learning intelligence. It might understand some things like, keep tracking the behavior or action of the player and then do something in some way or change some action.

For example, if the player thwarted an enemy continuously for a certain amount of time in a certain way, the developer could apply some logic to track any particular behavior of the player and makes the enemy more aggressive.

You could say, well isn’t that learning? You could consider adding some value or data to the database to track something during the course of the game. And it could be considered to be learning, but it’s become predictable in some way. The scientist considers, that learning is developing behavior, having thoughts, ideas, doing things that are not designed for.

Although this kind of Artificial Intelligence is not made for video games. We can hope to see such things in the future. In video games, Artificial Intelligence has a single purpose. When you create a guard and place them in a hallway, all the AI functions center around what they are supposed to do in that hallway. Particularly what they are supposed to do when they see you in the hallway. Are they suppose to tell you something or attack you?

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Difficulty Level design AI in Video Games

Artificial Intelligence can use to define a difficulty for the player. ‘Rubberband AI’ is some sort of AI that matches the skill level of that player. It does that by figures out how the player plays the games and based upon that the AI defines difficulty.

For instance, in the racing games, it makes the other player more aggressive, more skilled. In sports games, it might make the other team more defensive or more offensive, depending on how you play.

That is called Dynamic Game Difficulty Balancing. Again the game sort of figuring out what level you’re playing at and trying to create a tailor-made experience for that level of play. There’s a level of Artificial Intelligence that’s needed pretty much every level of the game in order to maintain something like this.


So, how do video game AI works? Well, they’re actually a kind of a trick. Whether or not they’re a good trick depends on how good the magician is. Is Artificial Intelligence based on some cognitive science or is ti just rudimentary stuff?

In some ways, it’s just as much part of the art as any other part. And a truly experienced and involved artist will immerse you into their world in a way that others can’t.

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