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Programming Game AI by Example by Mat Buckland

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Last Words
Wow! The end of the book is here. No more late nights (for a short while at
least). I can go out and party. See my friends. I wonder how old they’ll
look. Maybe my girlfriend will even start talking to me again!
Seriously though, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this book, have learned
from it, and are ready to start implementing the techniques in your own
games (if you haven’t started already). If you’d like to discuss any of the
topics in this book or anything else related to AI, please visit the forum at
my web site, www.ai-junkie.com.
I’d like to end the book with a few guidelines I recommend you revisit
from time to time… to keep it real, as rappers are fond of saying.
n
There is very rarely just one correct way of creating a good game AI
solution. Experiment with various methods as much as time permits
before committing yourself to a design.
n
Playtest often, and listen to your playtesters. If possible, watch them
play. Make sure you take a notepad and pen, as you’ll be using them
a lot.
n
During your learning curve you will find yourself drawn — inevita-
bly, like a moth to a flame — to one or two AI techniques that really
make your whiskers curl. Do not fall into the trap of obsessing over
such techniques and contriving problems to apply them to. This is
akin to finding a hammer and then walking around looking for stuff
to hit with it.
n
Do at least one brainstorming session devoted to AI with everyone
else on your team, not just the game designer/producer (yes, even the
artists). This will result in several new and possibly exciting ideas
for you to mull over.
n
The design of game AI is an iterative process. There’s no way you’re
going to get it right the first time. It’s just not possible to consider all
the intricacies of anything more complex than the simplest of prob
-
lems, so do not become disheartened when your first attempt per
-
forms poorly. Persevere, learn from your mistakes, and keep
repeating the design cycle until you get it right.
457
n
Don’t limit your reading to game AI related topics. Many of your
best ideas will come when reading around the subject. Cognitive sci
-
ence, robotics, philosophy, psychology, social science, biology, and
even military tactics are all topics worthy of your time.
n
A hugely clever and almost unbeatable opponent is rarely the goal of
a game AI programmer. Good AI has one purpose: to make the
gameplay fun. You will be wise to remind yourself of this from time
to time because, believe me, it is very easy to miss the point and get
bogged down with trying to make the most intelligent game agent
known to man instead of one that makes a player laugh and shout
with glee.
n
Above all, when designing AI, always bear in mind that the sophisti
-
cation of your game agent should be proportional to its life span.
There is little point designing an agent that utilizes all the latest tech
-
nological bells and whistles if it’s only expected to live for three sec
-
onds before a player blows its head off.
458 | Last Words

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