The Age of Autonomous Video Games

The Age of Autonomous Video Games

The gaming industry – the largest segment of the broader entertainment industry – continues to grow and evolve. Google is set to join Technology giants Amazon (Twitch) and Microsoft (Xbox) in the gaming space – formal announcement coming on March 19th. Not only are the industry players changing, but so is the underlying AI technology. Autonomous game design is here.

Game Designers Will Enjoy Operating Leverage as Advanced AI is Introduced to Video Game Production.

To date the AI used in video games is simple, surface-level stuff when compared to Machine Learning (“ML”)-powered LiDAR systems or the ML technologies that regularly defeat humans at chess. The reason for this is game designers strive for predictability – they want users to have a predictable gaming experience. ML is the antithesis of predictable as its primary mission is to learn from data it is exposed to and evolve as a result.

“Pathfinding” algorithms are a core form of AI that is deployed in video games. Pathfinding logic is responsible for physically moving a game’s agents through the world of that game – guided navigation if you will – and the underlying principles have not changed since PAC-MAN.

“How” games are built has changed and is about to change further. The primary game design element that has changed over the past few years is the exposing of various pathfinding systems to one another. For example, assume your gaming character is the game’s principal character complete with its own pathfinding system. Elsewhere in the game, designers have created a flock of birds with its own pathfinding system that runs in the background. “Random” events, such as your character firing its weapon into the air and killing a bird is the result of two pathfinding systems momentarily intersecting with one another.

What comes next is more significant. The video game design process is moving to the autonomous age. That’s not to say that entire games will be designed by powerful autonomous agents because game designers still value predictable gaming experiences. However, expect for ML technology to design game elements such as landscapes, cityscapes, lighting and other visual elements. Thus, a portion of the Product Development process is going autonomous. Game producers will be able to drive greater output with less human input – i.e. Operating Leverage. Check out the 90 second video from NVIDIA which depicts the process: