5 Ways Game Development Companies Are Leveraging Artificial Intelligence

  • By Sagar
  • 14-12-2020
  • Artificial Intelligence
ai in game

For game development companies, both big and small, AI (Artificial Intelligence) plays a crucial part in their games. Though AI has been used in games, ever since games first arrived on the scene, leaps in AI technology in the past few years, have drastically changed the

situation. Things that were once thought to be impossible in games are now possible thanks to it.In this article, we will explain the diverse ways in which game development companies are using AI in their games. You too can glean some important lessons from them:

I. Programming NPC Behavior
NPCs are crucial elements in games. They pose a challenge for the player and act as an obstacle. To do so, the NPC must exhibit certain behaviors. Game developers make NPCs do this, by giving their control to AI.

Among this is ‘Pathfinding.’ Pathfinding is the method in games where NPCs find the shortest way to navigate from point A to point B. Without using AI or complex algorithms, this would be hard for developers to implement.

Combat is another aspect where AI is used for programming NPCs. In Alien: Isolation, for instance, the Aliens are given not one, but two AIs. The combination of these two AIs allows these aliens to find the player-controlled character’s general vicinity, wherever they are hiding. Other AI uses in combat include the NPC changing the battle strategy when their health decreases or taking cover when they are low on bullets.

Similarly, using AI for NPCs on a large scale helps immerse the players deeply in the game’s world. A notable example of this is Red Dead Redemption. In RDD, AI controls many elements including the behavior of NPCs and animals. This makes the game world feel like a real place that exists.

II. Content Generation
No Man’s Sky is a game where the player can explore thousands of stars and planets. Each planet in the game has its distinct flora, fauna, terrains, etc. If not for AI, it would have taken the developers decades to create the game.

Instead of creating every single planet and every single creature within each planet, the developers behind the game relied on an AI technique known as ‘Procedural Generation.’ Under this method, the AI generates a lot of content based on various codes, maths, and various input from the game developers. All of this results in unique environments, creatures, etc., on every planet within the game.

Several top game development companies are already exploring this option. Some are using it to create new levels, characters, etc., for the game. There are even some who are trying to use procedural generation to create an entire game, just with the help of AI.

III. Game Personalization
The game that every gamer likes the most is the one that feels the most personal to them. Due to this, game development companies have tried to make games personalized for years now. To a certain extent, they have achieved this via audience segmentation.

Segmentation divides users into distinct categories based on various demographic and behavioral data.

AI, however, will allow developers to take it deeper. It will let them personalize the game for each individual, rather than a segment.
The AI will study each player’s behavior and learn their preferences. And once learned, they will tailor the gameplay experience accordingly. For instance, if the player is skilled the AI might decide to increase the gameplay difficulty, to make the game more appealing to them.

This benefits both the game development companies and the players overall. Game development companies will be able to make their games engaging for each player. Players meanwhile will have the gaming experiences they really want.

IV. Playtesting
Playtesting is a crucial part of game development. It helps identify balancing issues and whether certain game elements are fun or not.
Playtesting is mostly done by human testers. But game development companies like King (the company behind Candy Crush), have managed to conduct playtesting with the help of AI. And they have found out that it is quite effective. With human players, playtesting usually takes a long time. However, with AI playtesting, developers can test things in a matter of minutes.

Ai playtesting might become commonplace within just a few years. The famed game engine Unity has already rolled out a solution that lets developer’s playtest their games on the cloud. Using the solutions, thousands of hours' worth of real playing time can be simulated in a matter of minutes.

V. Data Mining
Data mining helps developers to make sense of the vast amounts of data that they receive from their game about player behavior. It helps them identify patterns of behavior that their players exhibit and then make changes to optimize the gaming experience.
By improving the game this way, top game development companies ensures that the gameplay is optimized for engagement, retention, and monetization.

For game development companies, AI unlocks a lot of possibilities. It helps them make the game a far better experience than what was once possible when AI was in just its infancy.

With AI and game development technologies improving each year, we might see better ways in which AI is used in games. As a result, we are also bound to see better games.

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Sagar is working at Juego Studios a Game Development Company. He writes a blogs about technology, gaming and art and design. In his free time.

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