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Five AI tools every game developer should have in their toolbelt


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Five AI tools every game developer should have in their toolbelt
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Gabriella Barros, AI Researcher at modl.ai, and Ricardo Sissnet, Lead Engineer at modl.ai

The games industry is no stranger to Artificial Intelligence (AI) in video games. Anyone that’s played a game populated by NPCs or multiplayer games with bots will know that the quality of the AI that defines how they interact with players can be hugely variable. Done well, AI-controlled characters help a game to be more cohesive and engaging.

That’s why research into game AI is an ongoing focus for so many studios, with bigger companies such as Sony exploring advanced AI techniques like reinforcement learning, which has the potential to create the most advanced form of NPCs to be a player’s friend or foe, depending on how they play.

But AI’s capabilities don’t stop there. AI is also changing the way games are developed, adding much greater realism to in-game characters, gaming experience and creating autonomous online bots that are near-indistinguishable from human players.

Electronic Arts is currently developing systems that use machine learning to replicate facial expressions, skin types and body movements from video and photos. In theory, this means that actors would no longer have to come into a  mo-cap studio and there would be a greater range of genders and ethnicities produced in games.

With so much happening in this space, we’ve compiled a list of five AI tools every game developer should have at hand to make their lives easier.

 

Content Generation

One of the most time-consuming processes a developer will have to deal with is content generation, especially in puzzle games where there is a high demand for new levels. But AI technology can help here, using a method known as Procedural Content Generation (PCG), which creates content algorithmically. AI can be used to generate tens or hundreds of variations ready to be reviewed and selected. If the AI is being used for level generation, it’s even possible to use AI bots to play the levels and score them for difficulty or the time it takes to complete them.

PCG allows for quicker content creation and provides developers with more time for creative experimentation. The AI can easily do the heavy lifting, but human input is still crucial to launching a polished product, which is where the developer’s skill comes in.

 

Testing

Unlike mobile apps or web pages, games are one of the hardest forms of software to test due to their sheer variation, the near-infinite number of states a game can have, its custom interaction models, and constant updates.

Games are still mainly tested by humans, which means it can be a lengthy and expensive process. While big studios have the budget to create dedicated teams that focus solely on game testing, smaller developers mostly rely on their network of friends, coworkers and fans. But what happens when they are unable to test every aspect of the game? That is where AI and machine learning steps in.

Testing in video games is complex due to the number of split-second choices a player can make and the outcomes those choices have. In addition, there are interactions with other human and non-human players that are also non-deterministically playing the game, which further complicates things.

The advantage of using AI bots for your playtesting is that they can test quickly, constantly and methodically. For example, bots can be used to test for things like object clipping by running all the possible moves and interactions on a level far faster than a human player..

Cheat Detection

Cheating turns players off multiplayer gaming,  even if they are not directly affected. For players striving to be the best, it’s all too easy to turn to cheat tools that bestow superhero-like powers in the game. Cheating tools range from simple aimbots that assist with aiming and shooting in FPS games like CounterStrike to mining bots in MMOs that control a player’s character and essentially play for them.

Developers can combat the use of cheats with machine learning and behaviour-based detection AI. By collecting data on a player’s behavioural patterns, such as how a player moves the controller or how fast a player reacts, AI can recognise when an action goes beyond normal human behaviour.

While there are plenty of other products that are able to detect cheaters, the advantage of a machine learning system is that it’s continuously learning and adapting itself to fit the game – making it harder for players to fool. This means that developers can employ updates and patches to the game without having to reprogram the AI.

 

Content Moderation

Online toxicity has become a growing problem as more and more games are built around persistent online worlds with thousands of concurrent players. There are times that a small number of players spoil the experience for the majority.  However, AI is a great ally for developers looking to curb such behaviours and safeguard their players.

There are different approaches to moderating game chat. The most common is to use lists of banned words and phrases, which can be used to block posts that use them. The problem here is that gamers can get around moderation by changing letters to numbers or using slang phrases.

A better approach is to use an AI model that can consider the context of the text so that even if a player is being clever with the spelling of a word, it will still be flagged due to its context and intent. This kind of AI is relatively recent, with only a handful of experts working in this field. But, with no signs that toxic behaviours are declining and the number of people playing games increasing, this is a field that will continue to need expert solutions.

Whilst, AI can capture the bulk of comments before they are posted, human moderators are still required as the ultimate arbiters of what content is permissible.  But working as a team, human moderators and AI moderation can together ensure that games are a safe space for all players.

 

AI Player Stand-Ins

The big attraction of online games is the ability to interact and team up with other players.  However, there are not always enough human players to fill in the empty seats; that’s where bots come in.

Bots can act as a reasonable stand-in for human players, with a sophisticated range of behaviours. But it’s still pretty obvious to most when you are playing alongside a bot rather than a real person

One way to address this is to use AI to introduce more variables into the behaviour of the bots. This can give a much more realistic impression of unpredictability, and reproduce things like the risk-taking that you often encounter with human players.

While the combination of techniques used to create effective AI-based bots is fairly new, when done correctly it can create dynamic, adaptive and very human-like bots that add an extra dimension to online play.

 

AI tools are there to help developers

Developers are faced with an immense amount of challenges to develop great games very quickly, but thanks to the latest AI-based tools, there are powerful solutions to some of the most resource-hungry aspects of the development process.

That is why AI is increasingly becoming an essential addition to the game development process, providing developers with the tools, and the insight, to address any issue that arises.  Which, in turn, allows them to unload tedious tasks and concentrate on creative output.

 

 

About modl.ai

Headquartered in Denmark, modl.ai is a team of game developers, engineers and AI experts working together to create AI-driven tools for building better games. Its AI-based tools allow developers to rapidly create and test games and understand their players. modl.ai’s unique technology is designed to accelerate the game development process, automating repetitive and time-intensive tasks and helping developers to enhance and increase player engagement.

modl.ai was founded in 2018 by Christoffer Holmgård, Benedikte Mikkelsen, Lars Henriksen, Sebastian Risi, Georgios N. Yannakakis, and Julian Togelius, who between them have been involved in the launch of more than 30 games and have more than 28,000 citations in technical literature covering AI and game design. In 2019 the company successfully secured seed funding from a number of investors led by PreSeed Ventures, Denmark’s largest and most successful early-stage investor, joined by Saltagen Ventures and Propagator Ventures.

Compliance Updates

Pagcor’s efforts POGO-related crimes

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On January 31, 2023, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) learned through a news report that Soleil Chartered Bank issued a statement denying the issuance of a bank certification to Global ComRCI, PAGCOR’s third-party auditor for offshore gaming licensees, whose contract commenced in December 2017.

In relation to this report, PAGCOR would like to reiterate that since the assumption of its new management in August 2022, all contracts – including that of Global ComRCI – were put under review last September 2022.

PAGCOR’s new management is revalidating the veracity of the documents submitted by its third-party auditor, Global ComRCI. Should PAGCOR be able to prove that the documents submitted were spurious, it will immediately take legal action and cancel the contract of its third-party auditor, if found warranted.

PAGCOR would like to thank Senator Sherwin Gatchalian for shedding light on this issue during the senate investigation on January 23, 2023.

The state-run gaming firm reassures the public that it is conscientiously looking into the matter and will take the necessary actions to safeguard public interest. Further, PAGCOR upholds strict adherence of its offshore licensed operators and accredited service providers to whatever laws which may be applicable to them.

 

On offshore gaming-related crimes

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) reported during the Senate Hearing on January 31, 2023 that there was a rise in the number of recorded crimes related to offshore gaming operations in the country from 2019 to 2022.

PAGCOR denounces these criminal acts and will not sit idly in the face of these injustices.

Hence, to safeguard the integrity of the offshore gaming industry in the country, PAGCOR will continue to monitor the lawfulness of the activities of its accredited licensees and service providers. Should they be found guilty of engaging in criminal acts, the state-run gaming agency will not hesitate to impose sanctions and penalties, as provided by the law.

Further, PAGCOR will continue to strengthen its collaboration with concerned government agencies such as the PNP, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to combat all crimes being linked to offshore gaming operations.

PAGCOR would like to underscore that as a result of the inter-agency cooperation meeting held last September 2022 involving abovementioned agencies, there have been no reported criminal activities or kidnapping-related incidents of workers in the offshore gaming industry for over three months.

PAGCOR believes that while gaming operations – including offshore gaming – contribute significantly to government revenues, they must not be used as a vehicle for abuse and injustices. As the country’s gaming regulator, PAGCOR condemns these dreadful acts and will ensure that the local gaming industry will maintain the integrity of its operations.

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Gaming

Fractured Sanity – a heart-wrenching VR survival horror experience coming soon on Steam and Oculus App Lab

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Imagine you wake up in a cell in the Triton Institute, an experimental asylum led by Dr. Matthew Simmons. Lately, the clinic has been surrounded by rumors of abuse and inhumane working conditions and it seems that most of the staff has gone missing. All you know is that Dr. Simmons has been conducting research into the tripartite psyche on how to break someone’s id, ego and superego apart. How far has he gone?

Brazilian studio, United Games, invites you to embark on an intense and fully immersive VR adventure. Fractured Sanity is a single-player game developed exclusively for VR where all mechanics and puzzles are realistic and interactive. In this horror survival game, you will engage in a thrilling story and uncover the dark truth about the clinic and how you got there. 

The release date for Fractured Sanity will be announced soon. It’s a dream come true for the developers at United Games to finally be able to share their game with the world. 

Gabriel Marques, co-developer at United Games commented: “Ever since I was 14 when I first read an RPG Maker magazine, I’ve been dreaming of making games for a living. Now, with our first release, I feel like I’ve taken the first big step towards that goal.” 

United Games co-developer Gustavo Longhi added: “Two years ago I wouldn’t have dreamt of developing games, it always seemed so hard and complex to me. Looking back on this process and releasing our first game might be the biggest accomplishment of my life so far.” 

Check Fractured Sanity’s trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ya8EDrp6QPQ

Wishlist Fractured Sanity on Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1954840/Fractured_Sanity/
Wishlist Fractured Sanity on Oculus App Lab: https://www.oculus.com/experiences/quest/5347273738669610/
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Gaming

OKTO’s paytech and global team take center stage at ICE London

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Global omnichannel payment provider OKTO will be at ICE London (stand S8-210) with a commitment to improve payment interactions for online and retail gaming and introduce frictionless digital payments with its local knowledge, sector expertise and international capabilities.

A global team of 30 senior executives will present the company’s entire ecosystem of top-performing payment methods powered by OKTO’s unified payment platform, including its flagship, OKTO.CASH, an embedded and frictionless eVoucher payment method and OKTO.WALLET, the company’s omnichannel payment solution that covers all verticals and touchpoints.

In a move that brings further innovation to the retail space, OKTO selects ICE as a platform to launch its brand-new payment solution which comes to revolutionise the retail gaming landscape. Alongside, the payment brand fully aligned with the operators’ requirement to build new and enhanced customer journeys, will showcase its embedding financial services as well as the capabilities of the wallet solution for a fully branded solution.

Over three action-packed days, OKTO’s team from LatAm will be ready to give a full picture of how the company can power operators in the region to stay ahead of the competition via local payments. OKTO will show its Payment Aggregator Solutions, offering local payments via a single restful API integration which can be blended with the brand’s cross-border services, powering growth for operators irrespective of geographical location.

Filippos Antonopoulos, Founder and CEO of OKTO said: “ICE London is back to its very best with all the major supplier brands returning after what is a three-year Covid-enforced absence, and appropriately OKTO is making its’ exhibition commitment with powerful and innovative solutions on display.

We look forward to welcoming our friends, partners, and industry peers to the global meeting point for the industry, listening to their needs and sharing with them our vision.”

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