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AI Game Engine Programming with CDROM [Paperback]

Brian Schwab
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan. 2 2004 Charles River Media Game Development
AI Game Engine Programming provides game developers with the tools and wisdom necessary to create modern game AI engines. It takes programmers from theory to actual game development, with usable code frameworks designed to go beyond merely detailing how a technique might be used. In addition, it surveys the capabilities of the different techniques used. In addition, it surveys the capabilities of the different techniques used in some current AI engines, and covers common pitfalls, design considerations, and optimizations. If you're having difficulty determining which techniques to use, or looking for working code best suited to a particular game, you'll find the answers here. You'll also find a clean, usable interface for a variety of game AI techniques with an emphasis on primary decision-making paradigms.

The book provides insightful coverage of a variety of subjects important to AI engine development, and ties them together masterfully to form an indispensable reference. Part I provides an overall look at game AI, covers the basic terminology used in the book, reviews underlying concepts of game AI, and dissects the parts of a game AI engine. Part II covers specific game genres (RPG, TRS, FTPS, Shooter, Sports, Racing, Strategy, Adventure, Fighting, Platform, and miscellaneous) and explains how they use different AU paradigms. It also covers the move common solutions to the problems posed by each genre. Some of the problems include, dealing with direct AI and human interactions, using scripting languages appropriately, and general intelligence/entertainment balancing. Part III provides the actual code implementations for the basic AI techniques such as finite state machines, fuzzy state machines, message board systems, scripted systems, and location-based information systems! . And, Part IV covers the move advanced techniques, including genetic algorithms, neural networks, artificial life, planning algorithms, and decision trees. The book concludes with Part V, which looks at "real game AI development." The areas covered here focus on how distributed AI works as an overall paradigm that can help with the organization of any AI engine. There is also coverage of common AI development, debugging and tuning, and the future of AI.

After reading this book you'll have traveled through most of the huge landscape of knowledge that a game AI programmer faces, and you'll be prepared to master it!

Key Feature: * Provides a detailed guide for programmers interested in creating an AI engine for and game genre * Breaks down AI elements and solutions by genre, and provides concrete examples from popular games * Includes code implementations for both basic and complex AI techniques * Provides suggestions for how the AI systems discussed can be extended or optimized for space, speed, and other limitations * Explains distributed AI as a paradigm that can help with the organization of almost any AI engine

On the CD-ROM The CD-ROM includes all of the source code compiled using Microsoft Visual C++ 6.0, along with the compiled binaries; the GLUT wrapper for OpenGL library, and the Lua language library; useful bookmarks; and all the figures from the book.

System Requirements: Pentium 3.1 GHz or better, GeoForce Go or 3 graphics card or better, Windows (ME, 2000, or XP). The demonstration programs are written in Microsoft Visual C++ under the Windows platform, but only rendering is platform specific. The rendering API used is the GLUT extension to Open GL.


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About the Author

Brian Schwab (San Diego, CA) has been a game programmer for over ten years, and has held key positions as Gameplay and AI Programmer for both Angel Studios and DreamWorks Interactive. He currently works as a Senior AI Programmer for Sony Computer Entertainment.

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Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Lazy and poorly edited Jan. 17 2010
Format:Paperback
The book is quite poorly edited. Images are stretched, blurry, oddly positioned and occasionally unlabeled. As a result of this, the size of the font in images fluctuates depending on where the image is positioned. In spite of the second edition being published in the end of 2008, their history of AI in video games ends in 2001, which makes me think that not much has changed in the book since the first edition. Pages are used up in unannotated pasted source code, which while interesting would have been much better if the core techniques and design philosophies were explained. Instead, it's just "here's some of the AI code from Game X" followed by five pages of line wrapped AI code from Game X. Not entirely worthless, but lazy. The later chapters covering neural networks and genetic algorithms are neat, but shallow.

The CD included with the book contains code for each of the chapters. The code, as far as I've looked at it is complete, and written to a decent level of quality. Strangely, there are no options to configure within the projects though to see the different approaches to AI - for example, different weights on various constraints, or different visualizations. Also strangely, the code is not available online, so don't lose the CD or you are out of luck. One thing that the book does well is provide many suggestions of ways to add functionality to the AI within the demos.

AI Game Engine Programming could have been well done, but the code demos need to be cleaned up and the book is in desperate need of a competent editor. As an alternative, I would recommend Programming Game AI By Example. It goes into much more depth, the code samples are far more advanced and complete, and the editing is anything but lazy.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the read Jan. 6 2010
Format:Paperback
This was a good book to cover AI Game Engines and gave the information at a fairly quick pace to keep you interested. A lot of topics are covered by this book, and I would definitely recommend picking it up if you are looking for an introduction to Game AI. This also covers scripting, plug-ins, and many topics that are required to write a Game AI Engine. Many different types of AI are also discussed. This will certainly stay on a shelf by my desk for reference.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
50 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best game book I've read yet April 15 2005
By Paul - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I have worked in the game industry for over 10 years, and have also taught classes in game design and programming. This is the first book that I would recommend as intro/intermediate textbook for game AI. It covers all the popular game types (shooters, fighters, sports, and more) and covers all the popular AI methods (state machines, scripting, messaging, many others).

The book uses a very clean, not-too formal, not-too conversational writing style, which is easy to get into and yet remains professional sounding. The included code is clean, usable, and is very representative of real working game code. There's also tons of code snippets from actual released games to show the reader how the concepts have been done out in the wild.

The book also goes into the actual process of creating an AI system for a game project. Only by knowing the type of game you're going to make, the platform, the audience, and a slurry of other factors can you intelligently design a system that will provide your project with everything it needs to succeed.

All in all, a great piece of work from an industry vet.

Also, another review states that "the book fails because it's OpenGL based," which is hilarious in its ignorance and outright falsehood. The reviewer states that "all major gaming houses use DirectX" which is strange, cosidering that the vast majority of all video games are actually not PC based (which is the platform that mostly uses DirectX; Sony and Nintendo obviously are not using Microsoft's libraries, even the XBox uses a very specialized version of DirectX). Plus the fact that the author actually WORKS at Sony, and you can see that the reviewer doesn't really have any clue. The book is about Game AI, and the small bit of OpenGL code in the book is just allowing a quick, cross platform "renderer" for the AI demos. This is not a book on game graphics, and never says that it is.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very comprehensive. Jan. 31 2005
By jasper - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I really dug this book. It was interesting from many different angles. The breakdown of the various game types into what kinds of AI was most useful was cool, I'd never seen that in an AI book before. In addition to all the working code, the book also had quite a few "samples" of code from real games, so that you could see some of the techniques in use. I really liked the section at the end of each coding chapter where the book talks about "Extensions" meaning ways to take each AI method a step or two further. I also liked the chapter on how to break down a game into a bunch of AI pieces, separating the AI into workable chunks.

Some of the figures were a little janky, but they did get the idea across. Definately doesn't detract from the book, it just seemed like some of the figures were much better then others.

I've been using the little test app included with the book (it's a small openGL version of asteroids) to play with some ideas of my own. Everything's worked very nice so far.

All in all, very good book. Lots of usable code and plenty of real game AI information.
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All around great book on the subject Sept. 6 2005
By Anthony - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book was quite revealing to me. It is basically split into two halves: the first part talks about specific game types and how developers have traditionally used AI systems for each, and the second part which covers the actual code implementations for these systems.

I loved the in depth game section. It was really interesting to find out exactly which techniques are used the the various games. He even includes many examples from real life games. It made thinking about creating these systems for myself seem much more doable.

As far as code goes, there's a ton of it. Both working game code for each type of AI system he's trying to explain, as well as code from real games or internet demos. I found his code clean and professionally written. I have already used code from three different chapters as a launching point for my own projects.

I saw a reference in another review for Programming AI by Example. I also own that book and I must say I liked this one better. Matt's book is good, don't get me wrong. But there's a whole chapter on math basics (which I didn't need), another chapter on steering behaviors (all of the information and code for which I can get directly from Craig Reynold's OpenSteer project online) and then specific chapters detailing Matt's own AI engine, which is called Raven (nothing really mind blowing, and I'd rather code my own to get the concepts solid).

Brian's book, on the other hand, was more of a toolbox of code that I can assemble into whatever shapes I need. Not too much code, and definately not too little. One of the reviewers noted that there's "not enough code to illustrate the concepts"? Sounds to me like somebody just wants the entire thing done for him. I looked at the other books that guy has reviewed, and he absolutely loved Andre LaMothe's "Tricks of the Windows Game Programming Gurus". Ha. That book is for total beginners, and was just a collection and republishing of some of his earlier, outdated books. He even says "I want to write like him".

I'm really looking forward to anything else Brian might write in the future. I have found so many useful nuggets of information from this book. Great job.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just What I Was Looking For Feb. 20 2005
By Joseph Cocovich - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Up to now, I have discovered books that contained AI code samples but out of context for what I needed. The code was specific and merely a part of collections of examples. I finally found this book. It explains all the game genres in terms of AI capability and requirements albeit rather technical in some places that I appreciated as reference. I have not completed the book yet but the contents are allowing me to create my own AI Engine that includes all the types in the book. Just to gain experience and knowledge and add to my portfolio. I strongly recommend this book for both it's content and the CD contents. --Joe
29 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No real meat and potatoes, but many appetizers. Aug. 22 2005
By Stephen Murrish - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
First, I would like to address the comment a reviewer made about the book being no good because it utilizes OpenGL.

This is a book on AI, the AI concepts and code can be implemented using any rendering API (or none at all) to visualize their activity. OpenGL and DirectX have as much to do with AI as car engine maintenance has to do with cooking a good lobster neuberg. The fact that the reviewer cannot make this distinction is sadly telling. Some people want all the work done for them. If you are that type, don't bother with programming.

Second, the reviewer who said that this book is too scattered is right. It tries to do too many things and ends up doing none of them extremely well. It does, however, have a few good code samples and can be used as an introductory book on the subject.
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