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Artificial Intelligence for Games Hardcover – Aug 6 2009
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"Ian Millington's book is a comprehensive reference to the most widely used techniques in game AI today. Any game developer working on AI will learn something from this book, and game producers should make sure their AI programmers have a copy." -Dr. Ian Lane Davis, Mad Doc Software
About the Author
Ian Millington is a partner of IPR Ventures, a consulting company developing next-generation AI technologies for entertainment, modeling, and simulation. Previously he founded Mindlathe Ltd, the largest specialist AI middleware company in computer games, working with on a huge range of game genres and technologies. He has a long background in AI, including PhD research in complexity theory and natural computing. He has published academic and professional papers and articles on topics ranging from paleontology to hypertext.
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This book is one of the few exceptions. There is a refreshing breadth and depth of game AI knowledge in this book that has been of tremendous help. Unlike the common "Gems" series of books, this book contains enough information on nearly every topic for the reader to build a 'ground up' implementation of their own.
My only complaints are that the pseudocode seems to be overly simplified and not as easily converted to a concrete implementation as I'd like, and that even for a book on game-specific AI implementations, the authors seem to enjoy a bit more of an academic/idealized approach to the design. That might be less bothersome to a professional game developer, but I'm at the hobbyist/indie level, and sometimes need a quick-and-dirty implementation before I begin to really understand what's going on.
Having said that, I was able to use the book to learn about and implement goal-oriented action planning, fast and flexible A* path finding (with additional info on modified funnel algorithm online), and several other critical components.
I would absolutely recommend this book.
As I have learnt from this book, artificial intelligence is about making computers able to perform some thinking tasks that human and animals are capable of. This includes superhuman abilities in solving many arithmetic, sorting, searching and decision making problems. This book shows how it can be achieved revealing a range of techniques to the reader.
The book is split into five parts: introduction for AI in games, the substance of the AI (movement, pathfinding, decision making, tactical and strategic reasoning, learning), technologies and ways of implementation that enable the AI to do its job and finally designing game AI.
I think this book could be aimed at a wide range of readers but is most suitable for those looking for solid understanding of game AI and comprehensive reference to techniques used in top studios. The book helps to gain a deep and thorough view on modeling complex emotional states, triggers, and behaviors. To get the most from the book, you have to manage some time to read it and to understand its contents. If you need a quick AI solutions repository you should probably find another book related to a particular technology or computer language.
The book is associated with a website that contains a library of C++ source code covering the techniques found in the book. Hopefully the C++ code used in samples is relatively easy to read and includes many comments. There are also demonstration programs compiled as EXE files.
Besides many technical solutions to AI related issues I have also learnt from this book a few high-level things. For instance I have learnt that creating good AI is all about matching the right behaviors to the right algorithms and that often, a very simple technique used well can have better results then implementing complex the AI in the game.
This book is an open minder or a view broadener on many aspects related to the AI in games. It can also serve as a great example of good analysis, desing and prototyping examples of more or less complex algorithms which are about to use in specific projects. This is a very valuable title for any computer science professional dealing with Artificial Intelligence (for games).
One of the features that I like the most about this book is the extensive use of good written descriptions and pseudo code, rather than shoving fragments of somewhat understandable c++ code down your throat. They have code associated with the book - it's really too light to be immediately usable, and not all chapters in the book have example snippets, but the descriptive text has generally been more than sufficient to help you develop the algorithms on your own.
The authors also make some reference to games in industry and AI mechanisms, but rather than using it in a name dropping, cataloging sort of frame, they often explain why of the choices, and the benefits and drawbacks associated with the game and AI mechanism choices.
While I'm only focusing on a few chapters right now, I expect this book to be an excellent long term reference work on the field for me.
If you need a robust introduction to AI and Games this book it's a good start point.
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