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AI Techniques for Game Programming [Paperback]

Mat Buckland
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 14 2002 193184108X 978-1931841085 1
"AI Techniques for Game Programming" takes the difficult topics of genetic algorithms and neural networks and explains them in plain English. Gone are the tortuous mathematic equations and abstract examples to be found in other books. Each chapter takes readers through the theory a step at a time, explaining clearly how they can incorporate each technique into their own games. After a whirlwind tour of Windows programming, readers will learn how to use genetic algorithms for optimization, path-finding, and evolving control sequences for their game agents. Coverage of neural network basics quickly advances to evolving neural motion controllers for their game agents and applying neural networks to obstacle avoidance and map exploration. Backpropagation and pattern recognition is also explained. By the end of the book, readers will know how to train a network to recognize mouse gestures and how to use state-of-the-art techniques for creating neural networks with dynamic topologies.

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Review

"Game programming is without a doubt the most intellectually challenging field of computer science in the world. However, we would be fooling ourselves if we said that we are 'serious' people! Writing (and reading) a game programming book, should be an exciting adventure for both the author and the reader." Andre LaMothe, Series Editor

About the Author

Mat Buckland studied Computer Science at London University, then spent many years as a Risk Management Consultant. He went on to work for a developer producing games for Gremlin Software. He now works as a freelance programmer and AI consultant. Mat has been interested in evolutionary computing and AI in general since he first read about these techniques back in the early '80s. He is the author of the ai-junkie.com Web Site, which provides tutorials and advice on evolutionary algorithms.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for me May 19 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I spent the majority of the time I was reading this book thinking "This is perfect!" Just about every other book of this general type that I have read assumes I know things I don't, is a lot thicker than it needs to be, is much too simple, or is really boring. I don't think the author of this book wasted any pages at all. Everything was put forth in a concise, easy to read tone, and whenever I came across something I hadn't seen before, it was explained in short order. At the same time, he does assume that you know what you're doing, C++ programming-wise, so I didn't have to skip past anything I already knew. For what it's worth, this book created a lot of enthusiasm and confidence in me.
The examples in the book are great. Each chapter takes you through a different small project that helps you to understand what is going on, as well as how it can be applied to games. And, as a bonus, the projects are actually interesting! I really got a kick out of showing my versions of them to people. I was able to code each of them myself in a day or two as I went, but the author's full source code and executables are included if you just want to take a look as you read.
If you are already pretty familiar with windows programming, you probably won't need to read the first two chapters, but they answered a lot of questions for me, and really I felt like the author knew what I was thinking. Later on in the book, there is a review of transforms and matrix math that I found to be a really good reference and refresher.
As a side note, the author wanted to title this book "Genetic Algorithms and Neural Networks for Game Programming," but his publisher didn't think it was 'snappy' enough. He's very active in the forums on his website, and he and others there have been a great help to me.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not just for games April 30 2003
Format:Paperback
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so let me tell you what I was looking for: a non-academic AI book with practical examples for implementing genetic algorithms and neural nets. I don't have a math degree (though I understand basic algebra and remember a bit of trig), and I learn best by doing hand's on project, not by theorizing.
This book fits the bill perfectly. It is well written, humorous, clear and patient. The examples are interesting enough that you can see how they would be useful for solving other problems, not necessarily game related.
One caveat: if you don't have a decent intro to basic Win32 API programming, get Charles Petzold's Programming Win32 book and get busy. Yes, the first two chapters of AI Techniques are a Win32 refresher (which was good for me because I last wrote Win32 3 years ago...I now do Java only), but I'm pretty sure if you haven't seen it before you'll be lost.
BTW, just to give you an idea how clear the concepts were presented, I've recoded Chapters 3 and 5 as properly OOPed (MVC, etc) Java applications. Just MHO, but Java is a much better platform for this stuff. ...
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great book!! Nov. 10 2002
Format:Paperback
Well, Ive read about 4 chapters so far, and it is definitely a keeper. If you have no prior knowledge of AI or want to clarify and be able to implement in code the concepts of genetic algorithms and neural networks, this is definitely the book for you. Just be sure to know some C++...
Some extra stuff: The two first chapters explains windows programming. Wow!! In about 70 easily degistable pages you get the hang of windows programming!
What is great about the other two sections (genetic algÂ's and neural nets) is that they are explained in a very down-to-earth manner, with workable code-examples in every chapter.
What is preventing me from giving it five stars is that it initially makes a point of being written so easily that an idiot can understand it, and that a witty author and a casual style of writing will more readily impregnent the information in the readers mind. Well, the author TRIES to write in a casual way that will appeal to the average targeted reader (I assume male, 18 to 30 years of age), but unfortunately that effort only manifests itself in very occasional jokes trying to punch a hole through the otherwise stiff and professional language. Still, the material is very easily presented (even for a swedish reader), and much more casually written than virtually any book on AI so far; its just that the general tone and vocabulary is a bit more dull than it had to be.
Well, regardless of this criticism, this is the best book for anybody who wants to get a clear grasp of AI, and be able to implement it in code. BUY IT!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great resource April 8 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I work for a middle to large size game developer and found myself in a position where I had to learn about neural networks very quickly (we are experimenting with them for part of a sports sim we are developing). A colleague recommended this book and I've found it to be invaluable. I picked up the basics in just a few days, enough so I could follow the code at work, and even to suggest some improvements.
I'm was also surprised by how much fun this book makes GAs and NNs. I assumed it was going to be hard work but the author has a knack for making everything seem so easy. Learning about these techniques has also given me a whole new perspective on some AI related issues.
...In a nutshell, if you want to learn about GAs and NNs then this is a great book which will fill you with excitement and help you approach AI problems in new and interesting ways.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Introduction to Neural Networks and Genertic Algorithms
The code is rather old (written in C/C++) but it is easy to understand and well explained.

It is a shame that the book has not been updated.
Published 2 months ago by Victor Lonmo
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, doesn't try to cover everything.
I really don't see why so many people freak out and pretend to be all upset because it covers use of the GDI at the beginning. Read more
Published on Dec 13 2003 by cowsarenotevil
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy and enjoyable reading
The author demonstrates that it is possible to write about a subject as complex and academic as AI without boring your audience to tears. Read more
Published on Aug. 13 2003 by "heinouscling"
3.0 out of 5 stars Only good book in awful series. Buy, but avoid all others
This is the only good book in what is a completely dreadful series. Andre LaMothe is regarded by so many as a publishing/editing/authoring god when it comes to programming books,... Read more
Published on July 15 2003 by Rob Sadedin
2.0 out of 5 stars Book for beginner of game programming
When I started reading this book, I was thinking why the stuff was familiar to me. Oops, it 's just a beginner guide to the Windows Programming. Read more
Published on June 18 2003 by Franz Wong
1.0 out of 5 stars Good Genetic Algorithms/Neural Networks book
I would be lying if I said anything more than I was very disappointed. I had been waiting for this book to get published for a long time. Read more
Published on April 6 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written and focused
This book is a well written introduction to Genetic algorithms and Neural Networks, without the usual dependence on high level math. Read more
Published on March 8 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars New Limits
A much needed book for game programmers, in particular those like me who are need to be told 'simply' and in a language that can be understood. Read more
Published on Jan. 22 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
I've wanted to get into AI for a long time, and if anything this book makes me feel bad that it's so easy all of a sudden. Read more
Published on Dec 31 2002 by Steve
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