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AI Techniques for Game Programming [Paperback]

Mat Buckland
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 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
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
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, but I really have to ask why.
This series is designed to take money from 16 year old wannabe programmers that don't know better. Most of the authors have no content, and simply come up with a title that sounds exciting to the unsuspecting public, and then fill a book with as many words as they can, and almost no content.
LaMothe and the Premiere Press team then make the books appear bigger by using large fonts, and sell them at ludicrously high prices.
I feel sorry for the poor authors that actually try to impart knowledge to their audience, although most of them do not even try.
Mat, thankfully, is the only author in the entire series that is genuinely interested in imparting useful knowledge to his audience. It is held back by the bloat required by the series, and has far too many side anecdotes with what appear to me to be little purpose other than relaxing the reader, which while a useful ploy, is somewhat out of place when trying to teach an audience. Whilst it could do with some aggressive editing, Mat does a good job introducing a set of topics that he is obviously passionate about, although I would stress that it is for beginners wanting to get a 'feel' for genetic algorithms and neural networks, not for people looking for explanations of how the various algorithms work, or why particular formulas are used.
As with all Game Development books there is a wasted section describing windows programming, but then the aim of this series (not the author's fault) is to fill a book with as many pages as possible, no matter whether there is content for it or not.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, doesn't try to cover everything. Dec 13 2003
Format:Paperback
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. I'll agree that in many cases it's not particularly helpful, but I don't see why people pretend to be incapable of going past those chapters. Anyway, I like this book a lot because it gets you making things that actually work, and it doesn't do it in a way that it's impossible to figure out what the heck the author is talking about. I only rate it 4 stars because it would be better titled as "Neural Nets and Genetic Algorithms for Stuff." It doesn't cover anything other than neural nets and genetics, and it certainly doesn't seem to be limited to games.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Easy and enjoyable reading Aug. 13 2003
Format:Paperback
The author demonstrates that it is possible to write about a subject as complex and academic as AI without boring your audience to tears. Believe me, I've read my share of college engineering textbooks and I did plenty of crying. The author does a fine job of explaining AI in plain English. Hey, there's nothing wrong at all with injecting a bit of humour and fluff into your writing. Learning complex, scientific subjects does NOT have to be boring and painful.
The book only covers GAs and ANNs but those are two of the hottest AI algorithms being looked at in the gaming industry. The sample programs are also quite instructive.
The only gripe I have is I thought the material on Win32 programming was unnecessary. There's a plethora of material on Win32 out there, both at the bookstore and the internet.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Book for beginner of game programming June 18 2003
Format:Paperback
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. It talks about GDI, Dialog, Creation of Back Buffer and even the Hello World. Hey, I just want to learn AI. If I want to learn Game programming, I can read Andre LaMothe's Legendary Book. These cost 8x pages while the whole book contains 40x pages (excluding the appendix and index).
But the AI part is quite good for newbie like me. Therefore, I give it 2 stars instead of 1.
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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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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just for games
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... Read more
Published on April 30 2003 by J. Wiest
5.0 out of 5 stars A great resource
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... Read more
Published on April 8 2003
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book!!
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... Read more
Published on Nov. 10 2002 by Danneman
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Stuff
After reading (and enjoying) the author's web tutorials some time ago I was looking forward to receiving this book - and it hasn't disappointed. Read more
Published on Nov. 8 2002 by Frank Z
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