Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Episode 144: AI

We discuss the role of AI in PCG games, with Mark Johnson, Brian Bucklew and Tommy Thompson.

You can download the mp3 of the podcast, play it in the embedded player below, or you can follow us on iTunes.

Topics Discussed
  • Tommy's academic experience and his AI and Games Youtube channel
  • Brian's work on AI in Caves of Qud
  • Challenges in building complexity in AI systems and interactions between AI and procedural environments
  • Cats setting themselves on fire
  • Why AAA games avoid complex AI in favour of more restricted, scripted systems
  • Nemesis system in Shadow of Mordor, and why we really want an orc dating sim
  • Abstraction in large simulated systems
  • The frustration of 'realistic' AI, such as very clever enemies in Smart Kobold, and how often players prefer AI that behaves in predictable ways but feels 'authentic'
  • Player interpretation of AI behaviour - how simple AI is often seen as smarter than it is
  • The traditional approaches of behaviour trees and finite state machines (not so great for PCG)
  • Inversion of control, and why it's good for complex procedural games such as Caves of Qud
  • The future of AI - AlphaGo, deep learning, narrative generation, and the development of AI that isn't just about antagonising the player but is about generating fun experiences

Join us next time as we build up to the Seven Day Roguelike Challenge 2018 with an episode on How to Make a Polished 7DRL.


  1. I enjoyed this episode quite a lot! It's the first episode that I have actually re-listened right after finishing it in order to get the references right.

    The part I liked the most was the "inverted control" mentioned by Brian sounds like a very neat idea. (Your podcast episode has grabbed my human AI and has made me write this comment)

    He mentioned he talked about Entity-Component-Systems on CoQ
    "somewhere else". I googled a little and found this IRDC 2015 talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U03XXzcThGU

  2. There's already an Orc Dating Sim. It's called Tusks. (Not procedural, or AI related, mind. But it exists.)

  3. Can you do a youtube channel I can subscribe too? Following a blog is too oldschool for me. Thanks!

  4. I've been thinking about that... It maybe wouldn't be too hard to duplicate our content across Youtube.

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  6. You've mentioned that traditional AI techniques like Finite State Machines aren't that applicable in PCG environments.
    I'm not sure if it's correct to ask this question here, but could you (I guess Brian Bucklew and Tommy Thompson) give some directions and tips on how do I get into AI programming: maybe some very basic book to read or narrower field to study.
    As you can tell I'm totally newbie to AI, though I have a background in programming.
    I've been watching on Caves of QUD on Steam for months, along with Cogmind.
    After that podcast, I just went straight to the games page and purchased it.
    Haven't played yet, but I'm all in anticipation.

  7. I've been anxiously awaiting the next episode of roguelike radio. I've really enjoyed previous years episodes about the 7 day roguelike challenge. As it has been nearly a month since the 2018 7drl, I am really hoping the next episode is about the great 7drl's released this year. Any update on when the next episode will be out and if it will be about 2018 7drls? I'd love to hear your guys' thoughts on this year's batch of 7 day roguelikes!

  8. As it happens we recorded it last night! We'll hopefully have it published soon :)

    1. That's great to hear Darren! Thanks for the update.

  9. The first podcast I've listened to (usually I watch youtube).
    Not bad, not bad.