Last week, Boston was lucky enough to host the AIIDE conference — that’s the Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment conference — and Moonshot was on-hand to show off a new build of Third Eye Crime to the visiting researchers and scientists. In addition to demoing the game itself, I also got to give a talk on how our “telepathy” mechanic actually works under the hood. Turns out, it’s kinda cool.
Rothko’s telepathy is really an AI technique called an “occupancy map”. Occupancy maps were a big part of my research when I was in grad school, and they are basically a nice way to drive NPC perception and search behavior. They take a some inspiration from some of the work done in the area of robotics (where occupancy maps are used by robots to map a new environment) and some inspiration from the work of the child psychologist, Piaget, who is most famous for his theory of object permanence. This is the notion that objects do not cease to exist when we stop seeing them. (Turns out we’re not born with that knowledge, rather, it develops around the ages of 8 to 12 months.) Last, throw in a dash of probability theory — nothing that couldn’t be handled by some solid middle-school math — and you’re off to the races.
Omaps also happen to lend themselves to some pretty visuals, and a good part of the talk was devoted to the topic of how we render our pretty telepathic red glows.
If any of this sounds interesting to the more cranially ovoid among you, you can check out the slides from the presentation here.
Finally, I had a wonderful time sharing the stage on Thursday evening for a panel on AI, games research and “playable experiences” with an incredible group of people, including two of my personal heros, Michael Mateas (of Facade fame) and Richard Evans (of Black & White, Sims 3 and Versu fame). There we got to chew the fat on the future of AI, the difference between “perceived coolness” and “actual coolness” and the absolutely reDONKulous amount of work that goes into taking a game from “tech demo” to “shippable”.
Overall a great time.
What’s that you say? When is Third Eye Crime coming out?
Why does everyone keep asking me that?