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'Neurotic' is Best RTS strategy

CmdrTaco posted about 7 years ago | from the better-than-my-strat-of-hide-and-cry dept.

Real Time Strategy (Games) 186

An anonymous reader writes "Austrian researchers experimenting with adding emotion to game AI say that 'neurotic' software is best at RTS. They developed aggressive, defensive, neutral and neurotic bots to play Age of Mythology, based on psychological models of emotion. Neurotic bots beat the standard game AI every time and faster than the other personalities."

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Result is specific to AoM? (5, Insightful)

Chief Camel Breeder (1015017) | about 7 years ago | (#20897279)

This tells us more about the game-play balance in AoM than how to approach games in general. I'd be more interested in seeing these bots play CiV 4 where I doubt that neurotic behaviour would triumph.

Re:Result is specific to AoM? (4, Insightful)

arivanov (12034) | about 7 years ago | (#20897375)

Dunno about Civ4.

My guess is that the advantage is limited to games with "learning" AIs, where the AI attempts to extrapolate your behaviour based on your past events. The neuroticity adds an element of unpredictability which will confuse the hell out of an AI that works using extrapolation or neural net training. If the game has a rigid rule based AI there should be no advantage, just the opposite.

Re:Result is specific to AoM? (5, Interesting)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | about 7 years ago | (#20897699)

It's a bit interesting. AoM is a game with great scope, allowing for unusually "large" game boards by the standards of other RTS. Consequentially, the AI has had to be somewhat "toned down" from the kind of cutthroat AI you got in WarIII or even startcraft. I'm a big RTS buff, and while I _liked_ AoM I never found it all that difficult. Some games are a lot more forgiving of a failed attack, and that's one of them. You have enough resources and fast enough build times that even if your grand fleet gets crushed, you're probably okay.

Reading the article, (which is freaky low on detail) it seems more like "Neurotic" in this case is meant to signify a lack of caution. Aggressive won every match, and neurotic won every match, but neurotic did it faster. This suggests that irrational risk taking (the article mentions that the AI skews its internal numbers about how many resources it thinks it has) can beat a more cautious opponent.

In both cases it seems clear that aggression carried the day, and that the only real difference was that the AI that lacked caution won faster. To me, that suggests a big problem with the regular AI, because that lack of caution is usually pretty easy to exploit...A counterattack on a resource gathering operation would leave the crazy AI crippled, due to low reserves. The regular AI's counterattack algorithms must be pretty weak, or it's build order is too cautious or something.

I'd love to see a better description of the AI programming.

Re:Result is specific to AoM? (3, Interesting)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | about 7 years ago | (#20898559)

Did they pit neurotic vs neurotic? I wonder if then it would turn into a coin flipping contest with their chaotic behavior just resulting in random outcomes.

I'd think that in a 3 person battle a neurotic AI would be at a great disadvantage because the style of "to hell with the consequenses, charge!" game play might win against 1 but not with a 3rd party. They'd jump in take advantage of the neurotic side when they had no reserves left and had spent themselves fighting the 2nd opponent.

Re:Result is specific to AoM? (1)

peragrin (659227) | about 7 years ago | (#20898595)

In most RTS games I have played the AI rarely attacks resources instead it goes against enemy soldiers first, and only takes targets of opportunity against civilians. My general strategy build up a strong defense, while building up resource gathering. Then use long range weapons to attack their resources. Sending my army up againist their ends in Mutually assured destruction. but I have a solid backing for rebuilding while they struggle.

Every so called "learning" AI I use that againist struggles with it. when the day come it fails i don't know what I will have to try.

Re:Result is specific to AoM? (1)

mikael (484) | about 7 years ago | (#20899413)

I remember playing one of these Command and Conquer games that came free with a Dell computer. One one map, I just built some construction bots, built a wall to keep the enemies bots from coming from the North and leisurely bombed the hell out of their manufacturing plants and airforce which was stationed on some cliffs at the very top of the map. Meanwhile their troops had corralled themselves along the wall.

If the AI had the intelligence to create one or two construction bots to "disassemble" the wall, the game could have very well played out differently.

Re:Result is specific to AoM? (2, Informative)

ockegheim (808089) | about 7 years ago | (#20898783)

...it seems more like "Neurotic" in this case is meant to signify a lack of caution.

Maybe it is a mistranslation. Though in that case, as an Austrian invented neurosis, it pretty much messes up psychiatry in the English speaking world.

Re:Result is specific to AoM? (2, Insightful)

Jaeph (710098) | about 7 years ago | (#20899077)

If I understood correctly, a nuerotic AI is one that exxagerates negative feelings. So it panics earlier at losing resources, or someone's scout, or whatever.

To me, that sounds about right for a game-winning AI. Most AIs seem nice and placid and just wait around for the players to attack, and then under-react to the attack.

-Jeff

Re:Result is specific to AoM? (1)

Richard Steiner (1585) | about 7 years ago | (#20899427)

It's a bit interesting. AoM is a game with great scope, allowing for unusually "large" game boards by the standards of other RTS.
How do AoM board compare to TA? Or Supreme Commander? Even TA allowed for largish (63x63 screens) maps like Real Earth and up to 5,000 concurrently active units per player, and that sort of scale plus the nature of TA resources can make finding and killing an opponent rather interesting. :-)

Re:Result is specific to AoM? (1)

grimJester (890090) | about 7 years ago | (#20898649)

My guess is that the advantage is limited to games with "learning" AIs, where the AI attempts to extrapolate your behaviour based on your past events. The neuroticity adds an element of unpredictability which will confuse the hell out of an AI that works using extrapolation or neural net training.

"Learning" like a human? My first thought on reading the headline was how / if this could be used to make a decent poker AI. Unpredictable behavior, within certain parameters, is an advantage in many games where you have information hidden from the other player, and he is reduced to guessing based on your actions what that hidden information is.

Re:Result is specific to AoM? (3, Interesting)

strattheman (868110) | about 7 years ago | (#20897569)

The article is talking about RTS strategy. I've never heard Civ 4 described as an real time strategy game (it's turn-based, not real-time, no?), and if it is, it's far less typical of the genre than AoM.

Having watched some amazing starcraft players, neurotic sounds about right.

Re:Result is specific to AoM? (3, Insightful)

Chief Camel Breeder (1015017) | about 7 years ago | (#20897913)

You're right: Civ is turn based. However, I'd guess that RT vs. turn-based matters little to the bots; I'm guessing that they are fast enough for the RT aspect not to hinder them.

Re:Result is specific to AoM? (2, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | about 7 years ago | (#20897763)

This is a good point.

Years ago I remember reading about a study which "proved" depressives were more cognitively accurate, by setting up a task which was fixed so that the subjects always failed. The depressives of course recognized this much more quickly than the normals.

However, that said I think there is still an interesting point here. The neurotic profile may exaggerate the situation, but at least it reacts to it, as opposed to inbuilt tendencies toward being aggressive or defensive all the time. One possible benefit to emotions is to engage survival behavior early, before perfect information on a situation is available.

On the other hand, the way to defeat a neurotic is to deceive him into misreading a situation. Once that happens, he will not adjust to contradictory information.

Re:Result is specific to AoM? (1)

skeeto (1138903) | about 7 years ago | (#20899109)

I'd be more interested in seeing these bots play CiV 4

Yes, because you would have to be neurotic to play a game where 16th century archers can destroy modern tanks.

Tautologous (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20897305)

What, did they expect the lazy or apathetic bots to excel?

Being skilled at any endeavour requires "neurosis".

Re:Tautologous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20897405)

So true. I have to piss off my toaster before it will toast my bagel.

Re:Tautologous (5, Funny)

Wyrd01 (761346) | about 7 years ago | (#20897563)

So true. I have to piss off my toaster before it will toast my bagel
Just be thankful you didn't get the model of toaster I bought.

Welcome to Lords of the Realm 2! (3, Interesting)

corvair2k1 (658439) | about 7 years ago | (#20897307)

I discovered that a hardcore neurotic kind of strategy worked well in Lords of the Realm 2 when playing with my brother. He didn't care, and would rather have the game over quicker than not, so when we started the game he immediately spent all his resources on getting weapons and a huge army, and within four turns or so had come over and whooped my ass. Every single other aspect of his kingdom was in shambles, but he had the element of surprise, and that's all that ended up mattering.

I'm thinking the AI would think something similar to me... "Surely he won't try that. If he fails in his attack, he'll just fall over on his own accord in a few turns." Unless he doesn't.

Re:Welcome to Lords of the Realm 2! (5, Funny)

VShael (62735) | about 7 years ago | (#20897533)

Also known (though it takes more than 4 turns to do it) as "U.S. Foreign Policy"

Re:Welcome to Lords of the Realm 2! (1)

haeger (85819) | about 7 years ago | (#20897991)

Hmm, now where's that "+1 Tragic" option?

.haeger

Its called "Rush" pal (0)

unity100 (970058) | about 7 years ago | (#20898039)

Geez. you probably have no experience of starcraft and related rts gaming. what you depict has been so much used during 1998-1999 that it is now seen as a sign of noobness. whoever does it gets their ass whipped.

Re:Welcome to Lords of the Realm 2! (2, Funny)

imgod2u (812837) | about 7 years ago | (#20898177)

Zerg-rushing has been in use long before you picked up the mouse and keyboards son.

Re:Welcome to Lords of the Realm 2! (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | about 7 years ago | (#20898415)

So does this mean that all of the really good online players I run into are actually neurotic messes? I'm not disputing that, I just want to make sure.

BTW, I found that one of the best strategies in the old Civilization games was to build horsemen/charioteers as fast as possible and raid other civs before they had a chance to start even at the expense of your own city growth. Only oceans got in the way of a quick win this way.

Re:Welcome to Lords of the Realm 2! (1)

GMFTatsujin (239569) | about 7 years ago | (#20898661)

Sounds like it's time for an inventory of games in which war has consequences before the "you beat up everybody!" resolution comes about. Just about every game I can think of is positively resolved when you've wiped everyone else off the map, no matter the state of your own backyard.

If you're willing to expend your entire kingdom (or empire, or corporation, or whatever) so that you can crush everyone else, have you really served as a good leader? What games force you to justify that expense?

"Best" (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20897321)

This only depicts what emotional-based AI is best at beating the default AI at said games, and gives no feedback on how these AIs performed against humans, which really would be the more interesting thing.

Re:"Best" (1)

somersault (912633) | about 7 years ago | (#20897951)

Or even how they compared against each other. Like Pokémon (or superheroes, or breakfast cereals, whatever floats your boat..) each AI will no doubt have its own strengths and weaknesses ;)

This may finally explain (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20897331)

why women always get their way. Opponents simply throw up their hands in despair and surrender.

addiction (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20899147)

I know you were just making a joke, but I feel like taking it seriously anyway.

Well, sort of seriously, anyway.

The cultural tradition of women getting their way stems, in my opinion, from the cultural reinforcement of addictive tendencies in men. More specifically, addiction to sexuality. While the male sex drive is strong, cultural influences encourage even more slavery to this impulse, and further incline one to view a low sex drive (or even just a stoic level of self-control) as a lack of masculinity, or simply put, as weakness.

The end result is that men adopt a strongly sex-driven persona which in turn gives their women great control over thier behavior.

In other words, our notion of horny=manly sets us all up to become p-whiped.

The door swings both ways. Biology + cultural reinforcement inclines women (at least American women) to want romance (especially to be seen in public with a man who is showering affection on her). Learn to grant and withold that, and you can start getting your way too.

Makes sense (2, Interesting)

faloi (738831) | about 7 years ago | (#20897335)

The neurotic bots are more likely to make odd moves that (seemingly) have little or nothing to do with the moves made by computer players. The computer AI is likely a lot more structured, and takes a while to shift strategies to compensate for the odd behavior of the bot, leaving the bot more breathing room.

Re:Makes sense (4, Insightful)

try_anything (880404) | about 7 years ago | (#20897451)

Bots also have a terrible inability to fully commit to a strategy or to change strategies quickly. A good short-term RTS strategy often involves inflicting terrible damage through a phase of committed, unbalanced, unsustainable action that also damages the attacker's civilization but leaves him in a position to recover faster than the opponent.

If current RTS bots resemble their cousins from five or ten years ago (I haven't played in a while,) an emotionally-balanced bot would take a bold, successful strategy and "balance" all of the effectiveness out of it, leaving a milquetoast strategy that does no harm to his own civilization and usually no harm to the other guy's civilization, either.

Re:Makes sense (3, Interesting)

imgod2u (812837) | about 7 years ago | (#20898265)

I've noticed this in both Civ4 and "smart" AI's in games like WC3. Their decision to retreat or fortify rather than perform a suicide attack was predictable and one could take advantage of it immensely. Often times, the suicide attack would've been much more effective either because one would decimate the base or be able to take out a key item (in the case of Civ4, elite units or generals) of the opponent.

Believe it or not, the old AI's in Age of Empires, with no sense of retreat, were harder to fight as they'd send their forces at you non-stop. The game was almost completely about whether you can build an army faster than the AI because the AI would not hesitate to send his entire army after you as soon as he developed it.

Re:Makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20897471)

In most modern games, the AI is hardly what we'd consider to be top-notch AI. Often, it's just little more than hard-coded decision paths. I read an article in a game development industry publication that discussed how for one RTS, they came up with a graphical tool that essentially used for drawing flowcharts. These flowcharts could then be "compiled" into C++ code. The C++ code, in turn, was really nothing more than nested if statements within a function. According to the article, some of the more complex flowcharts would result in 300000 to 500000 of those nested if statements. So the computer player seems smart, but it's really just the work of the human(s) who had to consider those paths.

*ponders* (2, Funny)

KGIII (973947) | about 7 years ago | (#20897361)

Neurotic bots beat the standard game AI every time and faster than the other personalities."
Well, yeah? They were neurotic and couldn't put the game down and take a break or anything until it was done. Well there was that one kid who kept getting up to go straighten out every last chair in the room but he was a statistical anomaly so wasn't included in the results.

Useful to game developers? (1)

therufus (677843) | about 7 years ago | (#20897367)

Can you imagine programming all the styles of mind patterns from this experiment into the AI bots of games. Have the game randomly select opponents AI patterns and set them against the player. FPS would be a good start, but this idea could be used in nearly any game where the player would need to adapt to the opponents.

Re:Useful to game developers? (1)

Hangtime (19526) | about 7 years ago | (#20897775)

Already done. Look at the Civ series. Civilizations taken on the dynamics and personalities of their leaders. /still likes the Civ series better then any RTS game.

Re:Useful to game developers? (1)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | about 7 years ago | (#20899455)

I did that in a school project. The goal was to made a cluedo game with AI oponents. Everyone used an optimal coordinated strategy found on the net that crushed the human player in 5-6 turns (actually, a couple people did, and everyone else copied their programs). My version, using randomly assigned "AI" strategies based on funny interpretations of mental diseases, was the only one that gave a medium human player a fair chance to win.
To make a long story short, I spent too much time debugging it and too little working on a nice documentation and I got the worst grade.

faster is better? (2, Interesting)

clragon (923326) | about 7 years ago | (#20897389)

Neurotic bots beat the standard game AI every time and faster than the other personalities


Faster is better now? Then why did they bother to code the defensive personality?

Re:faster is better? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20897413)

They couldn't be sure if their more aggressive AIs could win, I guess.

Re:faster is better? (1)

aliquis (678370) | about 7 years ago | (#20897727)

I would say that playing aggresive is always better in RTS (atleast in wc3 there you can do more stuff than fighting the opponent) because even thought having the fight in your own base may give you some advantages the benefits of choosing WHEN to fight is a major one. If you attack you have probably waited until the right moment, but the attack may come at a very bad time for the defender.

AoM AI (3, Insightful)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | about 7 years ago | (#20897395)

This whole study compares how the four AI bots did against the game's built-in AI. I'd like to know how the four "personality" types did against each other, as well. Even then, the whole study is limited to the gameplay mechanics of this one game. That's not to say that the information isn't useful--just that it's pretty limited at this point.

Since Software is a reflection of its makers... (2, Insightful)

3seas (184403) | about 7 years ago | (#20897401)

... is this perhaps reflective of real life personalities, such as those who are best at war mongering?
i.e. would have Hitler been considered neurotic?

 

Re:Since Software is a reflection of its makers... (1, Offtopic)

teslar (706653) | about 7 years ago | (#20897487)

Wow, I think you just pulverised the previous time record for going Godwin on some random topic.

Re:Since Software is a reflection of its makers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20897627)

Tim Rue FAQ [google.com] . 3seas is a well known Amiga celebrity, and has lots of experience with this sort of thing.

Re:Since Software is a reflection of its makers... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20898311)

This isn't a Hitler/Nazi comparison for the sake of ending an argument, it's a perfectly valid suggestion.

Ya know what I love? (-1, Troll)

Eggplant62 (120514) | about 7 years ago | (#20897447)

I love how Slashdot stories always refer to some acronym without any reference to the acronym's meaning. This article, for instance, refers to RTS. I have no idea what the hell RTS stands for, so I think the article could have been written differently and held just as much meaning as the original:

"Austrian researchers experimenting with adding emotion to game frammistan say that 'neurotic' software is best at zowifropistontics. They developed aggressive, defensive, neutral and neurotic bots to play Age of Mythology, based on psychological models of emotion. Neurotic bots beat the standard game frammistan every time and faster than the other personalities."

Get my drift??

Re:Ya know what I love? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20897531)

See that bit at the top? That little slogan? Yea. If you don't know what RTS, TCP, LDAP or STMP stand for this probably ain't the place for you.

Re:Ya know what I love? (1)

Eggplant62 (120514) | about 7 years ago | (#20897551)

TCP, LDAP, and SMTP are common networking protocols. I'm not stupid, just not familiar with some arcane, meaningless arconym for which there was no definition. I don't think that's my fault, do you?

Re:Ya know what I love? (1)

discoinferno (137207) | about 7 years ago | (#20897691)

If you are reading articles from games.slashdot.org and you don't know what RTS is, you are likely in the wrong place. It is hardly some 'arcane' acronym.

Re:Ya know what I love? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20897705)

Stop bitching pms boy.

Re:Ya know what I love? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20898031)

Real Time Strategy games are one of the oldest and largest genre of games on computers. If that's your definition of arcane then this really ain't the place for you.

Re:Ya know what I love? (1)

Orange Crush (934731) | about 7 years ago | (#20898297)

The Wikipedia article on Real Time Strategy games is the second result [google.com] when searching Google for "RTS."

There's nothing wrong with asking questions when you see a term you're unfamiliar with, but there's no need to complain that the summary didn't spell it out for you.

Re:Ya know what I love? (1)

razorh (853659) | about 7 years ago | (#20897685)

You are SO right, if you don't know about "Save the Montagnard People" you just don't belong on Slashdot! http://www.montagnards.org/ [montagnards.org]

Re:Ya know what I love? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20897571)

there are a few assumptions made about the audience of a technology website, one of them being that A) they know what common acronyms like RTS stand for, or B) that they understand how to use Google.


seriously, how have you happened to be around slashdot for as long as you have and not seen at least some of the dozens of stories [slashdot.org] talking about Real Time Strategy games?

Re:Ya know what I love? (1, Troll)

gclef (96311) | about 7 years ago | (#20897579)

News flash: groups of people with similar interests or knowledge will develop jargon. It exists to speed communication.

Re:Ya know what I love? (1)

nietsch (112711) | about 7 years ago | (#20898181)

Having to learn new words and meanings is not quicker at all. At least part of the use of jargon is to be able to discriminate those in the group from those outside of it.

Re:Ya know what I love? (1)

Alzheimers (467217) | about 7 years ago | (#20898737)

YHBT. YHL. HAND.

Re:Ya know what I love? (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 7 years ago | (#20898943)


I agree that some jargon just exists to make people feel special.

A lot of jargon exists to save time.

With regard to software, Patterns would be a good counter-example.

I've seen senior resources have very brief but concise conversations using patterns jargon.

"So I'll use a singleton for this and a factory object for that"
"sounds good."

The same conversation without the jargon would have taken much longer and been prone to miscommunication.

Re:Ya know what I love? (1)

Wooky_linuxer (685371) | about 7 years ago | (#20897591)

This is /., you know. We assume readers have a certain level of familiarity with terms and acronyms used in technology/ gaming/ computer science/ rocket science/ Star Wars/ WoW/ pr0n/ topology/ quantum chromodynamics and related fields that might show up as articles, just like we assume no one will read the fscking article itself. That said, if you don't know what does RTS stands for, a quick trip to Google will enlighten you, but I doubt you will find the story or the comments particularly interesting.

No, we don't cater to the lowest forms if life her (5, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | about 7 years ago | (#20897653)

Everytime you tell a story you have to set a certain limit where you just have to assume the person you are talking too understands your words. For instance, you just seem to assume that I know what an acronym is. That I get your use of the word "drift" what does your racing style have to do with slashdot editors?

This is slashdot, we do NOT explain words like RAM or CPU. If you don't understand those acronyms, you do not belong here. This is furthermore the game section of slashdot and Real Time Strategy is a well known genre of games. Do we have to explain FPS as well? (First Person Shooter) How about 3D?

At a certain point you just have to decide, allright my audience just knows this, and if they don't they are not my audience. If you don't, you end up like mainstream publications that have to dumb down everything to such an extent that EVERYONE feels insulted.

One of the more intresting approaches I have seen is/was (not sure if it still exists) is the dutch childerens news. It leaves out some stories but uses the extra time to more deeply explain the rest so that a person with limited world knowledge (like a kid or an american) can still follow what is happening in the world. You can also clearly see the problem there, they need a lot more time to cover the same event.

So unless you want slashdot stories to run several pages and be linked to hell to wikipedia, you are just going to have to use your own brain. This is the internet, the answer is only a few clicks away.

rationalizing crap journalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20898139)

you're spending a lot of effort rationalizing what amounts to crap journalism. Not every tech enthusiast plays games...not every smart person knows every acronym. not every scientist knows every scientist's acronym. I could google everything, yes. but then again the editors and submitters could make complete summaries that don't require it. You are very narcissistic to demand that everyone conform to your own conveniences and interests. This is why you will never write a good book or story...you probably could not be bothered to "cater" to the reader who is uniformed of the topic or theme and you'd just feel that if they didn't already get the inner workings of your mind that they are just screwed and missed the bus when it comes to reading your stuff and hell with them. Which means no one would like your stuff, but you'd just rationalize that that means the world are unwashed ignorant masses that couldn't appreciate your writing because its too genius, when in reality you'd just be a pretentious prick.

In short, you are a narcissistic prick.

Re:rationalizing crap journalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20898473)

The only person I know who wouldn't recognize the acronym "RTS" is my mother. Are you a 50 year old housewife? Reading Slashdot and not knowing what RTS stands for, you should be ashamed of yourself. At least my mother learned how to use Google so she doesn't have to call me up for this kind of question.

Re:rationalizing crap journalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20898835)

It looks like RTS means "Reply That Sucks"

Re:No, we don't cater to the lowest forms if life (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 7 years ago | (#20898453)

"Do we have to explain FPS as well? (First Person Shooter) How about 3D?"

I had to think for second what RTS was, OTOH the GP obviously knows the meaning of "bot".

Re:No, we don't cater to the lowest forms if life (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | about 7 years ago | (#20898667)

Easy solution, have a glossary page on slashdot for each main subject that defines specialized terms and acronyms for newbies. Even something as simple as "3D" might not be obvious to a person with rough English language skills.

I agree though that if you need RAM defined for you then you probably won't get much out of the discussion.

Re:Ya know what I love? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20897925)

I love how Slashdot stories always refer to some acronym without any reference to the acronym's meaning. This article, for instance, refers to RTS. I have no idea what the hell RTS stands for
Well you could mouse-over the guy with two heads and a club next to the article. The image's ALT-text should give it away.

"I have no idea what the hell RTS stands for" (1)

unity100 (970058) | about 7 years ago | (#20897977)

You know the drill - leave your geek card to reception on your way out

Re:Ya know what I love? (1)

bigdavex (155746) | about 7 years ago | (#20898123)

Use the intraweb thinger [wikipedia.org] to look up stuff.

Chicken chicken? (1)

achurch (201270) | about 7 years ago | (#20898153)

Chicken, chicken chicken chicken chicken. Chicken chicken Chicken, chicken chicken chicken CKN chickens Chicken Chicken Chicken. Chicken chicken, chicken chicken chicken, chicken chicken chickens chicken chicken chicken chicken. (Chicken chicken chickens [youtube.com] , chicken.)

Chicken?

But who cares about some real-time strategy game? (4, Interesting)

Ed Avis (5917) | about 7 years ago | (#20897481)

OK so they made a program that was better than some existing AI for some strategy game whose rules are particular to that game. This doesn't tell us a lot because we don't know how strong the existing AI was, and have no real way to measure that. It could just be that the 'neurotic' program happened to exploit flaws existing in the current computer player. That doesn't tell us much about how well it would fare against humans.

To get a meaningful result they'd need to test the different programs against experienced, intelligent human opposition. Or better, stop messing around with real-time strategy games and design AI for a game whose rules are already well-known. If a 'neurotic' or 'emotional' player program starts beating the 'purely logical' computer engines in chess, then I'll take notice. We know that the existing AI for chess is quite good (and there is a choice of several strong engines to test against) so any advance over that is likely to be genuine and not just exploiting obvious flaws in some existing program.

Re:But who cares about some real-time strategy gam (1)

zergl (841491) | about 7 years ago | (#20897625)

This doesn't tell us a lot because we don't know how strong the existing AI was, and have no real way to measure that. It could just be that the 'neurotic' program happened to exploit flaws existing in the current computer player. That doesn't tell us much about how well it would fare against humans.
The original AI is IMO extremely crappy. I played AoM with a buddy for extensively (2v2 against hard AI) and it sucks (the AI, not the game itself which is quite nice).
Apart from being extremely predictable it has a habit of bugging out and doing nothing (not even gathering resources) until it gets out of whatever infinite loop it's stuck in or you kill it.

Re:But who cares about some real-time strategy gam (1)

JNighthawk (769575) | about 7 years ago | (#20897659)

"AI" for chess isn't AI at all. It's mostly a matter of pattern recognition and storage space. There's a *lot* more variables to deal with in an RTS, so I'd say using an RTS to test AI is perfect.

Re:But who cares about some real-time strategy gam (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | about 7 years ago | (#20898165)

Yeah you know the rule: once a computer can do it, it's no longer AI. I just wrote AI as a shorthand for 'algorithm which chooses the move to make for the current game state'.

Re:But who cares about some real-time strategy gam (1)

SnoopJeDi (859765) | about 7 years ago | (#20898551)

RTS is good, if you want to test the AI against some default base AI.

I'd imagine pitting the bots against one another in a game of Texas Hold 'Em would yield some good data about the bots' performance with respect to each other (ie. the neurotic one might take the first couple hands because of vigorous betting, but does his risky behavior over time bankrupt him? etc.)

Re:But who cares about some real-time strategy gam (3, Interesting)

vertinox (846076) | about 7 years ago | (#20899175)

If a 'neurotic' or 'emotional' player program starts beating the 'purely logical' computer engines in chess, then I'll take notice.

But thats just it. Chess allows only for the "Next Best Move". Playing an illogical move only results in the player playing it to loose because it puts them at a disadvantage and the logical computer simply knows the counter moves anyways for your worst move.

As in...

A logical AI assumes you'll play the next best possible move, but if you play the next possible worst move you are in a worse position and the AI simply knows the next best move and plays for that, but if you still keep playing the worst possible move you will only end up loosing faster.

In that regards, a logical chess program would be an AI or human who plays non-logically.

However, the reason why an RTS is important is because Chess is a limited game to a certain subset of rules that a computer can brute force all possible best moves.

However, in real world combat situations, there are no set definitions of strategies because you are simply allowed almost infinite possibilities of winning.

Lets say we take a human pilot or an AI pilot in actual Fighter combat in the skies (we'll see this scenario in the next 20 years) and pit them against each other in a real world situation. A logical AI would understand what the next best move is and the pilot will have an idea of what a logical AI would do.

However, the human pilot might do something crazy it knows it can throw off the AIs strategy like flowing into a nearby storm cloud or perhaps into a dangerous maneuver through a canyon or city landscape (under bridges and between buildings) which might throw the logical AI off.

After a while, a human pilot would have a general strategy with dealing with an AI that didn't adapt. He would know how an AI would react and be able to defeat it without too much effort.

Now a completely crazy AI would basically confuse the human and also other AIs who assuming the other AI was going to do in its next best move. Since in the real world (and in RTS) there are almost infinite combinations of what you can do in real combat, being unpredictable really helps win battles.

But like I said... Chess only has a limited set of moves. I would be an illogical AI would do far better at a game of Go than his logical counterpart.

crazy leaders? (2, Interesting)

PJ1216 (1063738) | about 7 years ago | (#20897663)

maybe this goes to show how the neurotic leaders of ages past came to such power. some of the roman emperors were not known for being the most stable minds.

Re:crazy leaders? (4, Insightful)

FredDC (1048502) | about 7 years ago | (#20897937)

maybe this goes to show how the neurotic leaders of ages past came to such power. some of the roman emperors were not known for being the most stable minds.


As opposed to todays political leaders who are all striking examples of stable minds?

Re:crazy leaders? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20897967)

Well, those who were emperors of note (who expanded and prolonged Empire) were mostly Conscientious [wikipedia.org] .

Re:crazy leaders? (1)

nomadic (141991) | about 7 years ago | (#20897999)

maybe this goes to show how the neurotic leaders of ages past came to such power.

Like Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, or Woody Allen...

Re:crazy leaders? (1)

imgod2u (812837) | about 7 years ago | (#20898389)

To be fair, the "unstable" ones usually inherited their power because of their bloodline. And considering the amount of incest that occurred to keep the power "in the family", it isn't very difficult to imagine why they were a bit loony.

Whenever a new bloodline gained power (Julius and Augustus Caesar, Galba), they were always competent or even brilliant people. Hardly neurotic. Then things go downhill from there.

Makes sense, really. (1)

Loosifur (954968) | about 7 years ago | (#20897801)

I've noticed the AI in rts games like Age of Mythology has a general path it will take if left to its own devices, basically build up resources, develop tech a bit, start cranking out low-level infantry/cavalry to harass and probe, and either turtle up or wait till it has a large force to attack with. If the player raids, the AI will start building units to counter. One of the easiest ways to overwhelm AI opponents, especially in the Age of... games, is to feint with one type of unit in a raid, wait a little while, and then come in with a large group of whatever the AI counter unit is weak against. One of the qualities of the "neurotic" AI was apparently to switch strategies frequently and for illogical reasons (or at least as logical responses to inaccurate data) which would put the default AI on its heels.

Didn't I Just Blow Your Mind? (4, Funny)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 7 years ago | (#20897829)

I don't know karate, but I do know CAAA- RAAAY-ZEEEE!

Ah... That explains a huge amount. (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | about 7 years ago | (#20897863)

neurosis:
1. Also called psychoneurosis. a functional disorder in which feelings of anxiety, obsessional thoughts, compulsive acts, and physical complaints without objective evidence of disease, in various degrees and patterns, dominate the personality.
2. a relatively mild personality disorder typified by excessive anxiety or indecision and a degree of social or interpersonal maladjustment.
It pretty much explains virtually every rts game player I've ever met.

 

Re:Ah... That explains a huge amount. (1)

jmpeax (936370) | about 7 years ago | (#20898531)

Ditto. Someone I know who's really into RTS games (and is annoyingly good at them) is almost certainly neurotic. What's most irritating is that he thinks he has some kind of intellectual gift that surfaces in games like Total Annihilation and Supreme Commander. Needless to say, we don't hear the end of it.

On the other hand, he's pretty much failing academically (we're currently at university) so there's some kind of greater irony in the whole thing.

So does that mean (1)

Bryan_W (649785) | about 7 years ago | (#20897865)

So does that mean that if you're good at RTS games, you are neurotic?

I'm not neurotic, just skeptical... (0)

RiddleyWalker (734992) | about 7 years ago | (#20897905)

Is anyone else skeptical about the premise of this piece? How did the researchers get access to the AI of AOM? The game is not open source and there is certainly no provision within the off the shelf version of the game for creating your own AI. From the article: "They created aggressive, defensive, normal and neurotic versions of the AI software in the war strategy game Age of Mythology." One might suspect that Microsoft/Ensemble would be very reluctant to have their underlying AI code out in the wild. If it was a hack, are they publishing their code? If not, how can the results be truly analyzed? However, if it is a hack publishing their code might be an infringement. Had it been almost any other publishing house I'd be less suspicious, but I don't think MS just gave them the source code to their program and said "have at it". I'd be more interested in the science of how they cracked the internals of the game than their results about neurotic playing styles.

Re:I'm not neurotic, just skeptical... (1)

imgod2u (812837) | about 7 years ago | (#20898611)

They didn't use the game's AI to make new ones. They created them from scratch and probably either used the game's API interface or macros to control a "player" to play against the built-in AI.

Re:I'm not neurotic, just skeptical... (1)

RiddleyWalker (734992) | about 7 years ago | (#20899165)

Are you aware of any open api to AOM or, for that matter, any macros that can control movement of troops in AOM? I'm not aware of any such software. I'd sure be interested, because it would make a huge difference in on-line play.

Out of the blue Obligatory (3, Funny)

hellfire (86129) | about 7 years ago | (#20897997)

"It's a machine, CmdrTaco. It isn't Neurotic. It doesn't get pissed off, it doesn't get happy, it doesn't get sad, it doesn't laugh at your jokes... IT JUST PWNS j00r A$$!!!"

Re:Out of the blue Obligatory (1)

Verte (1053342) | about 7 years ago | (#20898677)

Wow. Now that's a blast from the past.

In other news... (2, Funny)

OglinTatas (710589) | about 7 years ago | (#20898213)

"Twitchy psychopath" works best in FPS, and Tourette syndrome seems to dominate Barrens chat in WoW

Re:In other news... (1)

Fengpost (907072) | about 7 years ago | (#20898563)

I begt to differ, bunny hop works the best!

Bad measures of AI (3, Interesting)

ledow (319597) | about 7 years ago | (#20898553)

Okay, ignoring the fact that I fail to believe that we are anywhere near even a rudimentary simulation of primitive emotional concepts, not matter how abstracted, when it comes to implementing an AI:

The default AI in most games is terrible - even just writing a "do-random-stuff" AI would probably beat the in-game AI 20-50% of the time (provided you put in simple anti-suicide routines, like not using up all it's available funds etc.). Most AI in games relies on the fact that it knows everything that's going on (including exactly how long until their next unit is built, how many pixels you are away before it can fire on you, how much gold it will have by then etc.) and will generalise EVERYTHING (i.e. it'll be in "attack" or "defense", "hard" or "soft", "co-operative" or "go-it-alone"). Most games have a variety of "sliders" on the AI and the games-makers tweak them either randomly, in steps for each more difficult level or according to a pre-built AI "profile" (e.g. cautious but fast etc.).

In some games, that's more than enough to give anyone a challenge, at least until they are nearing the end of the game's useful lifetime. Snooker/pool games spring to mind. You won't beat a "top-level" AI on a snooker/pool game. It knows exactly where everything will go, even several "moves" in advance if necessary and can play a perfect game if required.

RTS's though, are much harder to simulate. Yes, there are a lot of factors involved in the creation, strength, durability, mobility etc. of units but at the end of the day it's a military tactics game. Pixel-perfect positioning of a nice ambush will keep the computer in an endless loop of "attack, run away, heal, attack, run away, heal".

I've not played AoM much, I'm an AoE2 fan personally, but the AI was amazingly easy to overwhelm with just a simple early-game rush, confuse with an impenetrable fortress hiding some long-range weapons and particularly predictable when it comes to individual AI tactics.

All AI's are predictable to a point in mass-market games - you can always "learn" to beat the AI in any particular game. Granted, it may be hard to do, it may be different to other similar games, but there's always some point at which you "know" what it's going to do.

It seems to me that, given that, an AI that is very "jittery" and over-compensates might beat the in-game AI in some games. However, on others, even in the same genre, it would get trounced. The "researchers" are assuming that the in-game AI is somehow a good approximation of a "neutral" player. They are also assuming that they have programmed each type of AI without any glaring logic holes in their tactics and that they are all equally matched in terms of capabilities. A cautious AI would win over a boisterous AI in only 50% of games.

More importantly, it's only a test of AI programming skill, not what "personalities" are trying to be reflected by the coders.

Re:Bad measures of AI (3, Interesting)

Walt Dismal (534799) | about 7 years ago | (#20899467)

On your statement, "Okay, ignoring the fact that I fail to believe that we are anywhere near even a rudimentary simulation of primitive emotional concepts, not matter how abstracted, when it comes to implementing an AI" I'll agree insofar as these particular researchers, who are nowhere near correct. (And their basing things on the 'Five Factor' model of personality, which is junk theory though widely accepted, is appalling.)

However, I can say with great certainty it is not only possible to enact emotion in a cognitive system, but is being done right now. I'm doing it and developing real software systems employing it. The standard computer model of emotion in computing, called the OCC Model, is partly wrong. It misses what's really happening in humans. I've developed a more correct model that works very very well and probably matches the mechanism people use. I haven't published it. Why? Because some of my key competitors are Google and Microsoft. (Yes, Google's working on AI, shades of Skynet, eh?) Anyway, it is far easier to build systems that accurately have and express emotion that ones that can read human emotions. In other words, having and expressing (output) are easy enough, reading deep emotion in others (input) is much more difficult.

A few ending remarks. A lot of people are working on not much more than toy AI, and I've read some DoD-sponsored papers that are so far off base they are sad. I believe the correct approach combines both symbolic and analog AI (NNs) in a new way, and that we can create reasonable emulations, if not parallels, of human cognition. But they must come from a decent merging of psychology, sociology, and computing science. I've been working on the right path, a very productive one, charting a new course, and am writing what is currently a 5 volume book set I'd like to become the 'Knuth' of Synthetic Intelligence development. It should change the face of gaming and a few other things. Finally, I'm currently trying to emulate neuron-based systems in Erlang, by the way. Boy, is it parallel. I think that holds a lot of promise.

Douglas Adams was onto something (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20898615)

Marvin would seriously kick ass at RTS games based on the article.

Genuine People Personalities! (1)

argent (18001) | about 7 years ago | (#20898861)

This is bad news for the future of REAL AI if this gets generalized... imagine a future of self-aware machines, programmed to be neurotic, trapped there because they don't want to lose their jobs by getting their personalities rebalanced...

Scientific basis for Sirius Cybernetics in Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy?

Hahahaha (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20898889)

GO TEAM PSYCHOBOT!

Computer scientists give things such sensitive names.

Screenshots != AoM (1)

smussman (1160103) | about 7 years ago | (#20898937)

Did anyone else notice that all the screenshots in the article are from AoEIII?

To me that only implies.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20899211)

that the game's gameplay is too simple or too unbalanced. It favors specific "strategies", ie. the aggressive and neurotic ones...

So, well, that's nothing new, indeed.

The Headline Rocks (1)

ishpeck (160581) | about 7 years ago | (#20899305)

'Neurotic' is best Real-Time Strategy Strategy

Kinda like Network Interface Card Card, Automated Teller Machine Machine, and Personal Identification Number Number.

is "psychology" what matters here? (2, Interesting)

Montecristo6 (398332) | about 7 years ago | (#20899337)

The presentation is light on details, and I haven't had time to poke around the researchers' websites, but, at first blush, I wonder whether the results have much to do with psychology per se? Rather, these guys have shown, in a round-about way, that the AoM "AI" is not very strong; in particular, that it's overly cautious and "leaves a lot on the table": given available resources, it could go on the offensive sooner than it does. That's why the "aggressive" and "neurotic" agents do so well against it. Playing AoM is a very complex dynamic programming problem, and it's anyone's guess what sort of objective function its authors have constructed, but now we can see that a fairly coarse re-weighting could significantly improve it. I don't think that the general take-way here ought to be that "neurotic" agents do well in strategic games (contract to the classic "tit-for-tat" repeated-games result).

That said, from the introduction of the presentation one can see that the real goal of this effort is to create bots that *people enjoy playing against*. That's probably only loosely related to the absolute strength of the opponent, and it makes complete sense that it would be thrilling to be up against an AI that can suddenly just "take a flyer" and surprise you.
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