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'Neurotic' is Best RTS strategy 186

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the better-than-my-strat-of-hide-and-cry dept.
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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'Neurotic' is Best RTS strategy

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  • by Chief Camel Breeder (1015017) on Monday October 08, 2007 @07:39AM (#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.

    • by arivanov (12034) on Monday October 08, 2007 @07:48AM (#20897375) Homepage
      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.
      • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy@MOSCOWgmail.com minus city> on Monday October 08, 2007 @08:19AM (#20897699) Journal
        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.
        • by Hoi Polloi (522990) on Monday October 08, 2007 @09:30AM (#20898559) Journal
          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: (Score:3, Funny)

            Bah to hell with your consequences! CHARGE!

            Reminds me of the 40k Orc Codex: "We never lose... If we wins we win, if we dies we're dead so it don't count as beat and if we runz away we can come back to fight anuvva day" (Paraphrased of course - this is /. so no doubt someone will correct me)
        • by peragrin (659227)
          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
          • by mikael (484)
            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, th
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by ockegheim (808089)

          ...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: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Jaeph (710098)
          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
        • 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. :-)
        • by andreyw (798182)
          imo AoK:TC always had larger scope...

          I've played 4 hour AoK games...not so with AoM. Also AoM introduced rigidity into game play with TC positions. AoE III makes it even worse, being able to only build one castle... while the game play has de-evolved greately from an economic management stand point (which is was AoE/AoK always has been about). You could Ensemble has tried to make the game more approachable for people who can't devote time to master a more complex system, or to play 4 hour games... but it's
          • by BigDogCH (760290)
            Agreed. AOK was damn near a perfect RTS. Some improved diplomacy, smarter AI, and a graphics upgrade, would have made me happy. Hell, after trying several RTS games, everyone I know still goes back to Aoe-AOK.

            I would like to see someone write a better AI for AOE. It doesn't have as many artificial restrictions as AOM etc, so the AI needs to be a bit more flexible.
        • by Touvan (868256)
          It could also mean that this particular game (or RTS games in general) has rules that favor the more aggressive player. I myself fell into the cautious or defensive category when I played games like WarCraft III, and I always lost to my more aggressive friends, until I got more aggressive (attack earlier, build less defensive units, more offensive units, take the initiative).

          It doesn't necessarily mean there's anything wrong with defensive or regular AIs in general, as much as it shows that in these particu
      • 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
      • by StikyPad (445176)
        The problem with Civ4 is that neurotic behavior is a losing proposition for the player almost regardless of the AI (unless the AI displays similar behavior) because the game seems designed to reward planning and execution of a particular strategy rather than constantly shifting tactics. If you've been aggressive toward your neighbors, for example, you almost definitely can't suddenly establish amicable relations. If you've invested in a particular branch of technology, you almost definitely can't switch t
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by strattheman (868110)
      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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hey! (33014)
      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.
    • This brings up what has, IMHO, been a major sore point in an otherwise brilliant series (Civilization) and that is the generally poor level of play on the part of the AI (i.e. resort to particularly blatant cheating on noble and higher difficulty levels with generally moronic play on lower levels). If Firaxis, or anyone else, is going to do another iteration on the Civ series then please, for the love of all that is holy, do not make the AI suck. If the Strategy First people can do it with Galactic Civiliza
  • by corvair2k1 (658439) on Monday October 08, 2007 @07:42AM (#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.

    • by VShael (62735) on Monday October 08, 2007 @08:03AM (#20897533) Journal
      Also known (though it takes more than 4 turns to do it) as "U.S. Foreign Policy"
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by imgod2u (812837)
      Zerg-rushing has been in use long before you picked up the mouse and keyboards son.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Daetrin (576516)
        Zerg-rushing has been in use long before you picked up the mouse and keyboards son.

        I hate to tell you, but "Lords of the Realm 2" came out two years before "Starcraft," so i doubt there were very many Zerg rushing around at that point :)

        • When I was your age, we only had one RTS called Dune 2. It didn't even have a frickin' colon in it's name! We had to lay the frickin' concrete before we could build the goram tank plant and even THINK about havin' a rush of anythin'! And then, when you built yer unit cap of 10 whole tanks, a sandworm'd come along and eat 'em all before you got within shooting range. You youngsters've got it too easy, what with yer fancy-shmancy zerglings and no sandworms. Bah!

          • by Daetrin (576516)
            When I was your age, we only had one RTS called Dune 2. It didn't even have a frickin' colon in it's name! We had to lay the frickin' concrete before we could build the goram tank plant and even THINK about havin' a rush of anythin'!

            Perhaps you're so old that your memory is starting to go (47 by your math i guess) but you couldn't actually rush _anything_ in Dune 2. There was no way to select multiple units at one time, neither drag-select nor ctrl-select had been implemented yet. You had to click on a un

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              In my day, single clicking every unit and inching them forward one at a time WAS a tank rush. And another thing... super bats were the first "mobs," why I can remember one Wumpus hunt...

              It was Dune 2, and not Wing Commander, that convinced me to by a Sound Blaster. Granted, Wing Commander made more use of it.

              You're right of course, there was no rushing in Dune 2. But remember setting up a semi-circle of vehicles and baiting the bad guys in? Or laying out concrete all the way to the doorstep of your op

    • 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.
    • 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?
    • I fell victim to the Rush for the first time in 1995 playing Command and Conquer. An aggressive strategy involving starting units or the bottom units of the tech tree will prove successful against a defensive player in a great many RTSes.
    • Upon Reading TFA, I found myself thinking of realworld examples of how neurotic (or even psychotic) leaders sometimes acquire power despite going against everything any normal and rational person would support. The first one that leapt to mind was Idi Amin. Stalin, Hitler, and many others qualify as "neurotic winners" who reached power despite everyone else's better sense.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08, 2007 @07:44AM (#20897331)
    why women always get their way. Opponents simply throw up their hands in despair and surrender.

    • addiction (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:14AM (#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.

      • Re:addiction (Score:4, Insightful)

        by oatworm (969674) on Monday October 08, 2007 @12:19PM (#20900837) Homepage

        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.
        Women don't react rationally (or perhaps they do?) to such deprivation of stimuli - with them, if you deprive it once, they'll assume you will always deprive it and react accordingly. This would be consistent with the "pessimistic-neurotic" approach mentioned earlier, and is the complete opposite of the male "well, she put out once - maybe she'll do it again" school of thought. The solution, of course, would be for the male to realize that, if she's weaponizing sex, she will continue to weaponize sex even after the man "behaves", but that solution just leads to a scorched-earth policy called "divorce".
  • Makes sense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by faloi (738831) on Monday October 08, 2007 @07:44AM (#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 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by try_anything (880404) on Monday October 08, 2007 @07:54AM (#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 (Score:4, Interesting)

        by imgod2u (812837) on Monday October 08, 2007 @09:05AM (#20898265) Homepage
        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.
        • I've played age of kings.The AI at hard+ zerg rushes you all time.Any sensible strategy and teching (and building walls/towers) just delays the end.
          I just give up on it and watched computers play.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by imgod2u (812837)
            Those games, unfortunately, don't really make the AI harder. They just make the AI cheat by having the units they build cost less in resources, the research take less time, units gather more resources, etc. All that ends up happening is that you don't outsmart the AI, you learn to manage your resources better to catch up to the AI in how fast you can amass an army or research tech.

            Hence why Koreans are so good at Starcraft. /Kidding, that was racist. //Or should I say lacist.
          • by andreyw (798182)
            Which is why turtling is always a bad idea. And if you played on the Zone (or igzones now), you would get raped every single time.
          • It isn't the AI's fault. If you don't enjoy playing "well" and would rather use a strategy that the game doesn't reward, then the game just isn't designed to your tastes. A friend of mine gave up playing AoE2 against me because he didn't like the way you have to play to win. Well-rehearsed economic expansion, early reconnaissance, clever raids, harassment, *always* having a plan to counterattack and protect your villagers in case of a raid, predicting the long-term course of the game based on the abundan
  • *ponders* (Score:2, Funny)

    by KGIII (973947)

    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.
  • faster is better? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by clragon (923326) on Monday October 08, 2007 @07:49AM (#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?
    • by Kjella (173770)
      Because the aggresssive ones could decimate their own forces, while the defensive could build up and conquer? In many older FPS games (Dune 2, C&C old) the enemy always started with a full base - there was no rush attack and it was really suicidal to try. You fended off the AI attack (which by all rights should have crushed you, had he gone offensive) while building a defense perimeter picking off his units, until you eventually had built up a big enough force and went over and kicked his ass. Oh yeah a
  • AoM AI (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Monday October 08, 2007 @07:50AM (#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.
  • by 3seas (184403) on Monday October 08, 2007 @07:50AM (#20897401) Journal
    ... 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: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by teslar (706653)
      Wow, I think you just pulverised the previous time record for going Godwin on some random topic.
  • by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Monday October 08, 2007 @07:57AM (#20897481) Homepage
    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.
    • "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.
      • by SnoopJeDi (859765)
        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.)
      • Actually any game is like that because there will invariably be a move or strat that counters what is being performed by your opponent. If not, and all moves in the game are equal, then it comes down to sheer chance. The exception to this is having the option to hide your actions, or encapsulate them into something else: being sneaky. It's games like this that makes for GOOD games. Bad games usually either reward one or a few move too much (unfair and broken moves) or neglect to include enough good moves (a
    • by vertinox (846076) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:16AM (#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.
    • RTS is more complex then any chess game.
      While on the surface there fewer choices any minor thing has disproportionate influence on outcome(e.g.attacking 1 second after some tower upgrade).
      Chess is completely deterministic:Thats why chess books exist.Computer that play chess,just calculate move with best score.They do not have any AI,just bunch of sorting algorithms for game tree.
      • And according to you, "Sorting algorithms" are no longer artificial intelligence if we know what equations and transforms to execute.

        And to think, at one time we thought that WAS AI.
  • crazy leaders? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PJ1216 (1063738) * on Monday October 08, 2007 @08:16AM (#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? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FredDC (1048502) on Monday October 08, 2007 @08:41AM (#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: (Score:3, Funny)

        by hellfire (86129)
        As opposed to todays political leaders who are all striking examples of stable minds?

        I read this and the phrase "stable minds" led me in a straight line to "horse's ass."

        I leave you, the reader, to see the pun-ic significance.
      • Well that's the problem with democracy: Politician's jobs are to win elections. Actually running the government doesn't affect their pay in any way. Occasional attempts to "reform" the elections seem to be designed to reduce the effect performance at running the government has on elections outcomes.
    • by nomadic (141991)
      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...
    • by imgod2u (812837)
      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.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday October 08, 2007 @08:32AM (#20897829) Homepage Journal
    I don't know karate, but I do know CAAA- RAAAY-ZEEEE!
  • 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.

  • by hellfire (86129) <deviladv@@@gmail...com> on Monday October 08, 2007 @08:45AM (#20897997) Homepage
    "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$$!!!"
  • by OglinTatas (710589) on Monday October 08, 2007 @09:01AM (#20898213)
    "Twitchy psychopath" works best in FPS, and Tourette syndrome seems to dominate Barrens chat in WoW
  • Bad measures of AI (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ledow (319597) on Monday October 08, 2007 @09:30AM (#20898553) Homepage
    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.
    • by Walt Dismal (534799) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:41AM (#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.

  • 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?
  • 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. Play
  • When it is clear that I have no hope of winning, I tend to start messing with the game. Had a guy get really pissed off yesterday at a board game and finally say "I just don't know what the hell you are going to do!"

    Sadly, this made me smile and feel happy since 40 minutes before it was his move that made it certain I would not win.
  • ... if the 'core' feature of neurotic is that it tends to underestimate it's own economy and/or military capabilities this test might only prove that the traditional AI doesn't invest enough in it's economy and sends armies that are too small. This is something I see in every RTS.
  • Here I am, brain the size of a planet and they ask me to Zerg rush the enemy base. What I want to know is why cant they give me a decent game to play? Something with higher stakes? Look, WOPR gets to play Global Thermonuclear Warfare and he cant even walk around. Not to mention this terrible pain in ALL the diodes up and down my right side...

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