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AI Games

AI System Invents New Card Games (For Humans) 112

Posted by timothy
from the they're-just-toying-with-us dept.
jtogel writes "This New Scientist article describes our AI system that automatically generates card games. The article contains a description of a playable card game generated by our system. But card games are just the beginning... The card game generator is a part of a larger project to automatise all of game development using artificial intelligence methods — we're also working on level generation for a variety of different games, and on rule generation for simple arcade-like games."
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AI System Invents New Card Games (For Humans)

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  • by gweihir (88907) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @12:07AM (#43627225)

    Creating games or levels is pretty simple (well, relatively speaking) in comparison to making them fun. Bu the myriad of bad games out there, I would say that making good games or levels is something not even natural intelligence masters routinely. It is bound to fail trying to do it with AI. Nonetheless a nice research benchmark. But please stop trying to imply real-world usability where there is none. It is unethical and unprofessional.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rolfwind (528248)

      TBH, I don't think we even play the best games out there routinely - at least for board games. Monopoly, for instance, is a really shitty game with everything in favor of the guy who lands on good properties and then drags on forever. But it's one of those board games nearly every family has in their closet.

      • Monopoly is popular because it has multiple chances for entertainment. You're making money, watching it all go down, landing in jail, etc. Good games aren't necessarily fair, but they do need to be entertaining.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Interestingly, Monopoly is a lot better when you play with the auction rule that everyone ignores. The official rules also include a couple of altered games with fixed time limits, to prevent the dragging-on that occurs when you omit the auction rule.

        • by MorePower (581188) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @09:55AM (#43629147)
          Monopoly apologists always drag out the "its so much better if you use the 'auction property if it isn't bought' rule". I've never seen a situation where it matters, everyone always buys every single property that they land on. Every single time. Occasionally someone will be a little short on cash (from buying tons of property already) and there's a little bit of "should I really mortgage stuff to buy this property?" But they always do it, nobody ever leaves property unbought.
    • by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @02:18AM (#43627619) Journal

      But please stop trying to imply real-world usability where there is none. It is unethical and unprofessional.

      But it keeps the grant money coming.

      What they've created is a method for representing card games symbolically (probably the hardest part of the project). Then they searched through many permutations of games, and keeping the ones that pass an acceptance criteria. It's AI the same way Prolog is AI.

      Or depth first search. Is depth first search AI? Does an A* search make a machine intelligence? We need a new tag, SearchIsNotAI or something.

      • by jtogel (840879) <julian@togelius.com> on Saturday May 04, 2013 @03:44AM (#43627835) Homepage Journal
        It's not "blind" search like Prolog, or even depth-first search. It's objective driven search using artificial evolution. Actually, almost all successful AI uses search in a prominent role.
      • by loneDreamer (1502073) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @11:40AM (#43629765)

        It's AI the same way Prolog is AI. ... SearchIsNotAI or something.

        HUH? You definitely lost me there. First, Prolog is a computer language more than any kind of algorithm, just one more declarative and suited for logic. Definitely a lot of AI has been coded in Prolog.

        Second, how is search not AI??? Almost any AI algorithm I can think of is a search problem. Chess (or other games) AI is nothing else than a search for a close to optimal set of moves (based on a scoring function). SLAM and Path-finding in general is also a search. Watson performs a search for potential documents matching the query. Classifiers search for an optimal decision boundary to divide the data. Clustering searches for a stable configuration of centroids (for example). Object recognition searches for matches that maximize the likelihood between object... etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. I mean, almost any algorithm that I have been teach in Machine Learning and Robotics has been introduced as a search problem!

        • Well if you don't understand how Prolog searches, you don't understand Prolog.

          Do you consider a sorting algorithm to be AI? Creating ontology and searching through it does not require intelligence, for reasons similar to those described in this paper [cogprints.org].
          • I know that prolog searches. What I'm saying it that a lot of what is considered AI by the people that do AI is based on search. I gave plenty of examples of what I consider the common point of view in the field. Your paper, being written inside a Department of Philosophy, might re-define AI if differently. I'm not against exploring new definitions of AI, but if you want to do that, you should start by stating it.
            • What I'm saying it that a lot of what is considered AI by the people that do AI is based on search.

              This is true, you are right. It is also true, unfortunately, that a lot of what is considered AI by the people that do AI has nothing to with intelligence.

              • a lot of what is considered AI by the people that do AI has nothing to with intelligence.

                No it has to do with automating reasoning. Intelligence is so vaguely defined that two people could have an opposite opinion on the importance of rational tough in the definition of intelligence and they would both be right be right depending on which school of thoughts you belong. I suggest you read a little bit in the following encyclopedia : starting at that page [stanford.edu]

      • by joseph90 (193138)

        But please stop trying to imply real-world usability where there is none. It is unethical and unprofessional.

        But it keeps the grant money coming.

        What they've created is a method for representing card games symbolically (probably the hardest part of the project). Then they searched through many permutations of games, and keeping the ones that pass an acceptance criteria. It's AI the same way Prolog is AI.

        Or depth first search. Is depth first search AI? Does an A* search make a machine intelligence? We need a new tag, SearchIsNotAI or something.

        Search is an integral part of AI. Always has been. One famous AI scientist once said that all AI is just search and knowledge representation. It is also the case that once we find an AI algorithm that works sucessfully it seems to no longer be considered AI.

        The algorithm here is a small incremental improvement, thats how breakthroughs work - bit by bit. The scientists may not have claimed it as a hugh breakthrough, I would guess the journalists did that if anyone did.

        • Problem here is they aren't moving toward an understanding of how the human mind works, they are merely solving problems using searching. That's not AI.
      • But it keeps the grant money coming.

        What they've created is a method for representing card games symbolically (probably the hardest part of the project). Then they searched through many permutations of games, and keeping the ones that pass an acceptance criteria. It's AI the same way Prolog is AI.

        Or depth first search. Is depth first search AI? Does an A* search make a machine intelligence? We need a new tag, SearchIsNotAI or something.

        Yes, it's AI. It came out of AI research, as part of the path to full AI, and is a natural part of what the only intelligent species we know of, does.

    • by lorinc (2470890)

      It is bound to fail trying to do it with AI.

      And still you know it will work very well in the long run, like almost every other task that was set to fail with AI.

      • by mwvdlee (775178)

        People keep attributing magical properties to their own intelligence that no mechanical machine could possible possess.
        The simple truth is that our brains are just as mechanical as any machine, albeit a very impressive machine.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by narcc (412956)

        As far as I can tell, "AI" has succeeded only in keeping the same name after endless redefinitions resulting from it's numerous failures.

        Your blind faith in AI seems to indicate that you're either hopelessly misguided or one of those singularity nuts. I can only hope that you've merely been mislead...

        (To Ray's deluded followers: Just get over the pretense and just worship Kurzweil the prophet outright. Failing that, at least get robes. Not only will they keep you warm, they make you and your fellow cult

        • by lorinc (2470890)

          As far as I can tell, "AI" has succeeded only in keeping the same name after endless redefinitions resulting from it's numerous failures.

          Your blind faith in AI seems to indicate that you're either hopelessly misguided or one of those singularity nuts.

          Absolutely not. The improvement in fields that were said to be impossible for AI are just astonishing, and I am among the first surprised by such successes. Let's state it clear: computing power is increasing, theoretical models are improving, practical implementations are getting more efficient. So yeah, basically Turing was right, we are just impressively capable computers and nothing more.

          Around 5 or 6 years ago, there were some image classification benchmarks that were incredibly tough and said to be al

          • by narcc (412956)

            Everything that allows a computer to make a statement that you thought was only possible by a human is AI.

            And the redefinition continues. This one is great, as it's both overly broad and completely subjective. As a bonus, it defines "AI" exclusively in terms of successes.

            Hey, now it can't fail!

    • by muhula (621678)
      Before you start with righteous indignation, maybe you could try playing the game created by this specific algorithm? It seems like it might be fun. Any takers?
    • There are a LOT of games that have random level generation. Rogue being one of the first. It's random level generation being ones of its most important features. I could see this sort of thing being used in that sort of way.

  • by Megahard (1053072) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @12:08AM (#43627227)

    Shall we play Global Thermonuclear War?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 91degrees (207121)
      That's a strange game. The only winning move is not to play.

      How about a nice game of chess?
    • by nabsltd (1313397)

      Shall we play Global Thermonuclear War?

      Sure, I love that game [wikipedia.org].

      OK, so it's not what you were referencing, but it is a card game, and the name is close, and it is quite fun. And, it's probably not the sort of game that an AI could come up with.

  • by TrollstonButtersbean (2890693) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @12:11AM (#43627249)
    Each player gets six cards, except for the player on the dealer's right, who gets seven. .. Two jacks are a "half-fizzbin". If you have a half-fizzbin: a third jack is a "shralk" and results in disqualification. One wants a king and a deuce, except at night ...when one wants a queen and a four. The second card is turned up, except on Tuesdays.
  • by aaronb1138 (2035478) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @12:20AM (#43627279)
    Programmers make me laugh hysterically sometimes. Seriously, when in the history of man has an entire portion of an industry been dedicated to the following two goals:
    1) Obsolescence of all current vocational knowledge in their field on 5-15 year scales.

    2) The ultimate goal of their work is the removal of their job position from the market (the singularity which can hack in C).
    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @12:49AM (#43627367) Journal

      Arguably, at least some branches of science and medicine have some major overlaps(though the timescale tends to be longer because reality is stubborn and complex, and just gets worse the deeper you go).

      Major credit accrues to those who develop new models that render the old ones obsolete or deeply incomplete, and discover new phenomena that require a course of study distinct from the old ones.

      And, while there isn't any major risk of them succeeding themselves out of business, Team Epidemiology is always trying to wipe out one pathogen or another. It doesn't have quite the same finality as 'the singularity'; but that's mostly because they are chasing a bunch of moving targets.

    • by gweihir (88907)

      Believe me, when you look at what programmers routinely generate, there is no risk of them becoming obsolete anytime soon (unless those that pay them recognize the scam and either go non-computer again or hire those few that are actually good at it). Most code is so bad that you should actually throw it away before it makes it into production. Most other code will have to be replaced in a few years. When you find something that it really good, it very often is old and whoever write it did just happen to und

    • Programmers make me laugh hysterically sometimes. Seriously, when in the history of man has an entire portion of an industry been dedicated to the following two goals: 1) Obsolescence of all current vocational knowledge in their field on 5-15 year scales. 2) The ultimate goal of their work is the removal of their job position from the market (the singularity which can hack in C).

      OK. I'll bite:

      0) Machine Intelligence systems are great for helping humans -- Luxury car break controls for when your attention is lacking, Segues, for when your balance is lacking, Self driving car for when you need to take a nap on that long drive, Automatic terrain creation so you don't have to piddle with setting each stone and tree, you can just generate a bunch of settings until you find a cool one, then sculpt the land a bit more way you like to add more visual interests afterwards, Which is how

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      "Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it."
      The same was said about steam powered machines at the dawn of industrialization.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      Programmers make me laugh hysterically sometimes. Seriously, when in the history of man has an entire portion of an industry been dedicated to the following two goals:
      1) Obsolescence of all current vocational knowledge in their field on 5-15 year scales.

      2) The ultimate goal of their work is the removal of their job position from the market (the singularity which can hack in C).

      practically every industry is geared towards removal of job positions. all industrialism is part of that. you can just go back to burning spinning jennies though.

      (practically none of game development industry is geared towards true ai though, if you think that then you're a victim of some pretty effective marketing)

    • Your goals are loaded. I can easily present a competing goals for the same behavior that push you into a different conclusion:
      1) To create something that does the hard work for you.

      Seen this way, in the history of man, almost EVERY industry has been trying to do this for a long, long time. The issue here is not technical development, is the fact that one we achieve something, we always come up with something else to go for and maybe an issue of how we should distribute the benefits of those developments.

  • by clam666 (1178429) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @12:20AM (#43627281)

    On a tangentally related idea, we're working on a project of machine learning to take games and the rules of play, then derive strategy based on the rules.

    Nothing particularly new, except we don't define what winning is, just the rules of the game. No hint is given to what constitutes good play, or even what "playing" is. Although it is a very slow process depending on game complexity (learning can take weeks and sometimes months of processing time), it requires no real programming effort, beause we don't have to know what "good" play is or some series of algorithms; it produces better and better tactics and strategies of play during the learning process, by experimenting with the rules, how to play, and such.

    What's cool about this, is that you can watch it teaching itself different strategies and tactics. Some of the "tactics" it creates are many times counter intuitive or plain bizarre, but based on the overall strategies it develops, allows for some really different playing experiences as it doesn't follow human game logic based on experience with "similar" games or "intuition".

    • by gweihir (88907)

      Sounds interesting. And a lot more long-term and rational than much of the basically worthless "rockstar" research going on in the area. Have some publications about this?

      • by clam666 (1178429) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @03:14AM (#43627759)

        Portions of it were influenced on a couple of works done.

        Chellapilla and Fogel's 2001 work on Anaconda which built a completely evolved checkers program, which did similar techniques at the broad level. The checkers playing strategies in their case were building neural networks which regulated play. Our similarities are in the way that the strategies evolved and that no game specific knowledge was needed, other than movement rules and an aggregation of strategy fitness across competition rather than individual competition values,

        Other techniques are in Kewley and Embrechts 2002 work on military strategy which was interesting in that the evolved strategies were good military strategy (with emergent doctrinal tactics) which beat military experts strategies in a simulation, in additional to beating it's own strategy when military experts modified it. This also used evolutionary concepts to evolve its solutions.

        Unfortunately I can't divulge our own specific information above and beyond what I've discussed, but we certainly have been influenced by previous work on the subject, and made a few new additions to it in our own work.

        • by gweihir (88907)

          Thanks anyways!

        • by Twinbee (767046)
          Thinking of branching out to simple arcade games, like Bubble Bubble or Pacman? I'd love to see a video of a computer mastering those...
          • by clam666 (1178429)

            Thinking of branching out to simple arcade games, like Bubble Bubble or Pacman? I'd love to see a video of a computer mastering those...

            Interesting you mention arcade games. As changes are made to the framework and some of the subsystems, we have a variety of benchmarks that are run that help evaluate breadth and depth of the learning process and quality of the strategies.

            One of the benchmarks is a version of Asteroids. Depending on the strategy goals, it measures length of life without firing a shot (movement only while learning about spatial relationships of the asteroids), length of life based on cost of fuel (the ship is a floating pl

            • by Twinbee (767046)
              Love to see a video of that. Changing the fitness function to one of the following:

              a: highest score after x levels
              b: quickest way to defeat x levels
              c: complete x levels with minimal thrust
              d: complete x levels with maximum thrust

              ...would produce very different styles of play, and I'd love to see them all.
    • You are reminding me of Blondie24 [wikipedia.org]. Please publish, or provide a link or something. Would love to read up on your work.

  • ...when they require three booster packs and a prime card bought off eBay to be competitive!

  • by m93 (684512) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @12:44AM (#43627349)
    It's not too difficult to conceptualize people creating a computer that can design games based upon numerical or statistical elements, such as a deck of 52 cards divided into numbers and sets. Show me a computer than can take a theme (let's say, WWII tactical), create abstract mechanics that reflect playable functionality within that theme (let's say combat rules for historically accurate factions/units/weapons) and then make it fun (Combat Commander [boardgamegeek.com] anyone?)....well, then I will bow to our new artificial overlords.
  • Get a piece of the action!

  • The latest game they made up (on Friday) was two card draw poker (i.e. hand size is two cards). I worked through the probabilities with them to get the rank of hands correct. (It turns out to be straight flush, pair, straight, flush, high card.)

  • So this will be the Architect. Who's working on the Oracle?

  • The original papers describing the work can be found here:
    http://julian.togelius.com/Font2013Towards.pdf [togelius.com]
    and
    http://julian.togelius.com/Font2013A.pdf [togelius.com]

    Similar evolutionary techniques have been used to generate a number of different types of game content, including Starcraft maps, Super Mario levels, rocks, dungeons, weapons... Here's an overview:
    http://julian.togelius.com/Togelius2011Searchbased.pdf [togelius.com]
  • Makes me wonder about the concept of an "unplayable game".

    CC.

  • by braindrainbahrain (874202) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @07:03AM (#43628335)

    There is at least one board game that was computer designed: Yavalath [boardgamegeek.com]. Yavalath was designed algorithmically by Cameron Browne, as described in his PhD thesis "Automatic Generation and Evaluation of Recombination Games". See his publications here:

    http://www.cameronius.com/ [cameronius.com]

    • by jtogel (840879)
      Yes, Cameron's work was one of our sources of inspiration. The Ludi system that produced Yavalath is clearly a milestone in research on automatic game design. Another source of inspiration was my own work on automatic game design for simple PacMan-like games, which was carried out at the same time as Cameron's work and is described in this paper:
      http://julian.togelius.com/Togelius2008An.pdf [togelius.com]
      In general, this line of research is still in its infancy, as we are trying to figure out new ways of evaluating ga
  • No flying cars yet, but apparently we have Uniblab in alpha.

    http://www.thewb.com/shows/the-jetsons/uniblab/d1a360bc-3f5e-478f-86b8-81e8768c823d [thewb.com]
  • And for some reason, the computer can always kick your ass at this game, too.

The meta-Turing test counts a thing as intelligent if it seeks to devise and apply Turing tests to objects of its own creation. -- Lew Mammel, Jr.

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