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StarCraft AI Competition Announced 200

bgweber writes "The 2010 conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment (AIIDE 2010) will be hosting a StarCraft AI competition as part of the conference program. This competition enables academic researchers to evaluate their AI systems in a robust, commercial RTS environment. The competition will be held in the weeks leading up to the conference. The final matches will be held live at the conference with commentary. Exhibition matches will also be held between skilled human players and the top-performing bots."
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StarCraft AI Competition Announced

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  • by DreadPiratePizz ( 803402 ) on Thursday November 12, 2009 @02:57PM (#30076780)
    Not true at all, the 1 RAX Fast Expand build is designed to allow a Terran player to expand early and EASILY defend against 8 zerglings. For you information, a lot has changed in just a few years.
  • by A Friendly Troll ( 1017492 ) on Thursday November 12, 2009 @03:22PM (#30077214)

    How would you rather it be setup? I have not found a single RTS that isn't dominated by Rushing Tactics.

    Company of Heroes. []

    It's a modern RTS which utilizes things such as directional cover, suppression and per-squad reinforcements, as well as rewards proper flanking. Unless, of course, you try to prevent said flanking by placing some barbed wire and mines...

    There is no such thing as rushing in CoH; the game doesn't reward rushing because it will end with a horribly tragic loss for the player who attempts it (!). You can't wall-off because you need some map control, resources need to be connected to your base in order to receive them, and your low popcap (based on the number of captured sectors) spells your ultimate doom. The nature of the game is that for the most part, each side has no more than ten units on the field. You can be a very good player even if you aren't a hyperactive teen capable of performing ten clicks per second.

    Bottom line: if someone wants to rush you, you will win the game in five minutes. But if you want to wall-off, this game isn't for you, as it requires constant fighting on multiple parts of the map.

  • by FauxPasIII ( 75900 ) on Thursday November 12, 2009 @03:27PM (#30077300)

    Star Trek Armada and Armada II had a decent approach to preventing early-game rushes; your "town hall" equivalent building (starbase) is armed to the teeth. =)

  • For logistical reasons there aren't a lot of options. Past competitions have used Wargus [], since it's open source. Game-industry people tend to roll their eyes at it though, and would prefer a competition using a "real" RTS, i.e. a popular mainstream one. Starcraft is one of the only choices for that, because someone's made an API for it [] that allows you to write external AI to play the game. Most commercial RTSs don't have any way of doing that, unless you were to screen-scrape the display and then have to implement all sorts of computer vision to even figure out what's going on (in which case it'd be more of a vision than an AI-strategy competition).

  • by xnor ( 1052278 ) on Thursday November 12, 2009 @06:08PM (#30080034)

    I imagine that a computer's ability to control units with instant reflexes and frame precision will make AI Starcraft a completely different game from anything we've seen. Watch some Tool Assisted Speedruns and see how the gameplay of a person playing frame by frame transcends that a skilled human playing normally. Games are designed, tested, or balanced with the expectation that a player cannot press a button thirty times a second, anticipate the frame in which a projectile which hit, or issue commands at ten map locations at once. Without these limitations, the game can be broken and become something the designers never intended.

    I expect the contestants to abuse lots of bugs and glitches exploitable only with frame-perfect control. For example, there's a known bug when about 1% of the time, a dragoon shot will miss a moving SCV (with no high ground or cover). If something like this can be consistently reproduced, the game will warp. Another rare bug has units become stuck while moving past each other, causing them to dart at ridiculous speeds in a perpendicular direction. This is likely reproducible, and could become the main mode of unit movement in this contest. Even if this doesn't work, there's probably a way to move faster by issuing rapid commands in a way that takes advantage of animations, since Starcraft ground unit movement speed is not hardcoded but animation-based.

    Even without bugs, an AI could dance around ranged units to be basically invulnerable to melee, or any slower unit with lower range. This will give Terran a powerful rush strategy (how ironic).

    Imagine a game of Terran versus Protoss. The Terran builds a fast barracks, and sends two three marines at the Protoss base. By then, the protoss has two zealots, but they won't matter, since they'll never get a hit. The Terran player dances the marines to shoot the zealots while taking no damage by always moving whichever two marine are being chasing, while the third is free to fire. Even against an equal-sized zealot force, marines are slightly faster that zealots, so they can shoot and move with impunity. The marines can slowly make their way into the Protoss base and behind the mineral line where they'll slowly wear down the mining probes' health, even as the Protoss makes focussing on any one probe impossible. The Protoss might try to get a surround with probes, though I think the marines will escape. Even if the Protoss fends off this rush, the Terran can have vultures before opponents have dragoons and wreak havoc with them.

    Since zerglings are faster than marines, I'm not sure if this strategy would work in TvZ, though we might still see some epic bunker rushes.

    Note that I don't think this distorted gameplay is bad, just different from human play. I rather like the ridiculous perfection, timing, and bug-abuse of tool-assisted speedruns, and look forward to seeing what the contestants come up with. I would love for a contestant to find a strategy that completely breaks Starcraft as we know it and wins unopposed. However, I think those who expect the final matches to look like really polished high-level human Starcraft play might be disappointed.

  • by odourpreventer ( 898853 ) on Thursday November 12, 2009 @07:33PM (#30081238)

    > Rush tactics are barely used in pro-matches

    Yes and no. Players often apply the *threat* of a rush, forcing the opponent to build more defences.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 12, 2009 @08:43PM (#30081942)

    It's been a couple of years, but whenever I watched Boxer in the Korean SC tournaments a while back - the match is usually over within 15 or 20 minutes because they'd never need to progress past Dragoons, Hydra's, or Medics.

    An expansive SC player would be destroyed by 8 zerglings before he could get that second Command center off.

    Boxer's signature unit is is the dropship -- a mid-game unit that comes out only before the 3 science vessel units. 20 minutes by a pro's standard's is not a rush, its the beginning of endgame. They'll have 2-3 operational bases at this point.

  • Re:Brood War (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Friday November 13, 2009 @09:53AM (#30086014) Journal

    They ought to release it with dedicated servers and LAN play and roll out Battlenet 2.0 when it's ready, if that is indeed the case.

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