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Blizzard and DeepMind Turn StarCraft II Into An AI Research Lab ( 52

Last year, Google's AI subsidiary DeepMind said it was going to work with Starcraft creator Blizzard to turn the strategy game into a proper research environment for AI engineers. Today, they're opening the doors to that environment, with new tools including a machine learning API, a large game replay dataset, an open source DeepMind toolset and more. TechCrunch reports: The new release of the StarCraft II API on the Blizzard side includes a Linux package made to be able to run in the cloud, as well as support for Windows and Mac. It also has support for offline AI vs. AI matches, and those anonymized game replays from actual human players for training up agents, which is starting out at 65,000 complete matches, and will grow to over 500,000 over the course of the next few weeks. StarCraft II is such a useful environment for AI research basically because of how complex and varied the games can be, with multiple open routes to victory for each individual match. Players also have to do many different things simultaneously, including managing and generating resources, as well as commanding military units and deploying defensive structures. Plus, not all information about the game board is available at once, meaning players have to make assumptions and predictions about what the opposition is up to.

It's such a big task, in fact, that DeepMind and Blizzard are including "mini-games" in the release, which break down different subtasks into "manageable chunks," including teaching agents to master tasks like building specific units, gathering resources, or moving around the map. The hope is that compartmentalizing these areas of play will allow testing and comparison of techniques from different researchers on each, along with refinement, before their eventual combination in complex agents that attempt to master the whole game.

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Blizzard and DeepMind Turn StarCraft II Into An AI Research Lab

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  • Working backwards (Score:5, Interesting)

    by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2017 @09:38PM (#54980437)
    Assuming you could create some AIs that are really, really good at an RTS like SC2, I wonder if you could get them to work backwards to create (or just adjust existing) games that are more balanced as one of the major complaints about any RTS game is its balance.
    • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
      Yeah, get the perfect AI, then use it to play 1B games per day, and tweak the results based on which race/team/character wins, until the stats are almost even.

      But that presumes the gameplay between a perfect AI and a human is anywhere near similar. The "too good" AIs that run into range, shoot once, then run out of range before your defenses activate can twitch at that point until the lowest unit in the game has defeated the best. Those types of gameplay "hacks" might be found and eliminated, but those t
    • sure. past game data can be analyzed to create better games. nothing new.
      but what is this "they"? do you mean human data analysts,using same dumb but fast computers? lol

      ai - another name for data analysis.
      this news actually means ibm's deepmind subsidiary got cooperation from blizzard to use their game datasets. rest is hype.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 09, 2017 @09:45PM (#54980453)

    ... from controlling units in a RTS to controlling drones in the field of war.

    Personally I welcome our robotic overlords

  • I'm not sure if this is good or bad for the game itself. Currently Blizzard uses cheats for "AI" opponents and in the original Starcraft game, many bugs and quirks that rudimentary classifiers found useful were then replicated by humans to make the game rather linear and boring.

  • Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed.....

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.

    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
    W.B. Yeats, The Second Coming

    Not slouching towards Bethlehem but lurching ever closer to Judgment Day

  • by clovis ( 4684 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2017 @10:48PM (#54980707)

    Have we found, at long last, a possible way to beat the Koreans at StarCraft?
    If so, will this Make America Great Again?

    • US first strike = SK mass damage and china unknown.

      NK first strike = SK mass damage / Japan damage / 50-50 shot that 1 missile makes it all the way to the usa. China moves in to crush NK.

      • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
        The best possible result is that DPRK makes a nuke that can reach Florida. They launch at Florida, and detonate over Kansas in low outer space. The EMP will take out NYC and Chicago, crashing the US financial markets. Chaos, and not a single life directly lost (though some plane and car crashes may kill indirectly).

        It'd be like a guy shining a flashlight in your face. Annoying, but not directly damaging. You can't shoot him for that. So what would the US response be to an EMP?
        • by murdocj ( 543661 )

          It's pretty obvious - a Korean nuke launched at the USA will mean an all-out attack on NK. That one is easy.

          Personally I think the next Korean missile will be launched on a trajectory that makes it clear that NK can hit ALL of the USA. Just to make the point that trumpski can't feel too safe right now, just because he's relaxing on the East Coast.

        • You can't shoot him for that. So what would the US response be to an EMP?

          Uh, it's more akin to pointing a laser at a driver and blinding him while at the wheel. People would die from that. The result would be war.

          Even if we shot down the nuke before it hit a US territory (Guam) or ally would mean war. If NK demonstrates that they will shoot off nukes for whatever reason then all pretenses for diplomacy are off because they have demonstrated an act of nuclear aggression and we don't want to rely on THAAD to ensure millions don't die at the whims of dear leader.

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2017 @11:44PM (#54980917)

    can it play global thermonuclear war?

  • So, we're going to develop and train AIs using a game that focuses on developing and processing resources, building weapons and defensive systems, and coordinating troops in an assault.

    Yeah. That'll be fine.

"The number of Unix installations has grown to 10, with more expected." -- The Unix Programmer's Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972