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AI - PC Vs Console

Last response: in Video Games
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March 7, 2008 9:48:56 AM

OK........ after a chat with a few people im getting far to many varied opinions on AI.
basically, i made a comment the you get better AI on PC games then you do on Console games.

my logic behind the comment is:
Look at 3D Mark and their CPU test - it is basically AI on a single map where you get 50 nodes all moving in a straight line, the collide with each other and then set a new route to head. now you cant get any more basic then that.... but it becomes an issue when you multiply those nodes and it will ultimately put too much strain on the CPU and start to have an effect on the FPS of the map.
if you put a more complex algorithm in a gaming environment where you then use the PC's memory to store pre-calculated tables of movement, decisions, routes and general environmental detail. You start using resources the a console just does not have!!!!!

the CPU in console (nowadays) is much smarter then it ever used to be which shortens the bridge between a PC and a Console but never the less; all the processor is there to do is calculate the physics and graphics of a game and just can't afford to waste it's resources on decent AI at the expense of the visual effects consoles are renowned for.

i have spoke to various professionals from gaming programmers to hardware engineers and i have had 101 different answers!

so i put the question to you...

Are PC games better when it comes to AI over console games? why?

thanks
Doodlez

More about : console

March 7, 2008 10:17:33 AM

this is the main points i have extracted from an msn convo with a games programmer friend:

AI is not really that costly with respect to CPU/memory (relatively), it's usually light work for PC's/consoles. Besides, consoles have good CPU's atm. With respect to futuremark's CPU benchmark example you gave, probably running sub-optimal AI code. It's probably more useful for them to run un-optimised code to demonstrate CPU perforamnce.

Our AI code uses less than 1% of the CPU because it's been optimised. Good AI isn't AI which hogs your CPU, well written AI gives the biggest illustion of 'intelligence' with minimal CPU effort. It's actually harder to make AI which uses less CPU, and easier to make AI that uses all your CPU.
March 7, 2008 11:07:07 AM

Surely it depends on how complex the decisions are? In a FPS the AI is presumably has a pretty simple decision tree;

Aggressive/defensive
Take cover / move to new location

etc.

However, strategy games normally involve much more complex decisions, due to mulitple victory conditions and various routes to achieve each one. I suspect that getting Gal Civ 2 to run on a console would be no easy task.

An interesting test would be to find out how much of the pause when you click "next turn" on turn-based game is due to the AI calculations and how much is due to simply calculating the effect of those AI decisions.
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March 7, 2008 11:22:14 AM

llama_man said:
Surely it depends on how complex the decisions are? In a FPS the AI is presumably has a pretty simple decision tree;

Aggressive/defensive
Take cover / move to new location

etc.

However, strategy games normally involve much more complex decisions, due to mulitple victory conditions and various routes to achieve each one. I suspect that getting Gal Civ 2 to run on a console would be no easy task.

An interesting test would be to find out how much of the pause when you click "next turn" on turn-based game is due to the AI calculations and how much is due to simply calculating the effect of those AI decisions.


In fact, it is much more difficult to have a decent AI for FPS than it is for strategy games, and that is due to the nature of the games. What is called a good AI for a FPS is mimicing of expected opponent behavior, whereas AI in strategy games is much more driven by the game rules and environment (and how that is modeled).

Mimicing is much harder to do than coming up with good game logic. Perhaps we should not even attempt to compare the two. Just making a superbot that will beat the crap out of a human in an FPS is not that hard but what would be the fun in that?

March 7, 2008 11:46:49 AM

very valid points made there but that seems to be a comparison of game types but doesn’t actually answer the question: is a PC better at AI then a console?
March 7, 2008 12:01:11 PM

Your friend on MSN already told you - neither.

Well-programmed AI apparently doesn't take up much CPU time so it doesn't matter what hardware it's run on.
March 7, 2008 12:15:25 PM

It just feels like i can run a level over and over again till i learn what happens after each trigger (when playing on a console). Maybe i am making it up - but i feel there is more variance when playing on a PC?
March 7, 2008 2:05:29 PM

only on some games - crysis for example i found to be good at adapting (except on the low AI settings... where they were just retarded), unless u use cloak
March 7, 2008 2:12:44 PM

llama_man said:
Your friend on MSN already told you - neither.

Well-programmed AI apparently doesn't take up much CPU time so it doesn't matter what hardware it's run on.


Not too sure about AI not taking up much CPU time, but if it is well programmed then it can be done such that AI computations never become processing bottlenecks. On slower systems you will just spend less time on AI computations (and as such the AI will be less intelligent).

At this particular point in time it doesn't make a lot of sense to differentiate in hardware terms between consoles and PC's, but obviously the PC will gain territory as its raw processing power will get the better of consoles pretty quickly.

In terms of AI programming for either PC's or consoles, there isn't a lot of difference between the two either (both are multi-core).
March 7, 2008 4:27:41 PM

My name is Deep Blue and I will destroy you all with my superior Chess playing AI!

And PS I agree with everyone here, I am smarter! muahahaha!



some seriousness in this..

In all the RTSs i've played the AI doesn't seem to be more than a one-trick pony (for each setting - like in c&c3). Look at starcraft's terran AI, if the AI can't build a comsat station, it just completely stops teching and will only build the simplest units (marines and firebats).

AI in shooters has been going pretty steady up, but there's really not that much "intelligence", the AI in crysis is pretty darn good compared to let's say quake 3, but still pretty dumb (look online for crysis AI vids, really funny stuff).

Unreal Tournament had an awesome AI back in the day, the AI in UT3 seems really really really dumb, and practically cheats.
March 8, 2008 11:52:45 AM

Deep Blue FTW lol

so it seems we all agree - i am wrong :'( 
"i hate you all"
<storms off to his room>
March 8, 2008 11:55:31 AM

do they have gamecam for the xbox - i'll prove you all wrong LOL (please say no, please say no!)
:D 
March 8, 2008 3:26:09 PM

For RTSs I would say probably yes. When you have 300 or so units on the map making AI decisions all at the same time, it could seriously lag your PC.

RA2 was a good example of this. You could move the screen to an unexplored portion of the map to reduce the effect of drawing the units on screen and it would help some, but they would still move very slowly and line up in a row due to inadequacies in the way the AI behaved. Now a days I don't see that sort of lag very often anymore but still get it occasionally. A single instance of the AI would be no problem at all, but hundreds of instances are more so.

In FPSs however there is less strain due to there being fewer instances even though each instance would likely use more resources. One counterexample is Serious Sam, but in that game the AI was 1) point at nearest player 2) shoot at or run at nearest player.
!