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UCSC Students Creating Killer StarCraft Bot

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 28 comments
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Two PhD students are working on an AI that will kick your butt in StarCraft.

GamePro has an interesting article about two PhD students at UC Santa Cruz who are working on an artificial intelligence (AI) that could take down the very best StarCraft player in the world. The project is just a portion of the University's overall goal in exploring the intersection of artificial intelligence, art, and design.

“Our goal is to create compelling new forms of interactive art and entertainment that provide more deeply autonomous, generative and dynamic responses to interaction," said Michael Mateas, the associate professor behind the project. "A major thrust of this work is advanced A.I. for video games, including autonomous characters and interactive storytelling.”

Currently the bot plays Protoss exclusively, and so far manages to rack in a 20-percent win ratio when playing against humans. Ben Weber and Peter Mawhorter, the two students executing the AI project, said that StarCraft was the perfect choice for the AI because of the active community.

"In South Korea, hundreds of professional gamers actively participate in tournaments such as the MBC and OGN star leagues," Weber said. "This community generates a large amount of replays that are available for building bots. It also generates a large number of interesting StarCraft matches to watch. StarCraft is played all over the world and there are several active community websites. It's easy to find players interested in playing the EISBot and our bot has already played against players in over 30 countries."

Mawhorter said that they also chose StarCraft because of its complexity. "StarCraft has three distinct races and is a well-balanced game; in any particular match up in StarCraft, there are a large number of strategies that are valid," he said. "Despite being over 10 years old, StarCraft does not have a dominant strategy. StarCraft has an active meta-game in which popular strategies are constantly evolving. This factor adds to the challenge of building strong computer opponents."

To learn more about their StarCraft-playing AI, check out GamePro's article here. Below you'll find the AI fighting against a human player named "PandaBearGuy."

Killer StarCraft AI

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  • 24 Hide
    zorky9 , April 16, 2010 9:23 PM
    icemunkpHD students and they're only at a 20% win ratio? I hope they just started...

    Considering it's playing against the world's best players it's a good start.
  • 15 Hide
    sseyler , April 16, 2010 10:47 PM
    icemunkpHD students and they're only at a 20% win ratio? I hope they just started...


    The implication from this statement shows you don't really know anything about PhD research in engineering/science-related fields. PhD students aren't necessarily geniuses... Their certainly smart, but doing research doesn't involve conquering everything you touch. Research involves dedicated work towards reasonable goals set by a thesis. These goals constantly evolve as the research matures. It's a learning process, not a process of conquest.
  • 14 Hide
    gzhang , April 16, 2010 9:43 PM
    dafti take it that they never heard of a zergling rush


    You got rushed if you are bad or take the risk and expanded, else the rushing guy will usually lag in econ.

    Anyway, it will be a interesting project. Consider the complexity of the game, a 20% win is good. I wonder if the AI takes in considerations when a terran is shelling over a cliff and try to lure the toss army in for an ambush.
Other Comments
  • -4 Hide
    icemunk , April 16, 2010 9:14 PM
    pHD students and they're only at a 20% win ratio? I hope they just started...
  • 24 Hide
    zorky9 , April 16, 2010 9:23 PM
    icemunkpHD students and they're only at a 20% win ratio? I hope they just started...

    Considering it's playing against the world's best players it's a good start.
  • -6 Hide
    zak_mckraken , April 16, 2010 9:25 PM
    A bot that will Zerg rush me? How clever.
  • -6 Hide
    daft , April 16, 2010 9:37 PM
    Quote:
    Despite being over 10 years old, StarCraft does not have a dominant strategy.

    i take it that they never heard of a zergling rush
  • 14 Hide
    gzhang , April 16, 2010 9:43 PM
    dafti take it that they never heard of a zergling rush


    You got rushed if you are bad or take the risk and expanded, else the rushing guy will usually lag in econ.

    Anyway, it will be a interesting project. Consider the complexity of the game, a 20% win is good. I wonder if the AI takes in considerations when a terran is shelling over a cliff and try to lure the toss army in for an ambush.
  • -6 Hide
    Silluete , April 16, 2010 10:13 PM
    Why don't just add maphack to ai eh, it's must be more easier.
  • 1 Hide
    drowned , April 16, 2010 10:38 PM
    I wonder what the build in computer would score cause 20% seems kinda low. And this article doesn't specify whether the 20% win was against average (random) players or professional ones.
  • 15 Hide
    sseyler , April 16, 2010 10:47 PM
    icemunkpHD students and they're only at a 20% win ratio? I hope they just started...


    The implication from this statement shows you don't really know anything about PhD research in engineering/science-related fields. PhD students aren't necessarily geniuses... Their certainly smart, but doing research doesn't involve conquering everything you touch. Research involves dedicated work towards reasonable goals set by a thesis. These goals constantly evolve as the research matures. It's a learning process, not a process of conquest.
  • 2 Hide
    Kelavarus , April 16, 2010 11:04 PM
    zorky9Considering it's playing against the world's best players it's a good start.


    "It's easy to find players interested in playing the EISBot"

    I missed the part where they were designated as the world's best players...
  • 7 Hide
    trandoanhung1991 , April 17, 2010 12:14 AM
    Try make a bot for yourself, then talk.

    Anyway, what they're doing is certainly impressive. I hope that they won't resort to the kind of cheap cheats developers are using nowadays instead of real AI.
  • 5 Hide
    thepinkpanther , April 17, 2010 1:39 AM
    some of the things the bot is doing is outright unfair, no human can click that fast.
  • 4 Hide
    sliem , April 17, 2010 1:42 AM
    Of course it's not easy. A bot that plays against a computer, like in World of Warcraft is easier than a bot that plays against a HUMAN brain.

    However, 20% is a just a number. We need #s of win and loses against what faction.

    Also they said the bot is protoss exclusive, why is the video only shows Terran?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , April 17, 2010 5:11 AM
    Actually, the Panda Bear Guy is a nickname for the critter that you see in that video. It gets blown up at :17. The AI is playing against the default Starcraft AI (see the video description).

    Cute, but it's not going to be beating top players anytime soon.
  • 1 Hide
    beachbod , April 17, 2010 7:44 AM
    thepinkpanthersome of the things the bot is doing is outright unfair, no human can click that fast.


    Yeah if they are going to make an AI thats going to beat the best player in the world then it should be based on skill not because a human player couldnt possibly click or move the mouse as fast as a computer. A computer AI will be able to micromanage at any speed. The player should have the option to play it in slow motion if he so chooses to level the playing field.
  • 0 Hide
    icemunk , April 17, 2010 1:01 PM
    zorky9Considering it's playing against the world's best players it's a good start.


    Nowhere in the article does it say they've played against the best, it says they've played against players in 30 different countries, that is all.
  • 0 Hide
    conanstwin , April 17, 2010 5:35 PM
    This is for the contest EIS at UCSC is hosting.
    http://eis.ucsc.edu/StarCraftAICompetition
    There are lots of entries that deserve stories as well. It will be more interesting to see who wins.
  • 0 Hide
    sseyler , April 17, 2010 5:38 PM
    sseylerThe implication from this statement shows you don't really know anything about PhD research in engineering/science-related fields. PhD students aren't necessarily geniuses... Their certainly smart, but doing research doesn't involve conquering everything you touch. Research involves dedicated work towards reasonable goals set by a thesis. These goals constantly evolve as the research matures. It's a learning process, not a process of conquest.


    EDIT: They're* God, my grammar is awful.
  • 2 Hide
    MamiyaOtaru , April 17, 2010 8:21 PM
    icemunkNowhere in the article does it say they've played against the best, it says they've played against players in 30 different countries, that is all.

    yeah, and 30 countries implies at least 29 countries that are not Korea, hence not the best ;) 
  • 0 Hide
    evolvedpc , April 17, 2010 8:36 PM
    Hmmm, I'm neither a PhD student, nor artificially intelligent, but I very much doubt that I would achieve a 20% win ratio in online StarCraft. :-)

    I would be interested to know if they are trying to write an algorithm specifically tailored to be effective at StarCraft, or whether they are writing a more general purpose learning algorithm and simply testing its effectiveness on StarCraft.
  • 0 Hide
    anamaniac , April 18, 2010 1:30 AM
    I'm actually impressed.
    But, is every single unit individually micromanaged? Something that would be generally impossible for a human to do when controlling dozens of units?
    I suck at RTS games because I can't control any more than 2 units at a time effectively...

    Keep up the good work.
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