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UCSC Students Creating Killer StarCraft Bot

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."