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AI Game Programming Wisdom 2

This 732 page hardback book contains 67 AI articles by 55 authors. Contains large sections on learning, genre specific techniques, planning, movement and pathfinding. Includes CD-ROM. Published December 2003. Edited by Steve Rabin. ISBN: 1584502894

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Reviews from

David Wall - Editorial Review
A game has to be able to think, or at least imitate thought sufficiently to render a convincing representation of some character or phenomenon. This sort of logic requires planning on the part of the programmer: A swordfighter not only has to find his enemy and engage him in combat, but know how to react if the opponent runs away, dies, or summons his buddies. The better the game designer is at endowing characters with behaviors, capabilities, and reactions, the more realistic and exciting his or her games will be. A soldier that can shoot at targets in the distance is okay, but a soldier that can also lay an ambush, shoot around corners, and fight with a knife is a lot more exciting. AI Game Programming Wisdom 2 comprises a series of article from accomplished game programmers about designing games that feature complex and lifelike behavior

The contributors--there are dozens--share their professional experience in the field of simulating life in software. Some of their examples are crystal-clear--Nick Porcino's block diagrams that explain the behavior of artificial insects are one example. What's more, the compilation is remarkably comprehensive, addressing such issues as how collectives (such as platoons of soldiers) exhibit behavior that takes into account the perceptions of their members (as well as the lack of information--the fog of war). This book is carefully designed to help game architects plan more exciting and realistic environments for their players.

Topics covered: How to design a computer game in which computer-managed characters need to behave intelligently. There's coverage of how to encode a character's motivations, how to make a character relate to a group, how to make characters move through and perceive space, and how to make a character learn over time.

Gallaine from Fort Worth, TX USA (rating 4.0/5.0)
Another useful addition to the game developers shelf, January 23, 2004
All of the books in the Game Programming Gems and AI Wisdom series have been quite useful to me as a game programmer. AI Game Programming Wisdom 2 is a continuation of the Charles River Media series devoted to gaming issues. As with the rest of the series the articles are of varying lengths and detail. Many of the articles simply reference other articles in the series rather than basic or classic works in AI. So, this series is less useful as a bibliographic source. The topics covered in the articles are usually short and written at a high-level, but nonetheless very interesting and worth further research. And therein lies some of the frustration. It is often difficult to find more information about a particular subject since most of the references simply refer to articles in other books in the series, which are themselves are rather vague.

AI Game Programming Wisdom 2 is structured very much the same as the first book in the series. The articles are broken into similar sections, with the addition of a new section on finite-state-machines and splitting the section on learning into two. Having already covered the A* algorithm, its various optimizations, and navigation meshes in the previous books those topics are virtually absent here (though they may be buried as a secondary topic in some of the path-finding articles). I thought that the series had exhausted discussion of finite-state machines, but the editors managed to include a couple of interesting articles. The demand for more realistic AI behavior in character-based games in growing. And while a full simulation of emotions and human characteristics is unteneable, at the moment, there are some interesting ideas in the Learning section of the book e.g. "Motivational Graphs: A New Architecture for Complex Behavior Simulation.".

I can't say that this book is indispensible from an implementation perspective. Most of the articles are simply too vague - though there are notable exceptions throughout the entire series of books. What I found most useful in these articles was that they stimulated thought and helped to generate discussion among the programmers and designers at work.

Review from Book News, Inc.

Sixty-seven papers describe techniques commonly used in game artificial intelligence as well as those that look promising for the future. The contributors discuss search algorithms, pathfinding, group movement, animation control, finite state machines, scripting, and genetic algorithms. Topics include search space representations, a flexible tagging system for AI resource selection, random map generation for strategy games, and player modeling for adaptive games. The first volume in the series is used as a textbook for AI courses at design schools. The CD-ROM contains demonstrations, tutorials, and additional articles.

Publisher description from Charles River Media

Cutting-Edge Game AI from Industry Experts!, December 31, 2003
AI Game Programming Wisdom 2, the second volume in this cutting-edge series, is packed with all new tricks, techniques, algorithms, architectures, and philosophies—all written by industry experts! The wealth of knowledge and expertise in this volume is sure to surpass your expectations. As with the first volume, this book is designed to provide practical advice for building state-of-the-art game AI for commercial games; however, it also strives to help you look forward to leading-edge techniques that will be critical in future explorations.

AI Game Programming Wisdom 2 provides advances, discoveries, and triumphs that will influence and drive game AI for the next decade. The breadth of experience and diverse backgrounds of the authors make this a truly global, cross-sectional resource for game AI. The book is divided into twelve comprehensive sections, including an all new speech recognition and dialogue section. There is also coverage of a wider variety of game genres and a cumulative index is included for easy cross referencing between volumes.

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