MIT’s Battlecode AI competition round up

If Starcraf played itself, this is what it would look like. On the left, team g2g ice skating lessons watches their AI duke it out. On the right is a close up of the game map.

Last night MIT’s annual battlecode competition had it’s final tournament, with the top teams squaring off against each other for the title of baddest ass programming team. After a long arduous battle that lasted the better part of the evening, team g2g ice skating lessons won in a nail biting come-from-behind victory. Steve Bartel, Spenser Skates, Randy Shults, and Karen Sun had apparently spent the entire past month quarantined in their rooms writing AI scripts in their bid to win. Steve is actually an ex-GAMBINO, having worked on Muzaic this past summer. Congratulations team!

Follow the link for a quick synopsis of the competition.

Each round of the competition was a best of three match up in which teams who were eliminated early on move down to a loser’s bracket, with the winner of the loser’s bracket having a chance for redemption if they can beat the winner twice in a row.

Each match up was fought one of a set of several simple 2D maps which featured variable terrain and obstacles. Within each map were a few randomly placed “flux” (i.e. points) mines, and a team could win by gaining much more flux than their opponent. Flux mines needed to be controlled by a team in order to collect flux, and therefore these points were often the focus points of skirmishes due to their high value.

Each team started with a set of 6 flying, non-replaceable, self repairing archons which were the most valuable units in the game. Archons couldn’t attack directly, but could spawn other disposable attack units like soilders and cannons. These attack units were useful as they could be used to attack (and potentially destroy) archons, tipping the tide of the game.

Several strategies were employed in the game, including having archons mass together and attack as a unit while ignoring flux in an effort to destroy the opposing team early. Another strategy was to split up and mine flux like crazy, hoping to survive enemy onslaughts. One of the more creative stratgies (employed by Greg from Rob Miller’s HCI group at CSAIL) involved sending gigantic messages to enemies which would actually overload their message handlers, causing their scripts to fail in a sort of information warfare. The most successful teams would adapt to their enemies between match ups within rounds to exploit what they learned in the previous match up.

Team g2g ice skating lessons was one of the early favorites but got knocked out in an early round and went to the loser’s bracket. Team I for one welcome our new 207 overlords did a great job dominating the winner’s bracket. The final match up between the two teams was tremendously exciting, with each team getting in great shots and taking wins in heated battles. The final match up was especially dramtic, with g2g having a 9 -0 flux lead for the majority of the game (most games have 10,000’s of flux points) and it seemed like the slight different might decide the day.

G2g won, but there were lots of stupendous efforts and everyone who participated deserves congratulations. I’d especially like to say good job to the top 16 teams, I was really impressed with the various stratgies employed.

And of course, all contestants are invited to visit Fire Hose and check out what we’re up to!

One Comment

  1. Spenser

    My other teammate’s names are Randy Shults and Karen Sun. It was really exciting, I can’t wait for the dev’s to put up the video of the tournament!

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