Words of Wisdom: Northeastern Biz Panel and BPM AI Panel

The best AI algorithms ever written were all Connect 4 algorithms. Even the Hall 9000 was just a really, really advanced Connect 4 machine.

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This week has been packed with talks. On Tuesday I was part of a panel at Northeastern on business and making a name for yourself in gaming. Some of the highlights? The most game changing innovation in gaming in the past 5 years has been the advent of social networking in games (and games in social networking), that new UIs will be one of the main changing forces in the next 5 years, and that the iPhone is a complete shit platform for developers without major IP to make real money (although the business model of a 70/30 split with the distributor is a pretty good one). The panel was a bit pessimistic about one’s chances of “making it big” in the games industry given how fragmented and hit driven the industry is, but that’s with good reason! Think how many studios are shutting down nowadays, and how many people try to make games and never get off the ground.

The AI talk at Boston Post Mortem on Wednesday was a bit more technical, and featured a high powered panel of AI designers for major titles like Halo 2/3, Bioshock, and F.E.A.R. . The panelists discussed some of the problems with making “intelligent” AIs (“Ray casting is the bane of my existence”), and there were lots of interesting anecdotes. One panelist pointed out that it is more important for characters to NOT look stupid than to look smart, since people may not notice an AI that is coming up with a neat plan but will definitely notice a character trying unsuccessfully to walk through a wall. Another good point was that many people won’t notice AI when they are desperately trying to survive, but that if you put the game on god mode all of a sudden you can see all sorts of little bugs you might not have normally noticed. The panel was really great, I hope future post mortems are of the same quality!