Develop 08: Bungie AI guru lays out future plans

The man behind the artificial intelligence in Master Chief's last two outings talks to developer conference about where Halo AI is going next.

BRIGHTON--Damian Isla of Bungie Studios addressed the 2008 Developer Conference and Expo yesterday. The AI expert talked about the challenges he'd faced leading the artificial-intelligence development on Halo 3, how the AI has changed since the original Halo, and the problems being faced by the development team on their next project.

It is friendly AI, rather than opposition AI, that is currently his team's focus, according to Isla. Making friendly NPCs react in a manner that is both useful and natural is a great challenge, he said, as it requires the AI to be able to accurately determine player intent and act accordingly. The team have looked at two possible ways of solving this most vexing of problems. The first is to improve the AI's player modelling--essentially teaching the machines how players are likely to behave so that they can react in a more realistic and considerate way. This is, however, incredibly difficult, Isla said. "We'll never be 100 percent there, and 99 percent is very often just not good enough," he explained.

The other option, and the one being actively worked on, is to implement what Isla described through the medium of his presentation as a "UR DOIN IT RONG" button, so that players can easily correct errors made by their virtual colleagues. Described as the one Isla was "really excited about," this will allow players to "have a conversation, not give them orders," he explained. The challenge here is that it requires the development of a language that can be understood by the AI, and allows knowledge to be both shared and derived. Isla made it clear he had no interest in developing a system based on natural language, but indicated that the solution could be symbol-based.

Isla summed up the challenges surrounding AI by saying that, "Animation technology still sucks. Design interfaces still suck. Pathfinding will suck forever." He then concluded by saying that Bungie was currently hiring in "every position imaginable."

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Discussion

93 comments
Vasya7
Vasya7

"I need a Warthog ASAP Marine!" "Sir, yes, sir" [Warthog motor noise] "Here you go sir"

ebookerd1
ebookerd1

Interesting I wish they would implement voice recongnition! Now that would be hot!

ebookerd1
ebookerd1

Interesting I wish they would implement voice recongnition! Now that would be hot!

awia
awia

UR DOOIN IT WRONGZ lol, this actually sounds like a bad idea. I dont want to have to manage my teammates in any game like halo, then its not really AI. Any type of control the player exhibits over the NPCs makes it a strategy game.

Humorguy_basic
Humorguy_basic

If text parser technology had been continued, instead of abandoned for the glitzy graphic side of gaming, we would have a natural language parser by know that would understand this statement I have just typed and could respond like you are going to respond to this post. With this parser technology, AI could be way further ahead than it is, and we would have a much wider PC games market because of it!

PieCrusher
PieCrusher

Thats cool. The AI in halo 3 was better then its prevous ones but it still could have been better. I think the enemies should have communicated better and when they are shot at they should actually try to take cover or do some good evasive actions. As far as the marines go though they were still for the most part idiots who got in the way. What i would've liked to see is them actually coordinate with you and eachother. This would have made the game more fun and whole some.

Pangamaster
Pangamaster

I wonder if they are hiring a position as mascot...

GhostStalkerX1
GhostStalkerX1

I agree with Ra's paragraph. Halo CE was my favorate Halo of them all. If it had online ability it would be sweet. Back to what Ra's statement was about. Halo CE AI to me was awsome, when i went to melee elites they didnt sit there and flinch like they did in H2. They meleed me right back (Pending on if there shields were up and how much HP they had after they were down). However i do remeber Bungie saying that, someone that helped do something with H1 (Dont rember the person or position) left the Bungie team before H2 was made. Mabie it was that one person or not idk personaly. But none the less imo when i clicked legendary and begun my mission, the Enemy Ai seemed smarter and more in number. In H2/H3 the number of Enemy was turned up but everything else seemed tweaked. All in All excluding the graphics, Halo CE was the best...IMO.

Yugor1000
Yugor1000

If the AI could drive better, I wouldn't really have any complaints....after all, they have unlimted ammo, can snipe with a Rocket Launcher, and are generally not retarded.....except behind the wheel...... However, I would like to know WTF happened to all those big enemy AI promises Bungie made in their vidocs before Halo 3 came out......the Legendary AI Brutes in Halo 3 are dumber then Normal Elites in either of the two previous games!

anti-viper
anti-viper

The only bad AI is the regular marines. Everyone else is great. Even with that being said, the only real problem they have is driving.

Halochampian
Halochampian

and edibleFood... I think that is highly unlikely. I could be wrong but I am a big Bungie follower. And the whole dedication to Xbox seems reliable. Unless Sony buys them... i dont think it is going to happen.

-White_Knight-
-White_Knight-

As long as games have good split-screen/online multiplayer, I'm fine.

K-Grogg
K-Grogg

LOL "every position imaginable."

EdibleFood
EdibleFood

EGMs rumor mill said bungie is developing something for ps3

gertish
gertish

I hope the AI passes their driver's test in the next Halo game!

BRAWLL
BRAWLL

well they wont make that mistake again

zgreenwell
zgreenwell

I'm sure if there was a situation similar to the events in Halo in real life there would be tons of marines gunned down by Spartan friendly fire.

e1_bandito_rojo
e1_bandito_rojo

I wonder what they're going to do... how this button thing is going to work... and when is the new halo game being announced? I heard it's kinda like a mix between Gears and Ghost Recon. So its a good thing they're working on the AI.

thesethcohen
thesethcohen

The worst thing about the Halo 3 AI was letting an NPC be in the driver seat of a vehicle and you get into a passenger seat. They'd regularly drive off cliffs or flip the vehicle...However the answer to this.You drive.

batmanboy11
batmanboy11

Good in Halo 3 I kept getting killed by AI drivers going off cliffs and gunners not shooting.

masterchief375
masterchief375

I'm glad Bungie is doing sumthin about the AI in their next game because there on Legendary i was tired of my marine AI in Halo 3 gettting owned in a matter of seconds by Grunts and Jackals...

rene9ade520
rene9ade520

Sounds great! Can't wait to see what they're really talking about...I mean, how it will work and on what title. Oh, and Bungie....can I have one of those jobs your talking about? Seriously, even if its just QA....let me in XD.

Goo4You
Goo4You

ZippyDSMLee Your a fool.... what about the infinite hours of Halo 3 online... you play different people every day and no game ever goes exactly the same way.. yea 6-10 my a$$

ubercow29
ubercow29

the one thing that sucks about the halo 3 marines is that they still dont know that firing the rocket at an enemy 1 cm away is bad for thier health

Pete5506
Pete5506

Sounds like bungie is doing something different

Proman84
Proman84

This AI could use more AI.

andalore
andalore

you can kindof justify the lesser AI in the halo games to give a better contrast between the regular marines and the uber skills of the masterchief, but they could've been a litle smarter lol

MichaeltheCM
MichaeltheCM

cool to see how they think and approach problems

NoseWeed619
NoseWeed619

Sounds intresting. I would love to meet this guy in person...

ZippyDSMLee
ZippyDSMLee

How about improve level design and put in enough content to make it more than a 8-10 hour 60$ game...Halo ep 3...it fails......

V-Nine
V-Nine

..the last paragraph pretty much sums it up nicely..

coboy_7
coboy_7

"yojim80baJoe:" I really hope your comment was some sort of un-funny, sarcastic joke, and not actually serious. If it was serious, you are either a 5th grader, or a 'special' person, both of which I suppose I can pardon, and won't shun you for putting in your "two cents' worth," even though all it it is actually worth is a 'thumbs down' rating.

YoJim8obaJoe
YoJim8obaJoe

I still think halo 1 had best allie AI out of all the halo's.Used to have fun playing it on easy mode and acting like a officer letting my allies kill everything.So many places Ai isnt programmed to go that you get them to go to,with a little patience and alot of pushing allies past borders

c0nrad
c0nrad

Lol, I certainly hope they work on the friendly NPC AI. The arbiter from Halo 3 was atrocious.

THE-TRAP-CARD
THE-TRAP-CARD

its funny that every story on gamespot has comments

AlecHP234
AlecHP234

hope they work hard on their next game's AI, especially on friendly AI. And from the article, it looks they will be concentrating on AI. Halo 3 had HORRIBLE friendly AI, so there's definitely a lot of improvement they could work on in that area. The enemy AI, though, was pretty good. They desperately need to improve friendly AI.

Vulpis
Vulpis

Interesting read from Ra-Devil, and cool story. But...keep in mind we're dealing with the ADD/WoW generation these days. They don't *want* smarter, more effective AI--that just gets a 'waaah, this game is too hard, I can't win! Why won't they just stand up and let me shoot them!', which leads to the 'dumb down the AI, and lets just make them higher-HP/higher-damage for the players wanting a challenge' problem. I agree with the sentiment, though--I'd rather be legitimately out-thought or out-tacticed by a game, than just out-twinked. :-/

jessefromh-town
jessefromh-town

I'm glad there are people like this who know that they can advance and improve on everything. It makes our industry grow.

Titanfan2083
Titanfan2083

Ok the enemy Ai was so much more advanced than the dumb @$$ marines you were forced to fight with.

xbriggs
xbriggs

the better the AI the better the game

-HaloHitman-
-HaloHitman-

The AI for halo 3 wasnt that great when trying to help you out during the game.

True_Blu3
True_Blu3

Halo CE's AI was amazing. Halo2 and 3's AI made everything feel like an Arcade shooter. Follow the words of Ra-Devil.