Autodesk Games Insight: Heightening Realism

Autodesk Games Insight: Heightening Realism
Will Freeman

By Will Freeman

February 11th 2010 at 8:30AM

How AI can help your pursuit of creating realistic game worlds

With the technological power of today’s consoles and PCs, gamers are demanding more realism than ever. In the challenge to create truly immersive gameplay, artificial intelligence is paramount to giving users an immersive experience.

In this article we look at a common, but challenging, game scenario and how the Autodesk Kynapse artificial intelligence middleware can help solve this challenge through 3D spatial awareness, 3D path-finding and team coordination.

COMBAT EVOLVED
In a combat game scenario, we have a player-controlled character, and three computer-controlled bodyguards that follow the player and protect it. Wherever the player goes in the level, the bodyguards will automatically identify key areas where an enemy could shoot at the player. The bodyguards will use this information and move into the appropriate position to protect the player.

This scenario would be used in games where a player character has computer-controlled team members that need to move through a level with the player and assist. The AI that drives this kind of behavior can be achieved through the use of Kynapse. Spatial awareness libraries help each entity identify in real-time the key topological zones where an enemy could hide and shoot from, which includes windows, street corners and access ways. These key zones can be automatically generated through the Kynapse toolset, or manually tagged by level designers. What is interesting about this scenario is the realism of the solution – when the player is positioned against a wall, none of the bodyguards will face the wall because no threat can come from the wall.

THE PATH
To move the characters into their appropriate positions, we use the Kynapse 3D path-finding library. This enables each character to find their way to their target positions in the level, while dynamically avoiding objects and other characters. In this scenario, characters only have to move a short distance, but the Kynapse library can also cater for very large maps such as those used in role-playing games. In such cases, Kynapse can utilise hierarchical path-finding technology, which provides an elegant and highly optimised solution for helping characters find their way across larger worlds.

Finally, the bodyguards scenario uses team coordination to ensure that each character doesn’t go to the same spot. Through the use of the Kynapse libraries, each character can share information, just like a real team would. The result is that each character intelligently moves into a position that could protect the player in the most sensible way, which heightens reality and gives players an immersive experience of being protected by comrades on the battlefield.

This is just one scenario that shows how Kynapse can be used to solve a complex AI challenge in games. In such a case, developing your own AI solution might be prohibitively expensive due to the cost of research, development, testing and implementation. With Kynapse, the solution is off-the-shelf and ready to integrate into your game.

To see Kynapse in action (including the above scenario and others), we invite you to watch the Introduction to Kynapse video at www.autodesk.com/kynapse.

For more information about Kynapse and Autodesk Middleware, please contact us at middleware@autodesk.com.