Next-gen hardware will not solve AI issues alone

Next-gen hardware will not solve AI issues alone
Aaron Lee

By Aaron Lee

June 18th 2013 at 10:40AM

Specialist doesn't expect PS4 and Xbox One to simplify AI production challenges

New console hardware will not solve the problems facing AI programmers today, says one of the sector’s middleware specialists.

Thomas Young (pictured), owner of PathEngine, a firm that specialises in pathfinding middleware for games, said there are certain areas where better hardware can help with AI, but, in many cases hardware capabilities are not what are holding back AI implementation.

Improved graphics and animation fidelity can actually increase the cost of implementing better character behaviours, he warns, and believes its issues like this that are making top-tier games more complex to build.

“I think there’s a problem with triple-A titles being fundamentally hard to scale, which isn’t going to be solved by the next-gen hardware improvements, and in order for us to see really big improvements in AI and character behaviour it may be necessary to find ways around these kinds of scalability issues,” he told Develop.

“Moving towards more procedural generation is something that can be interesting from this point of view, and automating content generation processes is definitely a good idea.”

That said, however, Young and some of his peers in the AI sector do assert that new hardware will enable more potential for AI, which of chief importance for non-playerable characters and the experience of interacting with them.

Autodesk’s principal engineer Guillaume Aldebert added: “Additional CPU power and memory will allow ‘bigger’ games: a larger number of NPCs with more natural interactions such as in crowds, larger scale environments with denser and richer annotations to help with the spatial reasoning or uncommon navigation schemes.”

Read more thoughts from Young, Aldebert and others on next-gen and the issues facing AI in our in-depth feature.