For most of us, the first time we ever encountered artificial intelligence was in a video game. It might have given us a quest, jumped out and cost us a 1up, or done a host of other things. And ever since, critics and fans have pushed developers to create smarter, more challenging enemies. The Shy Guys (low-level and simple enemies) of yesteryear are the enemies who take cover when they see you now. But unseen to most of us, AI and video games have pushed each other further, to the point where video games are teaching AI new tricks while advanced AI is giving players new challenges.
To understand how it works, let’s go back to that Shy Guy for a minute. “Traditional AI is a lot about answering the command, ‘If THIS happens then do THAT.’” Yves Jacquier, head of Ubisoft’s advanced AI project La Forge, explains to Uproxx. “When you present a new situation to this AI it simply does not react.” In other words, the Shy Guy can react to you jumping on his head, but that’s about it. Increasingly, that kind of AI is becoming a memory.
In 2001, Grand Theft Auto III surprised gamers with a living city full of people who walked, talked, and, if you angered them enough, they’d turn the tables on you, pulling a gun or even coming at you barehanded. Rockstar kept evolving that approach, well beyond humans. Red Dead Redemption had an AI ecosystem where players could observe predators hunting prey, or found themselves on the menu. Middle-Earth: Shadow Of Mordor used machine learning to create a “nemesis,” an enemy that dogged you throughout the game, and Alien: Isolation used it to create a Xenomorph that was a crafty, bloodthirsty hunter.