Programming Game AI by Example

by admin on July 14, 2009

Programming Game AI by Example

Programming Game AI by Example provides a comprehensive and practical introduction to the bread and butter AI techniques used by the game development industry, leading the reader through the process of designing, programming, and implementing intelligent agents for action games using the C++ programming language. Techniques covered include state- and goal-based behavior, inter-agent communication, individual and group steering behaviors, team AI, graph theory, search, path planning
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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Winfield July 14, 2009 at 2:19 am

This book is simply one of the best AI texts that I have ever seen. The author has the ability (as those others who have visited his website will attest – ) to take complex topics and break them down into simple, logical steps that make sense even to novice programmers such as myself.

Throughout this book, he does that time and time again. He gives thorough examples and describes them very well. These are not “baby” examples that serve only to highlight this or that point – he delivers real, working examples that you could plug right into your own game or simulation. Take Chapter 4, for example. It is an elegant sports simulation of a Soccer match. This single chapter is worth the price of the entire book, in my opinion.

The examples are cool. The code is modern and efficient. The techniques are those in use today.

For years, I would buy a book on AI Programming, only to find that techniques were only hinted at and not fully explained. It was like, with those authors, they were keeping some mysterious trade-secrets all to themselves.

This author doesn’t do that. He is confident enough to give you everything you need to know to program your own AI. Be it a Finite State Machine, an intricate sports simulation, or fuzzy logic – just to name a few of the topics you will find in this book. If you have his other book, you know that he is also adept at Neural Nets and GA.

So, my advice is biased because I have read this book and I love it. I think you will, too. Buy this book. You won’t regret it.

Vivien July 14, 2009 at 2:38 am

5.0 out of 5 stars
Game AI from the basis with a professional approach
I was relatively new to AI when I started reading this book (I took some classes but no real insight).

Duy July 14, 2009 at 3:18 am

This book has a very high signal to noise ratio. No patsy italicization and explanations of simple concepts like inheritance and polymorphism, and no wasted space towards their explanation. And none of the tired dogma about how important design and washing hands after picking nose is. A book that doesn’t try to address everybody on planet Earth…what a concept. Don’t know what a singleton object is? The book politely refers to the internet, and moves on to provide game application for a multitude of the concepts typically learned during undergraduate CS work. Concepts like FSMs (agents!), Graph Theory (paths, obstacles), Fuzzy Logic, and more with the perfect mix of theory and reality (mostly reality, thankfully. I got a game to write). If you are comfortable with your C++ coding this book will throw light sometimes on even old, familiar concepts spun in a new gaming application that will have you going like `whoa…how cool and what a piece of cake!’. Its one of those cornerstone books, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it became a classic in the game community some day. Maybe. Who knows. A million stars but alas, Amazon limits me to five. p.s. I hope you dont get the impression from me that you need a CS degree to understand this book. No way! All you need are your excellent coding skills.

Rafer July 14, 2009 at 3:38 am

5.0 out of 5 stars
This book helped me get a 1st in my dissertation
For my final year project I decided to write a football soccer sim. Was not sure how to approach this.

Ulema July 14, 2009 at 4:09 am

5.0 out of 5 stars
Just what I was looking for.
This book was just what I was looking for. The book has great examples and the accompanying code was phenomenal.

Anonymous July 14, 2009 at 5:41 am

I have read many game development books, and this is definitely one of the best ones out there. Just by flipping through the pages, you can see right away how much care Mr. Buckland has taken in writing this book. There are a plethora of diagrams and code examples, and the layout and organization is excellent. The balance between theory and implementation is just right. The writing style is concise and the book covers a lot of material, yet it is enjoyable and painless to read. Personally I also like the fact that the book is physically compact so it fits easily on my desk :)

By far though, my favorite aspect of the book is the “real-life” examples he gives. It’s easy to skim over all the theory without really “absorbing” the material, but when you see the concrete examples, it jogs your brain and gets you thinking about how to actually apply it. For example, when discussing the basic idea of “states”, he doesn’t just make up a contrived example and leave it at that; he gives several examples from actual types of games. For example, a Quake style bot might implement FindArmor, FindHealth, SeekCover, and RunAway. Even the weapons may implement mini state machines like Move, TouchObject, and Die.

Digging deeper into the actual content of the book, it covers all of the practical topics an AI programmer should know, such as FSMs, pathing, group behavior, scripting, fuzzy logic, etc. All topics are explained in enough detail that you can incorporate them comfortably in your game, and if you want to learn more, you have a solid foundation to build on. As it says in the book, being an AI programmer isn’t just about memorizing a handful of techniques, but also about how to apply them in combination. So, the book covers two concrete examples: a soccer game and a simple shooter game called Raven. To further your understanding, each section also contains some suggested practice exercises, like “Write code to update their sensory system so that a bot is able to sense when it is being shot at.” Finally, as a bonus, this book also talks about UML class diagrams in the appendix, which is very useful to know if you don’t already.

It doesn’t talk about genetic algorithms or neural networks, but that seems like a good decision because those topics rarely come up in practical AI. If you want to learn more about those, Mr. Buckland has written another book called “AI Techniques for Game Programming”.

Incidentally, notice that my review, plus all the reviews before mine, all contain the word “best”. This is no accident- this book is a gem, and should be required reading for anyone looking to get into game AI.

Jaela July 14, 2009 at 6:05 am

5.0 out of 5 stars
Very good introduction
The title definitely delivers what it promises: programming AI by example. Some code examples could be simplified and refactored but then again book would lost some of the…

Wakinyela July 14, 2009 at 6:31 am

5.0 out of 5 stars
Excellent writing style
Besides being phenomenally well written, this book is also highly practical. The author speaks with the authoritative tone of someone who knows what they are talking about, yet he…

Anonymous July 14, 2009 at 6:35 am

5.0 out of 5 stars
Really great book
Good book for anyone whom wants to learn AI, no mathematical or phisical background is needed.

Fidelia July 14, 2009 at 7:05 am

4.0 out of 5 stars
Really good book but…
This book is really good for learning AI as reviewed in other guys’ comment. However, this book does not deal with neural networks.

Raheem July 14, 2009 at 10:02 am

2.0 out of 5 stars
Good overview but poor code and at times badly explained.
First off this book is informative about common AI game techniques. However it lets itself down hugely with the code sections and at times the rather clunky way of explaining some…

Hulda July 14, 2009 at 11:49 am

5.0 out of 5 stars
Excellent starter/primer to the AI world
This book never claims to be a definitive guide to AI, but it does promise to give you the techniques used in game AI today.

Paco July 14, 2009 at 1:49 pm

5.0 out of 5 stars
Great book!
This is a truely great book on AI programming. It does what the title says, as it teaches many concepts and then provides actual code, which is great.

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