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Playing to Lose: AI and Civilization – Soren Johnson

February 23, 2011

Google Tech Talk – August 26, 2010

Soren Johnson was the lead designer and AI programmer for Sid Meier’s Civilization IV. After working at Firaxis Games for seven years, Soren joined EA Maxis in 2007 to work on Spore as a lead designer/programmer. He is currently building web-based games with EA2D, such as the moddable strategystation.com and other unannounced projects. He also writes a design column for Game Developer Magazine and is on the GDC Advisory Board. His thoughts on game design can be found at http://www.designer-notes.com.

Artificial intelligence is crucial to any strategy game, providing a compelling opponent for solo play. While many of the challenges of AI development are technical, significant design challenges exist as well. Can the AI behave like a human? Should it? Should the game design be adjusted to accommodate the limitations of the AI? How do we make the AI fun? Should the AI cheat? If so, how much? Do we even want the AI to win? This session suggests some possible answers to these questions using the “Civilization” series as a case study. Ultimately, developers must choose between a “good” AI and a “fun” one, with an understanding of the trade-offs inherent when deciding between the two.

Download slides to this presentation here: http://www.designer-notes.com/PlayingToLoseGoogle.zip

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