AI in gaming: How advances in AI can elevate the experience for players

AI could be the key to creating better games. In this article, Shaun Grech, CTO and co-founder at Game Champions, shares his insight into how it's being used to improve the quality of games from a player's point of view.

With the exception of graphics, it could be argued that use of AI in video games has barely progressed in the past decade or so. In fact, recent titles have generally failed to impress gamers due to a lack of significant improvements. And, with more of us playing games at home or even taking up gaming for the first time during lockdown, the demand for better quality games is surely on the rise.

AI is a major focus for game developers as they have begun to recognise the potential and necessity for it in modern game design. Below, I'll explain four areas where AI may soon be used to elevate player experience.

Gameplay

AI technology can be used to influence how in-game events unfold — that is, how a player approaches the game, their decisions, and their playstyle could all have an impact on the game itself. A good example of this is karma systems, where there are good and evil actions and paths, and the game treats you differently depending on which you choose. Whether by creating more complex decision trees or personalised battle systems, AI could automate these and find new ways to make each game unique to the player. This could result in more enjoyable games that appeal to each person's preferences.

Content

It takes a lot of time, money, and manpower to create the kind of rich content that players crave, but AI could be the key to limitless expansions, never-ending stories, and even constantly adapting physics — even for indie devs or small teams. Highly detailed, auto-generated maps are already demonstrated in some games, but there is much more scope for this to improve and expand into other areas of gaming as well, including dialogue.

NPCs

Non-playable characters and the interactions we have with them go a long way towards making a game truly immersive, with any less-than-smooth NPC dialogue, movements, or paths taking us out of the experience immediately, no matter how good the graphics and world-architecture may be. But AI and machine learning are ideal for creating lifelike NPCs that look, sound, move, and behave just like real human beings. Games are often praised if their NPCs behave with minute detail, playing out realistic scenarios in the background, so this is something that can be reproduced on a bigger scale to delight gamers in all genres of gaming.

Matchmaking

This is an area of AI application that often gets overlooked, but without sophisticated, automated matchmaking, multiplayer games struggle to provide the best experience for their players. Triple A titles use it to pair up and create teams from a staggeringly huge pool of online participants quickly and with impressive accuracy, while indie games can ensure their online players are paired up with someone of scaled ability to theirs to avoid putting off new players.

This improves tournaments too, with new skill-matching systems using AI to level the playing field such as the Champions Draft we introduced at Game Champions. These mean that everyone, regardless of their skill and the hours they have played, stands a chance of winning. Our system studies a player's behavioural patterns and assesses factors like their form, rating, and game history to balance future matches as much as possible. This provides a fairer game for players and makes it so that it's no longer just professional gamers who benefit from competitions.

These are just some of the areas where AI can be used to elevate player experience, making games more enjoyable for everyone who plays them.

www.gamechampions.com

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