The Game Developers Conference 2009, held from the 23rd of March to the 27th of March 2009 in sunny and windy San Francisco, was pretty good!
These are my notes from the conference, made generally for me, so yes, not the best written prose or whatever. The bulk are from the AI Summit on Monday and Tuesday, then a scattering of different sessions on Wednesday through Friday. They are not nicely typed up, most vary between first and third person for instance, and might have the odd error or two (contact me if so). I’ve put a brief bit on my thoughts on each session too
I’ll try and find the slides on the GDC Vault for each one, where written slides are available for free (yes, thank goodness – that note wasn’t there when it first appeared! ).
Monday – AI Summit Day 1
- #define GAME_AI – Steve Rabin – An introductory session on what is meant by game AI, and some games which…have AI!
- Preparing for the Future: As a Professional Game AI Developer, What Should I Know? – Steve Rabin, Brett Laming, Michael Dawe, John Funge, Robert Zubek – Panel on what to teach people who want to learn AI. I only got brief notes from this.
- Animating in a Complex World: Integrating AI and Animation – Alex J. Champandard, Christian Gyrling – A two part lecture, first on the different ways to sort out walking and running animations from Alex, then Christian detailing practical implementations, including the pathfinding issue, with examples from Uncharted
- 2008 AI Postmortems: SPORE, GEARS OF WAR 2, and BIOSHOCK – Eric Grundstrom, Matt Tonks, John Abercrombie, Neil Kirby – Quick panel talks on each game, in the format 5 minutes on good, 5 minutes on bad, then some questions.
- AI and Designers: Mind the Gap – Soren Johnson, Alex Hutchinson, Joshua Mosqueira, Adam Russell, Tara Teich – A very nice, pleasant banter about the designers versus AI programmers issue. Needs more vitriol! :p
- Toward Solving Pathfinding – Chris Jurney, Kevin Dill – I didn’t actually make any notes from this, it was very visual, and code based – I’d check out Chris Jurney’s slides, or the GDC ones. RTS and FPS pathfinding was looked at though and code was released for Relics A* pathfinding optimisations.
- Characters Welcome: Next Steps Towards Human AI – Robert Zubek, Richard Evans, Dave Mark, Daniel Kline, Phil Carlisle, Borut Pfeifer – A panel discussion on what should be done next to get more human-like AI.
Tuesday – AI Summit Day 2
- Breaking the Cookie-Cutter: Modeling Individual Personality, Mood, and Emotion in Characters – Richard Evans, Dave Mark, Phil Carlisle – 3×20 minute talks based around what was done in Sims 3, on behaviour maths and normalising, and on character personality.
- When Good AI Goes Bad: Tools, Techniques, and Strategies for Testing and Debugging AI – Alex J. Champandard, Phil Carlisle, John Abercrombie – A panel on how to use tools, how to debug – basic and advanced ways, how to test and some questions answered too.
- From the Ground Up: AI Architecture and Design Patterns – Brett Laming – A massive and fast talk on how to build AI into an engine from scratch to release – mostly on the design side, structure and so forth, with examples from GTA: Chinatown Wars. I got some notes from this, but Brett sure can speak so make sure to read the slides too
- The Photoshop of AI: Debating the Structure vs Style Decomposition of Game AI – Steve Rabin, Borut Pfeifer, Chris Hecker, Stuart Reynolds, Damian Isla – A rather civil discussion on if there could ever be a design tool for AI, as photoshop is to textures. It’s strange, everyone agrees on things here!
- Beyond Behavior: An Introduction to Knowledge Representation – Damian Isla, Peter Gorniak – Half a talk each on the subject of representing what an AI NPC knows, predicts and so forth.
- Parallelism in AI: Multithreading Strategies and Opportunities for Multi-core Architectures – Julien Hamaide – Looking at multi-threading, specifically here on the SPU’s of the PS3 – although applicable to other CPU architectures. It was a bit over my head, having not looked at it much (and not owning a PS3), but I took notes to use later
Wednesday – Anti-Censorship, Open World Life and AI Roundtable 1
- Anti-Censorship and Social Issues Committee – Daniel Greenberg – An IGDA panel on, well, Anti-censorship. Very American focused, but still neat.
- Breathing LIFE into an Open World – Scott Phillips – Saints Row 2 design information on how they did the different emotes NPC’s could do, or the special events AI’s sometimes perform, and the challenges.
- Silencing the Censors – Recent Developments in the Battle for Free Expression in Game Development – Lawrence Walters – A talk on the recent happenings in censorship in America, and other parts of the world. Some stuff I hadn’t kept up on here, interesting.
- Artificial Intelligence in Computer Games Roundtable (1 of 3) – Steven Woodcock, Neil Kirby – AI roundtable on a variety of topics. I only got days 1 and 2.
Thursday – AI Roudntable 2, IGDA AGM, QoL, Gaming Press
- Artificial Intelligence in Computer Games Roundtable (2 of 3) – Steven Woodcock, Neil Kirby – AI roundtable on a variety of topics. I only got days 1 and 2. This is day 2
- IGDA AGM – Some brief notes from this. Darius actually has videos from the meeting for those interested.
- Quality of Life Committee – Judy Tyrer – An interesting discussion on what the IGDA can do about QoL issues.
- Meet The (Gaming) Press – Frank Cifaldi, Brandon Sheffield, Sam Kennedy, Brian Crecente – Some nice information on how to do PR to game journalists, with a little discussion on other things like reviews, news, previews, and other stuff.