New research line on µRTS

This new research line was started one year ago together with PhD student Abdessamed Ouessai and professor Mohammed Salem both from the University of Mascara (Algeria).

The objective is focused on the improvemet of the decision process of an autonomous agent for playing a simple Real-Time Strategy Game, named µRTS (microRTS). See an illustrative image below of this game/simulator created by Proffessor Santiago Ontañón mainly for research purposes.

For the moment three papers have been published:

  1. Online Adversarial Planning in μRTS: A Survey. Presented at 2019 International Conference on Theoretical and Applicative Aspects of Computer Science (ICTAACS) on December 2019, and selected as Best paper of the conference.
  2. Improving the Performance of MCTS-Based µRTS Agents Through Move Pruning. Published and presented at IEEE Conference on Games 2020 last August 2020.
  3. Parametric Action Pre-Selection for MCTS in Real-Time Strategy Games. Presented at CoSECiVi 2020 yesterday.

Here you can see the slides and the video presentation of the paper at CoG:

Moreover an agent named USMBot was created and participed in the last µRTS AI Competition, reaching rank 4!!!

The bot can be found in Github

We hope you like it, as usual. :D

EAs + Monte Carlo Tree Search for the win (*BEST PAPER of EvoAPPS 2020 conference*)

Yes! We did it! :D

Yesterday we presented our last paper on the scope of AI in Videogames entitled “Testing hybrid computational intelligence algorithms for general game playing“, by two colleagues of the University of Málaga (A. E. Vázquez-Núñez and A. J. Fernández-Leiva), together with P. García-Sánchez (@fergunet) and I (A. M. Mora).

It was focused on the domain of General Game Playing, where the aim is to create an autonomous agent able to adapt itself to play to several different videogames (not previously known for it). We used the framework and followed the rules of the General Video Game AI Competition.

Thus, it’s an approach to implement a kind of human-like behaviour the first time we face a new game.

The manuscript was selected as the Best Paper of EvoAPPS 2020 conference (inside EVO* 2020), held online for the first time, due to COVID-19 situation.

The abstract of the work is:

General Videogame Playing is one of the hottest topics in the research field of AI in videogames. It aims at the implementation of algorithms or autonomous agents able to play a set of unknown games efficiently, just receiving the set of rules to play in real time. Thus, this work presents the implementation of eight approaches based on the main techniques applied in the literature to face this problem, including two different hybrid implementations combining Monte Carlo Tree Search and Genetic Algorithms. They have been created within the General Video Game Artificial Intelligence (GVGAI) Competition platform. Then, the algorithms have been tested in a set of 20 games from that competition, analyzing its performance. According to the obtained results, we can conclude that the proposed hybrid approaches are the best approaches, and they would be a very competitive entry for the competition.

And here is the presentation:

Enjoy it!

And, as usual, cite us. ;D

Evostar 2015 mandatory post

We can never skip the chance to assist the Evostar conference, and aside learn the latest trends in Evolutionary Computation and present our results, we also have a good time with our other colleagues.

This time the conference was held in Copenhagen (Denmark), and because Antonio and me were part of the organization we didn’t have much time to go sightseeing, but we went to Tivoli Gardens and ride the flying chairs (and screamed like babies).

On the scientific part, we presented two papers to EvoGames track, related with our research lines on content generation for videogames and AI optimization. The first paper, How the World Was MADE: Parametrization of Evolved Agent-Based Models for Backstory Generation, presents a study on parametrization of the values that define a virtual world to facilitate the emergence of archetypes, and be able to generate interesting backstories (for videogames, for example). See the poster here:

The poster

Also, as we are commited to open science and open software, you can download the MADE environment from its web. The abstract:

Generating fiction environments for a multi-agent system optimized by genetic algorithms (with some specific requirements related to the desirable plots), presents two main problems: first it is impossible to know in advance the optimal value for the particular designed fitness function, and at the same time, it creates a vast search space for the parameters that it needs. The purpose of this paper is to define a methodology to find the best parameter values for both, the evolutionary algorithm, and the own fictional world configuration. This design includes running, to completion, a world simulation represented as a chromosome, and assigning a fitness to it, thus composing a very complex fitness landscape.
In order to optimize the resources allocated to evolution and to have some guarantees that the final result will be close to the optimum, we systematically analyze a set of possible values of the most relevant parameters, obtaining a set of generic rules. These rules, when applied to the plot requisites, and thus, to the fitness function, will lead to a reduced range of parameter values that will help the storyteller to create optimal worlds with a reduced computation budget.

Evostar 2015 - Copenhagen(That’s me with the IKEA rat plushies I used to describe our system)

Our other paper, It’s Time to Stop: A Comparison of Termination Conditions in the Evolution of Game Bots, describes a methodology to compare different termination conditions in noisy environments such as the RTS games. The abstract:

Evolutionary Algorithms (EAs) are frequently used as a mechanism for the optimization of autonomous agents in games (bots), but knowing when to stop the evolution, when the bots are good enough, is not as easy as it would a priori seem. The first issue is that optimal bots are either unknown (and thus unusable as termination condition) or unreachable. In most EAs trying to find optimal bots fitness is evaluated through game playing. Many times it is found to be noisy, making its use as a termination condition also complicated. A fixed amount of evaluations or, in the case of games, a certain level of victories does not guarantee an optimal result. Thus the main objective of this paper is to test several termination conditions in order to find the one that yields optimal solutions within a restricted amount of time, and that allows researchers to compare different EAs as fairly as possible. To achieve this we will examine several ways of finishing an EA who is finding an optimal bot design process for a particular game, Planet Wars in this case, with the characteristics described above, determining the capabilities of every one of them and, eventually, selecting one for future designs.

Evostar 2015 - Copenhagen(Here’s Antonio presenting the paper)

You can see the rest of the Evostar photos in their flickr account.

CoSECiVi 2015 ya está en marcha

La segunda edición del Congreso de la Sociedad Española para las Ciencias del Videojuego ya está en marcha.

La web del mismo es:

Al igual que el año anterior, este congreso pretende ser un foro científico para el intercambio de ideas y resultados sobre el diseño, la ingeniería y la teoría de la tecnología aplicada al entretenimiento en España. Por tanto, en él se abordarán temas de inteligencia artificial, informática gráfica, e ingeniería del software entre otros, así como su aplicación en cuestiones de diseño y en otras ramas como la enseñanza, la medicina, la comunicación o el arte, por ejemplo.

Al igual que en la edición anterior , se ha llegado a un acuerdo con la organización del GameLab 2015 para que el congreso se celebre en su mismo entorno (habrá inscripción conjunta), y se está trabajando para que el CoSECiVi se integre totalmente dentro del GameLab, siendo una parte parte de las actividades del mismo y celebrándose en su misma sede. Esto dará un gran impulso al congreso y lo acercará aún más a la industria del videojuego en nuestro país. :D

Al igual que el año pasado habrá cuatro posibles categorías para los artículos a enviar, que podrán escribirse en español o en inglés:

  1. Trabajos Regulares: Trabajos que muestren resultados de investigación. Éstos pueden tener una extensión máxima de 12 páginas en formato LNCS.
  2. Trabajos Emergentes: Nuevas ideas de investigación que pueden ser enriquecidas a través de la discusión con la comunidad SECiVi. Estos trabajos deberán tener una extensión máxima de 10 páginas en formato LNCS.
  3. Demostración de herramientas: Esta opción está orientada a la presentación de herramientas que soporten de forma práctica las propuestas teóricas. Las propuestas de demostraciones de herramientas podrán tener una extensión máxima de 6 páginas en formato LNCS.
  4. Divulgación de Trabajos Relevantes ya Publicados: Este apartado busca dar a conocer trabajos de investigación con altos índices de calidad y de especial relevancia para la comunidad SECiVi. Estas propuestas, en su versión definitiva (la que se publicará en la actas del congreso), podrán tener una extensión máxima de 6 páginas en formato LNCS, resumiendo el contenido del trabajo que pretende darse a conocer.

Como colofón, se hará una selección de los mejores trabajos (escritos en inglés) para su posible publicación en un número especial de la revista Entertainment Computing de Elsevier

¡Esperamos vuestros trabajos! ;D

Charla “Ciencia y Videojuegos” en el Curso de Almuñecar 2012

El pasado viernes (27 de Julio), presenté una charla dentro del curso Animación y Videojuegos, ofrecido por el Centro Mediterráneo de Almuñécar.

En ella comenté en tono desenfadado las relaciones existentes entre ambos mundos, considerando tanto las aportaciones de los sistemas de videojuegos al entorno científico, como los avances en investigación dentro del campo de los videojuegos.

Podéis encontrarla en Slideshare y aquí mismo (:D):

Que la disfrutéis. ;)

Además, nos hicieron una ‘super-entrevista’ mientras hacíamos networking (:P) y la publicaron en la edición online de Ideal Costa: