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AI for Game Developers [Paperback]

David M Bourg , Glenn Seemann
2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: 25.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

2 Aug 2004

Advances in 3D visualization and physics-based simulation technology make it possible for game developers to create compelling, visually immersive gaming environments that were only dreamed of years ago. But today's game players have grown in sophistication along with the games they play. It's no longer enough to wow your players with dazzling graphics; the next step in creating even more immersive games is improved artificial intelligence, or AI.Fortunately, advanced AI game techniques are within the grasp of every game developer--not just those who dedicate their careers to AI. If you're new to game programming or if you're an experienced game programmer who needs to get up to speed quickly on AI techniques, you'll find AI for Game Developers to be the perfect starting point for understanding and applying AI techniques to your games.Written for the novice AI programmer, AI for Game Developers introduces you to techniques such as finite state machines, fuzzy logic, neural networks, and many others, in straightforward, easy-to-understand language, supported with code samples throughout the entire book (written in C/C++). From basic techniques such as chasing and evading, pattern movement, and flocking to genetic algorithms, the book presents a mix of deterministic (traditional) and non-deterministic (newer) AI techniques aimed squarely at beginners AI developers. Other topics covered in the book include:

  • Potential function based movements: a technique that handles chasing, evading swarming, and collision avoidance simultaneously
  • Basic pathfinding and waypoints, including an entire chapter devoted to the A* pathfinding algorithm
  • AI scripting
  • Rule-based AI: learn about variants other than fuzzy logic and finite state machines
  • Basic probability
  • Bayesian techniques
Unlike other books on the subject, AI for Game Developers doesn't attempt to cover every aspect of game AI, but to provide you with usable, advanced techniques you can apply to your games right now. If you've wanted to use AI to extend the play-life of your games, make them more challenging, and most importantly, make them more fun, then this book is for you.


Product details

  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (2 Aug 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596005555
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596005559
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 17.1 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 347,933 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

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Product Description

About the Author

As a naval architect and marine engineer, David M. Bourg performs computer simulations and develops analysis tools that measure such things as hovercraft performance and the effect of waves on the motion of ships and boats. He teaches at the college level in the areas of ship design, construction and analysis. On occasion, David also lectures at high schools on topics such as naval architecture and software development. In addition to David's practical engineering background, he's professionally involved in computer game development and consulting through his company, Crescent Vision Interactive. Current projects include a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, several Java-based multiplayer games, and the porting of Hasbro's "Breakout" to the Macintosh.

Glenn Seemann is a veteran game programmer with over a dozen games to his credit, for Mac and Windows systems. He's a co-founder with David Bourg of Crescent Vision Interactive, a game development company specializing in cross-platform games.


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Customer Reviews

2.0 out of 5 stars
2.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fuzzy 13 Jun 2006
Format:Paperback
The book contains some good information about way points/pathfinding, genetic algorithms and finite state machines or rules based AI. However it fell over for me when it tried to explain probability,Bayesian theory and Neural networks.

The book states at the start that the reader is assumed to know C/C++ and some Vector math, however the author assumes the reader is well versed in mathematical notation. The notation is the stuff you learn on on a CS degree it should be added, so perhaps it's geared at post-degree students.

It does skirt over details in an effort to stay concise, leaving you struggling with the following paragraphs unless you go and research the information first.

However the book is on the whole well written, and reads less as an academic text book and more for a general audience.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too basic for a professional 27 Mar 2011
Format:Paperback
This is a good book for an introductory undergraduate course or to have an overview of some of the techniques used in games related to AI.
It's a little bit outdated, and it doesn't get to deep in each topic.

To explain what I mean : the explanation of the A* algorithm doesn't go beyond whatever you can find on google in the first few results. A more professional approach to pathfinding would be use this A* in a real 3d enviroment, using navigation points, navigations meshes, using different heuristics, what effects has these heuristics on the result, etc.. And this happens to the other topics too.

If you only want to have a little knowledge because your area of expertise is in developing other game parts (like a graphics engine or a physics engine developer) you can buy it as it easy to read. If you plan to work on IA, gameplay, or tools .. buy something more serious.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Could not pass the third chapter 6 July 2012
By fafase
Format:Paperback
It was starting pretty with plenty of topics (some of them a little surprising though), but then after a while, you get lost in the explanations. It is long and does not say much in the end.

The codes,...well the codes...there are variables that are never used, so you spend time trying to figure out why they are there but nope, it is never used. On the other hand, you get undeclared variables and those are used. So you simply get lost. Hopefully, I got it from my library.

This book should not have made it to the shelves.
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Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
78 of 86 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars No, no, no! 20 Aug 2004
By Mr AI - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Oh dear. This is a really poor book, and I'd advise you to save your money and buy something else.

Bourg's first book on game development (on Phyiscs) suffered poor reviews for being shallow, not presenting real-world techniques, and glossing over huge gaping problems in his approach. This book has all the same problems, and even more strongly in places.

Firstly he makes a big point of saying that the book is aimed at novice developers and he will cover only a few techniques designed to get you up and running. In his list, however, he has genetic algorithms, neural networks and production systems, all of which large AI teams for major developers find it very hard to get working usefully (e.g. finding an application suited for a GA in a game is just about impossible). His approaches are in places laughable.

Secondly he then lauds completely inappropriate algorithms. His steering system is based on potential functions, for example, and he proposes this because he says it allows you to mix several different movement concerns. This is completely disingenuous to his readers. The technique is very simple and useful only when several concerns are NOT blended together. When you mix things you ALWAYS get wells-of-attraction and your characters get stuck hopelessly. Just about ANY other technique would improve on this (and there's no use just saying 'do pathfinding' either: there's much more mileage in steering algorithms).

And the final thing that annoyed me was his approach all the way along of saying 'I'm only going to show you a few techniques'. Trying to make the selling point of the book that it doesn't cover anywhere near enough ground to get your AI up and running!

Just about every chapter had significant problems in it. His knowledge of the subject wouldn't pass a sophomore AI exam (I've taught AI courses at University: I'm not exaggerating). It is full of innaccuracies (e.g. he says 'new AI' is non-deterministic, while 'old AI' is deterministic - a moronic comment).

If you are a novice trying to get going in AI, this book will seriously harm you development. Try John Funge's new book, or the new Morgan Kauffman book (you'll have to wait a few months). Even reaching through the two AI Programming Wisdom will see you far better prepared for real development, despite the odd lemon of an article in them.
32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent agents should steer clear from this book 17 July 2005
By Riccardo Audano - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Terrible and useless even for a book on AI for budding game developers. The theory and explanations in this book are sometimes decent but more often than not quite lacking. (es: in one of the first chapter the author uses Bresenham algorithm without taking the time to explain it). The use of tile based examples introduce unnecessary overhead, and the continuos attempts to introduce physics related code and references to the author's other book on game physics are just plain annoying. The range of subjects covered is very broad (chasing and evading, pathfinding, emergent behaviours, rule based reasoning, bayesian networks, neural networks, fuzzy logic, finite state machines, genetic algorithms), definitely too broad to treat each of these subject in decent depth and with clarity. Example code is of low quality and just superficially object-oriented. If you are looking for a decent introduction to game AI I recommend Matt Buckland "Programming Game AI by Example" and "AI Techniques for Game Programming".
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Conceptually OK, terrible code & implementation 19 Jun 2005
By Eli Bendersky - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
AI for Game Developers is a book aimed at beginner game programmers that want to apply AI techniques in their games. The range of topics covered is vast, chasing, flocking, pathfinding, state machines, bayesian networks, neutal networks, genetic algorithms, fuzzy logic and more.

The authors spend time to explain these AI concepts from the ground up, with numerous code samples and accompanied by full programs including GUIs & simulations, downloadable form the book's website.

So far all good, but not really so if you look a little closer. For a programmer with more experience than the complete novice, many problems become apparent quickly:

The code listings ("examples", as the authors uncommonly call them) are lacking in many aspects. The code is of low quality. C++-- some call it, and it's an appropriate name for the code of this book (take a big program with a bunch of globals and void foo(void) operating on them, wrap it all (public) in a class, and call it Object Oriented). The principal author is a scientific programmer, which shows well since the code looks sometimes like a port from Fortran. The code is also poorly typeset, in a font almost identical to the text, which makes samples hard to spot and follow. The authors also paste huge amounts of code in the book that sometimes fill whole pages, without any apparent reason. Another little deficiency is the typesetting / overall formatting quality of the book - some diagrams are simply missing, fonts are uncomfortable (especially the mix of code & text)...

It seems that most of this book's problems are about the code, though. On the conceptual level, the book is not bad. As far as I can judge, the explanations are clear and even novices should have no trouble understanding how the algorithms work. Just look away from the code, please !!
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good 21 Aug 2004
By indie developer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I found AI for Game Developers to be a great introduction to many AI techniques in the context of computer games. The book is well written, concise (as are all O'Reilly books), and easy to read. It remains accessible to novices by staying away from ostentatious academic lingo and presents the material in clear English with many code examples to back up the text (every chapter has at least one code example implementing the technique being discussed).

One of the really nice things about this book is that it presents different approaches to accomplishing the same thing. For example, chasing, evading and obstacle avoidance is demonstrated using steering algorithms, line of sight and interception techniques, as well as potential functions. The authors also show how to handle strike prediction for fighting games using two different techniques - rules versus statistical. This gives a comparison of the strengths and weaknesses of each technique.

Further, the book introduces more advanced algorithms like fuzzy rules systems, Bayesian decision making, neural networks, and genetic algorithms in very clear language with solid code examples. In fact, based on this book I'm using the genetic algorithm and neural network approaches to model adaptive creatures in a role playing game that I'm working on.

All in all, this book is accessible and useful.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simple explanations of major ideas 22 Aug 2004
By W Boudville - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In games, developers often concentrate on improving the graphics, because this is the first thing that catches people's attention. But suppose you've done that successfully. Beautiful, fast rendered, high resolution images. How then do you KEEP the player's attention? Especially vis-a-vis other games.

So there is intense pressure on you, the developer, to make your characters more sophisticated. Bourg and Seemann offer help. The title says AI, but this can be intimidating to some. You can instead consider this as an algorithms book, that eases you gently into what can be topics of astonishing depth. Many important ideas are covered, like cellular automata and artificial life flocking. (Surprisingly, Conway's Game of Life isn't cited.) From physics, we see the use of potential functions to control character movement. We get simple explanations of finite state machines, fuzzy logic, neural networks and genetic algorithms.

The virtue of this book is that the topics are understandable to developers. Hitherto, using those ideas would have required you to be a specialist in the fields. Crucially, there are code snippets that illustrate the core concepts of each major idea. Sounds like a trite statment perhaps. But if you have ever cracked open a monograph on fuzzy logic, say, and then tried to go from it to writing code, you'll understand the usefulness of what this O'Reilly book offers.
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