I adore this book - I really enjoyed of programming wisdom (the previous lineup from Rabin) and I really enjoyed this, but that enjoyment is because I got what I expected.
I shall demonstrate this with an example.
I did not know that the book contained information on using Neural Networks to evaluate the utility of different actions for agents in an RTS. However I now know that in Supreme Commander II a Neural Network was used to evaluate whether or not the AI should retreat, gather resources, attack the weakest, attack the strongest ... so forth (Page 391) I now know that programmer's experience in doing this, some of the pit falls, I also know that there is at least 1 successful implementation of NN in games and how well it worked.
In SCII a victory condition is to destroy the Armoured Command Unit (ACU - on the front cover) - doing so causes a huge nuclear explosion that damages everything near by, so a fun bit of trivia I learnt: initially the AI would run away from the ACU and not attack, because it would suffer losses, I now know how the fitting curve was SUCCESSFULLY adjusted so the AI recognises the victory condition.
I had no idea I'd find that out going in, but I do have a working knowledge (and could implement with minor book-referencing) of a few types of neural networks.
I also know thanks to Rabin's earlier books (Wisdom, book 1 I think) that neural networks were used (unsuccessfully - mostly) in Black and White, for the Creature AI - I say unsuccessfully because in a patch to the game a tool-tip was added to make training the creature easier.
That is a great example because the paper tells me about how it actually happened in Supreme Commander II, I don't need to know what a neural network is it's a story essentially.
So this book is for those who already know the internals of game engines and are comfortable with combinatorial optimisation problems and dare I say being an experienced programmer helps, these made the book VERY enjoyable for me and have warned/demonstrated things that I may build upon myself.
I really recommend this book, without hesitation it is a good book, make sure you are in the intended audience before you buy though.
If you are, you simply must get this book, it's fascinating, it's like news and a story of something interesting combined.
I hope this helps someone, please leave me a comment if you have any feedback, I'd like to get better at writing reviews.
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