Don’t throw me away

I was reading this BBC article on the growing use of more advanced Artificial Intelligence in gaming. Most of the article focuses on the game Black & White, which is going to hit store shelves in about a week.

A part of the article really got on my nerves, however:

Game makers are turning to AI to make titles stand out in the highly competitive world of computer games. They like it because, if it is done well, it is a very cheap way of adding playability. Instead of spending huge sums on sumptuous graphics, long cinematic sequences, endless levels, characters and plots, a game can be made much more challenging with a bit of nifty programming.

The implication that advanced AI coding is somehow easier or cheaper than “sumptuous graphics”, etc… really bothers me. We have reached the point where programming is important to everyday life, yet it is still somehow regarded as some redheaded stepchild. Being that the team behind Black & White is comprised of some of the most talented artists, developers (who are artists as well, IMHO), designers, and managers, I can’t imagine that they picked up a copy of “AI for Dummies” and snarfed/barfed code to make their NPC’s smart. They instead put hours and hours into perfecting the level of AI that they desired. The article itself quotes Molyneux speaking about how hard it is to get AI right. Grumble.

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