Nov 17, 2014

Cloud Gaming Brings Sophisticated AI Characters

When looking at the future of video games, nothing captures the imagination like the possibilities of cloud computing. According to, standard Xbox performance clocks in at 150 to 200 milliseconds of latency, but when utilizing cloud processing, it could easily drop latency down to 60 milliseconds. Furthermore, with cloud technology, wholly new AI patterns could emerge as well as many other amazing developments. Here is a closer look at the cloud-backed future of AI in gaming.

How It Works

Cloud gaming can be a little hard to understand because it is somewhat different from standard consumer cloud computing, which focuses primarily on data storage. Instead, cloud gaming is when cloud servers run a game, then stream a video of gameplay to you and your controller inputs into the cloud network. This way, the remote server farm does the graphical and memory intensive processing while you receive video and audio on your screen at home.

More Power

One of the most promising and exciting areas cloud gaming technology opens up is the ability to create huge, detailed and seamless virtual worlds and characters. Because you can offload the burden of complicated processing tasks like weather, physics and AI behavior, developers can create games that no single consumer console could handle. It's exciting to imagine what a game like “Skyrim” could be like if the processing burden of controlling an entire country worth of non-player characters could be transferred from the console's hardware to a server farm. The availability of digital downloads also shows the power of cloud technology. Dragon Age: Inquisition, set to be released November 18, can be downloaded online despite the game having an incredibly large map and over 80 hours of gameplay.

Burgeoning AI

The capabilities of cloud-based gaming are apparent in modern titles like “Forza Motorsport 5.” These games offload nonplayer character AI to the cloud, which allows for sophisticated artificial behaviors. For example, “Forza Motorsport 5” utilizes what Microsoft refers to as the “Drivatar” system. This system uses data analytics performed serverside combined with cloud processing to create ever-evolving opponents based on the player's driving behavior. Not only does this make the AI smarter and more realistic but it also makes it capable of making realistic mistakes just like the real players. And, nothing beats the thrill of playing against an intelligence that can make judgment calls, both right and wrong.

Gameplay Experience

In "Titanfall," which was PS4's best selling game several months in a row, server-farmed power will mean an evolving gameplay experience. Not only can “Titanfall” be patched at any time without disrupting the player experience but the dozens of infantry units and Titans being thrown at the player all have their behavior and reactions controlled by powerful servers. As GameSpot reports, the new frontier defense mode pits multiple players against waves of up to 200 AI-controlled enemies, each one with the power of the cloud backing their intelligence.

This is especially interesting when you consider that the world of “Titanfall” is heavily populated with grunts that are AI controlled as well as pilots that are player controlled. This can change your game strategy when the line between AI and human intelligence is blurred. For example, a common player tactic is to avoid detection by behaving like a grunt. However, as the AI becomes more strategic and intelligent, this tactic will not be as useful and players will have to come up with a new strategy. Overall, this makes the games more challenging and creative.

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