Introducing Danesh (Part 1!)

Over the last few years I’ve talked to a lot of people about procedural generation. Researchers who are interested in pushing boundaries. Developers who just wish the damn thing would work. Newcomers who wish there were better ways to get started. There are a lot of complicated problems, barriers and frustrations surrounding procedural generation (or generative software in general) and there are no easy solutions to any of them, but hopefully projects like Tracery, Cheap Bots Done Quick, PROCJAM and The PCG Book are helping towards some of them. Today I’d like to tell you about something I hope will also help solve some of these problems – a tool to help people understand, poke, tweak, improve and explore procedural generators, called Danesh.

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The Saturday Papers – Would AI Lie To You?

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As promised, The Saturday Papers are back, in a new format with shorter ‘seasons’ of six articles apiece. More info on the series’ future later – for now let’s get into some new research!

A lot of great storytelling relies on the intricacies and weaknesses of human character – a villain lies to further their own ends, an eyewitness misremembers a crucial detail, a fairytale hero forgets the one thing they were told not to do. Of course, all of these weaknesses are exactly the things software is designed to avoid – computers are reliable, accurate, and always follow orders. It makes for great word processing software, but it doesn’t always make for interesting games – so why don’t we try and model these weird human idiosyncracies and see where it leads?

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EXAG Is This Weekend!

Hello everyone! I’ve been so busy having fun with PROCJAM this week that I hardly had time to let you know that all the talks from last Saturday are online for you to watch. We had a great day launching the jam, and people are making incredible, varied, beautiful things for their jam entries. Check them out on Twitter!

If last weekend’s talks weren’t enough games-related brain thinks for you, though, this coming weekend is the second Experimental AI In Games workshop – a followup to both AIGA and EXAG of years past at the annual AIIDE conference. This year it’s a two-day workshop, packed full of cool papers and fun stuff. I thought I’d give you a brief rundown of what’s happening when, and how you can tune in online.

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AI People You Should Know About, Pt. 1


I saw an article today about the future of AI in games and suchlike and I was tempted to start tweeting about it but that inevitably leads to boring arguments and isn’t very constructive. Instead, what I’m going to do is give you a list (in no particular order) of some researchers who I think are really interesting, who are important to the future of game AI, and who have interesting things to say, and most importantly who I don’t see interviewed or talked about enough. They’d all make great people to talk to for articles, features and interviews, and each one has a research portfolio that paints a cool future for games. Go check them out!

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Would You Look At That!


I’ve been really excited and interested in level design recently, and reading a lot of work by folks like Robert Yang about lighting, space, and building worlds in 3D. It’s amazing stuff and it links in really well to the research I want to do right now (mostly because it’s influencing the research I want to do right now!) I wanted to write a little update about some work I did recently along these lines – building a level generator that uses in-game cameras to evaluate levels.

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Generative Coders and The Book

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Many years ago when I was in the last years of secondary school, a friend gave me a book to read. She had just had what amounted to a religious conversion to mathematics, and was reading and learning everything she could find about it. This book, she said, had changed the way she saw mathematics. It was called The Man Who Loved Only Numbers, and it chronicled the life of Paul Erdős, an eccentric and legendary mathematician of the 20th century. Erdős is famous in mathematical circles, but the thing I remember most from reading about him has little to do with numbers. It’s a metaphor Erdős used to describe proofs, and it’s been coming back to me lately in a new context, trying to think about why I like a certain kind of coding task so much: scraping data from the web.

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Dagstuhl Dispatches – A Game!


Grab our prototype code here.

This week I’m at Dagstuhl – a strange retreat-cum-conference for computer scientists nestled away in the German countryside. It’s the turn of games and AI this week, bringing in researchers from around the globe to spend the day talking, creating and debating instead of the standard conference rush of presenting papers and wandering around between hotels. I’ll hold off reporting on Dagstuhl for now, but I wanted to write a quick post to let you know about a little prototype game I helped create tonight, as part of a workgroup discussing how AI can create new kinds of game.

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Talks In 2014

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had a good break. I’m getting organised and ready for the new year and part of this is cataloguing everything that happened last year. With that in mind, here are links to the talks I gave in 2014 that were recorded online. Do get in touch if you want me to come talk somewhere! I can normally pay my own way if it’s in the UK, and I love meeting new people and talking about games and AI.

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PROCJAM Postjamtem

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Last month I ran PROCJAM, the first procedural generation game jam. It was an awesome time – we recorded a day of amazing talks by procedural generation experts, we had a lively hashtag full of incredible experiments, and at the end of the jam everyone had 142 (and counting!) entries to play, use and learn from. Here’s a little report, and a little about what I learned from the jam, as a way of summing up a really great week. Continue reading PROCJAM Postjamtem