Why ANGELINA, Then?

The blog has a few games on it now, which is great, but I realise it’s lacking slightly in explanation. So let me go over the basics of what’s going on here, and where I am with the ANGELINA project right now.

I’m a first-year PhD student in Imperial College’s Department of Computing. Specifically, I work in the Computational Creativity Group which is an AI research group that tries to improve AI techniques by testing them and improving them against extremely hard challenges: can machines be creative? We tackle the question in a variety of ways; by building systems that work with human designers, by trying to create an AI that works as an independent artist, and in my case by trying to create an automated game designer – ANGELINA.

Computational Intelligence is already at work in the videogames you play. Quite a few games employ intelligent content generation, and almost every game you play is indebted to AI research in some way. What a lot of people don’t know, though, is that recently there has been a rise in academic research targeting the videogames industry specifically. People are interested in the huge challenges and opportunities and videogames provide. A vast, insatiable demand for high-quality and complex content. What better way to meet that demand than with SCIENCE!

What we know already is that computers are great for lots of tasks related to games. Level design, for instance, or complex AI behaviours. But what we haven’t looked at yet is how we bring all of these things together to create a single coherent game. Right now, the only way we can do that is to get a human involved. That’s where ANGELINA comes in – can we get a computer to learn how to design videogames that are meaningfully fun? What does fun even mean? How do you write a formula for a good design?

I’m unlikely to answer any of these questions for sure, even in two years’ time. But as a community, we’re hoping to start moving towards some answers soon. On this site I’ll be posting games designed by ANGELINA, as well as more information on how she does it and links to some papers I’ve written. Feedback is fun and interesting, so leave comments! If you want to get in touch, contact me at mtc06 <at> doc.ic.ac.uk.

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