This meetup will be themed around Artificial Intelligence in games - creating computer-controlled characters that move, think, and/or learn by themselves - with the ultimate aim of making games that are more engaging, challenging, and exciting to play.
In the first half of the evening there will be a presentation that introduces the theory behind some common A.I. techniques, and shows practical demonstrations of A.I. in various game genres, ranging from Pac-Man to Real-Time Strategy titles and the latest tactical FPS. We'll also look at some of the limitations of Artificial Intelligence and see some examples of "When A.I. goes wrong" (often with "hilarious consequences"!).
For the second half of the evening, we'll then have a free discussion about any aspects related to game A.I.:
Perhaps you'd like to know how to make your Orcs navigate through the Cave of Despair (rather than just walk continuously, lemming-style, into the Pit of Eternal Doom)? Maybe you have a question about developing a character that senses and exhibits different states of emotion - a guard might be at rest, but when he hears a gunshot, he becomes suspicious. Then he sees the fallen body of a dead comrade, and he becomes scared. Then he takes the dog-tag, grenades and pistol off his ex-colleague and becomes vengeful. Then he sees the player enter the room with a rocket launcher and.... you get the idea.... Want to know how to create a driving game in which computer-controlled drivers race around a user-created level in a believable, challenging, but beatable fashion? Maybe you've created a game in which you implemented a cutting-edge Markovian fuzzy Bayes net system to predict what colour hat the player is most likely to want to put on their avatar? Bring it along and show it to us! Or, maybe you just want to know some A.I. lingo - "Fuzzy Logic", "Neural Networks", "Finite State Machines", and "Genetic Algorithms" - so you can drop them into conversation and impress your friends? One of the beautiful aspects of Artificial Intelligence is that there is no "correct" way to do it, so everybody is welcome to participate in the discussions - all input is valued and what you think might be a throwaway idea might just give somebody else a spark for a great game mechanic!
Note that this will be an introductory and friendly session, and no game development or programming experience is necessary - we'll be talking in English, not in C++! Our group covers a very wide range of experience and interests, and we'll try our hardest to make sure that this session will include something of interest for everyone, whatever your background.
If you have any questions, or would like to see any particular topics covered during the evening, please do tell us and we'll try our best to incorporate them.