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Artificial Intelligence in Gaming: Part 4 – Navigation

Submitted by on Thursday, 6 November 2008One Comment

Continuing with Three Speech’s 5 part series on Intelligent Design, we take a look at Navigation in today’s discussion. The word of the day is pathfinding aka getting from point A to point B and how it relates to the world of Artificial Intelligence. Why do NPC’s need to be aware of their surroundings and how do they select the best possible route? Continue reading for the answer.

As games become more and more complex, pathfinding becomes increasingly difficult to implement. With enormous free roaming environments (Grand Theft Auto IV), more dynamic objects, and even the player’s actions, NPC’s must handle a variety of possible situations. So how do programmers handle the extra work needed?

Programs designed specifically towards AI, Kynapse for example, simplify the pathfinding process. Also, Nick Davis specifically mentions the Unreal Engine and how it has made this one aspect of AI much easier. With the help of these tools, developers are able to focus on other aspects of the game and make them more realistic.

Pathfinding must be tailored to fit each specific game. What works for one environment doesn’t necessarily work for another. Vehicles, enemies, buildings, and much more all come into play when creating the paths for NPC’s to navigate. As environments change, these paths must adapt as well. If a player causes something around them to change, we want to see how other characters are going to react to it.

Game environments are continuously going to become bigger and more complex. This is just was gamers expect. I, for one, want to be able to interact with as much as possible and see the consequences. I doubt we’ll ever find a perfect solution to pathfinding but with what we currently have, I’d say it’s looking pretty good. Stay tuned for tomorrow as we round up what has been an exciting week on Intelligent Design.