back to article AI boffins turn to StarCraft to train future neural networks

StarCraft could be the next battleground for AI, as researchers create an open framework that tests deep-learning methods in the real-time strategy game. Teaching AI to play games is serious business. Games act like milestones; when a machine is superior to humans at playing difficult games, it’s a sign that its neural net has …

  1. Muckminded

    Give the machines arthritis

    As long as the machines also have to operate meaty appendages that are using crude input devices to control the far flung units and buildings, then it might actually be a fair fight. If they get to plug straight into the game without any encumbrances then they're just poor sportsbots.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    I'll take on the AI at Age of Empires!

    "Rock on" "Show me the money"

  3. Alister

    I wonder if it's possible to link up two installations of StarCraft such that the game AIs can play each other, and if you did, would they just get to a stalemate situation?

    1. Aqua Marina

      Has been done

      This has been done before. The AIs have the advantage of seeing the full map, whereas the player doesn't. Also many of the maps are not 100% equal for both sides. Initial positioning and first player to take a particular vantage point factors a lot into which bot wins, as does starting race. Certain maps with certain races combinations are a guaranteed win when both AIs are playing fully optimized. Also, even if playing identically on a 100% equal map, one of the AIs is always mathematically ahead of the other in what is essentially a turn based game. And as such one will always win out by miliseconds.

      1. Ragarath

        Re: Has been done

        When did StarCraft become turn based? Not played that version before.

        If it was 100% equal it does not mean the AIs would do equal things. If one got ahead of the other (assuming they are doing the exact same thing at the exact same time or very close to. What I assume you mean by turn based) then the AI that is behind would alter it's strategy would it not?

        AI is not pre-programmed software that will only do A if B occurs. It is trying to look for the best scenario with the inputs it is given. If those inputs change (as they would if one got ahead) then so should the AI output.

        1. Aqua Marina

          Re: Has been done

          Hence the word "essentially". On an equal map, with equal resource allocation and equal starting, the game is reduced to being turn based via mathematics. One of them must be processed first, then the other, and will always win via milliseconds.

        2. Filippo Silver badge

          Re: Has been done

          Technically, every videogame is turn based. In some games, though, the duration of the turn is one clock tick (or one screen refresh, or whatever).

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Has been done

            No, because every matchup has so many variations, timing attacks, all ins, cheeses, macro, decisions about unit compositions, gas timings, when to build what, you need your scouting on point, deny scouting, early, mid late game compositions. Then there are maps. All maps are mirrored and have equal resources (for tournaments at least)

            Anyway back to the sc2 wcs championship

  4. PapaD

    Are we sure we want to progress AIs by training them with war games?

    I also think we should not let them play the Sims (how to control people game) - maybe a nice game of minecraft, where the focus is on building things and protecting humans from monsters :)

  5. Chazmon

    What I really want to see with this kind of AI is it being developed and to a certain extent optimised on StarCraft 1 and then ported onto StarCraft 2. This is an easy transition for a human player but I imagine unbelievably difficult for a bot but it would be an amazing test of true machine learning and application.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      sc1 and sc2 are very different, broodwar is way more micro intensive due to the limits on units in control groups on top of the changes in how the three races interact. SC2 meta can change a lot between patches let alone expansions. A big thing about broodwar to sc2 is that protoss in broodwar basically plays like terran in sc2, loads of units from broodwar don't exist in sc2.

      A great many pro's just didn't transition.

      The main thing is that the AI would have to play via the games ui and not directly into the api due to the apm and input lag of human beings. The AI program would have to be looking at the game so would need itself virtual keyboard and mouse that it has to use on an actual screen.

  6. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

    I'd like to see them tackle...

    any Europa Universalis game!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And blizzard announced that there will be an interface to train ai for sc2

  8. mIRCat

    Shall we play a game?

    Wouldn't you prefer a nice game of chess?

  9. ~mico

    Train an Overmind AI...

    ...what can possibly go wrong?

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