With the release of Hello Neighbor on mobile devices in July, mobile artificial intelligence platforms are making horror survival games scarier. In Hello Neighbor, you play a boy who just moved in across from a creepy neighbor. After a mysterious scream draws you into the neighbor’s basement to investigate, you find yourself playing a frightening game of cat and mouse as you seek to escape an increasingly dangerous situation. AI machine learning makes the game more challenging by allowing the neighbor to learn from your mistakes. For instance, if the neighbor catches you trying to escape out the front door, the next time you try to escape that way, you may find the door has been barricaded or booby-trapped.
AI innovations such as this are increasingly becoming a standard feature in cutting-edge video games, making gaming more challenging and exciting. Here’s a look at three ways artificial intelligence advances are revolutionizing mobile gaming.
Bringing AI-powered High Fidelity to Mobile Devices
One of the most fundamental ways artificial intelligence platform innovations are revolutionizing mobile gaming is making it possible to run AI applications on mobile devices. AI applications such as machine learning rely on large amounts of data and consume an enormous amount of memory, which has traditionally required support from a desktop device or remote cloud server. Until recently, mobile devices lacked the processing power to support AI. But the latest mobile artificial intelligence platforms, such as Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 mobile platform, are designed with multi-core architectures that give them enough processing power to support on-device AI applications, along with related advanced applications such as image optimization, virtual reality and natural language recognition.
When these applications are applied to gaming, the result is that mobile devices can now deliver the same type of high fidelity realism previously limited to consoles, PCs and laptops. A good example of how AI supports high fidelity play in a mobile environment is Google’s Seurat scene simplification technology. Seurat uses AI to transform film-quality 3D scenes into high fidelity graphics that can run on mobile devices. It does this by extracting color and depth from a number of different positions and angles and mapping the results onto a limited number of polygons that represents a simplified version of the original scene optimized for VR viewing. For example, Seurat was able to take a scene from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and translate the film’s lighting effects into realistic details that could be rendered in virtual reality on mobile devices in real-time.
Making Games More Challenging
Another important way AI is changing mobile gaming is making games more challenging by making non-player characters smarter. In traditional gaming, NPCs are programmed to act according to set rules, allowing experienced players to predict their behavior. Artificial intelligence makes NPCs less predictable by using a mathematical model called a Finite State Machine, which predicts all possible scenarios that might occur during the game and devises a reaction for each different outcome. For instance, an FSM in a first-person shooter game might instruct NPCs to attack when a player enters an area and then withdraw if their hit points drop too low to continue fighting safely. More sophisticated Finite State Machines can analyze and adapt to player gaming patterns, increasing the challenge level for players.
An example of a game that uses AI to generate more unpredictable NPC reactions is the upcoming horror survival game Dying Light 2. NPCs in the game behave differently based on how players behave. For instance, they may fight a player who acts threatening, while they make try to outrun players in other situations. Innovators such as Spirit AI are working to take this a step farther by developing games where characters can have realistic real-time conversations with NPCs.
Coaching Players to Win
AI isn’t just making NPCs harder to beat. It’s also helping train players how to beat them. Because artificial intelligence can study player gaming habits, it can also coach players on what mistakes they’re making and what improvements they might make.
Activision has taken a lead in this field by partnering with Amazon Alexa to bring AI coaching to the Call of Duty gaming series. For instance, the AI coach for the Call of Duty: WWII uses Alexa to compare 20 different variables in a player’s gameplay to a database of a gameplay from other players. It can then suggest ways for players to improve their own gameplay to bring it closer to top-notch players. Activision’s AI coach is currently in a pilot program, and will be available more widely in the near future.
By bringing AI-powered high fidelity play to mobile devices, making NPCs more unpredictable, and training players how to play better, artificial intelligence is transforming the mobile gaming experience. As artificial intelligence technology continues to advance, AI innovations will continue to make gaming more realistic, more challenging and more fun.