So I got my new Quadcore in. 2.667Ghz of Quadcore power. I love it. And as an AI developer, the future looks increasingly bright with features such as Quadcore coming. Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar, will support Dualcore CPUs. If you turn up the CPU options, more advanced algorithms come into play.
But think of a future where Quadcore is common. I could have, literally, a thread dedicated to doing nothing else than statistical analysis of data running in the background. Such power would allow the AI to start storing a great deal of data that would be persistent. Your strategies could be written to disk and then analysed in future games by the AI. It's something I definitely want to put into our next game (a fantasy strategy game) in some form so that the AI really does learn over the course of multiple games.
These concepts are nothing new of course. Neural Nets/Expert Systems have long been discussed in AI circles. What is changing is that some of these techniques become quite viable when you're dealing with a large % of your gamer base having multiple core CPUs. Now, threads that do nothing but sift through data become possible. Even a brute force asynchronous thread could result with significantly more intelligent computer players.
Which got us to thinking -- why play on-line at all if we can make the computer players be exactly like human beings. I mean, we could let you choose between the various griefer types out there (the disconnector, the whiner, the jerk, etc.) and then take it to the max. Bringing us to our final destination:
Player sits down on a Friday night to play Galactic Civilizations III, loads up the game, and starts.
Upon contact with the Drengin Empire...
Drengin: "So Brad, I see you're playing again on another Friday night. That's pretty sad. Last Friday you played for 5 hours. According to your Tivo, you didn't record Battlestar Galactic. Loser. So, you going to do your usual build up a massive army while trading with me to get good relations and then attack? Because, this week we're playing by my rules. That's right. Here's how tonight's game is going to go. You're going to let me win. If you quit or defeat me I'm going to upload those baby pictures I found in 'My Documents' up to the Internet. You're going to lose and you're going to suck it down. Also, you're going to exterminate the Torian Conferation. Each game you buddy up to those freaks and I'm sick of it. So this time you're going to betray them like you did me. Yes yes, I know that the Torians have access to your MySpace page but that's a chance you're going to have to take..."
Ah yes, we will finally be able to make computer players as malicious as real life human beings! By having them remember between games we can simulate grudges and with a few extra cores, have it learn all about you. EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU.
Drengin: "So you're doing pretty good I see. Lots of money. LOL. Well Brad, I happened to look at your Quicken account while I was waiting around for you to move your Battle cruisers -- yea, I see them -- Duh. anyway, clearly you are better at managing your economy than managing your own checkbook. I mean, good god, $314 at McDonalds last week? No wonder you keep buying workout equipment. Hey, I have free advice for you -- quit eating fast food!"
Obviously that utopian vision of computer opponents is far into the future.
Seriously though, one can't help but get very excited about the prospect of being able to start making real use of those Dual and Quadcores. Dedicated background threads doing data analysis from previous games could result in far more effective and interesting computer opponents.