Intelligent Middle-Level Game Control

By Amin Babadi (Twitter)

We propose the concept of intelligent middle-level game control, which lies on a continuum of control abstraction levels between the following two dual opposites: 1) high-level control that translates player’s simple commands into complex actions (such as pressing Space key for jumping), and 2) low-level control which simulates real-life complexities by directly manipulating, e.g., joint rotations of the character as it is done in the runner game QWOP.

We posit that various novel control abstractions can be explored using recent advances in movement intelligence of game characters. We demonstrate this through design and evaluation of a novel 2-player martial arts game prototype.

In this game, each player guides a simulated humanoid character by clicking and dragging body parts. This defines the cost function for an online continuous control algorithm that executes the requested movement. Our control algorithm uses Covariance Matrix Adaptation Evolution Strategy (CMA-ES) in a rolling horizon manner with custom population seeding techniques. Our playtesting data indicates that intelligent middle-level control results in producing novel and innovative gameplay without frustrating interface complexities.