Cognitive Modeling for Computer Games

John Funge

One of the major challenges associated with making compelling virtual worlds for computer games is populating them with intelligent characters. Most of today’s characters are mindless automatons that follow an inflexible set of simple rules. Unfortunately, when we start to make characters try and think for themselves we can run into difficulties. For example, if we are not extra careful about how we represent a character’s knowledge we can deprive them of "common sense" as they reason about the effects of their actions. Another important issue we consider is how to provide a convenient mechanism to allow the programmer to strike a balance between lots of fast pre-programmed behavior and more expensive ran-time decision making. In addition, by using interval arithmetic to integrate sensing into our underlying theoretical framework, we enable characters to generate plans of action even when they find themselves in highly complex, dynamic virtual worlds. All these ideas are made concrete in the form of a cognitive modeling language (CML) we have developed. CML is used to express what a character knows, how that knowledge is acquired, and how it can be used to plan actions. It has enabled us to quickly, and easily, create various "intelligent" characters that inhabit a variety of different virtual worlds.

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