Using AI to track visual bugs in 3-D games

July 15th, 2008 - 2:29 pm ICT by IANS  


Sydney, July 15 (IANS) Artificial intelligence will soon replace the tedious and time-consuming — but highly complex — process of testing how good or bad 3-D computer games are. Alfredo Nantes of Queensland University of Technology is building intelligent tools that will detect “visual anomalies” in a 3-D computer game.

“Visual anomalies are things like incorrect shadowing or lighting, texturing problems and all artefacts that corrupt the realism of the game scene,” Nantes said.

Modern games are extremely complex, with environments rivalling the complexity of high-quality cinema animation - and the environment-testing process of these games is costly, both in terms of time and finances.

“Currently, the testing is done manually… but they may get tired and overlook something or be too involved in playing the game to see everything. Therefore, an automated testing approach is very beneficial to a games company,” said Nantes.

Combining his background in computer engineering with research into AI, Nantes is programming a prototype debugger agent that will continually scan the images on screen for visual mistakes as the human game-tester plays the game.

“The rate of mistake detection is very good,” he said.

The next step in using this technology is to develop AI agents to move around the game like invisible characters and check the entire game environment, independent of the human play-tester.

The agents will move autonomously, performing certain tasks and reporting back the results.

Nantes said this technology would not only improve testing accuracy, but it would also allow human game-testers to focus completely on the playability of a game.

Nantes is slated to make a presentation of his AI game-testing tools at Stanford University later this year.

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