GDC 2012 details new AI Summit highlights

happy-action.jpgOrganizers of the 2012 Game Developers Conference have debuted a trio of new talks in the show’s Artificial Intelligence Summit, spanning games from Thief 4 through Double Fine’s Happy Action Theater to Hitman: Absolution and beyond.

The talks are part of a new set of AI Summit announcements featuring a look at some esoteric AI techniques, some examples of animation-driven locomotion, and how developers are making virtual characters more socially engaging.

The GDC Summits will take place Monday, March 5 through Tuesday, March 6, at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, and will offer specialized looks into emerging or otherwise influential sectors of the games industry.

This year, GDC will feature a total of eight Summits, with topics including AI, Localization, Education, Independent Games, Smartphone & Tablet Games, and Social & Online Games — new to the show this year are the Game IT Summit and Games for Change @ GDC.

The latest sessions to be added to the event’s AI Summit, held on the Monday and Tuesday of the show, include the following:

– More often than not, we think of AI as a series of tools that help virtual characters take action. In “Off the Beaten Path: Non-Traditional Uses of AI,” however, developers will explain how they leverage AI in some unusual, yet beneficial ways.

During this session, Michael Robbins of Gas Powered Games will explain how he used neural networks to drive tactical decision making in Supreme Commander 2, Double Fine’s Chris Jurney will detail some vision-based tricks for the studio’s Kinect-based Happy Action Theater (pictured), and Havok’s Ben Sunshine-Hill will outline how AI can help adjust level of detail to best suit a player’s needs.

– With games becoming more and more visually detailed, even the simplest animations need to become more nuanced and complex. “Animation Driven Locomotion for Smoother Navigation” will help address this issue by detailing how developers can use animation as a tool for more realistic pathfinding.

Using examples from games like Hitman: Absolution, Thief 4, and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, IO Interactive’s Bobby Anguelov, Eidos Montreal’s Gabriel Leblanc, and Big Huge Games’ Shawn Harris will show off methods for using animation to improve the way game characters navigate virtual space.

– Finally, a panel of developers and researchers from throughout the industry will host “Beyond Eliza: Constructing Socially Engaging AI.” This session will dig into the challenges involved in creating an AI that can accurately simulate complex social interaction.

The talk will pick part three experimental games — Storybricks, Prom Week, and an unannounced title — and will feature former Maxis AI lead Richard Evans (Little Text People), interactive fiction expert Emily Short, designer Stephane Bura (Namaste, Storybricks), UC Santa Cruz Ph.D. students Josh McCoy and Michael Treanor (Prom Week), all of whom will share their expertise on AI-driven social behavior.

In addition to the above sessions, GDC organizers have recently revealed many other notable Summit sessions for the upcoming show, including talks on the localization of StarCraft II, Triple Town‘s creator on new online game genres, and a series of mini AI postmortems, as well as another batch of talks covering social game characters, SingStar‘s creator on behavior-changing apps, and a look at Sissy’s Magical Ponycorn Adventure.

For more information on any of these sessions, keep an eye on the official GDC 2012 website, as more details will become available in the coming weeks. To ensure you receive the latest news about GDC 2012 as the event takes shape, please subscribe to updates from the GDC news page via Twitter, Facebook, or RSS. GDC 2012 will take place March 5 through March 9 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.