Let’s leave the format war between Sony and Microsoft and explore a gaming phenomena that unquestionably improves current gaming trends — Artificial Intelligence, or AI to many. Touted to make new breakthroughs and trends in the world of gaming, AI is the enabling of intricate decision-making capabilities in a software. Speaking of AI, the Xbox 360 boasts of an AI-capable system designed and developed by many brilliant and innovative engineers. Though the Xbox also has this feature, it is more pronounced and better in the new console combined with the HD DVD technology.
Of course, such high-quality consoles deserve top-notch games and the developers stepped up to the challenge. Game developers for Xbox and its new improved counterpart also added AI programs to their games, giving the in-game personas the ability to think like a real person. With the vast power of the new consoles, the whole universe of gaming comes alive. A summary of the improvements AI bring to online gaming: non-player characters or NPCs act in realistic manner, not to mention that allies are more helpful and enemies become more fiendish than ever.
Such simplistic notions cannot fully express the benefit of AI in a game sequence. The simplicity of the summation only contrives to hide the complexity of the AI behind the Xbox 360. But the concept of AI is not a modern one. In fact, AI is a subject of discussion, debates, and practical simulations within the academic setting for years. Chris Satchell, Microsoft’s General Manager for Game Development, attests to this fact. From the development of Pac-Man, game designers and developers have been employing the use of AI, even if it is just in its simplest state. Take Pac-Man for example, wherein the main objective is to eat as many golden pellets as possible without being eaten by the “ghosts.” This simplicity is matched by the elementary pre-scripted AI patterns used. The ghosts almost always follow a straight line but they deviate from their path when they sense your presence. It is noticeable especially when your Pac-Man does not change position at all — the ghosts move according to the path, changing directions only when they get close to you.
Twenty years later since Pac-Man, family computers, and many computer hardware changes, game developers still use the same simplistic AI tricks. The hardwares evolve to accommodate the intensity of the modern graphics as well as the sound system for more biting audio. However, despite these changes, AI programs continue to be a sort of last-minute addition. In fact, the programs are deemed to be unimportant in gaming. As a result, the NPCs, largely remained as stupid bots who don’t move even if caught in a crossfire. This is what the AI programs for the Xbox 360 take care of.
Satchell affirms that the new processing model composed of three powerful symmetric cores more than makes up for the lack of “reality” of the old console models. He asserts that this new Microsoft innovation is really a paradigmatic shift because the standard for game consoles and computer hardware is the use of a single core. He added that this shift to a three-core system will add considerable burden to the lives of game developers but add to greater delight of all Xbox 360 gamers. This is because a fully AI-capable three-core system provides greater flexibility and more cycles which make gaming more exciting and interesting.
The key to achieving that is to make sure that the AI programs of the new Xbox run smoothly on all three cores. Therefore, the developers need to take extensive sections from their codes and test it on all three cores. As a result of all these great efforts, the CPU’s main processor does not take all the burden of handling multiple tasks; instead, the added cores take over the job. The results are more efficient gaming, sharper graphics, quality audio, and thinking characters which give Xbox 360 games advantage over others.