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Research on multi-agent systems has provided a promising technology for implementing cognitive intelligent non-playing characters. However, the technologies used in game engines and multi-agent platforms are not readily compatible due to some inherent differences in concerns. Where game engines focus on real-time aspects and thus propagate efficiency and central control, multi-agent platforms assume autonomy of the agents. Increased autonomy and intelligence may offer benefits for a more compelling gameplay and may even be necessary for serious games. However, problems occur when current game design techniques are used to incorporate state-of-the-art multi-agent system technology. A very similar argument can be given for agent-based (social) simulation.

This volume contains the papers presented at AGS 2009, the First International Workshop on Agents for Games and Simulations, held in Budapest on May 11, 2009. The focus of the workshop was on the particular challenges facing those using agent technology for games and simulations, with topics covering the technical, conceptual and design aspects of the field.



Pogamut 3 Can Assist Developers in Building AI (Not Only) for Their Videogame Agents

Many research projects oriented on control mechanisms of virtual agents in videogames have emerged in recent years. However, this boost has not been accompanied with the emergence of toolkits supporting development of these projects, slowing down the progress in the field. Here, we present Pogamut 3, an open source platform for rapid development of behaviour for virtual agents embodied in a 3D environment of the Unreal Tournament 2004 videogame. Pogamut 3 is designed to support research as well as educational projects. The paper also briefly touches extensions of Pogamut 3; the ACT-R integration, the emotional model ALMA integration, support for control of avatars at the level of gestures, and a toolkit for developing educational scenarios concerning orientation in urban areas. These extensions make Pogamut 3 applicable beyond the domain of computer games.
Jakub Gemrot, Rudolf Kadlec, Michal Bída, Ondřej Burkert, Radek Píbil, Jan Havlíček, Lukáš Zemčák, Juraj Šimlovič, Radim Vansa, Michal Štolba, Tomáš Plch, Cyril Brom

Distributed Platform for Large-Scale Agent-Based Simulations

We describe a distributed architecture for situated large-scale agent-based simulations with predominately local interactions. The approach, implemented in AglobeX Simulation platform, is based on a spatially partitioned simulated virtual environment and allocating a dedicated processing core to the environment simulation within each partition. In combination with dynamic load-balancing, such partitioning enables virtually unlimited scalability of the simulation platform. The approach has been used to extend the AgentFly air-traffic test-bed to support simulation of a complete civilian air-traffic touching National Air-Space of United States. Thorough evaluation of the system has been performed, confirming that it can scale up to a very high number of complex agents operating simultaneously (thousands of aircraft) and determining the impact of different configurations of the simulation architecture on its overall performance.
David Šišlák, Přemysl Volf, Michal Jakob, Michal Pěchouček

Two Case Studies for Jazzyk BSM

Recently, we introduced Behavioural State Machines (BSM), a novel programming framework for development of cognitive agents with Jazzyk, its associated programming language and interpreter. The Jazzyk BSM framework draws a strict distinction between knowledge representation and behavioural aspects of an agent program. Jazzyk BSM thus enables synergistic exploitation of heterogeneous knowledge representation technologies in a single agent, as well as offers a transparent way for embedding cognitive agents in various simulated or physical environments. This makes it a particularly suitable platform for development of simulated, as well as physically embodied cognitive agents, such as virtual agents, or non-player characters for computer games.
In this paper we report on Jazzbot and Urbibot projects, two case-studies we developed using the Jazzyk BSM framework in simulated environments provided by a first person shooter computer game and a physical reality simulator for mobile robotics respectively. We describe the underlying technological infrastructure of the two agent applications and provide a brief account of experiences and lessons we learned during the development.
Michael Köster, Peter Novák, David Mainzer, Bernd Fuhrmann

A Teamwork Infrastructure for Computer Games with Real-Time Requirements

Although there are many researches in teamwork, the development of agent teams for complex environments still present many challenges, especially if these environments have real-time requirements. Many tools have been developed, but there is no silver bullet, and the most general tools have serious problems with the real-time requirements. This paper introduces a new proxy-based tool, based on Joint Intentions, to help agents to be a teammate in partially observable, dynamic and stochastic environments with real-time requirements. Validation experiments with the computer game Unreal Tournament 2004 have demonstrated impressive results.
Ivan Medeiros Monteiro, Luis Otavio Alvares

The MMOG Layer: MMOG Based on MAS

Massively Multiplayer Online Games present a new and exciting domain for service-oriented agent computing as the mechanics of these virtual worlds get more and more complex. Due to the eminently distributed nature of these game systems and their growing necessity of modern AI techniques, it is time to introduce design methods that take advantage of the power of Multi-Agent Systems, Agent Organizations and Electronic Institutions in order to face the challenges of designing a modern Massively Multiplayer Online Game. This article follows previous pieces of work in the line of Multi-Agent Systems and Massively Multiplayer Online Games research into a common ontology to represent the information that agents store and share and towards the use of the THOMAS service architecture and the SPADE agent platform to address these challenges. The main focus of the article is the so called MMOG Layer: a software layer which is independent of the environment simulation and the human-interface devices. An example implementation of such layer is also set out.
Gustavo Aranda, Carlos Carrascosa, Vicent Botti

Architecture for Affective Social Games

The importance of affect in delivering engaging experiences in entertainment and education is well recognized. We introduce the Koko architecture, which describes a service-oriented middleware that reduces the burden of incorporating affect into games and other entertainment applications. Koko provides a representation for affect, thereby enabling developers to concentrate on the functional and creative aspects of their applications. The Koko architecture makes three key contributions: (1) improving developer productivity by creating a reusable and extensible environment; (2) yielding an enhanced user experience by enabling independently developed applications to collaborate and provide a more coherent user experience than currently possible; (3) enabling affective communication in multiplayer and social games.
Derek J. Sollenberger, Munindar P. Singh

Enhancing Embodied Conversational Agents with Social and Emotional Capabilities

In this paper we present our current work on an embodied conversational agent for training medical bad news conversations and discuss the inspiration gained from previous work of our own and others. Central in this research is the influence of emotional and social features on the selection and realization of conversational behavior.
Bart van Straalen, Dirk Heylen, Mariët Theune, Anton Nijholt

Intelligent NPCs for Educational Role Play Game

Video games in general and educational role play games in particular would increase in believability if Non Player Characters reacted appropriately to the player’s actions. Realistic and responsive feedback from game characters is important to increase engagement and enjoyment in players. In this paper, we discuss the modelling of autonomous characters based on a biologically-inspired theory of human action regulation taking into account perception, motivation, emotions, memory, learning and planning. These agents populate an educational Role Playing Game, ORIENT (Overcoming Refugee Integration with Empathic Novel Technology) dealing with the cultural-awareness problem for children aged 13 to 14.
Mei Yii Lim, João Dias, Ruth Aylett, Ana Paiva

Design of a Decision Maker Agent for a Distributed Role Playing Game – Experience of the SimParc Project

This paper addresses an ongoing experience in the design of an artificial agent taking decisions in a role playing game populated by human agents and by artificial agents. At first, we will present the context, an ongoing research project aimed at computer-based support for participatory management of protected areas (and more specifically national parks) in order to promote biodiversity conservation and social inclusion. Our applicative objective is, through a distributed role-playing game, to help various stakeholders (e.g., environmentalist, tourism operator) to collectively understand conflict dynamics for natural resources management and to explore negotiation management strategies for the management of parks. Our approach includes support for negotiation among players and insertion of various types of artificial agents (decision making agent, virtual players, assistant agents). In this paper, we will focus on the architecture of the decision making agent playing the role of the park manager, the rationales for its decision, and how it takes into account the preferences/votes from the stakeholders.
Jean-Pierre Briot, Alessandro Sordoni, Eurico Vasconcelos, Marta de Azevedo Irving, Gustavo Melo, Vinícius Sebba-Patto, Isabelle Alvarez

NonKin Village: An Embeddable Training Game Generator for Learning Cultural Terrain and Sustainable Counter-Insurgent Operations

This article describes a virtual village we are currently assembling. Called NonKin Village, this is a gameworld that brings life to factional agents in a sort of an emergent SimCity. It supports street level interaction and dialog with agents to learn their issues, needs, grievances, and alignments and to try to assist them in countering the agenda of an insurgent faction aimed at ending the rule of law. The player can attempt tactical Diplomatic, Information, Military, and Economic (DIME) actions and observe Political, Military, Economic, Social, Infrastructure, and Information (PMESII) effects unfold, but watch out! It’s easy to go wrong in this foreign culture, to undertake operations with spurious side-effects. The player’s goal is to learn enough about the foreign culture and their situation so as to be successful at influencing the world and facilitating a new dynamic to take effect, that of equitable and self-sustaining institutions.
Barry G. Silverman, David Pietrocola, Nathan Weyer, Ransom Weaver, Nouva Esomar, Robert Might, Deepthi Chandrasekaran

On Evaluating Agents for Serious Games

With the recent upsurge in interest in agents for ‘serious games,’ there has been a focus on the ‘believability’ of agents in these settings. In this paper, I argue that when evaluating agents in this context, believability is often in fact of relatively minor importance, and indeed that focusing on this criteria can detract from the ultimate goals of the games. I present this argument in the context of a project for which the aim was to extend the BDI agent framework to better support human modelling in serious games.
Emma Norling

A PDDL-Based Planning Architecture to Support Arcade Game Playing

First, we explain the Iceblox game, which has its origin in the Pengo game. After carefully listing requirements on game playing, the contents of plans, their execution and planning problem generation, we design a set of benchmarks to select good playing candidates among currently available PDDL-based planners. We eventually selected two planners which are able to play the Iceblox video game well and mostly in real time. We describe both the predicates and some of the operators we designed. Then, we give details on our planning architecture and in particular discuss the importance of the generation of PDDL planning problems. We wish to report that no planner was tweaked during the benchmarks.
Olivier Bartheye, Éric Jacopin

Agent-Based Aircraft Control Strategies in a Simulated Environment

In the recent years, game engines have been increasingly used as a basis for agent-based applications and multi-agent systems, alongside traditional, more dedicated, simulation platforms. In this paper, we test and compare different control strategies for specified high-level maneuvers in aircraft within a gaming simulation environment, each aircraft represented by an independent agent, focusing on communication necessities and maneuver effectiveness. An overview of the simulation environment’s capabilities, with focus on the structured experiences system, shows the potentials of this platform as a basis for the more comprehensive goals of our project, allowing for the definition and execution of cooperative missions, such as surveillance and search & rescue operations.
Daniel Castro Silva, Ricardo Silva, Luís Paulo Reis, Eugénio Oliveira

Adaptive Serious Games Using Agent Organizations

Increasing complexity in serious games and the need to reuse and adapt games to different purposes and different user needs, requires distributed development approaches. The use of software agents has been advocated as a means to deal with the complexity of serious games. Current approaches to dynamic adjustability in games make it possible for different elements to adjust to the player. However, these approaches most use centralized control, which becomes impractical if the complexity and the number of adaptable elements increase. The serious games we are investigating are constructed using complex and independent subtasks that influence each other. In this paper, we propose a model for game adaptation that is guided by three main concerns: the trainee, the game objectives and the agents. In particular we focus on how the adaptation engine determines tasks to be adapted and how agents respond to such requests and modify their plans accordingly.
Joost Westra, Hado van Hasselt, Frank Dignum, Virginia Dignum

Intelligent Agent Modeling as Serious Game

Towards Integrating Microworlds, Tutoring and Evolution
Educators increasingly turn to serious games to let students explore complex worlds in a safe environment. In serious games for ill-defined problem domains such as infrastructures and markets, students often interact with preconceived agents at an operational level. We hypothesize however that students could discover more about a domain’s complexity at a strategic level by building and testing their own delegate agents. Testing this requires an environment where students and teachers can construct agents at their own level of expertise with recent modeling technologies. For instance, students may create agents not just directly, by building or modifying comprehensive agent models with visual programming languages, but also indirectly, by shaping agent behavior as it evolves in user-defined training scenarios or by enacting example behavior which agents learn to imitate. We propose a serious game concept that combines such modeling methods within a single intelligent simulation platform so that it becomes a low-threshold interface for continuous knowledge exchange and gain between teachers, students and agents.
D. W. F. van Krevelen


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