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Behavioral Mathematics for Game AI (Applied Mathematics) Paperback – March 5, 2009
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Behavioral Mathematics introduces a raft of important techniques from decision theory, game theory, and utility theory, and uniquely applies them to game AI. These techniques are an important part of any game AI developer's toolbox.-Paul Tozour, Game AI author
This book is an excellent introduction to using AI in games. Dave has a knack for making complex subjects accessible. The text is very clear and admirably thorough. The author has chosen - wisely - to avoid the esoteric, and focus on topics which are directly useful for making real computer games.-Richard Evans, Senior AI Architect, Electronic Arts
Game developers often use little tricks to sprinkle magic decision-making abilities throughout their AI code, without necessarily understanding the fundamentals of how it works. Dave not only documents this process on paper, but he also goes into the theoretical background behind these techniques too. For anyone wishing to know more about the maths behind common game behaviors, this is the ideal textbook on the subject.-Alex J. Champandard, Editor & Consultant, AiGameDev.com
About the Author
Dave Mark is the President and Lead Designer of Intrinsic Algorithm, LLC, an independent game development studio and AI consulting company in Omaha, NE. He has been programming since 1984 when he was in high school. Much to the dismay of his teacher, he wrote his first text adventure on the school's DEC PDP-1144. After a brief detour in the music business as a composer/arranger, keyboard player and recording engineer during the early '90s, he re-entered the technology arena in 1995. After being in the IT consulting and development world for 8 years, Dave left to start game, simulation and AI consulting company, Intrinsic Algorithm LLC with his wife, Laurie. He was a contributor to the AI Game Programming Wisdom series and is a regular columnist at AIGameDev.com.
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Top customer reviews
If you are considering buying this book keep in mind that there are few code examples, but if you are an experienced programmer then this is a great book to buy if you are wanting to learn how to make characters act, move, and overall make smart "human-like" decisions.
Ok, so along with this book as well as Programming Game AI by Example I finally decided to give up the cheaply written AI engine I was using. I have had these books for two weeks now and already have much the of functionality that I needed in my AI engine up and running. Although I use C# and neither of these books cover that language I was easily able to apply the theorems covered as well as convert some of the code over.
If you're new to the subject of AI you should read "Introduction to Game AI" by Neil Kirby (Designers) or "Programming Game AI by Example" by Matt Buckland (Programmers)
This is the second book on AI that you should read.
If you're looking for good descriptions of challenging topics, this is not the book for you. The diagrams are often confusing (inverting the x-axis for questionable reasons), the code takes up far too much space for the value it is supposed to convey, and the prose is bloated.
The author early on makes the distinction between "proscriptive" and "descriptive" mathematical models - making the point that we're not necessarily trying to find optimal behavior, we're trying to record plausible behavior. This is a reasonable decision, but the amount of work necessary to model the author's favorite example of "4 out of 5 dentists recommending sugar free gum to their patients that chew gum" seems overwrought for what could be accomplished in one line of code.
The author invents a term "response curves", which seems like an awkward name for a selection from a weighted list. He claims that these are necessary, because algorithmic functions don't offer enough flexibility to achieve the results he's looking for. His response curves are piecewise constant functions over a finite domain, and if you want the flexibility of his response curves without the discontinuities, look up splines - well understood, and supported by many libraries already.
The book lurches from dwelling on some easy ideas (scaling the output of a function to be between 0 and 1 and weighted averages) to briefly touching on more complicated ones (marginal utility). The easy ideas are rehashed several times, while the difficult ones are mentioned, but the user is left to figure out how to apply them in their own work, as the author concedes that each application will be different.
In several places in the code, the author omits constructors and destructors, so as to keep things clear, though he makes a point in both the code and the text to call attention to the fact that he's omitting them. Perhaps the ideas would have been clearer if the author had communicated them through pseudocode, rather than collecting snippets of C++ that aren't complete enough for a C++ user to use, and are a stumbling block for someone who doesn't read C++.
Defying the admonition to not judge books by their cover, one might have looked at the poorly designed cover, with the fuzzy fonts and the impenetrable imagery, and got a hint that this was not a book that the publisher believed was worth their best effort.
Perhaps I'm not in the target audience for this book. If you know a bright child who is looking for an introduction to simple mathematical topics, and is eager to write computer games, this might be part of a bundle of books that you get them for the holidays.
This is not a book I will keep as a reference, but will be getting rid of at my earliest convenience.