: Lia Terzidou : Learning in Virtual Worlds

: Lia Terzidou :
AI designer learns to build games from scratch by Douglas Heaven

A festive platform game is the latest creation of Angelina, an artificial intelligence system developed by Imperial College London’s Michael Cook that designs its own video games. Cook says Angelina made “A Puzzling Present” by using the code of existing games as a starting point and refining the features it found into something new. Angelina now has the ability to pick and choose game ingredients, compared to previously, when it came up with game mechanics by putting together rules it was given. Cook says that process involved slotting game mechanics together in new ways like a jigsaw, but he was never satisfied because he had to hand the system the jigsaw pieces. Angelina is able to find and test game possibilities using “reflection,” a technique that lets software examine and manipulate its own code. Cook starts by providing a game level that can not be solved, and then Angelina redesigns the level in an iterative process, using ideas it finds in existing games, making changes, testing them, and making further tweaks until the changes work. Angelina has even found bugs in Cook’s code and taken advantage of them to invent new game levels. Cook says the system could offer constructive criticism to game designers.

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