Smarter AI coming to PlayStation 4 games via xaitment

AI middleware company xaitment is supporting Sony's PlayStation 4, but what does that mean for game developers?

Developers working on PlayStation 4 games can start using xaitment’s AI middleware solution, xaitControl, to create smarter game characters – characters that move more intelligently, make more logical decisions, and are therefore far more fun to play against

xaitment's support for PS4 means that game developers working on the next-gen Sony platform can immediately start incorporating smarter AI into their titles. We caught up with xaitment's CEO Mike Walsh, to find out more...

3D World: Can you explain what xaitControl means for developers of current gen and next-gen titles?

Mike Walsh: With xaitControl, we think that the focus will shift to developing individual and group behaviors as well as game logic.

This will create the potential not only for characters to exhibit new behaviors, but they will also have the structure and the ability to choose different behaviors depending on the situation. Each time you see the character, you may get a completely different interaction.

These enhancements will help to evolve storytelling in games and make gameplay more exciting by making it easier to design and create smarter characters – characters that move more intelligently, make better decisions and display more realistic behaviors.

We believe that smarter characters make the gaming experience more immersive and games more fun to play.

3D World: What's the challenge of incorporating characters with AI on current gen titles? What are the challenges on next-gen titles?

The challenges are similar for both generations, although obviously the next generation will give developers more power to push the limits whether it be for AI, graphics, physics, animation, etc.

From what we hear from developers, the problems in developing behaviors seem to be performance, ease of use, rapid iteration and the ability to easily debug.

With xaitControl, our GUI is written in C++ so it’s extremely performant and because it’s a tool both designers and programmers can use it to reduce production bottlenecks.

xaitControl allows developers to quickly re-use assets and apply similar behaviors to multiple characters.

"With xaitControl, we think that the focus will shift to developing individual and group behaviors as well as game logic," says Mike Walsh

It also includes a visual debugger so that teams get immediate feedback when there is an error in the code.

3D World: Will developers have to also work smarter in order to incorporate smarter AI in their titles? Will they have to change the way they work?

I don’t know that it’s a question of working smarter or harder. But with xaitControl, developers will be given the opportunity to stretch their imaginations and thereby make the games more immersive and improve gameplay.

Previously, behaviors were developed via scripting, but that poses several problems such as debugging, reusing assets and managing workload.

Because xaitControl uses a Finite State Machine architecture (GUI) those problems are eliminated which means developers can focus on developing more behaviors and better game logic thus creating smarter looking characters which are more exciting to play against.

3D World: What are the implications for current gen game developers in general, and PS4 developers specifically?
With the advent of new hardware, the developers are provided with new limits to aim for.

Games have always been about characters, so I expect with the next generation consoles you will start to see a greater emphasis placed on how AI is used in games.

Because the performance is increasing, we will.

For more information, please visit xaitment's website

As the CEO of xaitment, Mike Walsh heads the worldwide business, sales and growth of xaitment. During his career, Mike has helped restructure and grow several sales organizations and offers a proven management record focused on building strong customer relationships. Prior to his position at xaitment, Mike was the Vice President of Worldwide Sales for Havok, North America and Australia Regional Sales Manager for Softimage and Partner Sales Manager at Alias/Wavefront. Mike holds a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from St. Mary's College of California.