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Hitman Tech Head: AI Programming Fun, But 'Most Difficult Place To Be'

As part of a new Gamasutra feature, IO Interactive's tech director tells Gamasutra that the challenge of building effective AI is the multidisciplinary coordination required to have it "perform realistically."
As part of a new Gamasutra feature, Hitman developer IO Interactive's tech director tells Gamasutra that the challenge of building effective AI is the multidisciplinary coordination required to have it "perform realistically." "AI is quite complex, and I think a lot of the games, what they are challenging right now is not so much AI, but having the characters behave realistically," says IO's Martin Amor. He spoke to Gamasutra about the studio's new Glacier 2 engine, which is under development alongside the upcoming Hitman: Absolution, a game due to be released for PlayStation 3, PC, and Xbox 360 sometime next year. "Coding the core of the AI is not the most challenging part. It's actually to have it perform realistically -- to coordinate the animations with the dialogue, and have them move around, and avoid other characters, and basically seem like real characters, instead of uncanny valley sort of stuff. And I think that a lot of developers were kind of surprised how difficult this actually is," says Amor. "AI is kind of like at the end of the pipeline, right? Everything that all of the other developers are doing is feeding into this. The AI programmers have to work with the characters, and the animations, and the audio -- music, not least... the most difficult place to be, many times, is AI programming." There is an upside, however, he says. "It's also very fun. I think some of my AI programmers say they like to think that they are playing on the side of the computer, and against the player, and I think that they're having fun with that. But at the same time they have to very much focus on creating a good experience for the player." In the feature, live now on Gamasutra, Amor describes in depth the AI-related tools the developers are putting into the game, and also the behaviors -- as well as the cross-disciplinary design process that has lead to the design of the Glacier 2 engine.

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