Look, I got some attention again. This time from Christer Ericson at Sony Santa Monica, "the God of War team". His blog post is a scathing critique of most of what I've been doing for the last three years, without going into any detail whatsoever, and devoid of constructive suggestions.
I'll try to be less rude.
Christer's argumentation consists in showing one of my early videos with two cars on a track, and pointing out that the AI is not very impressive, as the cars behave erratically and crash into walls. He also makes fun of question I posted to Slashdot, where I was genuinely wondering about what people perceive as being the flaws of current game AI. From this, he implies that my contribution to game AI is null and that I could as well stop what I am doing.
Now, if someone from industry came and argued that what I'm doing is completely useless for game developers, I would take this seriously. Even if he was right, it seems that at least some of what I do is appreciated by the CI community, which is at least equally important to me, so I could accept developer' thinking my ideas were all stupid. However, I would only take such criticism seriously from someone who had actually read my papers and knew what I was doing, and bothered to come up with some suggestions on how to improve my work. None of this is true for Christer's rant.
It's true that the cars in the video don't seem to be driving very well. That was never the objective. Instead, the video is from a series of experiments where I manipulated the fitness function in order to produce interesting driving behaviour. Evolution of controllers that drove a particular track better than any tested human was already reported in our very first car racing paper. It's also true that the cars never learned to recover from some wall crashes. I had wanted this to emerge from the overall progress-based fitness function, which it didn't, and I might get back to work on this later; however, it would be straightforward to either add crash recovery as a specific learning objective, or add a hard-coded function for this. After all, normal game AI is 100%hard-coded.
In short, it would help if Christer either judged my experiments based on their actual objectives, or told me in what way I needed to change my objectives.
It would also help if he looked at some of the work that I myself consider more useful for game development, at least conceptually. (I'm not an expert in graphics, physics, or for that sake real-time collision detection, and don't profess to be one.) Especially the experiments on player modelling and track evolution, but also generalization and specialization for quickly creating drivers for any track, and co-evolution of diverse sets of opponents.
If he read these, and came back and still thought it all stank, I would be very happy to listen to his ideas on how to make my research more relevant for hard-working game developers like him. In the meantime, I'll continue my vacation.
And by the way, I don't smoke.