Thursday, December 17, 2009

CfP: 2010 IEEE Conference on Computational Intelligence and Games

First call for papers
Call for tutorial and special session proposals
2010 IEEE Conference on Computational Intelligence and Games
IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark, August 18-21, 2010

Games have proven to be an ideal domain for the study of computational intelligence as not only are they fun to play and interesting to observe, but they provide competitive and dynamic environments that model many real-world problems. Additionally, methods from computational intelligence promise to have a big impact on game development, assisting designers and developers and enabling new types of computer games. The 2010 IEEE Conference on Computational Intelligence and Games brings together leading researchers and practitioners from academia and industry to discuss recent advances and explore future directions in this quickly moving field.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:

* Learning in games
* Coevolution in games
* Neural-based approaches for games
* Fuzzy-based approaches for games
* Player/Opponent modeling in games
* CI/AI-based game design
* Multi-agent and multi-strategy learning
* Applications of game theory
* CI for Player Affective Modeling
* Intelligent Interactive Narrative
* Imperfect information and non-deterministic games
* Player satisfaction and experience in games
* Theoretical or empirical analysis of CI techniques for games
* Comparative studies and game-based benchmarking
* Computational and artificial intelligence in:
o Video games
o Board and card games
o Economic or mathematical games
o Serious games
o Augmented and mixed-reality games
o Games for mobile platforms

The conference will consist of a single track of oral presentations, tutorial and workshop/special sessions, and live competitions. The proceedings will be placed in IEEE Xplore, and made freely available on the conference website after the conference.

Paper submission deadline March 15
Tutorial and special session proposal deadline January 31

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

CfP: Workshop on Procedural Content Generation in Games (PC Games)

Workshop on Procedural Content Generation in Games (PC Games)

Co-located with FDG 2010 – Monterey, California – June 18, 2010


As computer games increasingly take place inside large, complex worlds, the cost of manually creating these worlds is spiraling upwards. Procedural content generation, where a computer algorithm produces computationally generated levels, art assets, quests, background history, stories, characters, and weapons, offers hope for substantially reducing the authoring burden in games. Procedural content generation has multiple benefits beyond reducing authoring cost. With rich procedural generation, a single person becomes capable of creating games that now require teams to create, thus making individual artistic expression easier to achieve. Automated content generation can take player history as one of its inputs, and thereby create games that adapt to individual players. Sufficiently rich content generation algorithms can create novel game elements, thereby discovering new game potentials. Finally, the procedural generation algorithm itself acts as an executable model of one aspect of the game, thereby improving our theoretical understanding of game design.

Important Dates

* Paper submission: Feb. 24, 2010

* Notification to authors: April 5, 2010

* Workshop held: June 18, 2010 (day before the main conference)

Workshop Organization

PC Games is a full-day workshop, with a peer-reviewed workshop program. Following a traditional working conference model, each talk session will have 2-3 paper presentations, followed by extensive time for questions and answers, as well as general discussion.

Research Areas

The PC Games workshop solicits paper submissions as either full papers (8 pages) or short papers (4 pages). PC Games welcomes research results that are either fully or semi-automated, in the following (and related) list of research areas. Papers will be published as part of the workshop proceedings.

* Procedural game level generation, for all game genres
* Procedural scenario generation for both entertainment and serious games
* Procedural quest generation, for single and multiplayer (online) games
* Procedural (non-player) character generation
* Procedurally generated game objects (e.g. weapons, vehicles, …)
* Procedural art asset generation, for a wide range of art assets
* Procedural creation of buildings, villages, towns, and cities
* Automatic layout techniques and procedural generation of interiors
* Procedural creation of natural environments, including terrain, water, clouds, plants, trees, etc.
* Procedural generation of crowds in real time
* Procedural animation of both procedurally and manually created content
* User control in procedural generation and intuitive input mechanism for procedural systems
* Construction and use of mixed-mode systems with both manual editing and automatic generation of content
* Integrating frameworks for procedural methods
* Procedural creation of background history and background stories for game worlds
* Adaptive game balancing and content generation based on prior player history
* Techniques for games that evolve and/or discover new game variants
* Procedural generation of computer and/or tabletop games
* Automatic generation of game rules
* Procedural generation of content for web-based and social networking games
* Player and/or designer experience with procedural content generation
* Models of player experience with procedurally generated content
* Theoretical implications of procedural content generation
* Meaningful incorporation of procedural generation into game design
* Procedural generation during development (e.g. for prototyping, design, testing, tuning, etc.)
* Lessons from historical examples of procedural generation
* Case studies of industrial application of procedural generation

Submission Instructions

Submissions to the PC Games workshop must follow ACM SIG conference formatting guidelines ( Papers must be submitted using the Easychair submission system (

Program Committee

Ruth Aylett, Heriot-Watt University
Rafael Bidarra, TU Delft
Ian Bogost, Georgia Tech.
Cameron Browne, Imperial College London
Simon Colton, Imperial College London
Eric Galin, LIRIS - CNRS - Université Lumière Lyon 2
Magy Seif El-Nasr, Simon Fraser University
Erin Hastings, Alion Science and Technology
Pascal Mueller, Procedural, Inc.
Ian Parberry, Univ. of North Texas
Jimmy Secretan, DiSTI Corporation
Ken Stanley, Univ. of Central Florida
Julian Togelius, ITU Copenhagen
Jim Whitehead, Univ. of California, Santa Cruz
Georgios Yannakakis, ITU Copenhagen
R. Michael Young, North Carolina State Univ.

The PC Games workshop is co-located with the 2010 Foundations of Digital Games (FDG 2010,, which is an official conference of the Society for the Advancement of the Science of Digital Games (SASDG).
FDG 2010 is supported by a generous sponsorship from Microsoft Research.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Publicity. I suppose it's good for something.

There's a new story about my research in New Scientist. A bit short, but apart from that correct. And in contrast to the previous stories about the autonomous car driving and the Mario competition this one is actually about my "core" research.

So, as one commenter said on my Facebook post about this, I'm getting more than my fifteen minutes of fame. The question is - what's this good for? Is it helping me do better research? Arguably not. And it doesn't seem to be impressing the girls either. I should probably just get back to coding.

Nothing to see here, move on...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Moving to ITU

I've just tendered my resignation at IDSIA.

The reason is that I've gotten a grant from the Danish Research Council for Technology and Production, allowing me to start working in the Center for Computer Games Research at the IT University of Copenhagen. I'll move on August 1st.

Writing this feels almost surreal, as I've been longing to move home for quite some time now. But this is not only about moving home. At least as important is that I'm moving from a world-class machine learning institute to a world-class games research group.

This closely mirrors the ongoing shift in the emphasis of my research efforts. I simply think that I have more good ideas within applications of computational intelligence methods to games and game design, than within the development of new computational intelligence methods themselves. Naturally, this has much to do with the former field being much younger and thus less exploited. More white spots on the map to fill in with bright colours.

So yes, I'm very happy right now.

Friday, April 24, 2009

How fun is Super Mario Bros?

Do you want to participate in some research? Please?

It's simple. Go to this address, play two levels of Super Mario Bros, and answer some questions about them. (Actually, it's not the "real" Super Mario game, but a customized version with some differences - you'll see!)

It's all part of a project that I'm involved in together with Chris Pedersen and Georgios Yannakakis at ITU. We're trying to investigate certain factors that affect entertainment in platform games and how to automatically optimize levels in such games. You'll hear about the results soon enough...

So, please play a game and contribute to science!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Machine learning might be too easy, but so what?

John Langford argues that machine learning is too easy. He doesn't specify exactly what he means by this, but it seems to be that it's possible to publish papers and make a career in one area of machine learning without even understanding the core ideas of other areas.

Apparently, he thinks this is a problem. But why?

I could agree that it would be a problem if we were talking about science here. But we aren't. I've long since stopped pretending that I do science. (Except for the remote possibility that something I do might have an impact on a real science, such as biology or psychology.) We are just not studying the natural world.

I don't think of it as engineering either, as an engineer is meant to construct that that actually work and make economic sense. Most of what I do is pretty far from being useful or even reliable. Instead I think of myself as an inventor, practicing blue-sky invention of algorithms and toy applications without direct economic pressure. (Role model: Gyro Gearloose.)

So in a field of invention where people are inventing things following different paradigms and variations on a common theme of learning/optimization, is it a problem that most of the inventors have only a very hazy idea of what the others are doing? Not necessarily, as we are not all working towards the same goal (at least in the near term) and don't need to agree on anything.

Of course, it's great when you can combine knowledge from different research fields and come up with a nice synthesis - this is an almost surefire way to "be creative", and it's necessary that someone does it every once in a while. But for the most part, I don't feel like digesting hundreds of pages of dormative formulas in order to understand e.g. statistical learning theory. I feel my time would be much better spent just getting on with my own inventions, and reading up on stuff that's directly relevant to it (or seemingly completely unrelated, in order to look for new applications).

Simply unacceptable

Defamation of religion is now a violation of human rights. I'd love to be able to just laugh at this, but it's far too serious to to be a laughing matter. Actually, just reading this fills me with primitive and undignified anger.

For the record, I don't consider any religion worthy of any sort of respect or protection. On the contrary, I think an enlightened and modern society should work towards harm reduction and possibly eventual elimination of religion with peaceful and rights-respecting means, similarly to how most western countries counteract tobacco smoking and its harmful effects.

(Thanks to Shane.)

Monday, February 16, 2009

No privacy without piracy!

This slogan just appeared to me. I don't think I've seen it anywhere else.

The idea is that any method I've ever heard of for eradicating piracy, and indeed any conceivable method for doing so, build on also eradicating (or at least severely curtailing) privacy.

So if people start spreading this meme around, maybe the two issues (privacy and piracy) would become more linked in the general debate and in people's minds.

No privacy without piracy! You can't have one without the other.

Do you agree?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

"Machine learning"

Yahoo! have* posted their list of key scientific challenges in machine learning. I don't work on and hardly know anything at all about any of these topics. In fact, I think I understand what the question is in only three out of five cases.

Funny. I've always seen myself as working on some sort of machine learning, using computational intelligence methods. But if this is machine learning, I'm certainly not working on machine learning - it's about as related to my work as meteorology or linguistics is. So I should probably not say that I work on machine learning any more than I say that I work on meteorology or linguistics.

I'm actually OK with this, as I can still claim that I'm a computational intelligence researcher. Good enough for me.

But still... who gets to set the agenda? Ten years ago, what I do was machine learning; at least if Tom Mitchell's book is anything to go by. Nowadays, the important "machine learning" conferences such as NIPS and ICML wouldn't even look at the sort of stuff I do, irrespective of its quality. This is mildly annoying, as these conferences somehow have more prestige than CEC, Gecco and PPSN (probably because of ridiculously low acceptance rates).

And, most importantly: how does this semantic drift affect who gets the grant money?

* My intuition is really to write "Yahoo! has posted" here, as Yahoo! is a corporate entity usually referred to as it rather than they. However, British English seems to want to have it otherwise.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Kurukshetra AI Game Dev Event

Sanjeev Chandran recently told me about this Game AI event, part of an international science festival in Pune, Bangalore and Hyderabad (India). One of the competitions that forms part of the event concerns automatic content creation, and I was told it is inspired by my work. Cool!

Sanjeev chose the classic Lunar Lander game as the domain. In the automatic content creation competition, participants are expected to come up with ways of automatically designing the lunar surface as well as setting parameters such as gravity in order to make the game more fun for human players.

I think that with a game as simple as Lunar Lander, there is lots of scope for focusing the development effort on the AI/CI algorithms rather than petty technical questions. The rules for the competition are quite loose, as is the objective and scoring. This could be a problem, but could also mean that we see some really creative submissions.

In any case, it will be very interesting to see what comes out of this!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

CIG 2009 CFP

New year, new CIG. Below is the first CFP for the conference to go to if you're interested in computational intelligence and games. This time, I'm on the organizing committee as well.

*** IEEE Symposium on Computational Intelligence and Games (CIG-2009) ***
Milano, Italy - September 7-10, 2008

Games are an ideal domain to study computational intelligence methods.
They provide cheap, competitive, dynamic, reproducible environments
suitable for testing new search algorithms, pattern based evaluation
methods or learning concepts. At the same time they are interesting to
observe, fun to play, and very attractive to students. This symposium,
sponsored by the IEEE Computational Intelligence Society aims to bring
together leading researchers and practitioners from both academia and
industry to discuss recent advances and explore future directions in
this field.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:
* Learning in games
* Coevolution in games
* Neural-based approaches for games
* Fuzzy-based approaches for games
* Console and video games
* Character Development and Narrative
* Opponent modeling in games
* CI/AI-based game design
* Multi-agent and multi-strategy learning
* Comparative studies
* Applications of game theory
* Board and card games
* Economic or mathematical games
* Imperfect information and non-deterministic games
* Evasion (predator/prey) games
* Realistic games for simulation or training purposes
* Player satisfaction in games
* Games for mobile or digital platforms
* Games involving control of physical objects
* Games involving physical simulation

General Chair: Pier Luca Lanzi
Program Chair: Sung-Bae Cho
Proceedings Chair: Luigi Barone
Publicity Chair: Julian Togelius
Competition Chair: Simon Lucas
Sponsorship Chair: Georgios N. Yannakakis
Local Chairs: Nicola Gatti and Daniele Loiacono

IMPORTANT DATES (tentative schedule)
Tutorial proposals: 15 April 2009
Paper submission: 15 May 2009
Decision Notification: 15 June 2009
Camera-ready: 15/30 July 2009
Symposium: 7-11 September 2009

The symposium will be held at the Politecnico di Milano, the largest
technical university in Italy, ten minutes from downtown Milan, the
shopping area, and its famous galleries and museums.

For more information please visit: