(Credit: Michael Cook)
A PhD student from Britain's Imperial College has launched a video game that was co-written by an artificial-intelligence (AI) machine named Angelina.
PhD student Michael Cook and Fellow Simon Colton of the Imperial College's Computational Creativity Group have been working since 2010 on Angelina — an AI machine that automates the video-game creation process.
She does this by learning and borrowing code from pre-existing games, then applying that knowledge to new games under development — at the moment, two-dimensional arcade games and side-scrolling platformers are about as complicated as she can manage, but Cook and Colton are working on expanding her abilities to be able to develop her own game concepts.
So far, the team of Cook, Colton and Angelina has released one game: the Christmas-themed A Puzzling Present for Windows, Mac, Linux and Android. Just going from the first few levels, it's not bad, but it's not great either.
According to Cook, there are a few problems with a computer AI generating video games for a human audience. One is that Angelina can't understand difficulty levels very easily — which explains why some levels were confusingly difficult. Cook has made user feedback a part of A Puzzling Present's design, so that human interaction can be taken into account.
He has also built a system called "Mechanic Miner", which presents Angelina with an impossible level and tasks her with coming up with a new mechanic to make the level passable.
As a result, there are some strange context-sensitive actions to be performed in the game; part of the challenge is figuring out exactly what that B button does and how to use it. It's interesting, but we don't think AI will be replacing human developers any time soon — and neither does Cook, who envisions the program as a method of assisting with the development process, rather than supplanting it.