Scientists at Facebook are developing an AI wizard that can support players in the blockmaking game Minecraft. A first version of the software already controls its own character, understands commands and can respond to questions from the players. The program may be in a short demo that references the US University MIT Facebook shows, already build simple structures, welcome players and move to the position of the controlling.
The program is designed to take off the abilities of other players and to learn for themselves – such as building a new statue or talking to people. The software is controlled by the integrated text chat in the game. One example Facebook calls: orders like "Build a tower with 15 blocks height and put a huge smiley on top" should be able to interpret and implement the program.
Big world, small elements
Several AI tasks have to be solved. So the software must understand a sentence based on the sentence structure, move to a suitable place in the game world and implement core messages. For example, the definition of a smiley may already vary. It depends on the training data available to the program.
Minecraft is well suited as a training scenario in that it follows simple rules. Although a huge game world is generated randomly to start the server, in the basic structure it is composed of cubes that correspond to a standard size. The concept of a block is firmly defined.
"We believe we can make progress in creating a useful wizard without having to tackle any possible task"said Facebook researcher Arthur Szlam. Since players were mostly in a small area within the game, it was not necessary to be perfect.
An AI assistant could also be developed in a different direction. AI opponents who analyze player behavior and adjust their behavior accordingly would be a step towards immersive games and more human-looking opponents. Currently, bots in games are almost exclusively implemented with pre-programmed and therefore limited behavior.