Application Keynote Lecture
Alex Whittaker, Beautiful Game Studios (Eidos)
Practice Makes Perfect: Video Game AI Development Over the Last Decade
Following a degree in Genetics at UCL I moved into the bioinformatics field at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund. I was involved in research and development including dynamic programming solutions for identifying Intron-Exon fingerprints, one of the first content management systems on the embryonic World Wide Web under the Mosaic client and a web interface operating through the Lynx text based web browser.
Moving to SmithKline Beecham I completed an AMSc in Artificial Intelligence at Queen Mary and Westfield, with a thesis using genetic algorithms to manipulate finite state architectures identifying short chain peptide sequences. Other work included papers on inductive learning and a patented algorithm for shotgun sequence assembly (a process of combining DNA fragments using homology).
I left SmithKline and bioinformatics to come to the games industry with Psygnosis where I wrote a data driven finite state architecture (FSA) for the seminal and yet critically ignored Team Buddies on the PSX (Google it to discover what a cult classic it really was). Following the game's release, I spent some time developing the FSA and published a few conference articles on the technology.
I moved to Elixir studios and the FSA architecture developed into an augmented transition network (ATN) architecture which was much stronger notationally (it could represent a larger more complex set of behaviours). This formed the backbone of the Republic game, and the data driven technology allowed a team of four designers to scale the technology up to an entire city's residents. Republic was released as a great city simulation but a lousy game.
From Elixir I came to Eidos and Championship Manager full of bright ideas and optimism and with all my own hair. I am now living life one day at a time, a shadow of my former self.