AI Techniques for Game Programming
"AI Techniques for Game Programming" takes the difficult topics of genetic algorithms and neural networks and explains them in plain English. Gone are the tortuous mathematic equations and abstract examples to be found in other books. Each chapter takes readers through the theory a step at a time, explaining clearly how they can incorporate each technique into their own games. After a whirlwind tour of Windows programming, readers will learn how to use genetic algorithms for optimization, path-finding, and evolving control sequences for their game agents. Coverage of neural network basics quickly advances to evolving neural motion controllers for their game agents and applying neural networks to obstacle avoidance and map exploration. Backpropagation and pattern recognition is also explained. By the end of the book, readers will know how to train a network to recognize mouse gestures and how to use state-of-the-art techniques for creating neural networks with dynamic topologies.
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I dock one star because the sample code is a bit sloppy. However, this turns out to be a good thing for me, since it forces me to think about the code and debug issues when I redactor it into my personal code style.
That being said, this is the PERFECT book any programmer of any level for a layman's grasp on neural network and genetic algorithm programming. After completing this book and practicing the examples provided on the CD, when I go to the breathy academic papers or books on the subject I have a fighting chance to apply their advanced concepts to practical matters -- games or otherwise.
Although it is listed as "Game AI", it's more that Mr. Buckland uses Windows GDI game-like mechanics as a vehicle to bring above mentioned topics to a practical level. I didn't know Windows c++ API programming going in, but I blindly followed the examples, and coming out of the other end of this book I am quite familiar with it now. My lack of Windows programming didn't stop me from getting the most from this book.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Do NOT lose or scratch the CD. In fact, make a back up of the source files on a cloud drive. The book is useless without it. I used Windows 7 64 Bit with Visual Studio 2013 C++ with no problems. Starting off with a fresh "empty" project, I added my 'main' source file and typed in the source. On Windows 8 the code I typed in did not work "out of box" and I didn't care to figure out why. I used Windows 7. Since c++ is not my language of choice, I just wanted to thoroughly understand the concepts that Mat was trying to convey so I could apply them to my language of choice.
WORTH EVERY PENNY of the 30 bux I spent!