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I am currently working on a project experimenting with Artificial Intelligence design methodologies for "online world" avatars. When I say "online world", this is fairly to interpretation; "Second Life" is just as applicable as "Counter Strike", for example.

In order to carry out these experiments I must first develop an intelligent agent for the world, or game, in question. However I am honestly quite stuck as to which game I could use for this. My preference was to develop an intelligent "bot" to play an MMORPG, however the legal restrictions of such games seem to prevent me from doing this. Likewise with "Counter Strike: Source" and such FPS games; the use of an intelligent agent in place of a human player is considered cheating by most game developers.

The alternative, of course, is to create an NPC bot; an intelligent agent that populates the world alongside the player(s) rather than replacing a particular player. However I'm struggling to find a game that would enable me to create an intelligent opponent, too.

I suppose the main requirements would be a game that might allow a third party program to use the function calls usually utilised by players and read feedback on the state of the world.

Quake III and Unreal Tournament are games that have been suggested to me before, however my preference is not to use these since they have been used in previous work on this research project.

Short of writing my own online game from scratch, what games are there that would allow me, through middleware, an API, or otherwise, to create either an artificially intelligent player or a bot? Thanks in advance.

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Contact these game developers. While bots for the sake of cheating are frowned on, I'm willing to bet that many games studios would be happy to let you do this if you offer to share your findings with them. –  DampeS8N Feb 8 '12 at 18:12
This is an excellent question! I just shared it on Facebook and tweeted it. –  akled Feb 8 '12 at 18:50
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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

You could try setting up your own server running one of the open-sourced MMO codebases. PlaneShift is one such game, and WorldForge has (last time I looked) several games with simpler rulesets. Ryzom is a formerly closed-source MMO that released both their code and their assets as open source.

Setting up your own server from these codebases will probably take a bit of work, and more hardware. On the upside, you'd be able to control the environment, and possibly get better data about your agent. You'd also have access to the code, which should help immensely in implementing your agent's communication with the game servers.

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Thanks for the response justinian, those are extremely appealing options which I'll be sure to look into! I'd almost given up on the MMORPG front, this renews my hope immensely! –  Myn Feb 10 '12 at 13:46
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This is aimed at the path of Counter Strike more than Second Life, but the game Cube 2 is a fully open source FPS which has been used in lots of research projects that need a fully modifiable multiplayer game. This is the one paper I know of that uses it for its ease to mod.

For a more MMO type game, you could always try finding private servers of popular games such as WOW. I'm pretty sure these are illegal in the first place, so botting on one isn't going to hit any legal issues, though server admins may kick you.

Lastly there's Minecraft, seems to fit the bill of online game, and its really simple to set up your own server. Also there's previous work done towards bots, as seen with the auto building bots, and complex enemy AI mods.

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Thanks for the response skeletalmonkey, if I could give Best Answer to you as well I would. I'm actually investigating Minecraft as one of the options too so I completely agree with everything you said there, could be a really interesting game to touch on. I'll look into that and Cube 2 as part of my research. :) Thanks! –  Myn Feb 10 '12 at 13:48
Man, I would love to see an intelligent agent playing minecraft! –  justinian Feb 10 '12 at 19:38
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I can give you access to my homemade "MMORPG":s communication protocol if you want to.

It is in French but I plan to change that.

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Thank you very much for your offer Valmond, it's greatly appreciated, though on this occasion I fear I must pass. Your MMORPG looks really nice, great work! I hope to work on my own at some point in the future, I'll be sure to look up your work when I do! –  Myn Feb 10 '12 at 13:51
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