This week, Charlie and I had the good fortune of attending the Smite World Championships at the Cobb Energy Center.
While Charlie watched Friday, my entertainment started Saturday morning. Sadly, the early matches were mostly rollovers without much intrigue. The real fun started in the first semi-final with EU's Titan vs SK Gaming, where the first game took about 10 minutes to get a god kill. Titan came out top in both game to win the best of 3; they were highly entertaining matches. But, the entertainment only got better in the second semi-final where North Ameica's COGnitive Prime took down COGnitive Red in 3 epic matches, with some insane gameplay from both teams.
Then, the finale on Sunday. Whoa boy. Prime goes up 2 games to 0 on Titan, with Prime looking like they're in another league. And then Titan brings out the Ares and Titan displayed pristine teamwork, taking down Prime in the next 2 games. And in the 5th and final game, with the winner's stake sitting at $1.3million for what's down to a single match, Prime drafted their all start team and took home the gold to thunderous applause.
As a total n00b to Smite, this was an entertaining weekend of watching elite eSport athletes square off!! Mad skillz, giving a lowly scrub like myself something to aspire to in my next life.
Oh, and pictures, though my iPhone 6 takes not great pictures in the dim lighting of the main arena.
Typically, frustration related to AI (artificial intelligence) in video games is related to when it's so bad that the gameplay suffers. This is particularly true of titles where you're forced to escort a computer-controlled character through a number of situations, typically ones that can lead to him or her being killed. It's not often that the AI in these cases are good enough to point out, but Ellie in The Last of Us is a rare exception. The team that programmed her character must have spent countless hours perfecting their code, because she is pretty much a flawless example (relatively speaking).
What I'm referring to here, however, is not the AI that you play with, it's the AI you play against. I'm talking about the lil' buggers that, unfortunately, are dumb as dirt and predictable, which can make the game itself an annoyance. This goes hand in hand with poor programming, of course, but also glitches, which can cause some characters to float through walls (or shoot through them!). While listing some of the worst AI in history could be fun, what about the times when the AI is (almost) too good? What happens then?
According to some gamers on the Starcraft subreddit, it can make the game damn-near unplayable. In this case, a user pointed to this image that shows the AI (on the "very hard") difficulty taking down the human-controlled side of the battle. One commenter quipped that the computer should go pro, a reference to the fact that (if good enough) people can make a living playing Starcraft games professionally (among others).
Another remarked that upping the difficulty on another game, Age of Empires 1, basically spelled doom for anyone trying to play. "'Hardest' difficulty had the AI auto-patrolling every military unit around the map, designed to cover slowly across the map, as well as the ability to kite with every ranged unit that was currently attacking," the user wrote, while another added that he or she still has nightmares thinking about the scenario.
On one hand, beyond-good AI can make a game truly challenging and, for the right person, worthy of repeated plays. However, what about when it gets so good that it basically ruins any chance you have at winning?
That's what apparently happened to some people who went against a poker-playing robot, according to NPR. Computer scientist Michael Bowling and his team found a way to make their 'bot unbeatable at heads-up Limit Texas Hold'em. The game is a variant of the highly popular Texas Hold'em, which poker platform Bet Fair describes as "requiring skill, cunning and guile to succeed." It's a game they say "takes a few minutes to learn and a life-time to master." In other words, how can a computer be so good at something like this?
Here's what happened: Bowling and his his team crunched strategy upon strategy using "a computing cluster made of nearly 5,000 CPUs." After two months and apparently "[almost] a thousand years of computation," they found the (almost) perfect strategy. Bowling said it's still a tiny bit off, though you'd have to play for a lifetime to figure that out. The good news, at least for anyone playing the rare heads-up limit variant, is that this bot won't be used to clean up in online poker rooms. Instead, it'll go toward research on improving decision-making skills for robots. Phew.
As many of you have probably figured out by now Daedalic Entertainment likes to help bring solid content to the masses, and it appears that they have worked out a deal to bring us a strategy game by Funatics. This deal also allows for Funatics' games Northland and 8th Wonder of the World to get a digital distribution deal. Needless to say I think we're in for quite a treat in 2015 from Funatics thanks to Daedalic Entertainment. For the full story here's the Press Release:
Daedalic and Funatics join forces – Strategy game in development
Hamburg / Oberhausen, January 7th, 2015 – Daedalic Entertainment and renowned developer Funatics are joining development and publishing forces for multiple new games in the future.
Funatics is developing a strategy game that will be published by Daedalic worldwide in 2015. Furthermore, Daedalic Entertainment will take care of the digital distribution of the games “Northland” and “8th Wonder of the World”.
“Funatics is a big constant in the German developer scene. Since 1998 the team already produced a lot of well-known games and Thomas was just placed in the Hall of Fame at last December’s Deutscher Entwicklerpreis 2014. We are very happy that we can realize their next projects and distribute them globally. Funatics proved more than once that they produce fabulous simulations and the new title will be another great addition to its genre as well as to our portfolio.” (Carsten Fichtelmann, founder and CEO of Daedalic Entertainment)
“Daedalic is the perfect match for us. They combine game development with love and freedom for all projects, which we could definitely feel right from the start. Daedalic has a great position as an international publisher for digital products and that is the reason why we will not only do a single new project, but stretch our cooperation over multiple products. The collaboration with Daedalic as our publishing partner will be a great opportunity for us as a developer. We will expand the presence of our games over many new digital outlets, which we cannot reach with our current resources. Last but not least we will have the opportunity to be part of bundles and promotions that were not possible before.“ (Thomas Friedmann, CEO of Funatics)
The name of the new game and more details will be announced by Funatics and Daedalic Entertainment shortly. Daedalic Entertainment will distribute the retail version in various countries as well as worldwide digitally.