Artificial Intelligence is common place in video games, but it’s generally limited to the control of NPCs (non-player characters) or some intelligently generated environments, not determining how the game plays out. At least that was the case before ANGELINA.
“A Novel Game-Evolving Labrat I’ve Named ANGELINA” or ANGELINA, for short, is a research project created by Michael Cook, a PHd student from Imperial College London which is designed to become a video game designer which is able to understand and interact with human culture.
The idea for ANGELINA sparked from Simon Colton’s The Paining Fool, an AI project designed to produce works of art with the hopes of one day being taken seriously as art and not just a gimmick from the results of an AI project.
Even though it’s a relatively old project, dating back to early 2011, work has continued and the quality of games being produced has expanded from the early prototypes. During the early days the system required Cook to implemented art assets and custom code, the AI has developed enough to intelligently utilize search engines for art and music which displayed throughout the world.
“Computational evolution is a means of generating things inspired by how evolution works in the natural world. Lots of random recombinations of things, with some kind of pressure or selection mechanism to make sure the best examples are chosen to combine with one another at each stage. ANGELINA uses this technique to design levels, place enemies, and so on.” – Michael Cook
With around 35-40 working games developed since it’s creation, ANGELINA has provided the creator, Cook, with some “powerful, surprising and even unsettling” moments. Such as the game it created named “Sex, Lies and Rape” which was generated after it read an article about a child abuse ring crack down. During play Cook expected to be presented with pictures of children and criminals but was surprised when half way through play a voice started singing a childrens lullaby in Icelandic.
Moving on in the project, the designer wants to further abstract himself from the creation, giving more control to the AI including writing its own code. With the aim of one day submitting its game to the IGF (the Independent Games Festival).
One of ANGELINA’s games entitled “To That Sect” entered into a Ludum Dare, an online game contest, this past December. Something the judges of the competition were unaware of, sadly it didn’t place, but had it won it would have done so entirely on the merits of the game and not the creator.
“Right now, people are sharing ANGELINA’s games because ANGELINA is cool,” Cook said. “One day they’ll be sharing the games because the games are cool.”
For the time being, you can find the games made by ANGELINA over at Games By Angelina, alongside more information and news on the project.
The full interview with Cook can be found on Polygon through the link below.