Blizzard Topped Up With Deepmind For StarCraft II AI
Today at BlizzCon 2016 in Anaheim, California, announced our collaboration with Blizzard Entertainment to open up StarCraft II to AI and Machine Learning researchers around the world.
For almost 20 years, the StarCraft game series has been widely recognized as the pinnacle of 1v1 competitive video games, and among the best PC games of all time. The original StarCraft was an early pioneer in e-Sports, played at the highest level by elite professional players since the late 90s, and remains incredibly competitive to this day. The StarCraft series' longevity in competitive gaming is a testament to Blizzard's design, and their continual effort to balance and refine their games over the years. StarCraft II continues the series' renowned e-Sports tradition, and has been the focus of our work with Blizzard.
Deepmind hopes to push its artificial intelligence even further by having it play an arguably more complex game, StarCraft II. Professional players in the StarCraft II scene consistently preform over 200 unique actions a minute to outwit and outperform their opponents. If Deepmind is able to compete at a level such as that, there could be remarkable advances in the field of artificial intelligence and how our brains function.
StarCraft is an interesting testing environment for current AI research because it provides a useful bridge to the messiness of the real-world. The skills required for an agent to progress through the environment and play StarCraft well could ultimately transfer to real-world tasks.
At the start of a game of StarCraft, players choose one of three races, each with distinct unit abilities and gameplay approaches. Players' actions are governed by the in-game economy; minerals and gas must be gathered in order to produce new buildings and units. The opposing player builds up their base at the same time, but each player can only see parts of the map within range of their own units. Thus, players must send units to scout unseen areas in order to gain information about their opponent, and then remember that information over a long period of time.
If you are interested in assisting with the learning of this outstanding program and the team behind it, you simply just have to play multiplayer games of StarCraft II once the partnership becomes complete. We could even see the program attempt to take on the BlizzCon champion in a live game, and that would be a match for the record books.