Starcraft II becomes a testing ground for new AI research

12 August, 2017, 04:43 | Author: Becky Perry
  • DeepMind and Blizzard open StarCraft II as an AI research environment | DeepMind

SC2LE also has a dataset of anonymized game replays that at the start has 65,000 replays available. In between presentations for hit games like Overwatch and Hearthstone, DeepMind took the stage to announce that it was launching a joint project with Blizzard that would turn Starcraft II into a research environment for artificial intelligence. In addition, a game can take from a few minutes to one hour to complete, meaning actions taken early in the game may not pay-off for a long time.

DeepMind said that SC2LE's mini-games, which are created to test specific skills, have shown promising results in training and evaluating AI, but the company said that its strongest AI agents could not win a full Starcraft II match against even the easiest opponents. To succeed, a player needs to have a good memory, prioritise among tasks, and plan under conditions of uncertainty.

Any hopeful researcher can customize a Starcraft II Deepmind A.I. agent for themselves, given the basic framework provided. The large pool of online StarCraft II players will provide a huge variety of "extremely talented opponents" from which the AI can learn.

DeepMind's initial StarCraft II tests with AI agents showed that they can manage "mini-games" that focus on broken-down tasks, but when it came to the full game, the agents weren't so successful. With the StarCraft II API, we're providing powerful tools for researchers, gamers, and hobbyists to utilize the game as a platform to further advance the state of AI research. "But when it comes to the full game, even strong baseline agents, such as A3C, can not win a single game against even the easiest built-in AI", the blog post said, adding that one agent had failed to complete trivial tasks such as keeping its workers mining.

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The StarCraft 2 community will have access to a community sandbox tool for anyone to experiment with, "using both learning based AI and scripted AI to build new tools that can benefit the StarCraft 2 and AI communities".

While we have included some sample code and simple bots, it's important to note that the release of these tools lays the foundation for AI research in StarCraft II to begin.

An AI engine would therefore have to make use of the skills of memory, mapping, long-term planning, and adapting to changes in plans using information that is continually being gathered, which translates to hierarchical planning and reinforcement learning.

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