Good AI – the really good AI – is usually one of the last things a seasoned gamer will consider when declaring the reasons for a game being something special.
It is the mark of superior tech that, when facing off against a horde of well-armed and ugly antagonists in an otherworldly environment, a gamer will be forced into consistent and evolving plans of action by his foes.
When they flank him, push him back, draw him in and attempt to corner him by every method at their disposal, there is no time for Joe Public to consider how clever the bad guys are, he spends his precious seconds just trying to survive.
Since 2004, German firm Xaitment has developed a suite of AI game tools with exactly that kind of seamless AI in mind. Founded by Doctors Andreas Gerber, CEO, and Thorsten Maier, CTO and MD, Xaitment now sells top-flight tools for nav mesh and pathfinding (XaitMap), game logic and visual debugging (XaitControl); knowledge bases (XaitKnow), NPC behavior (XaitThink) and the movement and crowd simulation tech XaitMove2.
Last month the firm updated XaitMap, ensuring that it maintains a continually relevant product in a very crowded market.
“We worked hard on a highly sophisticated algorithm for generating nav meshes that beat the pants of other middleware solutions in speed, quality and memory consumption.
“The new method speeds up the calculation process up to 10 times,” Gerber explains. “We also tremendously reduced the memory consumption during the nav mesh generation process, so generating and updating nav meshes during runtime is not a problem,” he adds.
The evolution of XaitMap is geared to the development community it serves. Moreover, there is a passion for the product evident in the level of detail with which Gerber describes the effort behind the update.
“In the past, developers had to build their own AI solutions because there were no other options,” he says.
“Then AI middleware like Xaitment came along and changed all that. Developers can use our AI tools like they would use standard tools and engines for GFX or sound. Top teams don’t think about doing these things on their own anymore because it could risk their entire game project and company.
“Years ago, everyone implemented their own home-brewed AI solution, but that was always a huge risk. Projects have completely failed because of weak AI. Now teams realise that with AI middleware they save a lot of money and time while increasing quality. This has just become common sense for a large number of developers.”
And Gerber is in no doubt as to why XaitMap is the pathfinding kit developers should use.
“XaitMap provides customers with fast and robust pathfinding and automatic navigation mesh generation that can be used straight out of the box.
“This means that you don’t need any prior knowledge about path generation, you just plug in our library into your game, load the level geometry and that’s it.
“Your team will save a lot of time and can go on to do the things that are more fun.”