IEEE CIG 2008 Competitions

Competitions Chair: Simon M. Lucas

CIG 2008 offers the following competitions to challenge your ability to design and  deploy computational intelligence and other methods within computer games.  Software Agent Ms Pac-Man and TORCS-based Car Racing have been run in previous conferences, and will also run in future conferences.  This provides continuity for researchers, and enables us to build a truer picture of the strengths and weaknesses of each approach.  Two competitions are new for CIG 2008: the 2K Bot Prize, and the Ms Pac Man Ghost Team Challenge.

2K Bot Prize - a Turing Test for Bots

Sponsored by 2K Australia, the competition task is to create a computer game bot (a.k.a. non-player character or NPC) which is indistinguishable from a human player. Those entries that pass this test will share the major prize of A$7,000 cash, and will also be offered a trip to 2K Australia's studio in Canberra. If the major prize is not won, a minor prize of A$2,000 plus a trip to the studio will be awarded.

The game used for the competition will be based on a modified version of the DeathMatch game type for the First-Person Shooter, Unreal Tournament 2004. This modified version provides a socket-based interface (called Gamebots) that allows control of bots from an external program. In addition, several extra modifications will be made especially for the competition:

Chatting will be disabled lest the competition revert to a chat bot competition! Undisclosed modifications will be made to encourage the submission of bots that can learn how best to play, as human players are able to do. Examples of game features that might be modified include weapon effects, physics, map layout, and/or any other modification deemed suitable by the organisers.

For more information see here, or contact the competition organiser, Phil Hingston.

TORCS-Based Car Racing

The aim of the competition is to learn (or otherwise develop) a controller that races around a number of laps as fast as possible, alone or in the presence of other drivers. We will score every submitted controller on the distance raced in a fixed amount of time when driving on its own on a set of tracks. At the end of the competition, the best few controllers will race against each other on a different set of tracks, validating that the controllers perform well in the presence of other cars and that their performance generalizes to other tracks than those they were trained for.

The competition will be run in a very similar way to the WCCI 2008 competition.


Software Agent Ms Pac-Man

Unlike Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man is a non-deterministic game, and rather difficult for most human players. As far as we know, nobody really knows how hard it is to develop an AI player for the game. The world record for a human player (on the original arcade version) currently stands at 921,360 (read more). Can anyone develop a software agent to beat that?

The competition uses screen-capture to get the current state of the game, and provides a fascinating challenge for your algorithms with some inevitable uncertainties arising from variable delays in the screen capture process.  For more information, including results of the WCCI 2008 competition see here.

Ms Pac Man Ghost Team Challenge

This competition is currently under development.  The idea is that entrants can either provide a teams of ghosts, or a pac-man agent (or both).

The score for an agent is its average score over the set of ghost-teams (excluding any team submitting by the same entrant), and vice versa for ghosts.

One of the tangential aims of the contest is to develop new ghost teams so that we can play against them as humans, and see whether different (and perhaps more intelligent) ghosts are more or less fun to play against.

The software interfaces for each ghost are currently under discussion.

One issue to be aware of is the rules should avoid boring stalemate situations.  For example, the ghosts could limit the Pac-Man's high score by constantly patrolling a small area of the maze making it impossible for the Pac-Man to eat the pills in that area. 

Possible ways to avoid this may be to:

Note: the software for this competition is under development, and will be presented during the competitions session at CIG 2008.  This will then be run as a competition for CEC 2009 and for CIG 2009.