Meet ANGELINA – The AI That Makes Video Games


By Fattima Mahdi Truth Theory

Artificial Intelligence is proving to be a more profound technological advancement than electricity. Especially when taking into consideration University of Falmouth’s senior A.I. researcher Mike Cook’s latest creation, a neural network capable of designing its own games. It’s called ANGELINA, which stands for “A Novel Game-Evolving Labrat I’ve Named Angelina”, and an example of it’s work can be found here.

In designing the game exampled above, Mike Cook himself had started with a partial concept, involving an adventure in a dungeon fighting off skeletons to find the exit. However, upon leaving the project for ANGELINA to finish, Mike’s idea was turned into something completely different. Something darker and more true to life. Instead of the player controlling a single adventurer, fighting off skeletons to reach the dungeon’s exit, the player is accompanied by multiple adventures, some of whom they must sacrifice to allow the others to escape safely.

In an explanation to BGR for how ANGELINA works, Mike Cook said, “The most common technique in ANGELINA is computational evolution. So let’s say it’s designing a level for a game it’s making. It’ll begin with a big bunch of random levels, most of them really bad, and it’ll play each level and try and finish it. And almost all of them will be terrible, but maybe one or two are slightly less terrible than the others. So it picks the best ones, and mixes them together to make new levels. Maybe it takes the top half of one level and the bottom half of another level and glues them together. Then it starts the process again with these new hybrid levels”. He goes on to say, “I’ve broken down the game design process into different tasks, like designing levels, inventing rules, or testing difficulty. ANGELINA selects tasks based on what it’s current game is missing, and then uses techniques like computational evolution to perform each task. Right now it has to rely on my opinions for some things – for example, I tell it that levels which take longer to solve must be better. Hopefully in the future I can make it more independent so it can throw away these ideas and develop new opinions for what makes a level good or a game fun”.

ANGELINA has over 30 games under her belt, although many have been deleted as “they don’t really represent the full scope of the system’s capabilities”, Mike explains, “sort of like an artist throwing away old sketches”. The system has, since, been updated several times, with a 6th version currently in development for 2D games.  

Read More: Google’s Artificial Intelligence Built An AI That Outperforms Any Made By Humans

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