Ubisoft exploring procedural AI for next-gen consoles

We all expect shiny new graphics from the next generation of consoles, but Ubisoft's Yves Jacquier has said that new and better AI should also benefit from the extra processing power.

Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, the executive director of production services at Ubisoft Montreal talked about challenges with the current generation of consoles. "We're extremely limited in what we can do. It's a challenge for the engineers to provide nice graphics and nice AI and nice sound with a very small amount of memory and computation time," Jacquier said. "We think that the next generation of consoles won't have these limits any more. Games might have more realistic graphics and more on-screen, but what's the value of making something more realistic and better animated if you have poor AI?"

"AI has always been the real battleground. The challenge is that, if you see an AI coming, you've failed. And that's a problem we have to overcome as we create the impression of flawless, seamless worlds."

Procedural AI is one of the fields Ubisoft is currently researching as it explores "other ways of thinking" about making video games. The developer and publisher is investing $1 million over the next five years into poking around and looking at stuff.

According to Jacquier, "the industry expects that graphics will not be a strong feature any more" with the next generation of consoles. However, we shouldn't expect the graphics fixation to pass too soon. "Obviously, graphics are better for marketing purposes because you can show things. AI you can't show," he said.

Ubisoft Monreal is currently developing Assassin's Creed Revelations and Far Cry 3. With large crowds and cover-providing foliage for the AI to consider, no matter how respectable it is, we'll probably end up wishing the AI were a little more advanced.