The development of artificial intelligence (AI) techniques that can assist with the creation and analysis of digital content is a broad and challenging task for researchers. This topic has been most prevalent in the field of game AI research, where games are used as a testbed for solving more complex real-world problems. One of the major issues with prior AI-assisted content creation methods for games has been a lack of direct comparability to real-world environments, particularly those with...[Show more] realistic physical properties to consider. Creating content for such environments typically requires physics-based reasoning, which imposes many additional complications and restrictions that must be considered. Addressing and developing methods that can deal with these physical constraints, even if they are only within simulated game environments, is an important and challenging task for AI techniques that intend to be used in real-world situations.
The research presented in this thesis describes several approaches to creating and analysing levels for the physics-based puzzle game Angry Birds, which features a realistic 2D environment. This research was multidisciplinary in nature and covers a wide variety of different AI fields, leading to this thesis being presented as a compilation of published work. The central part of this thesis consists of procedurally generating levels for physics-based games similar to those in Angry Birds. This predominantly involves creating and placing stable structures made up of many smaller blocks, as well as other level elements. Multiple approaches are presented, including both fully autonomous and human-AI collaborative methodologies. In addition, several analyses of Angry Birds levels were carried out using current state-of-the-art agents. A hyper-agent was developed that uses machine learning to estimate the performance of each agent in a portfolio for an unknown level, allowing it to select the one most likely to succeed. Agent performance on levels that contain deceptive or creative properties was also investigated, allowing determination of the current strengths and weaknesses of different AI techniques. The observed variability in performance across levels for different AI techniques led to the development of an adaptive level generation system, allowing for the dynamic creation of increasingly challenging levels over time based on agent performance analysis. An additional study also investigated the theoretical complexity of Angry Birds levels from a computational perspective.
While this research is predominately applied to video games with physics-based simulated environments, the challenges and problems solved by the proposed methods also have significant real-world potential and applications.
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