Deep Mind on Starcraft 2: Competitive AI in Real-Time

What do you thinik of Blizzard’s collaboration with Google to developing sophisticated Starcraft 2 AI using Google’s Deep Mind?

I’m looking forward to it. I’m excited as hell. However I think they should try a version where they train it with the visuals on a 250ms delay, because unlike chess, this is a realtime game. Humans realistically operate with a delay between when something actually occurs, and when it reaches our brains. An AI playing a realtime game can frequently employ strategies that are not only better than human ones, but which are literally impossible for humans. My classic example is SFA Akuma, which will walk up to you, and if you press a button, shoryuken, if you block, throw, and if you shoryuken, block you and punish. It destroys the RPS loops that define the game. It’s effectively not even playing the same game arguably.

The AI in Starcraft itself is already way better than any human player (just way stupider), with up to 3000 APM depending on what it’s doing. It can operate every unit individually if it wants to, using units like Ghosts to hard counter mech builds with the lockdown ability fired from every ghost individually onto each individual unit, when in real starcraft, ghosts are practically useless because no human player can possibly micro like that.

You’ll notice that the lockdown ability didn’t return in starcraft 2 where ability units like the high templar are rigged to only have 1 unit cast the relevant ability when multiple of the same unit are selected, because it would have made the above tactic really really easy.

The point is, in realtime games, unlike turn based games like Go, computers are frequently able to beat humans in simple ways that don’t really reflect the way the game is normally played. A 250ms delay might produce something that looks more like optimal human play rather than play that is borderline rigged cheating.

Like, we want AI to beat us in playing roughly the same game we’re playing, ostensibly, but if you remove this human limitation, then it’s like you’re effectively playing poker without hiding your hand, not very interesting.

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