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New And Surprising Ways to Be Mean. Adversarial NPCs with Coupled Empowerment Minimisation

by   Christian Guckelsberger, et al.

Creating Non-Player Characters (NPCs) that can react robustly to unforeseen player behaviour or novel game content is difficult and time-consuming. This hinders the design of believable characters, and the inclusion of NPCs in games that rely heavily on procedural content generation. We have previously addressed this challenge by means of empowerment, a model of intrinsic motivation, and demonstrated how a coupled empowerment maximisation (CEM) policy can yield generic, companion-like behaviour. In this paper, we extend the CEM framework with a minimisation policy to give rise to adversarial behaviour. We conduct a qualitative, exploratory study in a dungeon-crawler game, demonstrating that CEM can exploit the affordances of different content facets in adaptive adversarial behaviour without modifications to the policy. Changes to the level design, underlying mechanics and our character's actions do not threaten our NPC's robustness, but yield new and surprising ways to be mean.


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