Alternatively Intelligent?

This is a submission from TSA member, JamboGT and is going to be used in his research for Uni.

Artificial intelligence is a topic that covers all types of game. However, unsurprisingly for those that know me, I want to talk about artificial intelligence in racing games. I study computer programming and game design and am currently working on my final year project, a form of adaptive AI in a racing game.

When making a racing game, I feel that one thing that is very tricky for developers is balancing the AI opposition so that players of all ability can not only defeat the opposition but be able to have a compelling and exciting race with them. Some players may be much faster than others so what do the developers aim for? The players running perfect laps or the players who make the odd mistake and go a lot slower? For many games the answer to this problem has been a technique known as rubber-banding.

For those of you that don’t know, rubber-banding is a method that artificially increases or decreases the performance of the AI opposition dynamically in order to match that of the player. This may be done by increasing the speed and acceleration of the AI, increasing the grip level of the AI or, in weapons-based games like Mario Kart, a better chance of picking up a good weapon.

Rubber-banding, for some games, is a great solution. It keeps the race close the whole way until the chequered flag. Would Mario Kart be Mario Kart without Luigi having a run at you on the final lap?! Burnout wouldn’t keep the same thrill until you crossed the line if the AI wasn’t using rubber-banding to catch up following a crash or a great burnout by the player. However, while this may keep the excitement levels up, there is always the feeling that the AI have been cheating, that the game is skewed unfairly against the player.

Sim games, such as Forza and Gran Turismo, tend not to use rubber-banding. GT has a difficulty that scales as the player levels up and Forza has a difficulty setting. There is no adapting of the AI as you race. This may lead to a “purer” race but also has its own problems. Namely, finding a skill level relative to that of the player. To put it simply: some people are good at racing games, some people aren’t, yet the AI has to race against a wide spectrum of abilities. This means that for some players they are far too fast and for some ridiculously slow.

For my final year project I decided to try to find a solution to this problem. To find a type of AI that can adapt to different players’ abilities dynamically yet not do it in a way that seems unfair to the player. A basic explanation is a system that tracks the players’ performance over a series of races and laps and then, over time, adjusts the AI to be able to provide a competitive opponent.

To do this, I need your help. Just down there is a link to a questionnaire (a very quick and painless questionnaire!) that I will be using to aid my research, the more data I have, the better my research so please take the time to fill it out.

Please click here to take the questionnaire!



  1. Survey dunt werk for me :( will try when i get home

    • I used a phone friendly layout to try to keep it simple. Hope it works when you get home!

  2. great questionaire, all filled in,

    if im honest the AI on GT5 is perfect, but on the likes on Blur and Motorstorm PR the rubber banding is very annoyiing

  3. Survey done.

    My main gripe with Racing AI isn’t so much the relative pace of the AI to you but more that the AI often doesn’t feel realistic enough (if that makes sense). In GT5 the AI cars aren’t on rails like they were in previous games but it hasn’t improved too much and they will often steer into you if you are on the racing line.

    I want them to react better to what you (and other AI) are doing so if you go down the inside they take the high and wide route for better traction out of the corner for example. Too many games have this or similar problems. If a car is behind me I want to feel like they are plotting a way to get past me and not just running into me.

    • This is something I will touch on in my write up but the scope of something like this is so huge it would be unrealistic for me to attempt it in my project.

      I do think an AI that reacts better is a good thing though.

  4. Filled one out Jambo. Looks like getting up in the early hours paid off. More hard work to come though by the looks. Good luck with it all.

    • Thanks man, I have a game built as such, I just need the AI going round properly now!

  5. Filled in! I didn’t quite understand how to answer the comparable challenge question and also was very unsure whether a game that adapts would be good or bad cus it could make the AI harder which is something I never like, but if it made the GT5 Time Trial times slower that’d be BRILLIANT! Lol

    • Some of those times are ridiculously good!

  6. Done. Although one question I had trouble answering was “Do you find the GT5 AI fair?” I find it far too easy, so it’s unfair, in the sense there is no challenge, however, they aren’t unfair in the sense they cheaply over take you on the last corner, as is the case in split second etc… I selected the centre option btw.

    • Just had a thought, that’s more to do with being able to overpower the AI very easily, thus you just end up running around the track solo, aside from the first few corners.

      • Yeah I think that a big problem is the lack of restriction in events. Saying that I would like the ai to put up more of a fight in gt.

  7. Done. Hope it helps.

  8. Rubber banding needs to die in a fire.

    Let me be bad or let me be good but don’t “manage the experience” for me by rubber banding. If I’m good I should breeze through the start of a career then come up against a limit.

    Some people are just crap drivers, don’t spoil it for everyone by adding rubber banding for inclusiveness.

    Mario Kart is obviously the worst but I was massively turned off Motorstorm Apocalypse from the heinous rubberbanding in the demo. First race, finish in like 3:45, finish 4th, spread in times about 12 seconds
    Second race, exact same set up, finish in 3:20, finish 7th, spread in times about 10 seconds.

    Seriously devs need to stop

    Anyway, I’ve done the questionnaire.

    • Mario Kart does use it extensively but I do think in some games it is a good solution!

  9. Done. Good luck with your research pal.

  10. would’ve helped, but as you were rude/arrogant enough to not ans the 2psn msgs i sent before i del you way back, im relucant to waste anymore of my time on you.
    keep up the status recognition threads. eg post what gt5 already tells you every update.

    • Seems like you who with the attitude problem if i’m honest. There could have number any number of reason why Jambo didn’t or couldn’t reply to your messages and just because he didn’t doesn’t mean you can’t still help him out. And in terms of status recognition threads, if CB or the editors didn’t see them as appropriate then they wouldn’t have been posted.

      • *no need for the ‘who’ reading it back and there should be an ‘s’ on reasons. Oh well, point made anyway

      • i never said he had an attitube, i said he was rude.
        dont have a cow, kinda impossible as your a sheep.

      • Meh, well not helping a guy out just because he didn’t answer two psn messages seems a bit harsh.

      • “Meh, well not helping a guy out just because he didn’t answer two psn messages seems a bit harsh.”
        ironically the 2 msgs were for something i needed help & advice on.

    • Steady on, fella. You’re assuming one helluva lot there. Also, strange place to bring this up. Wouldn’t it be better handled privately or in the forum? Weird.

      • forum not ps3 browser friendly, pc friendly.

      • Really. That’s a bit pathetic.

    • Sorry I offended you in anyway, must have missed the messages.

      also to be honest I post these things in the gt5 forum just to try and be helpful. status has nothing to do with it.

    • E8_BALL that’s not how this community works.

      And I find Jambo’s GT update threads most useful. Shame you don’t.

      • i see exactly how it works… clicky
        the possible initial cause for my build up of frustration.

        well u can go & ban my ip now i guess , im sure the forum will be a more tranquill place without me.

    • Sometimes messages slip through the cracks. If he’d turned around and insulted you, then yeah, calling him rude would have been much more valid, but not replying to a couple of PSN messages? That’d be like blowing a whistle for offside then yellow carding the player a second later cos he didn’t realise you’d blown!

      Jambo’s been nothing but a stand up guy the entire time I’ve known him from TSA.

    • Slightly harsh there. I find Jambo has lots of time for the people at TSA, and always been happy to help out people, maybe PSN isn’t the right place to do it.

    • I reply to like 5% of my PSN messages, usually because I’ve had notification switched off and don’t see it for a week.
      Seriously, dude, nobody is going to lynch you for having a hissy fit but it does seem a little misdirected and abrupt. We all have our off days but it seems to me that you’re basically saying “I asked him to help me out with something and he didn’t get back me. I can’t believe he’s such a dick for not just doing what I needed.” and having a rant at someone for that just seems a little, well, unreasonable.
      Each to their own though, I hope you got whatever it was sorted ;)

      • I don’t read any. Not one. Wish I could switch them off.

      • I’ll make a note, to not annoy you with messages on PSN.

      • If I’m in an online meeting I’ll usually comment above my avatar on the XMB words to that effect and switch to the orange dot…not available indicator, but some people still message with questions, followed by a “????” if you don’t reply within a minute. WTF is that all about?

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