AAAI Publications, Seventh Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment Conference

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A Sparse Grid Representation for Dynamic Three-Dimensional Worlds
Nathan R. Sturtevant

Last modified: 2011-10-09

Abstract


Grid representations offer many advantages for path planning. Lookups in grids are fast, due to the uniform memory layout, and it is easy to modify grids. But, grids often have significant memory requirements, they cannot directly represent more complex surfaces, and path planning is slower due to their high granularity representation of the world. The speed of path planning on grids has been addressed using abstract representations, such as has been documented in work on Dragon Age: Origins. The abstract representation used in this game was compact, preventing permanent changes to the grid. In this paper we introduce a sparse grid representation, where grid cells are only stored where necessary. From this sparse representation we incrementally build an abstract graph which represents possible movement in the world at a high-level of granularity. This sparse representation also allows the representation of three-dimensional worlds. This representation allows the world to be incrementally changed in under a millisecond, reducing the maximum memory required to store a map and abstraction from Dragon Age: Origins by nearly one megabyte. Fundamentally, the representation allows previously allocated but unused memory to be used in ways that result in higher-quality planning and more intelligent agents.

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