Intelligent Tutoring Systems for Commercial Games: The Virtual Combat Training Center Tutor and Simulation

William R. Murray

Game manuals and tutorial scenarios are insufficient for new players to learn games of deep complexity such as highly realistic tactical simulations of modern battlefields. Adding post-game after-action reviews improves the situation, but these typically do not provide guidance during the mission and tend to focus on quantitative feedback, rather than specifics about what the player did wrong and how to improve. Intelligent tutoring system (ITS) technology provides a higher level of interactivity and a more specific qualitative analysis to guide players during game play. This use of an AI technology is demonstrated with the integration of an ITS component with the tactical simulation Armored Task Force (ATF) resulting in a combined system called the the Virtual Combat Training Center (V-CTC). V-CTC simulates the Army’s combat training center at Fort Irwin and its instructors, called observer / controllers. The ATF game itself was modified to send an event stream over TCP-IP sockets to the ITS component, which interprets the events and acts accordingly. V-CTC was originally intended for a military context: either classroom use, field instruction, or embedded deployment. However, in non-military games, tutors (or non-player characters acting in that role) may well enhance the gaming experience of players. Such players might otherwise become frustrated with learning very challenging games, or simply fail to appreciate the tactical possibilities and depth of strategy possible in a well-designed game.

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