Automatic Design of Balanced Board Games

Vincent Hom, Joe Marks

AI techniques are already widely used in game software to provide computer-controlled opponents for human players. However, game design is a more-challenging problem than game play. Designers typically expend great effort to ensure that their games are balanced and challenging. Dynamic game-balancing techniques have been developed to modify a game-engine’s parameters in response to user play. In this paper we describe a first attempt at using AI techniques to design balanced board games like checkers and Go by modifying the rules of the game, not just the rule parameters. Our approach involves the use of a commercial general game-playing (GGP) engine that plays according to rules that are specified in a general game-definition language. We use a genetic algorithm (GA) to search the space of game rules, looking for turn-based board games that are well balanced, i.e., those that the GGP engine in self-play finds equally hard to win from either side and rarely draws. The GA finds better games than a random-search strategy that uses equivalent computational effort.

Subjects: 1.4 Design 1.9 Genetic Algorithms

Submitted: Mar 29, 2007

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