Jess Colwill, November 28, 2016

Blizzard Teams Up With DeepMind To Create StarCraft-Playing AI

Blizzard recently announced that they will be teaming up with leading AI research company DeepMind to create an AI capable of beating the world’s best StarCraft II players.

Earlier in the year, AlphaGo (a Go-playing AI) beat the world’s top Go player. However, while being able to beat a skilled human player at Go seems like a reasonable proof of concept, what does DeepMind hope to gain from teaching an AI to play StarCraft II?

As with everything DeepMind works on, it is with an eye on developing “programs that can learn to solve any complex problem without needing to be taught how.” The resource management, economy, and strategy required in StarCraft II reflect real-world hurdles.

StarCraft is an interesting testing environment for current AI research because it provides a useful bridge to the messiness of the real world,” Research scientist, Oriol Vinyals explained. “The skills required for an agent to progress through the environment and play StarCraft well could ultimately transfer to real-world tasks.”

Blizzard will be creating an environment in which anyonehobbyist or researchercan access and provide feedback. For those of you who are more technically-minded, you can view the API Blizzard has considered for the Q1 2017 launch and post your feedback directly to the forums.

If you’re not technically-minded but still want to get involved, don’t fret! Even the simple act of playing ranked matches on the ladder will help provide replays and data the AIs can use to understand StarCraft II.

“We’re really excited to see where our collaboration with Blizzard will take us. While we’re still a long way from being able to challenge a professional human player at the game of StarCraft II, we hope that the work we have done with Blizzard will serve as a useful testing platform for the wider AI research community.“

Jess Colwill

Jess is a writer and dog-lover from the eastern coast of Australia, who loves playing games (particularly anything by BioWare), listening to metal, baking, and fostering rescue dogs while they wait for new homes. You can find her on Twitter at @notsocryptic.