Case-Based Subgoaling in Real-Time Heuristic Search for Video Game Pathfinding

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Real-time heuristic search algorithms satisfy a constant bound on the amount of planning per action, independent of problem size. As a result, they scale up well as problems become larger. This property would make them well suited for video games where Artificial Intelligence controlled agents must react quickly to user commands and to other agents' actions. On the downside, real-time search algorithms employ learning methods that frequently lead to poor solution quality and cause the agent to appear irrational by re-visiting the same problem states repeatedly. The situation changed recently with a new algorithm, D LRTA*, which attempted to eliminate learning by automatically selecting subgoals. D LRTA* is well poised for video games, except it has a complex and memory-demanding pre-computation phase during which it builds a database of subgoals. In this paper, we propose a simpler and more memory-efficient way of pre-computing subgoals thereby eliminating the main obstacle to applying state-of-the-art real-time search methods in video games. The new algorithm solves a number of randomly chosen problems off-line, compresses the solutions into a series of subgoals and stores them in a database. When presented with a novel problem on-line, it queries the database for the most similar previously solved case and uses its subgoals to solve the problem. In the domain of pathfinding on four large video game maps, the new algorithm delivers solutions eight times better while using 57 times less memory and requiring 14% less pre-computation time.

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