Achieving Goals Quickly Using Real-time Search: Experimental Results in Video Games

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Abstract

In real-time domains such as video games, planning happens concurrently with execution and the planning algorithm has a strictly bounded amount of time before it must return the next action for the agent to execute. We explore the use of real-time heuristic search in two benchmark domains inspired by video games. Unlike classic benchmarks such as grid pathfinding and the sliding tile puzzle, these new domains feature exogenous change and directed state space graphs. We consider the setting in which planning and acting are concurrent and we use the natural objective of minimizing goal achievement time. Using both the classic benchmarks and the new domains, we investigate several enhancements to a leading real-time search algorithm, LSS-LRTA*. We show experimentally that 1) it is better to plan after each action or to use a dynamically sized lookahead, 2) A*-based lookahead can cause undesirable actions to be selected, and 3) on-line de-biasing of the heuristic can lead to improved performance. We hope this work encourages future research on applying real-time search in dynamic domains.

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