Although the system does make some additional demands on the user’s computer, McCoy says that they’re negligible compared with all the processing that goes into most massively multiplayer games. “In most games–even the large-scale ones–your own computer is only actually responsible for one entity: your own avatar,” McCoy says. “Because you’re only controlling one avatar, the neural networks only have to run for that one avatar.”Katchabaw says that the approach adopted by the Maynooth researchers could help make online games more consistent. He adds that dead reckoning was originally developed for military simulations, and, as a result, it and techniques related to it tend to work best for actions such as movement and shooting, and less well for actions such as interacting with objects or with other players.
Smooth shooter: Researchers at the National University of Ireland tested their neural network on a game, shown above, that they designed using the torque game engine.
Credit: Aaron McCoy, National University of Ireland
Tomas Ward, a senior lecturer in the electrical-engineering department of the National University of Ireland, who also participated in the research, says that the software the team is working on will be particularly aimed at improving the consistency of a user’s experience and will incorporate additional research the group has done on controlling the amount of traffic transmitted between participants in networked games. “Our code will look after that entity or that player over the network and make sure that everybody’s view of that player or that object over the whole session doesn’t stray too far from an accepted state,” he says. Ward says that the team expects to launch the software in beta in summer 2008.