New and Surprising Ways to Be Mean

Christian Guckelsberger, Christoph Salge, Julian Togelius

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

4 Citations (Scopus)


Creating Non-Player Characters (NPCs) that can react robustly to unforeseen player behaviour or novel game content is difficult and time-consuming. This hinders the design of believable characters, and the inclusion of NPCs in games that rely heavily on procedural content generation. We have previously addressed this challenge by means of empowerment, a model of intrinsic motivation, and demonstrated how a coupled empowerment maximisation (CEM) policy can yield generic, companion-like behaviour. In this paper, we extend the CEM framework with a minimisation policy to give rise to adversarial behaviour. We conduct a qualitative, exploratory study in a dungeon-crawler game, demonstrating that CEM can exploit the affordances of different content facets in adaptive adversarial behaviour without modifications to the policy. Changes to the level design, underlying mechanics and our character's actions do not threaten our NPC's robustness, but yield new and surprising ways to be mean.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2018 IEEE Conference on Computational Intelligence and Games, CIG 2018
PublisherIEEE Computer Society
ISBN (Electronic)9781538643594
Publication statusPublished - 11 Oct 2018
Event14th IEEE Conference on Computational Intelligence and Games, CIG 2018 - Maastricht, Netherlands
Duration: 14 Aug 201817 Aug 2018


Conference14th IEEE Conference on Computational Intelligence and Games, CIG 2018


  • Adversaries
  • Coupled Empowerment Maximisation
  • Intrinsic Motivation
  • Non-Player Characters


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