The link at the bottom of this story will take you to Space Station Invaders, a game designed by an AI system called Angelina.
Created by Michael Cook, a computer scientist at Imperial College London, Angelina iteratively designs games using a technique dubbed co-operative evolution, as reported by New Scientist. The AI separately builds aspects, or species, of a game – selected from a list of enemies, power-ups and level architecture – then combines the element before simulating a human player's progress through it.
Levels that are initially hard to complete but become easier through the use of power-ups will be identified as successful, while levels that offer no sense of progress or are outright impossible will be rejected. The most successful species are then cross-bred and the process repeated for around 400 generations.
While Cook currently has to provide Angelina with graphics and sound effects to use, level design and enemy placement is entirely automated. One example of the nuance that is possible is a level which requires you to reach some platforms directly above you. A jumping power-up provides a little extra reach, but not quite enough, necessitating a different route through the level. It's almost as if Angelina has a sense of humour.
"That was a very precise design of those power-ups to make sure the player couldn't get up too easily to the exit," says Cook, before adding, "In theory there is nothing to stop an artist sitting down with Angelina, creating a game every 12 hours and feeding that into the Apple App Store."
Nightmare vision though that may be, Cook hopes Angelina will be a "positive force" for designers, providing a design or testing aid rather than a crutch. Click the link below to try Angelina's effort for yourself.