The Sky House Design – Part 1

Hello Everyone!
In the following post, I will be describing my process in designing my latest game, “The Sky House“.

First of all, I would like to thank Joni Kittaka, Ben Benal, Michael Cook, Chris DiMauro, Michael Fewkes, and Fernando Silva for their feedback that helped in improving the overall game and making it more accessible and less evil :D.

I will divide this topic into three separate blog posts because “The Sky House” consists of 42 scenes which would take too much time to write and too much space for just one. This series of posts contains a lot of spoilers, so please play the game first before reading.


Different types of Tutorials

This blog post is the background section from our paper (I, Michael Green, Gabriella Barros, and Julian Togelius). The paper proposes the problem of tutorial generation for games, i.e. to generate tutorials which can teach players to play games, as an AI problem. The background of the paper talks about the history of tutorials and their different types. I hope this post will help developers and designers to design better tutorials for their games.

Tutorials are the first interactions players encounter in a game. They help players understand game rules and, ultimately, learn how to play with them. In the game industry, developers experimented with different tutorial formats [1]. In the arcade era, when most games were meant to be picked up and played quickly, they either had very simple mechanics, or they contained mechanics that players could relate to: “Press right to move”, “Press up to jump”, and so on. As a result, these games usually lacked a formal tutorial. As their complexity increased and home consoles started to explode in popularity, formal tutorials became more common.


Game Engines Galore

Hello everyone,

Before I start, I just want to say, this post is reflecting my own opinions about different game engine and it is not intended to be taken beyond that scope.

I had a chat with Dan (a friend of mine at the Game Innovation Lab) about how many new game developers don’t know a lot about different game engines. Once the discussion ended, he asked me to post about game engines, and rate them according to difficulty and complexity. Nowadays there are more game engines than in the early days of indiegame development. The funny thing is only a few of them are popular such as Unity, Unreal Engine, and Game Maker.


Different Time Systems

Hello everyone,
I attended IRDC last weekend. There was a talk by Brett Gildersleeve (the developer of Rogue Space Marine and Helix). The talk is called Real Time Synchronous Turn Systems in Roguelikes. It’s about analyzing the current turn base systems in Roguelike and comparing it to his game Rogue Space Marine. This talk inspired me to write about different systems and which games use which. His talk was astonishing but missing lots of ideas that can be done (It just covered the classic stuff). Here is the ideas about the systems:


IRDC NYC 2016 – Day 1

Hello everyone,
I went to the International Roguelike Developer Conference (IRDC 2016). It was fun, you can watch it on twitch and they are gonna stream tomorrow (link).

Here is the recap on the talks:

Markov Text Generation:
Caves of Quds text/books/tomes/realms/lore are generated using Markov Chain models. They use Markov Chain models to generate paragraphs (3 to 6 sentences) and books (4 to 8 paragraphs). Some other people do two direction Markov Chain instead of one direction Markov Chain. For book titles they used a template filling like Tracery but this technique is kinda limited so they replaced it by a generated sentence from Markov Chain models with limited length then shove off the unwanted words from the beginning and the end of the sentence. For hidden secrets in the book, he generate all the secrets first then he add them to the Markov Chain model. Also he told to check (The Annals of the Parrigues) by Emily Short.


GECCO16: General Video Game Level Generation

Hello everyone,
This is my talk in GECCO16 for our paper “General Video Game Level Generation“.

GVG-LG Framework GECCO.001

Hello everyone, I am Ahmed Khalifa a PhD student at NYU Tandon’s school of engineering and today I am gonna present my paper General Video Game Level Generation

GVG-LG Framework GECCO.002

We want to design a framework that allows people to develop general level generator for any game described in video game description language.

GVG-LG Framework GECCO.003

So what is level generation? It using computer algorithm to design levels for games. People in industry have been using it since very long time. At the beginning the reason due to technical difficulties but now to provide more content to user and it enables a new type of games. The problem with level generation is all the well known generators are designed for a specific game. So it depends on domain knowledge to make sure levels are as perfect as possible. Doing that for every new game seems a little exhaustive so we wanted to have on single algorithm that can be used on multiple games. In order to do that we need a way to describe the game for the generators.


IJCAI16 Talk: Modifying MCTS for Humanlike Video Game Playing

Hello everyone,
Ages since last post 😀 on Thursday July 14th I gave a talk about my paper “Modifying MCTS for Humanlike Video Game Playing” with Aaron Isaksen, Andy Nealen, and Julian Togelius at IJCAI16. Thanks to Aaron, he captured a video of my talk. Here is it:

Also we did a poster for the conference which looked amazing. Here is the poster:

Humanlike MCTS Poster.001

If the video is not clear, I am posting the slides here with my comments:

Humanlike MCTS New.001

Hello everyone, I am Ahmed Khalifa, PhD student at NYU Tandon’s School of Engineering. Today I am gonna talk about my paper “Modifying MCTS for Humanlike Video Game Playing”.


Super-W-Hack! Incubator Pitch

Hello everyone,
Today me and Gabriella gave a talk about Super-W-Hack for the incubator program. I felt it would be nice to share the talk with you people.

SuperWHack-Pitch.001 Hello everyone, I am Ahmed and this is Gabriella. We are PhD students at the game innovation lab here at NYU. We are going to talk today about our game Super-W-Hack!

Super-W-Hack! is a roguelike game with retro aesthetics as a tribute to the roguelike genre. Our game takes the procedural content generation (PCG) up to the next level. We use it to generate everything in the game.

Levels are procedurally generated, names, layouts, enemy distributions.

Player weapons: weapon pattern, names, sounds.


Video Game Description Language (VGDL) & General Video Game Playing Framework (GVG-AI)

This post is a presentation I did couple of weeks ago at Game Innovation Lab (GIL). It supposes to help people at the lab to understand VGDL and GVG-AI framework. I think that if we want VGDL to evolve, more people should know about it and use it. This evolution won’t happen without showing to people the power of GVG-AI Framework and VGDL. There is lots of development happening to improve the framework and language and making it more accessible to people (creating an Interactive Visual Editor with computer assist). The following paragraphs are my slides with a description for each slide.


Literature Review of PCG in Puzzle Games

Long time since posting (the usual me) but This post will be short and long at same time.

“How is that?” That’s easy, the post itself will be very short (just few words) but it will have an attached document (around 16 pages) which is the third chapter in my Master’s Thesis. This chapter is the literature review chapter (the third biggest chapter in my thesis) which I think one of the most entertaining chapters (to read obviously not to write :D).

“Why do I think its entertaining?” That’s also easy to reply, I combined lots of previous work about level and rule generation (look at the references), and a friend of mine enjoyed reading it and thought its the most entertaining chapter.