New And Surprising Ways to Be Mean: Adversarial NPCs with Coupled Empowerment Minimisation

Guckelsberger, Christian; Salge, Christoph and Togelius, Julian. 2018. 'New And Surprising Ways to Be Mean: Adversarial NPCs with Coupled Empowerment Minimisation'. In: Computational Intelligence and Games. Maastricht, Netherlands 14-17 August 2018. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

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.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


Games, Computational Intelligence, Adversarial NPCs, Coupled Empowerment Minimisation

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



30 April 2018Accepted
14 August 2018Published

Event Location:

Maastricht, Netherlands

Date range:

14-17 August 2018

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

12 Jun 2018 13:52

Last Modified:

10 Jun 2021 12:46


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