Nvidia AI can clone PAC-MAN without a single line of code

Ruben Fields
May 26, 2020

"Born on May 22, 1980, PAC-MAN immediately rose to meteoric popularity, first in video game arcades, then through an array of branding and entertainment appearances", the official Pac-Man website stated. A team of Nvidia researchers trained an AI system to recreate the game "Pac-Man" from scratch. Observation allows you to learn the basic rules of the game to follow in your recreations. A GAN-based model is comprised of two competing neural networks, a generator and a discriminator. It is the first neural network model capable of imitating a video game without an underlying game engine, only from the observation of the games. Unfortunately, "the AI agent was so good at the game that it hardly ever died". GameGAN can even generate game layouts it's never seen before, if trained on screenplays from games with multiple levels or versions.

The most logical assumption is that the tool was developed by integrating deep knowledge about the engine of other games. In fact, there's no downloading necessary and people can play directly on the Pac-Man Twitch channel when it goes live.

For instance, developers could input their work into the AI algorithm and use it to create variations or even new levels.

Unbelievable stuff. Oh, and happy 40th Pac-Man! Much like learning the rules by peering over your older brother's shoulder as he played, GameGAN figured out Pac-Man based exclusively through watching the onscreen action and following the controller inputs as a separate AI played the game. Twitch is getting its own built-in Pac-Man game, and we don't just mean the 1980 version. GameGAN is an AI model which was used to recreate the game without understanding the game's fundamental rules.

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"What this can help with is, we can have the GAN just learn what all of those rules are by observing", he continued. Game developers can use the GameGAN concept to experiment with new ideas, Nvidia said.

With data from BANDAI NAMCO Research, Kim and his collaborators at the NVIDIA AI Research Lab in Toronto usedNVIDIA DGX systemsto train the neural networks on the PAC-MAN episodes (a few million frames, in total) paired with data on the keystrokes of an AI agent playing the game. In the real version of "Pac-Man", each ghost acts differently and moves according to its programmed behaviors.

An AI that can learn virtual world rules simply by watching things in action is also a marker for programming robots. Just like in the original game, PAC-MAN can't walk through the maze walls.

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