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Blizzard is opening up StarCraft 2 to an entirely new batch of players: AI

Competition just got way tougher

starcraft 2 Blizzard Entertainment

Inspired by Google DeepMind’s success with the creation of AlphaGo earlier this year — an AI machine capable of playing the ancient game Go to an expert level — Blizzard is looking to expand the player base for its real-time strategy (RTS) game, StarCraft 2.

Blizzard Entertainment president Mike Morhaime announced during BlizzCon 2016’s keynote presentation that the company is teaming up with DeepMind to make StarCraft 2 available to some of the most advanced AI players. The goal is to test the limits of modern artificial intelligence by seeing if it can learn to play a complex game that takes quick thinking like StarCraft 2.

StarCraft 2 is both visually challenging, oftentimes leaving players without the ability to see what their opponents are doing, and relies heavily on cunning gameplay. Allowing AI machines the ability to try and learn to play — and master — the game will be the next step in seeing if artificial intelligence can mirror human intelligence.

Researchers interested in using the RTS game to test how AI responds to it will be able to do so early next year. Blizzard is working on modifications for the game that will allow researchers to build systems specifically for the purpose of learning to play StarCraft 2. Those modifications are expected to be ready for release sometime within the first quarter.

During the keynote presentation, Blizzard confirmed that the game will be getting new co-op missions and co-op commander. The company also said that the third and final Nova missions set would be available to play as of Nov. 22.

BlizzCon will run from Friday Nov. 4 through Saturday Nov. 5. In order to watch panels, esports events and interviews, fans have to purchase a Virtual Ticket through Blizzard’s website. Polygon will be on the ground in Anaheim, California to cover the conference.

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