Artificial intelligence may have just achieved a new milestone today, as it presented a computer playing Mario competently enough to get a star. The demonstration took place in Super Mario 64, the first 3D Super Mario game. However, we might still be a long way off from robots playing video games.
The computer in question is owned by Kaze Emanuar, who has been experimenting with the game in various ways for several years. Kaze even fiddled with the camera to make a multiplayer version of the game before that was shut down by Nintendo. Now, he’s working with artificial intelligence so that we can see a computer playing Mario.
The work to get that far wasn’t easy; according to Kaze, the various intelligences had a great deal of difficulty navigating a 3D environment at first. However, once he fiddled with the coding and allowed the computers a bit more time to acclimate to their environment, the behavior of the computers changed noticeably.
One AI was able to adjust to the game fairly quickly and get a star in around fifteen minutes. However, Kaze believes that that was just a matter of luck; the same computer took three hours to get another star.
Previously, we’ve seen a computer play other Mario games like Mario Kart and Super Mario World, a 2D and very linear environment. The environments in Super Mario 64 may not look very polished in this day and age, but they are still a whole different ballgame for an AI to find its way through.
At the same time, however, the AI began to exhibit some forms of emergent behavior, that is figuring out things on its own. One, for instance, was able to discover that constantly jumping against a wall could help Mario achieve higher jumps. Another figured out the triple jump mechanic, which even many human players fail to utilize.
AI will likely keep advancing into the future, perhaps one day being good enough to play Mario more skillfully, but until then we’ll have to keep working on it.