Category: GSOC 2009


Early Refactor Success

Permalink 20:36:40, Categories: GSOC 2009  

Hello CrystalSpace,
This weeks work has been focussed on completing the factoring out of my first reward (debugprint.) This work took significantly longer than initially expected, but I believe that I have learnt a lot from the experience and am confident that the process of factoring out the remaining rewards will be trivial.

I am now putting together a test program that makes use of all rewards, so that I can test the new implementation of each. This program will later serve as the basis of the quest tutorial. From my work with the system I believe there is a firm need for a singular collated example of all rewards and triggers to increase the community's usage of this feature and look forward to providing this.

Finally, I will be posting shortly after this post a formalised list of deliverables. My current progress is behind the initial deadlines set out in my project proposal. At the time I underestimated that time I needed to become familiar with the CS/CEL architecture. However, I believe that I have also overestimated the time needed to implement a behaviour tree. Therefore, I am still confident that all of the promised deliverables will be accomplished in the timeframe of the GSoC program. In addition, a number of other requests have been made for modifications to quest that I hope to cover once the promised refactor and BT implementation is completed. My intention for this post is to update it periodically to show my progress.

That is all for this week, as always please feel free to contact me if you have any suggestions, queries or complaints.

Kind Regards, Sam


Coding Has Begun

Permalink 14:16:19, Categories: GSOC 2009  

Hello CrystalSpace,
My minor projects late last week and this weekend have come to an end succesfully. I now feel comfortable working with the SCF, Quests and smart pointers. Thank you to everyone on the mailing lists and irc channel that have helped me overcome this initial hurdle.

I have now begun coding the deliverables promised and have made a start on factoring the reward debug message out of quests. My cel workspace now contains a new project plgrewards that compiles a dll containing plugins for each of the rewards and I intend to create something similar for the triggers shortly. I have a busy weekend ahead of me but believe that significant progress will be made on the refactor over the next week / week and a half.

I also intend to publish a formalised list of deliverables with estimated deadlines. I believe there is some way to publish to the blog so that this list will remain as the top post, if so I will periodically update that post to announce deliverables submitted and to show my progress.

As always please feel free to question, poke or criticise me either openly here, in irc, the mailing list or privately by email. I appreciate any and all input on this project.

Kind Regards, Sam


Exams Over

Permalink 12:02:23, Categories: GSOC 2009  

Hello CrystalSpace,
So my exams finished on Friday past and I am now fully committed to the project. My work since then has focussed on reading, I have consumed everything I can find relevant to my project in the hope of solidifying my understanding of CS and CEL before I begin coding.

For anyone following my progress that is concerned about the issues I was having with merging with trunk and the black screen on walktut. These difficulties have been overcome. The merging problem was solved by using instead of the windows executable provided by the same group. The black screen problems were then solved, with a correct merge to trunk, a fresh checkout of CrystalSpace and the latest (14.02) precompiled version of cswin32libs.

My intention over the next couple of days is to code a few minor self projects, to ensure I fully understand the SCF and current implementation of Quests.

Finally, as some of you will have noticed I have started to lurk on the irc channel whilst working. So if anyone has any questions or suggestions, please feel free to harass me on there. I am still fairly new to irc and not generally used to having message clients running, so I apologise if I am slow to reply but will be very grateful for your input.

Until Next Week, Sam


Preliminary Work

Permalink 15:23:54, Categories: GSOC 2009  

Hello CrystalSpace Community,
As many of you will know the GSoC 2009 coding period has officially begun and whilst, due to my final exam commitments, I am unable to start full time just yet I have begun some preliminary work on formalising the deliverables for the Quest refactor and setting up my working environment from the CrystalSpace SVN trunk and my assigned CEL branch.

It is my intention to make this blog a weekly update, starting today and continuing every Wednesday throughout the development period to keep the community up to date with the work I am doing.

For now, if anyone has any comments on the existing Quest implementation be they positive or negative please contribute to the CEL mailing list conversation [Cel-main] Quest Refactor . The biggest current issue is to wether we should factor out sequences and instead implement them with a standardised start-finish protocol. Any opinions or comments on this suggestion are greatly appreciated.

I look forward to debating these issues further.


GSOC 2009 Project Proposal

Permalink 13:52:11, Categories: GSOC 2009  

Hello CrystalSpace Community,
I am one of the students taking part in this years Google Summer of Code and am planning to work on a refactoring of the CEL Quest system and implementation of a behaviour tree property class starting on June 1st and working through to the middle of August.

Some of you will know me from my previous discussion of this project during the proposal stages of the programme in the CEL mailing list. During that time a number of other AI related issues were raised and, assuming the success of this project, I still aim to develop some of those ideas further in the future after the GSoC programme closes in August. If anyone would like to discuss AI within CrystalSpace please do not hesitate to email me, irc or comment on this blog, I am very keen to make a continued and succesful effort on this specific aspect of the CEL project.

In a number of recent emails to the GSoC mailing list it has been identified that, for those who were unsuccesful in applying this year, it would be useful if succesful proposals were made available online and so I have attached (a slightly shortened version of) mine below. Partly to aid those applying next year but also to introduce myself and my intentions to those unfamiliar with my project proposal.

I look forward to working with you all and hope to have some more active discussion regarding this project very soon.



About Me.
My name is Sam Devlin, I am a fifth year computer scientist student about to be awarded a first class MEng in Computer Systems in Software Engineering and beginning a PhD in Reinforcement Learning in October. I have a fond interest in game AI and am looking for a project where I can exert a continuous effort in practical AI throughout my time researching theoretical AI.

I have no current experience working on open-source projects but am keen to learn about this field hence my application to GSoC. I do however have over a years industry experience working on a range of projects for BAE System's. Development during this time was predominantly with C++ using MSVC++.

I have also completed two internships during my undergraduate degree, one of which was within the challenging environment of a major investment bank. The most relevant of which, however, was within the computer science department at the University of York, UK. During this time I worked with a large commercial API to implement modifications, again in C++, to a military simulator. I also gained working experience with Python in the automation of a number of minor tasks.

I am familiar with the OpenGL API having worked with it both during a computer graphics module of my course and in the development of a project for BAE Systems. My experience in AI, however, is more substantial, having focussed a large number of my module choices into this area. I have always excelled in these subjects and as a result was selected to perform my final year project within the AI group. This project involved the use of reinforcement learning under partial observability to make agents play the soccer subgame keepaway. The successful results of my research have been submitted to the IAT'09 conference and have helped me land a DTA scholarship for my PhD research.

My Project Proposal.
Given the current complications and issues with the Quest system (Highlighted at Quest Improvement Proposals, Quest Editor-See Bottom Of Page and my recent discussions on the CEL mailing list.) A number of ideas have been discussed as beneficial to the project and a refactor suggested that removes triggers and rewards from the Quest system and makes them standard property classes available throughout CEL.

In doing this future systems can be designed to take advantage of these powerful tools. An example of this that I propose to implement is behavior trees. Behavior Trees provide similar functionality to FSMs but are considered more intuitive, and make logic more reusable. (For a more detailed argument of Behavior Trees please see: A Behavior Tree Overview)

It has also been argued repeatedly that FSMs are becoming obsolete in industry (For example: FSM Age is Over). If you agree or not, it is important that CS/CEL provide tools for all developers. For those wishing to stick with FSMs the refactored Quest system will be available, and for those who have moved on to behavior trees the new implementation will be available. By implementing Behavior Trees and providing detailed documentation and tutorials it is my hope that the CEL community will begin to explore and develop this technology that is rapidly becoming the industry standard.

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