Much of this quarter has been following up project work that was initiated in the previous quarter. However since then we also have had new work with Asylum Entertainment UK Ltd, White Park Bay and Unbalance. Add to this that significant time has been spent in new project proposals, so at the moment our agenda looks fairly full for 2007.
However one new activity has come to the fore. One of the most popular games at the moment is Poker, and in particular, Texas Holdem. This is a game project that was in preparation some time ago, but the created framework had been frozen while other demanding projects took priority. It is clear from the last year, that this has been our most requested product , and so has now been kicked into gear and is rolling. Poker is a surprising game. If assessed purely in terms of statistical analytical play, then this is not a difficult game. However any seasoned professional player would quickly point out that this is a game of substantial depth. If it were not, we would not see the wide graduation of human player ranking that exists. Of course the skill is in betting and bluffing, and any player who does not have a well-practiced grasp of this would be unwise to step into any professional match with any money at stake!
As a project for AI Factory, Poker is well suited to our engineering. We already have a mature framework for processing card game probabilities and all the mechanics for card play are well established. Add to this our testbed architecture which makes play testing very easy and is well suited for statistical analysis. To boost this activity we have in-house practiced Poker players, so this is in no way an onerous project to pursue!
The clock is ticking down on the coming World Computer Shogi Championship near Tokyo in May 2007, where we will be competing. This requires some preparation and is running in parallel with work with Rubicon Mobile. who are completing an Xbox live Arcade Shogi product with us. This will be a lavish product making strong use of its powerful 3D capabilities. Poker is still the top requested game engine, but Shogi runs a close second. In terms of game complexity it is harder than Poker and, to date, is a game that humans still clearly rule, placing it above Chess but behind Go (Wei-Chi) in terms of its intellectual challenge.