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Inside F.E.A.R. 2's Engine and AI 34

Gamasutra sat down with software engineers from Monolith Productions to discuss the technology behind F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, due out in February. They provide insight into the development of the game's engine, and they discuss the goals and procedures behind creating entertaining AI. Quoting: "For instance, let's say that the AI wanted to kill the enemy. That would mean that there are a whole bunch of actions that satisfy the requirement for there being a dead enemy; let's say, 'Attack with ranged weapon,' right? ... Where the power comes from is the fact that those actions themselves can have conditions that they need to have met. So, 'attack with ranged weapon' may have conditions that say, 'I have to have a weapon, and I have to have it loaded. Go find me more actions that satisfy those requirements.' ... at that point, he may find another action, which is 'go to this weapon,' and then he may find another action which is 'reload your weapon.' So, that whole chain that I just described to you, of him doing three things in a row — which is going to pick up a weapon, loading a weapon, and then going to attack the player — that was not a directed thing that the level designer, nor that the AI engineer had to program; it was just the fact that we have these aggregate actions that the planner can pick from at will.

Submission + - Parts of the galactic halo rotate "backwards&# (space.com)

xPsi writes: "Using data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, researchers have recently discovered that the galactic halo has two distinct components which rotate in opposite directions. From the article 'The main galactic disk, home to our sun, rotates at an average speed of 500,000 mph. Surrounding the disk is what's now called the inner halo. It orbits in the same direction at about 50,000 mph. The outer halo, a sparsely populated region, spins in the opposite direction at roughly 100,000 mph.' This discovery provides some insight into how galaxies, ours in particular, are formed."

Submission + - HiRes Scan of 'Mona Lisa' Reveals Its History

daevux writes: CNN reports that French engineer Pascal Cotte has discovered interesting details of the history of Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" from a 240 megapixel scan of the artwork. Among the findings are the disappearance of eyebrows and eyelashes probably due to poor cleaning, and differences in skin tones.
United States

Submission + - Habeas Corpus is GONE (senate.gov) 2

Khyber writes: "In a vote of 56 yeas to 43 nays, with one abstaining, the Cloture Motion to restore Habeas Corpus has been halted, with a 3/5 majority vote unable to be attained. Article 6 states their oath to uphold the constitution, Article 4 states that habeas corpus shall not be suspended unless in cases of rebellion and invasion when the public safety may require it. It's becoming a very dark age, indeed."
The Internet

Submission + - Who's (still) wasting your bandwidth? (royalmail.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Using the Royal Mail price finder on behalf of an ebay customer today, I noticed the layout of the HTML was poor (probably because it's formatted to work on IE only — yes, I've asked them to fix it). Unable to let any problem lie I took a look at the source and was appalled to see how much redundant whitespace was being served with the page. After 10 minutes tidying it up I discovered that where it might reasonably serve 12k of HTML data it was actually serving up 20k. Around 8,000 pointless bytes are being transmitted every time someone wants to price something up with Royal Mail. When we all used dial-up the issue was page latency; with broadband it's one of download limits. Luckily my ISP doesn't impose one and 8k is not exactly a hill of beans in these gigabyte times, but can anyone beat 40% wastage?

Submission + - Windows XP Thumb Drive Edition Is Real (osweekly.com)

An anonymous reader writes: OSWeekly.com's Matt Hartley has discovered a real, working version of Windows XP Thumb Edition. He comments: "While a proof-of-concept has been perpetuated without Microsoft's content, the instructions are fuzzy, and trying to install this would certainly be a clear violation of existing US law, but my sources have indicated this to be the real deal — you can install Windows XP onto a USB drive as described above. Why hasn't Microsoft bothered to create such a thing themselves? It could be the belief that they do not see the cost/benefit value for offering a bootable USB OS despite the immense success of such a thing with Linux.

A fanatic is a person who can't change his mind and won't change the subject. - Winston Churchill