Dr. Umair Azfar Khan’s work makes games more ‘realistic’ by helping create non-playable game characters that closely represent the ethno-cultural make-up of different societies
HABIB UNIVERSITY, February 9: A paper authored by Habib University’s Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Dr. Umair Azfar Khan, has been included in the respected Springer’s Encyclopedia of Computer Graphics and Games.
Dr. Khan’s paper, titled ‘Genetic Algorithm (GA)-Based NPC Making’, deals with how games can generate large populations of non-playable characters (NPCs, the ‘extras’ of video games) based on social, ethnic and cultural considerations. Learning from users’ input on the physical and mental features of the different kind of people they normally encounter in their society, Dr. Khan’s algorithm is able to generate a population of unique characters that conform to those preferences.
With the potential to considerably enhance the depth of detail in computer games, Dr. Khan’s work makes games infinitely more enjoyable for gamers looking for an experience that mimics the world around them. While discussing his work, Dr. Khan explained how the algorithm he has developed can help developers create, for example, entire populations of game characters that look and behave like Pakistanis for a role-playing game set in Pakistan.
Dr. Khan has been passionate about computer games since the first personal computers were introduced for the mass market. His interest led him to study computer science, and his research has taken him through the field of software engineering and design, and to applying graph theory techniques for artificially intelligent decision-making through planning graphs.
Dr. Khan’s current research interests lie in the field of artificial intelligence and planning graphs. With the help of planning graphs, all the possible outcomes in a contained environment can be mapped. When a decision is required, the computer can select different outcomes based on a series of actions and the current state of the environment. Such planning graphs are a fundamental part of Dr. Khan’s research on the generation of unique NPCs.
At Habib University, Dr. Khan aims to make game development easy enough so that anyone can make games. With the University’s emphasis on social sciences, he will also aim to make games that are not only fun to play, but also cover important social issues to spread awareness.