Using StarCraft II for AI Research

1 minute read

Building a neural network that does things other than linear regression, MDP or identifying cats in images is apparently non-trivial. Not because of the complexities of the AI/DL/RL subject matter, but because working with raw datasets is atrociously boring. After the books and blogs with their examples, whats next to apply a neural network to? Games. 😎

For me, the following were candidates but each have been a challenge to get up and running either because of unsupported platforms, blocking bugs or just too complicated:

Then I found StarCraft II and AlphaStar. In 2016, DeepMind and Blizzard teamed up to make StarCraft 2 an AI research platform. See this Youtube video showing DeepMind’s AlphaStar play SC2 tournament pros.

Installation is a breeze:

  1. Install Battle.net & StarCraft II (the free version)
  2. pip install pysc2
  3. python -m pysc2.bin.agent --map Simple64

And you get a running agent and a special dashboard for monitoring:

The ease and simplicity of getting this all working and running makes this a great option. Now for the fun stuff…

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