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'Dark Souls' publisher bets on AI for smarter game foes

Bandai Namco is investing in an AI startup whose board-game algorithms have defeated several professional human players.
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Bandai Namco, the games company behind Tekken, Dark Souls and a whole bunch of Dragonball games, has invested in an artificial intelligence startup. The team at Heroz have an algorithm for shogi (Japanese chess) that's bested several professional human players in public matches. Bandai Namco is hoping to tap into that know-how to improve its non-playing character behavior in future titles, although expect to see it in much simpler games long before that eventual Dark Souls successor.

Heroz has dabbled with games outside the likes of chess and backgammon. Earlier in 2016, it worked with the Pokemon Company to make Pokemon Co-master, a figurine-battling board game for smartphones that (according to Nikkei) didn't do so well. The startup is hoping that Bandai Namco's expertise will help ensure a hit.

Heroz' expertise in traditional (and cutesy-character based) games could ensure it's well-placed to develop for Sony's incoming Project Field product. This card-reading smart pad is designed to bridge the gap between digital and physical cards games. The first title announced for it was Yokai Watch -- a Bandai Namco game. It might be too early to join the dots, but eh, that's not stopping us from doing exactly that.

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