StarCraft Bots Duke It Out In Brood War Contest

Today I will mostly be watching the Student StarCraft AI Tournament. It’s been running every year since 2011 as a challenge to student AI developers. The idea is that students submit bots to compete against each other playing 1v1 Brood War matches.

The games taking place right now form the competitive phase of the 2014 tournament. 42 active bots, all programmed in C++ or Java will play a total of 861 games between each other.

The conditions for winning and losing are slightly different than for a human Brood War face-off. The bot will be defeated if it loses all its buildings, if it crashes or if it slows the game too much. Victory is achieved if the other bot loses or if you have the highest in-game score after 90 in-game minutes. No word on GGing as I’ve never seen it happen in these matches.

The current leaderboard has Martin Rooijackers in first place with 17 wins and a single loss. He’s using LetaBot which uses a number of strategies as Terran.

A post on TeamLiquid under the name LetaBot (which I assume is Martin) added, “I didn’t have time to program the marines to finish the game after a bunker rush. Instead I used Wraiths that scout the map at random and attack any building that comes into their sight. Hence the name LetaBot (Leta was known for his Wraiths).”

Other names to watch out for are Soren Klett, Dave Churchill, Tomas Cere, ICElab and Krasimir Krystev – all of whom excelled in 2013.

You can watch the remaining matches over on Hitbox. After the tournament they will continue the stream with the bots playing for fun.

Oh, and here’s the 2013 TvT mixed final between ICELab and Krasi0bot.


  1. Wowbagger says:

    Today I have mostly been eating Cabbages.

  2. GiantPotato says:

    I’m still waiting for the RTS game in which you manage AIs instead of managing individual units.

    • rexx.sabotage says:

      Distant Worlds: Galaxies is very much this. Manage ALL the AIs.

      • ersetzen says:

        Closest I could find was Distant Worlds Universe with Ancient Galaxy theme. That?

    • ersetzen says:

      That actually sounds quite great. Having a bunch of specialist ais that can do certain things and combining their behaviors so you only have to deal with overarching strategies and not implementation.

      Tried a bit with that concept a couple weeks ago, surprisingly hard to do it without having the ais go overboard with computing time. Computing stuff with many different unit types and behaviors in decent time is freaking hard.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Also Scourge of War: Gettysburg (and, I assume, a bunch of other wargames I haven’t played).

  3. Philopoemen says:

    First my gaming time evaporated as I watched other people play games I wanted to play.

    Now its not even other people.

    My 1994 self would slap me very hard.

    • Runty McTall says:

      Heh, this is hilarious :)

    • kyrieee says:

      Watching computers play is more entertaining. Could a human ever do this? :D
      link to
      Skip to 1:30

    • Ross Angus says:

      I think I can beat that: a friend caught me watching this and asked if I was watching other people play video games. I replied that I was watching other people not playing video games.

  4. Jamesworkshop says:

    starcraft brood warr

  5. ersetzen says:

    Remember seeing the Berkeley Overmind in the 2010 competition. Looking forward to this one!

    STUDENT starcraft ai… ups XD Well, looks interesting anyway.

  6. kalzekdor says:

    Oooh, this is still going on? I fiddled with my own bot back for the 2011 competition. Managed to get the C++ bot runtime to communicate via IPC to a Python control script, and scripted a bunch of actions and heuristics. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to combine these bits into a workable strategy before the deadline, though, so my bot went unfinished. (Coding for my actual job kept getting in the way.)

    Had no idea this was a yearly occurrence. I should dust off my code and prepare for next year… En Taro Adun!

  7. reggiep says:

    I suppose the fact that it’s Starcraft is pretty fun for the students, but why wouldn’t the competition use a game where they can actually mod the AI instead of just having a separate utility for simulating a human? It would seem like there’s a lot of code that’d be required for just the keyboard and mouse input, which is a lot of time taken away from actually developing the AI.

    Granted, I can’t think of a single RTS game that allows mods, so maybe this is the best way.

    • Devenger says:

      I’m no expert, but it looks like BWAPI ( link to ) lets you skip the hassle of trying to read the game state based on visual elements and issue mouse/keyboard commands – the AI can just see the game as a bunch of data objects and query/command them directly as it sees fit (so long as a player could theoretically do the same via the game’s usual interface). Which is good, since defining behaviour once you know the situation is the fun part!

      • kalzekdor says:

        BWAPI is indeed fancy. At the basic level, you get access to information on explored terrain (passable, height, doodads (useful for knowledge of cover (did you know Starcraft had cover bonuses?))), a list of known units (location, type, owner, status (hp, upgrades, abilities), current order), and you can order your units more or less like Unit.AttackMove(xCoord, yCoord).

        There is no need to parse visual data (though you still have to deal with incomplete information) or simulate human input.

    • BlueTemplar says:

      Zero-K / Spring allows anyone to make their own AI’s (as well as GUI’s) and use them in multiplayer matches.
      link to
      link to
      Why no one still hasn’t broken the game that way is a mystery to me… Or maybe it was actually broken years ago when the metal maker automation widget was made (which successor is Zero-K ‘s Overdrive).

      • BlueTemplar says:

        This might be also relevant :
        link to
        “ReThreaded Symmetric MultiProcessing (Real-Time Strategy Mutation Platform)”
        for Spring Engine (claims to be up to 27 times faster than the original games according to the latest news).

    • LionsPhil says:

      This is sorta what ORTS was for.

  8. MuscleHorse says:

    Anyone interested in this subject (or indeed interested in strange, darkly comic films) should watch last year’s Computer Chess.

  9. vivlo says:

    there should be a manga series out of this

  10. Gothnak says:

    I designed RTS Skirmish Ai for a living for a year when i designed and implemented the AI for Warrior Kings: Battles around 13 years ago. It was a fascinating job, deciding what units to build and when, what to attack, when to defend and when to harvest.

    Was really happy with teh result in the end that the Ai only knew the location of the enemy base, every other decision was AI based. I remember the first time it ran against my workmates who had made the game. It beat all of them bar one, but finding a secret rear entrance to a base which a Level Designer had added but no one knew about.

    Have loved AI ever since.

  11. Lb122 says:

    There has been a bit more professional competition at the IEEE CIG scientific conference going on: link to