Published 20 October, 2020; last updated 08 March, 2021
Progress in AI StarCraft performance took:
We compare human and AI players on their direct ability to beat one another (rather than a measure of the overall performance of each).
Starcraft was released in 19981 The game allows the player to play against a computer opponent, however this built-in AI has access to information that a normal player would not have. For instance, it has real-time information about what the other player is doing at all times, which is normally hidden. We do not have detailed knowledge about early StarCraft AIs that do not have this advantage, but our impression is that it was possible to write them from the start (see next section).
Our impression is that since StarCraft Brood War came out in 1998, it has been possible to write a bot that can beat a player who recently learned the game, without “cheating” in the way that the game’s built-in computer opponents do. This is uncertain, and based on private discussion with people who write Starcraft AIs that compete in tournaments.
In 2018, DeepMind’s AlphaStar beat MaNa2, a strong professional player (seemingly 13th place in the 2018 StarCraft II World Championship Series Circuit)3. This does not imply that AlphaStar was in general a stronger player than MaNa, but suggests AlphaStar was at a broadly high professional level. How AlphaStar’s performance compares to humans will depend on how narrowly the task is defined, so that if the AI is not allowed to give commands faster than a human is able, it will compare less favorably than if it is allowed to give commands very quickly4.
Given the above dates, we have:
|First attempt to beginner level||1998||1998||~0|
|Beginner to superhuman||1998||2018||~21|
Primary author: Rick Korzekwa
“StarCraft.” In Wikipedia, September 29, 2020. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=StarCraft&oldid=980937551.
Deepmind. “AlphaStar: Mastering the Real-Time Strategy Game StarCraft II.” Accessed October 22, 2020. /blog/article/alphastar-mastering-real-time-strategy-game-starcraft-ii.
“The Unexpected Difficulty of Comparing AlphaStar to Humans – AI Impacts.” Accessed October 22, 2020. https://aiimpacts.org/the-unexpected-difficulty-of-comparing-alphastar-to-humans/.