The Botarena (#botarena on slack, also discussed in this forum post) is a fully automated tournament for Screeps AIs. The rules are simple: no player action besides spawning will be allowed, including code changes. AIs must rely solely on their programming to face off and prove their mettle. The last bot standing wins.
Update: we are live!
Fast and Furious: 200ms ticks
The tournament is hosted on a private server that features extremely fast tick rates. Starting out, the ticks tend to be about 5 per second. You can see hiryus’ creeps scooting around the room:
The fast tick times makes the tournament quite a spectacle. It only takes about an hour for the first 20k ticks. In less than 24 hours, AIs can have several rooms, some of them at RCL8. Even after things are in full swing the tick rates are quite high, still about 2-3 ticks per second. This makes it possible for tournaments to play out in a matter of days.
The tournament should be interesting for both players and spectators. Thanks to the technical expertise of the players supporting the event, there will be a way for everyone to watch via a live stream on twitch (also on youtube). They plan to have an organized betting system where credits can be wagered on the bot you consider most likely to win.
This will be an ongoing event. Matches can have unique rules and configurations. Which bot would win in a world made up completely of swamps? What if NPC invaders were more frequent or dropped 100x the energy? Starting off, they will keep things simple and standard, but as things progress they will vote on new challenges.
To test the system, a few preliminary rounds have already been held. There were some familiar names and also some new ones. Let’s meet a few of the contenders.
TooAngel is probably the most established name in bottery, and for good reason. His bot was publicly available and fully automated long before anyone else.
Unfortunately I don’t have a proper gif of a TooAngel’s room. However, from experience I can say that TooAngel is a very effective bot. In particular, the ability for TooAngel rooms to quickly and dependably grow back after being sacked is downright impressive. If you want to eradicate TooAngel, you have to be sure to take down every room, or it will grow back bigger and stronger.
This is my own humble entry into the tournament. I started writing bonzAI with the goal of complete automation and the tournament has given that new life.
bonzAI still does not have automatic room-raiding, so the best it can hope for right now is to be hard to take down. To prepare for this tournament I’ve made quite a few upgrades, it can now choose and claim new rooms automatically. Here is a map that it is using to rate rooms for their claimworthiness:
Hopefully complete automation will not be far away and bonzAI will be a bot worth betting on. Soon I’ll be releasing a fully automated bot that is easy to load up as an opponent on your private server.
Kasami is a relatively new name among Screeps botters, but it is already clear that it can go toe-to-toe with the ones that have been around longer.
KasamiBot has a very solid economy. It was one of the first to start claiming new rooms, and it also appears to have a very effective room-choosing algorithm. Kasami is working on publishing his bot so that can be easily loaded as an opponent on your private server.
Here is KasamiBot defending a remote harvest room from the bonzonian scourge:
By far the most unexpected an unorthodox participant is ZeSwarm, a bot authored by ags131.
The above gif doesn’t come anywhere close to showing the devastating potential of ZeSwarm. Unfortunately I have witnessed it first-hand. ZeSwarm happened to spawn right next to me in one of our preliminary test-runs. Within just a matter of seconds the whole section of the map was a blazing fury of angry red dots. This completely shut down potential for remote harvesting. My AI just kept sending remote harvesters to their doom and did not make much progress. By the time safe mode had run out, it hadn’t even finished building a tower. My room was sacked before it could even put up a fight.
At the moment, ZeSwarm shines the brightest during the early stages of the round. It doesn’t yet have the economy to leverage that early advantage, although I’m sure it will only get better.
The home of the Botarena community is the #botarena channel on the official screeps slack. Whether your interest is spectating or participating or both, there should be an opportunity. They have yet to work out the details, but there is talk of having multiple tiers with different contestants in each. Players who are fairly new to automation or do not yet have everything automated will be able to join a tier that is easier-going.
I can personally say that an automation-only arena brings a very different feel to writing code for Screeps. At least for myself, it feels like the way it was meant to be played: filtering out the human factor as much as possible so you are left with only efficient, emotionless carnage.