Post 2: ML Breakout

Well let’s start this week’s blog post by saying we didn’t get the project we were hoping for as mentioned in the welcome blog post. So that will throw a wrench in the whole using AI for this class approach. The project we did get was our #2 pick, Machine Learning (ML) Breakout. I’m sure a lot of you have experienced the game Breakout in some fashion, if not try it free online here.

I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t know much about Machine Learning. It is something that I’ve mentally reserved as a “for Master’s Degree people” thing, which I certainly am not. But it, like generative AI, is going to be more and more important to us as developers as time moves on. Really ML and AI go hand in hand if you think about it. AI is all about predicting an output, and ML (at least in part) is about a computer working towards a desired outcome.

So for this week, let’s just look at what my group is trying to accomplish. First, we have the project page located on the school’s website and here is a screen clip for posterities sake:

That leaves us with trying to dissect this into manageable pieces, as any good developer does to start tackling a new problem. We have at least 3 things to start learning:

  1. Unity
  2. Unity ML-Agents
  3. C#

Getting Unity as a student is simple enough, it is free for us students. What to do with Unity will be the challenge. This is where AI can help give an overview of what Unity is, and how it works at a high level. After that, I suspect we will have to consult the trusty YouTube.

Unity ML-Agents is some package that is installed into your Unity project. Then there is a training portion, and finally the “trained” agent is embedded back into the project. I have no idea the specifics, but the link above covers it in high level detail.

C# is what Unity uses for coding. To be honest, this is the one language I want to learn more than any other right now. I used it for the first (and so far only) time at my internship over the summer. It was neat, powerful, and from what I understand can be used to do just about anything you could want. It is definitely a language I see in a lot of job postings, so I’m looking forward to getting some more hands-on experience.

The goal for the rest of this week is to gain understanding of the 3 items listed above, and have a clear direction for our project. I’m sure that AI will help in some fashion, but let’s leave that for the next post.

Happy coding!

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