Research Project: On Hierarchical Planning in (Computer) Games




This project aims at providing an overview about scientific papers that report where and how hierarchical planning techniques was and is applied in practice.

Apart from an extensive literature survey, part of the project is to develop a concept on how to report on the found approaches, i.e., how to structure report: How should the papers be clustered? According to the formalism applied? According to whether it was used commercially or maybe even not at all (but it was just described in theory)? According to the purpose it was applied for (agent AI vs. something else, like level devel design)?

Note that "computer game" is pretty much already satisfied provided that AI is applied at all -- because AI is implemented in computers... So this project does not just talk about "conventional computer games" like shooters or strategy games etc., but also for board or card games.

Please note: Most courses require you to actually *apply* something, i.e., to come with some sort of (software) artifact or to conduct some empirical evaluation, etc. So, most courses will not even allow you to take this topic. So before applying for this, make sure that it is in line with what is expected from you (the course page mentions that). If in doubt, contact me.


  • Conduct a complete literature survey of pretty much every single project and/or scientific paper that used Hierarchical Planning in any form of (computer) games.
  • Apart from having such a comprehensive (complete) list, it should of course be presented in an adequate way. In particular, the survey should have a clear message: Why was hierarchical planning chosen? Was it worth it? Would other formalisms have been better? (Were they even considered or even used?) Are we going to expect more applications of it? Where did it work particulalrly well? Did authors talk about lessons learned themselves?


  • See above: Course must allow to submit a literature survey.
  • It expect that you have a good understanding (proven by good grades) in any related formal discipline, such as AI, AI planning, computational complexity, graph theory, etc.
  • You should not be bored with reading papers -- this is a survey work, so you will have to read a lot!
  • Relatedly, the main outcome is a report, so I expect that you can write very good English.

Please send me:

  • The course code.
  • The URL of your course.
  • The number of points your course has (i.e., 6, 12, 24, or 24 honours final project).
  • When you would like to do your project.

Background Literature

  • My Hierarchical Planning Survey from IJCAI 2019 (You have to understand hierarchical planning!)
  • Xenija Neufeld (2018): Building a Planner: A Survey of Planning Systems Used in Commercial Video Games (IEEE Artikel)
  • I can point to more literature upon start; but after all: A main point of this work is to actually do the literature survey on your own.


  • Obtain knowledge on how AI planning is applied in computer games.
  • Being able to read through lots of literature to grasp and reproduce (in terms of a short summary) its core messages.


  • HTN Planning / Hierarchical Planning
  • Computer Game AI
  • Literature Survey

Updated:  1 June 2019/Responsible Officer:  Dean, CECS/Page Contact:  CECS Marketing