It is the 4th annual Entelect R100K Challenge. For those who don’t know, it pits programmers from around South Africa against each other in a battle to see who has the best programmed AI Bot. This year’s theme was Space Invaders allowing two bots to go against each other at the same time to see who would come out on top.

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How does it work?

Each programmer enters their bot that they programmed from scratch to play the game without any help from human interaction. A series of tests are performed to see who will come out on top, and they are then entered into either Pool A or Pool B, depending on the bot’s performance.

On Saturday I attended the play-offs that saw Group A and Group B participate in one-on-one battles to determine the best AI Bot. The game was simple, each player had to make his or her ship avoid alien fire, build shields and shield farms by sacrificing their lives, and try and stay alive longer than their opponent’s AI.

Entelect R100K Challenge

I was fascinated to see these AI’s in action, they really knew what to do and when to do it. Most of the time the matches were pretty tight and just when I thought that the player I was watching was about to die, the camera quickly panned over to the other one which did not make it.

Chatting to some of the programmers they really enjoyed this year’s challenge over last year’s Pacman challenge. They felt that it was easier and more user-friendly. Many of them worked for hours on end getting their bots to function correctly. One programmer has been working on his for 5 hours a week since March. Which does not seem like much, but add it together and it’s a long time to sit and look at a screen typing. Kind of what I am doing right now.

The Entelect R100k Challenge will see its final round take place at rAge on the Saturday of the event (10 October). The finals will see the top 8 of each pool go up against each other one last time for the championship. The winner of Pool A will receive R100 000 in cash, with Pool B receiving R50 000. That is quite a number.

As every year the competition has sponsors, and this year it has been sponsored by Sony, and NAG. The top 8 in each pool are as follows:

The finalists for Pool A are:

  • Leonard Seymore
  • Pierre Pretorius
  • Bernard Haussermann
  • Mike Yudaken

The finalists for Pool B are:

  • Leon Botha
  • Jack Wright
  • Jaco Van Niekerk
  • Matthew Mullin

We will have more coverage on the competition as the end draws near at rAge this year. rAge takes place from the 9 – 11 October.