Unity 5.x Game AI Programming Cookbook Review


My dissatisfaction in regards to the Packt book series is no secret to those who have read my reviews. Often unfinished and of low quality, the publisher seems more interested in pumping out quantity over quality. You might remember that in despite of this I took it upon myself to give their “Cookbook” series a chance. To my surprise, I was highly satisfied with Unity 5.x Animation Cookbook. The author does almost everything right, and if you’re looking to advance your skills in animation I highly recommend checking it out.

This time we’re looking at another instalment of the “Cookbook” series, Unity 5.x Game AI Programming Cookbook. Where do I start… It’s a bit of a mess. The word “Cookbook” refers to a series of distinct recipes, each being self-inclusive. Whole. Complete. Something one could replicate and works exactly as stated. While the Animation Cookbook was exemplary in this regard, this AI Cookbook falls flat. In fact, I don’t know who thought to enter it into the Cookbook series. It is a long series of concepts that intertwine prerequisite code. The integration of this code into Unity seems to have been completely forgotten. On top of that, some of the recipes have run-time errors, indicating they were not actually tested. Would you trust a baking cookbook that offered incorrect ingredients? No? Then look elsewhere for all of your AI needs. While there is much to be learned from this book, the reader’s effort to learning ratio is unbalanced and will frustrate even the most grizzled Unity veteran.


Topics Covered:

  • Behaviour: Intelligent Movement
  • Navigation: path-finding algorithms for navigating complex scenarios
  • Decision Making
  • Coordination and Tactics
  • Agent Awareness
  • Board Games AI
  • Learning Techniques: machine learning
  • Misc: extra stuff like implementing a self-driving car



Example Projects (when they work) showcase elements of AI discussed. How to actually do this in Unity is left up to the reader’s imagination, as it is completely absent from the book.


Final Thoughts

Reading through the topics covered, I really had high hopes for this book. I’d like to also say that there is potential for a strong book buried somewhere here. Perhaps a new edition that better utilises Unity and that explains the concepts better would make my list of books I recommend. But for now I simply can’t recommend it to even the most avid book collector.

Pros –

  • strong AI lineup

Cons –

  • inadequate explanations, often 1-2 sentences when far more is necessary
  • run-time errors
  • does not highlight Unity’s AI capabilities (NavMesh?)
  • not all example projects work
  • not an actual cookbook
  • outdated

Skill Level – Intermediate/Advanced

Final Verdict – 5/10 Not Recommended

Link – eBook