29 Apr 2023

Python Game AI: Pathfinding, Decision-Making & Behavior Trees

Python has become a popular choice for game developers due to its ease of use and versatility. With the use of Python, game developers can create a wide range of games, from simple puzzle games to complex strategy games. One key aspect of game development is creating artificial intelligence (AI) that can make intelligent decisions and react to the player's actions. In this blog post, we will discuss Python Game AI, specifically pathfinding, decision-making, and behavior trees.

Pathfinding in Python Game AI

Pathfinding is the process of finding the shortest path between two points in a game world. This is an important aspect of game development because it allows AI-controlled characters to move around the game world intelligently. There are several algorithms for pathfinding, including A*, Dijkstra's algorithm, and Breadth-First Search.

A* algorithm is the most commonly used algorithm for pathfinding. It uses a heuristic function to estimate the distance between the current position and the target position. The algorithm then explores the nodes in the game world with the lowest total cost (i.e., the estimated distance plus the actual distance traveled).

In Python, we can implement A* algorithm using the Pygame library. Here is an example code for implementing A* algorithm in Python:

import pygame
import heapq

def astar(start, goal, walls):
    Implementation of A* algorithm
    # Define the heuristic function
    def heuristic(a, b):
        return abs(a[0] - b[0]) + abs(a[1] - b[1])
    # Initialize the open and closed lists
    open_list = []
    closed_list = set()
    # Add the start node to the open list
    heapq.heappush(open_list, (0, start))
    # Loop until the open list is empty
    while len(open_list) > 0:
        # Get the node with the lowest total cost
        current_cost, current_node = heapq.heappop(open_list)
        # Check if the current node is the goal node
        if current_node == goal:
            path = []
            while current_node != start:
                current_node = came_from[current_node]
            return path[::-1]
        # Add the current node to the closed list
        # Loop through the neighboring nodes
        for neighbor in neighbors(current_node):
            # Check if the neighbor is a wall or in the closed list
            if neighbor in walls or neighbor in closed_list:
            # Calculate the total cost for the neighbor
            neighbor_cost = current_cost + 1 + heuristic(neighbor, goal)
            # Check if the neighbor is already in the open list
            for i, (cost, node) in enumerate(open_list):
                if node == neighbor:
                    # Check if the new cost is lower than the old cost
                    if neighbor_cost < cost:
                        open_list[i] = (neighbor_cost, neighbor)
                # Add the neighbor to the open list
                heapq.heappush(open_list, (neighbor_cost, neighbor))
    # No path found
    return None

This code uses the Pygame library to create a game world and the A* algorithm to find the shortest path between two points. The algorithm takes as input the start and goal positions and a list of walls. It returns the shortest path between the start and goal positions.

Decision-Making in Python Game AI

Decision-making is the process of making choices based on the current state of the game world. In game development, decision-making is important for creating AI-controlled characters that can react to the player's actions.

There are several approaches to implementing decision-making in Python Game AI, including rule-based systems, finite state machines, and behavior trees.

Rule-based systems involve creating a set of rules that dictate the actions an AI-controlled character should take based on the current state of the game world. For example, if the player is within a certain distance of the AI-controlled character, the character might attack the player.

Finite state machines involve creating a set of states and transitions between them. Each state represents a different behavior or action that the AI-controlled character can take. For example, a character might have a "patrol" state where it walks around a certain area, and a "chase" state where it chases the player.

Behavior trees are a popular approach to implementing decision-making in game AI. A behavior tree is a hierarchical structure that represents a set of behaviors or actions that an AI-controlled character can take. Each behavior is represented as a node in the tree. The nodes can be organized into different types, such as selector nodes, sequence nodes, and action nodes. Selector nodes choose between multiple behaviors based on a set of conditions, while sequence nodes execute a set of behaviors in a specific order.

Here is an example code for implementing a simple behavior tree in Python:

class BehaviorNode:
    def __init__(self):
        self.children = []
    def add_child(self, child):
    def evaluate(self):
class SelectorNode(BehaviorNode):
    def evaluate(self):
        for child in self.children:
            if child.evaluate():
                return True
        return False
class SequenceNode(BehaviorNode):
    def evaluate(self):
        for child in self.children:
            if not child.evaluate():
                return False
        return True
class ActionNode(BehaviorNode):
    def __init__(self, action):
        self.action = action
    def evaluate(self):
        return True

This code defines three types of behavior nodes: SelectorNode, SequenceNode, and ActionNode. SelectorNode and SequenceNode are used to organize multiple behaviors, while ActionNode represents a single behavior. The evaluate method is called on each node in the tree to determine which behaviors should be executed.

Behavior trees can be very powerful for creating complex AI-controlled characters that can react to the player's actions in intelligent ways.


Python Game AI is an important aspect of game development. Pathfinding, decision-making, and behavior trees are three key components of Python Game AI. By implementing these techniques, game developers can create intelligent AI-controlled characters that can navigate the game world, make decisions based on the current state of the game, and react to the player's actions in intelligent ways. Python's ease of use and versatility make it a great choice for game developers looking to create AI-driven games.