Rats named after id Software alumni tear and tear through ‘Doom’


We are not sure if this qualifies with the “Can ‘x’ play in progress. Losssame, but technically it should. According to an article on Medium, neuroengineer Viktor Tóth not only named three rats after id Software’s brains John Romero, John Carmack and Tom Hall, but trained the rats to play classic first person shooter.

While the rats are not yet crossing E1M1, according to Tóth, he built a VR setup for the rats from scratch and trained three of them “in an automated fashion, without manual intervention, to go through a corridor rendered in the Doom II motor. ”Tóth explains that he also tried to implement the mechanics to train the rats more to shoot enemies in the game, but“ misses the time to actually reinforce the behavior ”.

In a glorified trackball setup, the rats are placed in a harness over a styrofoam ball, which when the rats step on it, Doomguy moves forward. The setup uses positive reinforcement training, where the rats are given sugar water for doing the “right” thing in the game. Namely, walking forward. The configuration uses a Doom II map which is basically a long hallway with a few doors and an imp at the end.

One of the interesting parts of the article is that Tóth explains the limitations of visual acuity in rats compared to humans. Rats see the world with red-green color blindness and have poorer color vision than humans. Therefore, Tóth had to tweak the graphics and sound of the game to maximize their potential in training.

One of Tóth’s goals in the experiment was to automate parts of the training, but also to teach the rats how and when to shoot via a herding motion with the harness. Of course, the rats have to be taught how and when to use it.

“In layman’s terms,” explains Tóth, “the training procedure would go like this: the rat enters a monster → the software detects that the monster is near the player (and for now, suppose the player facing) → initially the rat has no idea what to do in this situation, so the training software activates the push-pull solenoid slightly lifting the animal upwards → the actuator head then touches the button → the monster gets slaughtered → reward in the form of sugar water is released to reinforce the behavior.

Whether or not this has scientific value is up for debate, but let’s be honest: the idea of ​​rats playing Loss is just awesome.


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