Learning to Generalize with Object-centric Agents in the Open World Survival Game Crafter

Aleksandar Stanic, Yujin Tang, David Ha, Jurgen Schmidhuber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Reinforcement learning agents must generalize beyond their training experience. Prior work has focused mostly on identical training and evaluation environments. Starting from the recently introduced Crafter benchmark, a 2D open world survival game, we introduce a new set of environments suitable for evaluating some agent&#x0027;s ability to generalize on previously unseen (numbers of) objects and to adapt quickly (meta-learning). In Crafter, the agents are evaluated by the number of unlocked achievements (such as collecting resources) when trained for 1M steps. We show that current agents struggle to generalize, and introduce novel object-centric agents that improve over strong baselines. We also provide critical insights of general interest for future work on Crafter through several experiments. We show that careful hyper-parameter tuning improves the PPO baseline agent by a large margin and that even feedforward agents can unlock almost all achievements by relying on the inventory display. We achieve new state-of-the-art performance on the original Crafter environment. Additionally, when trained beyond 1M steps, our tuned agents can unlock almost all achievements. We show that the recurrent PPO agents improve over feedforward ones, even with the inventory information removed. We introduce CrafterOOD, a set of 15 new environments that evaluate OOD generalization. On CrafterOOD, we show that the current agents fail to generalize, whereas our novel object-centric agents achieve state-of-the-art OOD generalization while also being interpretable. Our code is public. <uri>https://github.com/astanic/crafter-ood</uri>

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalIEEE Transactions on Games
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:


  • Benchmark testing
  • Coal
  • Crafter
  • Diamonds
  • Games
  • Generalization
  • Iron
  • Object-centric Agents
  • Open World Survival Games
  • PPO
  • Training
  • Vegetation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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