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Game AI Discussion

July 13th, 2009 by Troy Goodfellow · 2 Comments · Blogs, Design

Soren Johnson has published the email exchange he had with his GDC co-panelists before the conference. It’s a very interesting discussion with some heavyweight minds, including Ubisoft’s Josh Mosqueira, the designer of Relic’s Company of Heroes.

Now, whether to keep or axe a feature based on how well the AI can use it… that’s a tricky question. Speaking purely as a designer, I’ll always err on the side that having cool units and abilities like paratroopers and invisible subs add to the gameplay. I agree with Tara, as long as the AI looks “good enough” when using these units I think it’s a win-win. Then again, I take a very player-centric POV. I rather have as many cool toys as possible.

Now a question… what designer/programmer assumptions do you guys run into all the time while working on AI?

The one I do quite often is that the AI should be “hard” and punishing.

It’s an attitude I get often… that only “hard AI” is fun. I get this from designers and programmers. Whenever I say, “the player should be able to predict the AI” the reaction is “where’s the challenge in that?” To which I answer that while we may think we don’t want predictable AI, we need to give the players enough cues so that they can make “smart” decisions to beat the AI (without making them too transparent). I love Halo for this. Why do we always want to punish the player to prove our AI is smart?

A reminder that Soren is a guest on this week’s Three Moves Ahead.

I really need to get to GDC next year.


2 Comments so far ↓

  • Neil

    I think Soren is mixing up the issues of AI behavior and player feedback regarding AI behavior. What is truly punishing for a player is being unavoidably blindsided by the AI (when, say, an AI opponent declares war for no apparent reason and with no warning–sound familiar?). We don’t need a predictable opponent, just a visible one. The AI’s skill is irrelevent here except in the sense that weak AI makes the blindsiding less of a problem.

    Also, some cool toys/features lose their coolness if the AI doesn’t respond to them appropriately. For example, invisible units may be lots of fun against other players, but if the AI treats them like normal units or is completely helpless against them, they are add nothing to the game and might even take away from it.

  • Alan Au

    Some of the best game AI advice I’ve heard comes from an old Bungie talk about creating the AI for Halo. One lesson was that the AI must be transparent about its behavior. Otherwise the player will believe it’s random. Another lesson is that players instinctively associate “difficult” with “smart.” Then there’s the apocryphal story about a placeholder football AI that was mistaken for “smart” AI because it made unpredictable (essentially random) choices.