I got steered to yet another new blog that I hadn’t seen before, A Games Design Blog. (Not a terribly cryptic title, is it?) While the author, Rob Hale, writes more about game design in general than AI, his latest post, 7 Ways to Make your AI Smarter was, as you would suspect, about AI.
There’s nothing terribly earth-shattering about what he says, but there are some good points embedded in the article. For example, I do like this bit:
You can have the most inteligent goal-oriented perfect-pathfinding AI enemies in the world but it doesnâ€™t count for anything if the Player is killing them before they get to do any of that clever stuff.
The only difference in Halo between the AI in Easy mode and Legendary mode is that in legendary the AI has more health. This meant they lived longer and as a result did more cool clever things making them appear more inteligent. They were also more accurate and did more damage which supports my previous point.
I truly think that we need to break players from the mentality that you can just wade through enemies without a fight. That is a relic of a time when our AI sucked so badly we didn’t WANT them to survive very long. Now, we have so many cool things we can do, it’s a shame for enemies to not be able to show it off. I have sensed that change in some of the games that I have been toying with lately. This is a good thing. (e.g. see my Post-Play’em write up on Gears of War 2)
Another good quote is:
If I had to choose between Very Clever buggy AI and Very Simple Bug-Free AI I will always pick the Simpler choice.
Every time an AI gets a Path wrong or does something slightly unpredictable (in a bad way) is another notch against your AI appearing smart.
In a previous life, when I was an engineer in a recording studio, I would tell the bands I worked with, “No one will know if you leave that hard lick out… but they will know if you put it in and it doesn’t work well.” This is the same suggestion in a different world.
I believe a corollary to this would be, “don’t fall in love with one cool feature so much that you leave the other mundane stuff behind.” I’ve seen plenty of AI that has some nifty thing they are trying to show off and they end up leaving the normal, relatively easy stuff so rough that it drags the whole show down. I don’t care if your AI does “Nifty Feature A” if the rest of it is garbage.
Anyway, take a look at the article. I’m definitely adding this blog to my subscription list.