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Careful what you wish for…

Sunday, August 10th, 2008

I happened across this blog review of the game “Days of Ruin” for Nintendo DS the other day. I noticed it because my Google alert for “GAME AI” picked up the following sentence.

The game’s AI is sneaky and -well- intelligent too.

Well, that was certainly a promising hook, so I investigated further. The paragraph continued:

It responds to the type of units you create and your strategy. If you make an army of wartanks, it’ll create an army of anti-tanks to counter your offense. If you make bombers to get rid of his anti-tanks, it’ll create fighters to take down your bombers. If you happen to have an artillery bombardment as a defensive strategy, it will try to keep its ground units away from your range and will cautiously try to take it down when you drop your guard.

My thought was… uh, OK. Hardly sneaky or intelligent. Actually, that type of balancing act is rather simple to accomplish. And then I read the next paragraph…

While the game is fun, it also comes with a bit of frustration. In addition to a really smart AI, your computer opponent also has an unfair advantage of extra units, money, and bigger guns. Making the game, in some chapters, nigh unbeatable until you find the perfect strategy. I swear I was stuck in 2, probably 3, chapters for weeks. And without an option to change the difficulty of the game, I almost gave up on it after a lot of my strategies have failed.

This is the price you pay for that simplicity. While it is easy to do the reaction-based AI that was alluded to at first, it is a little more important to be able to tweak it to not be a challenge all the time.

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