Post-Play'em - Observations on Game AI

Company of Heroes: Invisible Script Points

I just made another interesting observation on Company of Heroes. In the campaign scenario that comes with free download (the town of Carentan), two enemy tanks came barrelling over the bridges, busted through my defenses, and took up positions on the intersections just SE and SW (screen-relative) of my Town Hall. They then turned toward the building and started whacking on me. I dispatched those tanks right where they had turned. So far so good–great tactic.

However, a minute or so later, another tank came down the left side through about the same path as the first. He stopped exactly on the place where I had destroyed the first tank (never mind parking directly ON the smoking hulk of steel) and turned in the same manner to face the Town Hall. Wow. Serious Deja Vu, folks. It immediately jumped out at me that this tactic was exactly scripted–right down to the exact location to stop and turn.

An easy solution to this would have been to randomize the point somewhat. Use the original point as an anchor, but throw in a random displacement within a radius. Check to see if it is valid to not only sit, but to have the desired sightline, and then move to it. Rather than a single, repeated waypoint, you now have something that resembles “over there someplace.”

The unfortunately side-effect of this is that I now know that I can defend specifically against that particular point (mines? an AT weapon?) and be in business. Moreover, I know that I may have to defend against it more than once. That’s not what I play RTS games for. I want to react dynamically to the AI and have it react dynamically to me. Now this may simply be a part of the campaign mentality (which I have not always been fond of in RTS games). Just like how the Town Hall gets leveled every time at about the same time forcing me to fall back to the church. OK fine, I get it… I get it. Still, it was alarming to see them use the exact same point twice in succession.

Otherwise, it’s still a good game so far (I may have to ditch the free demo and pick this one up for real!)

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One Response to “Company of Heroes: Invisible Script Points”

  1. ZiKaS says:

    Thanks David for the post.
    How can we make this behavior more intelligent?, in other words one of the random generated points could appear the tank as stupid! (i.e. coming from a strong defensive area where there are another weak defensive one)

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