Post-Play'em - Observations on Game AI

Half Life 2: Movement on Rails

OK, I admit that I had not gotten around to playing Half Life 2 until now. (It’s part of my post-book writing, pre-GDC ramp up.) I am not terribly far into it. I am alternating between riding my airboat (kinda fun!) and having to stop and do the various side-tasks.

So far the enemy AI is decent, although bland. (I’m playing on Normal, if that matters.) I’ve noticed a little ADD in the soldiers, however. They can sometimes forget where I am (or just was). If they are supposed to be looking for me, it isn’t working.

Another annoyance was the rails that the background people are walking on. During some of the opening scenes, when I was in the middle of a large room, people would walk straight through me. At one point, I didn’t notice what had happened right away other than that I was jostled out of the way. However, only about 15 seconds later, while I was standing in the same spot in the middle of the room, another person walked down that exact same line. I looked around a little to see if there was an obvious path that I was on but I didn’t see one. It looked like they were simply going from one point of interest to another and didn’t care that I was in the way.

Possible solutions involve the addition of a steering behavior on top of the standard pathfind. Even just the addition of a vocal cue of “excuse me” or “look out” would have softened the blow somewhat. Instead, the citizens came off as completely mindless.

On a positive note. The manhacks are convincing in their movements, though. They remind me of how difficult it is to control those little remote-control helicopters… which I suspect is the effect they were after.

(Remember to click on the tags below to see more about my observations of Half Life 2.)

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3 Responses to “Half Life 2: Movement on Rails”

  1. William says:

    Another thing the HL2 does well is acknowledging the player and player’s position during conversations. Alice (and the other NPCs) do a great job looking at the player when they need to talk to you (even when you walk away). They also notice when you’re not following them, and wait.
    These are small things, but can easily break immersion when not done properly.

  2. Dave Mark says:

    Actually, I was planning on mentioning that soon. I wanted to watch it a little more, however. In one of the early levels, one of the citizens sat on a bench in the courtyard. Because I hadn’t found the ladder I was supposed to climb, I was wondering if I was supposed to speak with some people. As I approached her, she looked at me (I think?). That made me feel like I was a part of their world, and made me wonder “is this the person I am supposed to interact with?”

    I had been used to that sort of thing from other games, but it did jump out at me here. I just wish they had acknowledged me when they were walking. :-)

  3. sam says:

    if you do talk to them, this is as far as i know in the pc verson, they say "i cant talk right now""i cant be seen talking to you""not right now"
    as meaning to the combine all around.

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