Post-Play'em - Observations on Game AI

Half Life 2: Oblivious to Death

One thing was kind of startling to me just now (I actually quit playing so I could write this). When I got killed, there were 2 bad guys right in front of me. I had only just hit the floor when they both immediately turned and began their “random patrol” state. I laid there and watched through my red-tinted death goggles as they paced back and forth in front of me. Despite being bombarded with radio traffic about my existence, and just enduring a firefight with me, neither of them was at all affected by my demise. Even a non-AI-savvy person would be jolted by this obvious lack of attention to my body. It just screams “state change”. Kind of a reverse aggro, I suppose.

In Halo 3, on the other hand, it was a very effective touch that, when I died, I could hear the Brutes and Grunts celebrating and taunting me. It was a reminder to me that I had let down my people. Also, it was a touch of “humanity” (loosely used) for the enemy AI. The one simple inclusion of an “enemy down” state would made a lot of difference.

Think about all the ends of firefights you see in the movies. There’s the “is he dead?” phase, there’s caution, relief, reporting in, etc. When I died in Half Life 2, I was wanting them to come over and prod my body or something. Really an extra couple of voice lines and a couple extra states to transition into and the extra immersion would have been very welcome. After all, dying (in a game) is an emotional moment for the player. Make him remember it.

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

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