A.I. Foe Cussing

by Maniac on October 19, 2010

Welcome back to pun time! First of all though, i’d like to say sorry for that major delay in entries lately, RL is taking its toll and if you further refuse to pay me for spending my precious time with Apokalypsos instead of working for food… well…

But now back on topic, A.I. focus. Some of the things i’ll talk about today may have already been said, but i’ll try and take it into more detail this time around. I’ve already told you about what i want the A.I. in Apokalypsos to be capable of and how it should behave. Maybe i have to tell you about my personal design philosophy before i go on. Im a gamer for nearly two decades now and i’ve seen my share of games and A.I. implementations and world design in general, be it single or multiplayer or any genre. One thing that allways bugged me was that nearly all of those worlds were centered around the player. Ok, in the end, all worlds happen to be that in some regard since they were created for the player, still i dont like the way they handled it. When i say player centered i mean that the world seems to solely exist and behave for the player to come, visit and change things. The world is literally waiting for the player to push its triggers. For me, thats like a Kindergarten where the governess is constantly running around like a scared chicken to nurse you. 
It kinda screams: “Yeah, you are special, yes your are good, big and strong and the world is yours! If you cry, i will care, the whole world is circling around you!” Im here to end this. 

Of course i want you to get a feel for the world you play in, feel related and immersed. But ill take it from another direction. I want to create a world that makes sense in itself, that lives, breathes and thrives no matter if you walk by or not. In fact, my A.I. will not really care if you are another NPC or a PC. Feel set back? Great! Its not like the world wont react to you, but it will primarily react to what you do because it is somehow concerning the reacting NPC, not just because YOU do it. Its like, if you get run over by a car, you dont really care who was driving the car until later, when you sue him for that. And even then, your goal is to sue him, not to sue him

The immersion i want to create is that you feel that this world is alive and kicking, no matter whos butt is kicked. This especially will be true for wildlife. Since we dont feature “monsters” to slay like there was no tomorrow and killing sprees among the wildlife will be some way discouraged. Since Wildlife wont be there just for you to level up (hey, GREAT experience gain from slaying harmless animals, gotta be proud buddy…) its different purpose will be showing in how it behaves. Wildlife will be busy, even if theres no player for miles, it will find food, water and roam around based on certain goals. It will also have to survive other perils than players, e.g. carnivores. There will be social interaction between members of the same species and quite some effort will be put into the details. E.g. will there be a certain herd life for animals like deers, they’ll try to stick together, will roam around to find food and be aware of its surroundings to run if they feel endangered. Also, they will not just run, but the panic will run thru the herd like a wave with its epicenter at those members that are close to and able to spot a potential danger. Also, they’ll grow suspicious to certain sounds or movements if they turned out to pose a danger to them. So you might be able to get close to them once with your humvee on full speed and roaring machine, but not a second time. We will focus on natural behavior instead of a player accommodating behavior. If you manage to observe wildlife from a distance, you’ll notice that they go about their business because it makes sense, not because it is designed to serve a special purpose for you. Talking about carnivores, they’ll also will go about their business, which is surviving, not waiting for a player to attack. In fact, even the most fierce carnivores are not aggressive for the sheer sake of aggressiveness. If they spot you and you dont seem to pose a danger to their offspring e.g, they are more likely to retreat or ignore you. If you step into their lair, nest or similar, then you challange them and they may accept it and even win. So of course, there will be animals to fight, but you have to seek them, they wont be out there searching for you.


Foe Cussing

Foe Cussing

While you can stick primarily to well documented observation and science based knowledge about animal behavior, human behaviors are more (not much, just more) complex than that. Why not much more complex? Because we are driven by the same needs and desires, we just utilize different methods, one of which is a rational mind, which is less frequently used than one might expect. The main goal with human NPCs is, just like with wildlife, to have them behave naturally and reasonable. This also includes acting strange btw. That said, even combat will be just part of their behavior repertoire. When fighting, their main goal is surviving, not giving you a good time. Therefore, NPCs in combat might retreat or hide if they feel like, not caring if you sit there all day. And im really looking forward to all that cussing because of NPCs that didnt want to just run into your crosshair. Also, you have to keep something in mind and that is, that most gamers have more (virtual) combat experience than war veterans. I myself have like 800h just on BF2 ranked servers. Most survivors in Apokalypsos wont have that much experience in gun fights or combat tactics. Of course there will also be quite professional enemies, but most will be amateurs or raiders that are more desperate than well organized or trained. Therefore, they wont pose an offensive threat like players would. The goal is to have them act a bit like the Vietcong. For those that dont instantly know what i mean:
The Vietcong send less trained, less equiped folks out to harass the U.S. in Vietnam. Though they had way more casualties, they gave the U.S. a hard time and though the Vietcong never had a major military victory (at least i dont know of any lasting ones) they at least achieved many moral victories and it took the U.S. quite some time to down them, especially in regards to the big disparity in technology levels. The non-professional NPCs will act quite similar. They will do their best to give you a hard time, not get caught or shot and in some way make up for their lacking skills. Why, you may ask, is it that they know how to do that? Simple answer: Only those that adepted and learned that lesson did survive, since this world is wasted not just yesterday and most of the stand-and-gun stupids simply got shot (or stabbed) long ago. 

Professional Soldiers of the major factions or the S.O.S. Forces of course know more about combat and will apply regular and special military tactics as necessary and possible. And you know whats the main rule in combat nowadays? Stay covered!You may have noticed that this is something even pseudo-miliatary oponents in modern games simply ignore. They run/skate around like this was Quake Deathmatch. Still, what it wont do is simply cheating to hit you from impossible angles or have a unlikely chance to hit you in general. Maybe they’ll hit you by chance becauce they lay cover fire on you and you were stupid enough to stick your head out. 

Therefore, my A.I. will make you curse more than one time, not because she acts out or breaks immersion, but because its simply not falling for your tricks over and over again and some times forces you to risk more than you planned or cause you to retreat and lick your wounds. 

If you got further questions or want me to expand on a certain point, let me know, otherwise i hope you enjoyed the read and are still eager for more.

So long folks!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sigoya April 6, 2009 at 6:32 am

Great post!

Therandom July 10, 2011 at 7:36 pm

keep up the good work and don’t give up on us were waiting

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