Quest for Dead

I'm back, and I come bearing great news, PROJECTS!!!!!!! yay. I'm working on a new project, and I'm in it for the long haul. So it might be a while, and nothing is set absolutely in stone yet. However, I'm going to be posting (supposedly) frequent blogs hinting at the research undertaken to work on this project. 

Without further ado, here we go.

In this GDC 2015 talk, Radial Games' Kimberly Voll shows how to build AI that aren't necessarily brilliant, but are certainly believable, in order to convince players that the world they're playing in is inhabited by compelling characters. GDC talks cover a range of developmental topics including game design, programming, audio, visual arts, business management, production, online games, and much more.

Less is more. Less is more. As someone who has only worked with relatively basic AI in the past, it's fascinating to hear that perhaps trying to implement these seemingly complex behaviours is something that might ruin a player experience. When I previously worked on my killbot used in the killbot tournament amongst my peers, I anticipated that my bot would place badly because all it did was run around on a whim, look for the enemy and if hee saw the enemy, he would fire exactly 5 shots at the enemy. Lo and behold that bot came 1st in a free for all, and 3rd in the overall tournament (I think). But now that I think about it, all of the top bots has amazingly simple design.

But what if you're not designing your artificial intelligence to destroy another ai? Or what if your AI is severely disadvantaged by not having access to the same gameplay mechanics as the player? What if they were per se 'zombies'?

If we look at Left for Dead, the generiic artificial intelligence for the basic zombie is to simply locate and travel towards the player and overcome vertical obstacles, if any. To this cycle of life, there are minute path detours that the zombie will take, or different climbing animations that the zombie will use to give the player the feeling that the zombie is an organic being, rather than a capsule in a video game. 

Less is More.

Left for Dead is famous for it's AI 'Director' which evaluates how the player(s) is progressing through the episode, and changes spawn rates of both enemies and items accordingly. The Director only decides when zombies should be despawned, and when zombies or items should be spawned and in what frequency, and is even turned off at certain points in the game, however the Director still receives praise for releasing or increasing tension on the player at certain points in the game.

So for me, the challenge still remains of actually implementing things like A* pathfinding in a 3-dimensional situation, and applying this artificial intelligence to it. This will take some time, and figuring out, though I'm fairly confident that with some practice, it should become fairly obvious what should be done in the coming months.


Tylah Kapa.