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News & Features Discussion  » [Column] General: Artificial Intelligence?

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62 posts found
  MMODesigner

Novice Member

Joined: 1/04/13
Posts: 7

10/01/13 3:51:19 PM#21
After this article hit, one of the CoH designers reminded me about the Lord Recluse Strike Force AI that was created; the Arachnos Lieutenants were efficient and brutal, targeting healers and avoiding taking damage. We thought it would be a nice challenge for players to figure out how to beat it. Instead they just never played it because it was felt to be unfair, the enemies didn't act like any other enemies in the game. We eventually relented and put the AI back to more traditional aggro tables and the players were happy again.
  NoxMaelstrom

Novice Member

Joined: 12/17/10
Posts: 9

10/01/13 4:28:43 PM#22

A good AI is not always about the mob doing the smartest thing - a good AI should be fuzzy.  As a simple example how much thought a mob can apply to a problem can be based on how tactical they are for a given context (maybe they know all about ice but nothing about fire) as well as how stubborn they are - as they say, are you stubborn or stupid.  Based on these simple scalar values, x passes at coming to a conclusion can be made, with each pass being a weighted RNG accumulated over each pass.  The final value is compared to a set of possible decisions, scalar ranges, each range representing some possible action the mob can make.

Long story short (or not so short), sometimes the mob will get out of the fire, and sometimes not.  Thats what makes a fuzzy AI more interesting.  Smarter mobs will obviously get out of the way, but hey, who is to say the taunts of tanks don't piss them off enough to increase that stubbornness factor and in a blind rage stand in the fire.

  niccoli00

Novice Member

Joined: 3/23/04
Posts: 98

10/01/13 4:43:40 PM#23

Originally posted by Quesa: 

"Your example of the fire tanks in CoH (a game I miss), the crowd playing those tanks wanted dumb AI's but it's the dev's job to sack up and do what is right for the game."

 

This, so many times this.      

 

Loudest common denominator reaction (LCDR).  We didn't do the best fix, because people were upset.  So common in so many MMO, always ends up with a new LCDR for the next group.  Had you asked the gamers as a whole, what they thought about the tactic, I think you may have found that most supported a change, and probably the initial change you did.  Instead, you made a good change, people screamed, so you did something else, just tweaking it so they couldn't do as much at a time, but could still do it.  

 

What you did was fix an exploit of the system.  (exploit doesn't always mean cheating fyi)  A change to fix something that was being exploited repeatedly, to the advantage of a group of people that played solo.  While those without Fire Tanks considered rerolling, because they couldn't take on groups at a time, with impunity.    

 

Smarter AI is my preference, because I tire of boring games, because the AI is stupid.  GW2 is not really a good example of 'smart' AI, only a game without any aggro management of the "holy trinity" variety.  While combat was different, it just shifted how you managed aggro. "Oh look, I've pissed off the mob, I'll dodge and stop doing damage until he changes focus."  

 

Holy Trinity AI mechanics pretty much come down to a choreographed dance.  Move here, dodge this, move here, move there, etc.  Player skill devolves to "can you pay attention for 5 minutes of the same ole garbage" per boss fight.    

Niccoli

  VGmmorpg

Novice Member

Joined: 12/10/07
Posts: 3

10/01/13 5:00:52 PM#24

Matt, the problem was that by doing so, you failed to address the other side of the coin at the same time: Fire Tanks main damage mitigation was to kill things really fast. If you are thinking it was solely because of the AI, you are wrong. The goal of a tank is to maintain aggro of the mobs while the rest of the team recovers. Fire tanks couldn't do that with the burn change, especially with the longer recharge and greatly reduced damage output. They didn't have the mitigation to compensate for your change.  You probably would have done better to replace Burn with something that worked better with the "run away" AI. I can tell you from experience that the immobilization protection really didn't compensate for the intense fear that burn had after the change.

 

Also, when combined with the control nerfs (long recharge, short durations, mobs with higher resistances to controls), getting close to the previous amount of damage, even for less than a group of 15 critters, was unlikely.

  Gaia_Hunter

Elite Member

Joined: 5/04/12
Posts: 2611

10/01/13 5:07:05 PM#25

In GW2 during the betas they also made mobs scatter from AoE damage and most players still hated it.

In GW1 mobs (and hero/henchmen AI) still scatter from AoE - for sometime the solution was to use skills that slowed/immobilized the enemy but then it became just enough spike damage to kill all the mobs without allowing them to trigger their scatter while maybe using mobs path finding against them by holding against a wall.

Additionally in GW1, enemy mobs did go after the healers just like the players did go after the mob healers and of course it wasn't stupid from the mobs since the healers could keep them alive.

 

In the end what developers and players alike need to understand is that Mobs exist to be defeated by the players.

But the need to be "special" by being the only one to be beat something is a pressure players exert over developers.

And that would be ok except then developers tie rewards to that content (both because players pressure devs but also because devs try to entice players to become better at that content to win the rewards), including rewards that will make the rest of the game easier.

PvP via proxy PvE is just a problem without a simple solution.

Currently playing: GW2
Cooperative (semi cooperative)board games you should check: Pandemic, Sentinels of the Multiverse, Eldritch Horror, Descent 2.0,Level 7 Omega Protocol, Last Night on Earth

  Blazer6992

Advanced Member

Joined: 4/27/05
Posts: 603

Shit Happens!!

10/01/13 5:13:41 PM#26
   I don't want smarter AI against me, I want it with me. For example, a companion such as in SWTOR or even in games like Skyrim. I want my companions to be smarter. If you want an enemy to be harder to kill just give it more HP.
  dontadow

Apprentice Member

Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 1048

10/01/13 5:23:44 PM#27
Pretty much the truth.  People who want the holy trinity want  "platform games that always has the character jumping on the enemy" or "enemies who always just run forward ala Contra". If the mindset had been this way in the hayday of the video game revolution, we'd have no true innovation. 
 
Trinity is one tactic, it's a single tactic. Games that implement it create challenges by creating different scenerios and having the PCs figure out how to implement the one tactic.  
 
GW2 is the best example of breaking away from the trend.  Mobs behave smartly. The higher level dungeons will target characters most important , not based off of the character yelling out jibes in the middle of combat. (i always imagine that taunts are really your mama jokes).  
 
Sure, tank and spank can work on a handful of mobs, but not many and strong team tactics are neccessary, especially when you have a more balanced party. 
  kkarrabbass

Advanced Member

Joined: 8/17/08
Posts: 160

I was a smart man once...

10/01/13 6:14:07 PM#28

I could be wrong, but it seems like Mr. lizardbones just touched a quite important subject.
Is it possible to build engaging and fun encounters with dumb AI? AI is another name for NPC brain. Dumb AI means –dumb NPC. Is it possible to build engaging and fun encounters with dumb NPC? Yes, yes and yes! Just make him stronger!

Generally we are looking not for some qualities in NPCs. We are looking for a challenge. NPS with advanced AI is a challenge. But strong dumb NPS is a challenge too. Just for very short period of time. Then those encounters will become very boring. They become repetitive. Because this is what dumb AI is. Dumb AI (by its definition) besides other limitations has very limited number of possible variation of behavior. So, dumb AI also influence game replay ability.

 It is not a secret that progress in game AI development and utilizing was significantly deprioritized by development of PVP, which in some degree satisfied hunger for tactical challenge.

It is actually not about what exactly some NPCs would do in response to players actions, or in anticipation to potential players threat. Scenarios could be developed to your liking. It is about being challenging enough, but not overpowered. Or you will have situation Mr. MMODesigner has described.

Actually modern state of AI capabilities is quite high. Higher than capabilities of average persons. So, what the problem? When you fight another player, you expect him to be not very different from you in mental capacity. Meaning, you expect to win because of your skills.

Different players might have different skills (and not only skills in a game). Simple AI is not operating on skills level. It operates on a simple tactical level (by analyzing of outcome of multiple scenario variation (it is not absolutely accurate, but will do for this discussion)).

Whatever your attempts are to analyze what enough advanced AI will do in some situation, you will fail, because even dumb AI is enormously faster than you are, and capable of producing right (on its level of dumbness) decision in real time. It is very hard to balance that kind of AI with real people capabilities. Besides, real people make mistakes. We love them for those. We can defeat them because of those. AI may be dumb, it may be predictable, but it doesn’t make unintentional mistakes. And it is boring.

General (most common) direction in AI development (not in a game industry, but in all AI science) was to make AI as advance as possible, potentially better than human intelligence. Not to make AI to be precisely equal it. This is what we need to make fight challenging and interesting.

So, on my opinion, any hopes that improvement of AI will improve our game experience in nearest future, just hopes.

  FrinkiacVII

Novice Member

Joined: 1/23/13
Posts: 45

10/01/13 6:17:01 PM#29

I mainly played defenders, and only rarely ever farmed missions or participated in "cheaty" stuff like power leveling a lowbie or whatever.  As such, the "Burn nerf" never really affected me directly nor did it bother me.  In fact none of the game balance stuff they ever did bothered me one way or the other.  This might be because it was mostly beneficial to the defenders I guess. I will say that the "smarter AI" crowd isn't necessarily the PVPers, at least in CoH.  There were people who had a fire tank just to generate swag then used a different toon for PVP.   These people complained when the nerfs came down because it meant they couldn't as easily corrupt PVE to their personal swag engine anymore.  These were the type of people who would complain "Aw, now you're making me go back and reroll a new guy because my old money/XP machine got dismantled, dangit, now I have to play MORE PVE that I hate just to generate enough swag to support my PVPing that I love.  This sucks. "  My response to those people at the time was to quote Judd Nelson from The Breakfast Club: "BEE OH OH, AITCH OH OH"  Listening to the babies who don't want their "automatic win" button taken away is never the right answer.  They'll complain when you nerf stuff, but that only proves they're invested.  If it all becomes a cakewalk,  they'll quietly stop playing altogether and go find another game.  As for people not wanting a challenge, I would say that not EVERY mission or game experience needs to be totally challenging, but also, in the last few months of CoH, I regularly participated in repeated Triumph Server-wide attempts to get the "The REALLY Hard Way" badge.  We were only successful once, but we had a great time doing it.  Some stuff should be that challenging.

"Well sure, the FrinkiacVII looks impressive - DON'T TOUCH IT - but I predict that within 100 years computers will be TWICE as powerful, ten THOUSAND times larger, and so expensive that only the five richest kings of Europe will own them." -Prof. Frink

  gandales

Advanced Member

Joined: 1/12/06
Posts: 465

10/01/13 8:31:15 PM#30

The issue with standard tanking is that it is pretty unrealistic for enemies that are not dumb. I like the concept for druaga tower that it is about the tank as a blockers. For example, narrow corridor or door tanking partially works that way.

An interesting AI would bring a less scripted boss encounters.

  jesteralways

Elite Member

Joined: 3/17/13
Posts: 619

10/01/13 8:38:53 PM#31
I believe it is highly possible to create smarter VI keeping the trinity. You want the enemy to think smart or more logically and to retain a normal mind, so if we are fighting a pig will we like the pig to act like a human? i guess we don't want it that way. if we are fighting a mob of zombies should they have high intelligence instead of  zerg mentality? my take on the matter is if i am fighting against humanoid/intelligent being, make them intelligent. for example : i am fighting an orc champion with trinity group, tank takes aggro; healer heals tank and enrages the orc champion; now the orc champion wants to beat the life out of healer, now here we make the orc champion immune to taunt for 5 sec(or a time depending on situation/balance) and allow him to attack healer, but healer is light armored and die really fast, so add a mechanics that will allow tank to shield healer for 2-3 sec taking 50% of the damage that is done to healer within that time period, this will obviously make  the orc champion realize without killing the tank it is impossible to kill healer. but it is way too easy, so we add another attack to orc champion and that is if certain player is below 25% hp and enrage the champion, orc champion will instantly finish him off regardless of any guarding or defense spell/mechanism in place. this will make encounters more challenging despite having a trinity.

i want an open world, no phasing, no instancing.i want meaningful owpvp.i want player driven economy.i want meaningful crafting.i want awesome exploration, a sense of thrill.i want ow housing with a meaningful effect on my entire gameplay experience, not just some instanced crap.i want all of these free of cost, i don't wanna pay you a cent, game devs can eat grass and continue developing game for me.
Seems like that is the current consensus of western mmo players.

  maplestone

Novice Member

Joined: 12/10/08
Posts: 3109

10/01/13 9:31:17 PM#32
Originally posted by Ozmodan
Good AI takes a lot of coding and lots of memory.  While today's computers are pretty robust, not sure they can yet handle good AI, besides that would take significant resources from the programming staff too.  

This sounds like it would make a good game in itself - give players a little scripting language and a finite amount of memory/clock cycles, then have their AI-driven parties of characters duke it out in an arena.

 

  Scot

Hard Core Member

Joined: 10/10/03
Posts: 5266

10/02/13 2:40:12 AM#33

We need smarter PvE opponents, hell most MMOs I play need smarter PvP opponents. :)

The Holy Trinity is the best PvE mechanic devised, but like any mechanic it forces players into a certain style of gameplay. Smarter mobs can exploit the HT to get an advantage, this can cause the HT gameplay real issues. So players want the mobs to be dumb. If there was a tactical response that the players could make to the moves of smart mobs I think they would be OK with it.

In the example given you had to have a Controller to be able to have a tactical response to the smart mobs moving out of the fire. That's a problem as not every team would have a Controller. This could have been solved by having other players "cover" the tank. The other players close of gaps in the flames around the tank simply by having LoS through a gap to the tank, they just move to get that LoS. Or you could have a group mechanic like a finishing move which held mobs already in dot zones.

We don't need the HT going ahead in MMOs, but if that's not used then we need a replacement. The blitzkrieg tactic of a player group with no structure is simply not as satisfying.

  haplo602

Advanced Member

Joined: 5/31/05
Posts: 155

10/02/13 2:57:38 AM#34

I am all pro Holy Trinity. But the division actualy is :

 

1. Crowd control - tank, debuff, curse etc ... whatever fits the enemy

2. Support - heals, buffs ... again whatever works in the given situation

3. Damage

 

Thus the Holy Trinity still exists, but the roles are filled by different classes agains different enemies. In your case, the crowd control and damage was the same character, so it was advantaged. Making the mobs smarter split the roles in 2 again (tank/cc could not do damage) thus you got a pushback :-)

 

I am all for good AI. Make the enemies less in number and more varied in group composition and skill/tactics used. I fail to see why mobs don't generaly call for help (invalidates pull tactics most of the time) or change targets (classic tank is out without other CC means) or change tactics. That is not hard to implement but lowers the fun of the more straight forward thinking players.

 

When I can find one such MMORPG that combines all the above, I'll buy a lifetime sub in an instant (I am not interested in KillX/FetchX quests, I can do with the grind if enemies are interesting and challenging).

  gobla

Apprentice Member

Joined: 3/30/07
Posts: 1417

C'est la vie.

10/02/13 5:44:25 AM#35

A rather unimaginative piece to be honest.

Albeit with some grain of truth, if you believe the trinity is synonymous with stupid AI then it's indeed not the artificial kind of intelligence you need.

Just take a few minutes to imagine. You're an MMO designer. You've got classes that fit into the trinity. You're tasked with coming up with interesting, challenging and intelligent enemy tactics whilst keeping the trinity intact. What do you do?

If you really can't come up with anything at all then I'd say that your own lack of creativity, not any flaw of the trinity.

Do note, none of this implies that the trinity is the best combat system. It's simply a combat system among several others. Whether or not you have a trinity system does not determine how interesting, challenging and intelligent your combat is, it all comes down to what the developers do with that system. A good dev can make great trinity systems and great non-trinity systems. A bad dev will produce a boring combat system either way.

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  FrinkiacVII

Novice Member

Joined: 1/23/13
Posts: 45

10/02/13 5:56:02 AM#36

In CoH it wasn't a simple matter of "Dumb AI = fights are winnable, but too easy" versus "Smart AI = fights are nearly impossible, or actually impossible, depending on your team".  There were difficulty sliders you could set that would dictate the level and number of badguys that would spawn.  So the nerfs to Burn and Taunt were mostly just to take away the ability of those tankers to just set the "mob size" control to "max" then aggro an entire map full of Freaks and immolate them all.  When you get to the level of being able to "batch process" an entire map with one particular build, it's a problem.  If anything I think the AI might have been handled best as a difficulty setting.  If nothing else, the little kids and casual players could set it to an easier setting and the powergamers could set it to the max just for the challenge.  I mean, it was certainly true that some people really made a point of maxxing out their build, whereas others didn't have the time or inclination to bother getting every Very Rare thing they might need, or even know what "the best" stuff even was.  I certainly didn't, and by the end I just about had the Influence for it if I wanted to (CoH currency was Influence, not gold).  I'd also like to point out that the Lord Recluse TF may have suffered from a too-smart AI, I wouldn't know because I never played it, because I never got my one villain to a high enough level to do so.  I think people would still have done TFs even if the AIs were smarter than the average bear, but only if it were consistently like that for all such content, and if the rewards were proportionally higher to make up for the added headaches.  As it was, it was hard enough to keep a TF together long enough to finish it for a lot of them  (see "Dr. Quarterfield TF" in the Shadow Shard) so people tended to start more of the shorter ones (the "Quicky" being the Katie Hannon TF, for instance) because the rewards were the same anyway, regardless of the length or difficulty.  They eventually changed that to some extent, but even the difficulty settings you got on the TFs didn't include smarter AI as far as I remember and they didn't give added rewards for anything you could set, I don't think.

GOD I miss that game.

/em holdtorch

 

 
 

"Well sure, the FrinkiacVII looks impressive - DON'T TOUCH IT - but I predict that within 100 years computers will be TWICE as powerful, ten THOUSAND times larger, and so expensive that only the five richest kings of Europe will own them." -Prof. Frink

  Dracokalen

Apprentice Member

Joined: 5/19/04
Posts: 6

10/02/13 7:30:02 AM#37

 I'm more in the middle.

 I dislike farming and feel your first solution was correct.

But that being said I play games to have fun and I don't think continually having to chase down mobs after I engaged them is much fun either.

 So maybe one or 2 of the group are dumb enough to keep attacking and the rest path as you described in your first solution.

  gamefreak727

Apprentice Member

Joined: 3/13/13
Posts: 7

10/02/13 8:30:32 AM#38
Each kind of ai has it's place in a game. A smart ai would be good on fights with mobs that don't hit hard so each class can take a couple hits but not necessarily die. If you have a smart ai on a giant dragon fight you are going to die.... Kinda like that intro video to ff xiv arr. The dumber ai's belong on boss fights to some extent because they make it possible, they make it fun then. But there are many determining factors for the right ai.
  logan400k

Novice Member

Joined: 1/05/09
Posts: 68

10/02/13 8:37:24 AM#39
Smarter enemies make for more challenging play.  Enemies should be programmed to act appropriately for their environment and for the situation.

Just My 2 Lunars

  Kyleran

Bitter Vet™

Joined: 9/13/06
Posts: 19149

Fools find no pleasure in understanding, but delight in airing their own opinions. Pvbs 18:2, NIV

10/02/13 8:38:53 AM#40
Originally posted by MMODesigner
After this article hit, one of the CoH designers reminded me about the Lord Recluse Strike Force AI that was created; the Arachnos Lieutenants were efficient and brutal, targeting healers and avoiding taking damage. We thought it would be a nice challenge for players to figure out how to beat it. Instead they just never played it because it was felt to be unfair, the enemies didn't act like any other enemies in the game. We eventually relented and put the AI back to more traditional aggro tables and the players were happy again.

I was wondering, what incentives did you provide the players to tackle and master this more challenging scenario? Did beating them provide some special title, reward, item etc?

Most MMORPG players are strongly motivated by progression, and will generally gravitate to activities that provide the greatest reward for the least effort/risk.

They don't play these games for "fun" or challenging game play (OK some do) but in general you have to provide extraordinary reward for extra challenge/effort/risk.

If this wasn't part of the design, no wonder the players wanted it changed to be traditional, no reason for them to do this otherwise.

 

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