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A Look At the AI of Empire: Total War and F.E.A.R. 2

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the entertainingly-foolish dept.

PC Games (Games) 58

mr_sifter writes "The newly released Empire: Total War and F.E.A.R. 2 have both been praised for their excellent AI. In this feature, Bit-Tech talks to the developers behind these games about how they handled the challenges of creating Empire's armies of thousands of AI soldiers and F.E.A.R. 2's aggressive teams of military operatives. The discussion also talks about how game AI is 'smoke and mirrors' compared to research AI, and looks at the difficulty of improving the quality of game AI." We talked about F.E.A.R. 2's engine and AI back in December as well.

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First post? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27088725)

YAY!

A human like AI... (4, Funny)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088753)

it gives you the impression that itâ(TM)s a real human character wanting to kill you and survive...

I would revel at the day when the AI is more human like which would tremble upon sighting my avatar, run to the ends of the map at the sound of my bullets, curse me, and log out.

Re:A human like AI... (2, Funny)

Jmanamj (1077749) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088825)

Actually, I can see a more human-like AI bunnyhoping towards you as you try to kill it, shooting you in the face with a shotgun, and then sending a message saying "pwnd b1tch."

At this point, the humanity and sophistication of AI will have reached truly awesome heights, and gaming will be all the better for it.

Re:A human like AI... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27088957)

You forgot teabagging.

Re:A human like AI... (2, Funny)

montyzooooma (853414) | more than 5 years ago | (#27089309)

Actually, I can see a more human-like AI bunnyhoping towards you as you try to kill it, shooting you in the face with a shotgun, and then sending a message saying "pwnd b1tch."

At this point, the humanity and sophistication of AI will have reached truly awesome heights, and gaming will be all the better for it.

Doesn't it already do this in Unreal Tournament 3?

Re:A human like AI... (1)

pieisgood (841871) | more than 5 years ago | (#27100617)

The entire Unreal Series does this. Of course... 2004 does it better than any other.

It's a pity. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27088915)

It's a pity that Empire: Total War lacks multi-core support, as well as having severe loading screen issues.

If FEAR 2 dropped the horror and just made it a tactical FPS, I'd have no complaints for that one.

AI is all well and good, but it is only one part of what makes a game. At least, one part of what makes a game that requires AI.

Re:It's a pity. (1)

Goateee (1415809) | more than 5 years ago | (#27092319)

While AI is only a small but important part of a game, the AI of FEAR is one of its main selling points. For me this was the primary unique feature that made me buy the first game in the series. I agree with you that the horror sequences feel out of sync with the rest of the game, as explained well by Zero Punctuation [escapistmagazine.com] . I think it would have felt more natural if there were no such scripted parts in the game. Anyway its a good this these wasnt mentioned in the article.

Re:It's a pity. (1)

anss123 (985305) | more than 5 years ago | (#27099123)

While AI is only a small but important part of a game, the AI of FEAR is one of its main selling points. For me this was the primary unique feature that made me buy the first game in the series.

FEAR's AI is great, even today. Fear 2's AI is good too but the gun battles are not quite as enjoyable. This may not be due to inferior AI though. The smoke played a more significant role in Fear 1's battles, and shadows in Fear 2 seems to be prerendered since gun flashes no longer sends them all over the place. Also the enemies have godlike reaction times, as if they're keeping their weapons at the ready all the time. Small details but they do make a difference to how I play.

All in all Fear 2 makes Far Cry 2 look like a joke in the AI department, though Crysis gives a good showing as long as you ignore the silly glitches.

I agree with you that the horror sequences feel out of sync with the rest of the game

I found the horror sequences to be a nice break in the corridor running, unlike cutscenes which tends to go on and on. Don't think the game tried to be scary since, as the ZP review points out, it's impossible to be scared when you're a respawning super solider. Now if the game randomly deleted files when one got hurt it would be the scariest game ever.

No AI in ETW (3, Insightful)

mseeger (40923) | more than 5 years ago | (#27089071)

Hi,
i love the Total War Series. But the AI in ETW is a complete disappointment. I see no enhancement compared to MTW2. The opposite is true, there are so many AI bugs that battles agains the AI are close to pointless. I slaughtered enemys at the border of the battlefield, standing with theit back towards me. I micromanage my own units because grouping tends to produce strange results. Due to this, battles are a lot more point&click-work currently. I'm waiting for a patch :-(.
Sincerely yours, Martin

Re:No AI in ETW (3, Insightful)

mike2R (721965) | more than 5 years ago | (#27089559)

But the AI in ETW is a complete disappointment. I see no enhancement compared to MTW2. The opposite is true, there are so many AI bugs that battles agains the AI are close to pointless.

You know I don't think it's as bad as you make out. Sure I agree that it does do stupid things and I'm sure it will be better after a patch or two, but in the right situation (and really this is most battles I've played) it seems capable of good solid play. The problems I've seen tend to be where it tries to do something clever (like split its forces) and ends up weakening its position, but it hasn't happened very often and certainly isn't game breaking.

I dunno, I guess I tend to be a glass-half-full type of player when it comes to AI - I don't expect miracles and I'm willing to accept that there will be situations where it does something stupid. People who listen to computer game publishers' marketing and judge the AI against human intelligence are always going to be doomed to disappointment, but I'm happy enough with the Empire AI at the moment, in comparison with other games I've played.

Re:No AI in ETW (1)

mseeger (40923) | more than 5 years ago | (#27089729)

Hi,

correct: the AI may act OK in some battle. Unluckily i never had the experience where there wasn't no screwup in one battle. Also i have currently so much micromanagement to do, because basic formations (infantry in a line) may result in utter chaos on my side (e.g. four infantry units in a line: A B C D. I draw another line fifty yards ahead and they end up: B C D A). This kills the fun. Or you have a fight to the knife and the decision hangs in a balance. Suddenly the AI turns his units around, marches to the border of the battlefield and turns the back on you. Or you use you a cavalry unit to chase a canon. In the middle your cav hangs up at a rock in between, undecided wether to around right or left.

I found at last 10 bugs in as many matches....

I'm disappointed because MTW2 was much better (even at the release) and the release date of ETW was even pushed back.

Sincerely yours, Martin

Re:No AI in ETW (1)

mike2R (721965) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090553)

If you've has that many problems then I can see why your disappointed. However one thing I can't agree with:

I'm disappointed because MTW2 was much better (even at the release)

That's got to be a rose tinted view :) Man that passive AI bug was a pain...

Re:No AI in ETW (1)

mseeger (40923) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090743)

I give you that the AI appears more lively than the one from MTW2. But so does a beheaded chicken .... for some time at least.
But the theory, that time has softened my memory is also a valid one :-).
CU, Martin

Re:No AI in ETW (1)

je ne sais quoi (987177) | more than 5 years ago | (#27092267)

I'll chime in here, the AI in MTW2 did some things a little more cleverly, but for the most part, you could still beat the pants off it flanking with your cavalry. Oh, and I had to micromanage my troops in MTW2 all the time as well, the grouping just sucked ass: not only do you get misalignments like what somebody above mentioned, the autorotation of the line was hideous, I don't know how many battles I had to hurriedly select all and then hit stop because one side my line was advancing while the other was retreating. Annoying like hell. I was considering getting ETW, but since reading these posts, I think I'll pass.

Re:No AI in ETW (1)

Narpak (961733) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090065)

I love Empire Total War, but the battle AI is far from perfect. Though the two things that really made me scratch my head was
1) That after the Independence of the Thirteen Colonies the troops still say "Yes Your Majesty"; even though they have an elected President.
2) First turn of the last chapter of The Road to Independence; Great Britain wanted me to give them Main offering technology and Gibraltar in exchange. And every turn their after they kept offering crap in exchange for Main; though nothing quite as stupid as Gibraltar.

So clearly the Battle AI isn't the only part in need of some work. Now got a military campaign to run so I can't sit here talking to you people all day.

Re:No AI in ETW (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093715)

That after the Independence of the Thirteen Colonies the troops still say "Yes Your Majesty"; even though they have an elected President.

Obviously your troops are mocking your micromanagement and totalitarian attitude. See, the AI is human-like.

Re:No AI in ETW (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090161)

The problems I've seen tend to be where it tries to do something clever (like split its forces) and ends up weakening its position, but it hasn't happened very often and certainly isn't game breaking.

That's quite realistic. Lord Chelsford did it before Islandwana. After Quatre Bras/Wavre Napoleon sent Grouchy off to chase the Prussians.

Re:No AI in ETW (1)

GMFTatsujin (239569) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093033)

As did Rufus T. Firefly in Freedonia's epic war against Sylvania.

Those who do not read history are destined to repeat it. Or at least, catch it on late night A&E.

Also (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27095195)

It isn't as though humans don't do stupid things, too. Even if I could make a game with a perfect AI, would people want to play it? Supposing the AI knew all the rules and never fucked up, what fun would it be? It'd always win since it was perfect.

While I am certainly a person for better AI, by better I mean "more human." I want an AI that can act like a human player of varying skills. Part of that WILL be making mistakes.

Re:No AI in ETW (2, Interesting)

Delosian (1443777) | more than 5 years ago | (#27103823)

I agree with you completely. The French and Indian forces will stand with their backs to you after they are forced to retreat. You can either walk up to them and shoot them in the back and they won't do anything or you can shell their position and they'll just stand there and take it till they're all dead. At one stage the enemy attacked me with cannons and I don't mean with cannon balls. They walked up to my lines with the cannons while under heavy fire and tried to walk through my lines. I suspect that for some reason the retreat area for the AI was on the side I entered battle from. Not even Medieval 2 (which had plenty of AI bugs) was that stupid. Another example of stupid AI was when the Indians which outnumbered me 10:1 attacked my fort. They climbed over the walls and killed my guys on the wall but then they raced down to the middle of the fort where my general was and they just stood there. My general ended up killing them all and I won the game with a "close victory". Seriously, they had rifles and bladed weapons and were in arms length of my cavalry and they did nothing to try and kill them. Also what is with the fishing village vs. the shipyard? That's just dumb. I had to dismantle my Level 3 fishing village just to complete an objective which required a Level 1 Shipyard. It seems like they tried something new and failed badly. In general I cannot say I'm impressed. The Steam engine failed to install the first half dozen times with a different error message each time. I ended up getting the Steam installer off the net and installing that first and THEN installing the game. And what is with requiring an internet connection? My games computer is purposely off the grid so it doesn't get a virus and force me to format my hard drive and lose some of my game files (the ones I forget). What a waste of my time. Razor1911 has already hacked the game so you don't need to connect to the internet so if their insistence on this is a form of copy protection then it failed majorly because Razor1911 had the game hacked before it hit the shelves and online stores.

The power of Cell (1)

Crumplecorn (904797) | more than 5 years ago | (#27089089)

Not everyone is convinced that GPGPU is the best way of processing AI though. Bethesdaâ(TM)s Jean-Sylvere Simonet notes that "we might be able to take advantage of parallel architectures, but not for everything. You could probably speed up some individual parts of the decision process, such as replacing your AI search with a brute-force GPU approach, or running a pattern detection algorithm". However, Simonet also points out that "most AI processing is very sequential and usually requires a lot of data.

"For an NPC to decide on its next action, it will usually have to query the world for a tonne of information, and most of that information is conditional on a previous query result. For that reason, fewer processors that are more versatile, such as the SPEs in the PlayStation 3â(TM)s Cell chip, are ideal".

Power of Cell etc etc.

Re:The power of Cell (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27089283)

For an NPC to decide on its next action, it will usually have to query the world for a tonne of information, and most of that information is conditional on a previous query result.

I'll believe him, but he's obviously talking about Bethesda games.

Elder Scrolls / Fallout NPCs have a hojillion options available to them. They can sleep, eat, pick up objects, converse with other characters (NPC or the PC), go home, go to work, go to the store, equip clothing and weapons, fight, run away et cetera. All this requires a lot of knowledge about the time of day, all of the objects and characters in the NPC's immediate environment, and some information about other locations in town.

In an FPS like FEAR the options are much more limited. Essentially an NPC can choose between fire, throw grenade, take cover and run away to regroup. All he needs to know is the location of his enemy/enemies, maybe the locations of his allies and the location of potential cover.

In an RTS not even every NPC needs AI; you only need one AI per computer-controlled faction. Their options aren't as limited as in an FPS, but they don't need that much dynamic information about the world either: the map is mostly static, only its own and its enemy's locations really change.

TL;DR: What works for Oblivion doesn't necessarily have to be useful to other games.

Fear 2's AI sucked. (3, Interesting)

n1hilist (997601) | more than 5 years ago | (#27089123)

The AI in Fear 2 was terrible! Well, if it was good, I didn't notice because it was so god damned easy to play that it was more a case of "Hi, *slomo* bye." .. firefights were so short that if there was amazing AI under the hood, I completely missed it.

On the parts where I didn't use slowmo, again, nothing remarkable, and I'm not exactly an amazing FPS player either.

Re:Fear 2's AI sucked. (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 5 years ago | (#27089353)

>>"Hi, *slomo* bye." .. firefights were so short that if there was amazing AI under the hood, I completely missed it.

Yeah, Fallout 3 made for a pretty bad first person shooter for this reason: *Tap z* -> VATS comes up. Click on head. Head shot! OMG, I rock!

By the end of the game, I was refusing to use VATS for no other reason that it was insulting me by assuming that I couldn't aim.

Of course, if I was stuck using the Xbox controllers, I'd be used to being unable to aim, and relying on games to cheat (autoaim) for me. =)

Re:Fear 2's AI sucked. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27089717)

Fallout 3 made for a pretty bad first person shooter because it wasn't a first person shooter. It's an RPG.

VATS is an attempt to combine a real-time first-person combat system with a traditional turn-based RPG battle system. It succeeds at that pretty well I think. Of course, one of its strengths is that you can ignore it completely and only play the game in real time, as you did.

Re:Fear 2's AI sucked. (1)

n1hilist (997601) | more than 5 years ago | (#27089873)

VATS was OK, but it lacked all the features RPGs usually have, like special moves, weapon combos, or anything meaningful. The only remarkable feature in VATS, aside from the lovely slow motion gore fests was the chance to target the foe's gun, or even better, a grenade.

Re:Fear 2's AI sucked. (1)

cptnapalm (120276) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093507)

For the 5 or so hours I played Fallout 3, I didn't use VATS. Aiming directly between the eyes at 10 feet would usually miss by a mile. It was awful. While I loved Fallout 1 & 2, I hated 3.

Re:Fear 2's AI sucked. (1)

moonbender (547943) | more than 5 years ago | (#27095309)

Aiming directly between the eyes at 10 feet would usually miss by a mile.

So, uhh, Fallout 3 is an awful game because ... you did not use VATS? It's a turn-based RPG -- just like Fallout 1 and 2. Using the real time combat was mostly useful for dealing with inferior enemies. There are no inferior enemies in the beginning of the game.

Re:Fear 2's AI sucked. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27097867)

5 Hours. OK, so you made it out of the tutorial into the real game. What was your character's numeric skill level on the weapon type your character was using? What kind of weapon? Not all of them have straight lines of fire. And if your character's skill is too low, he / she can't hit what they are aiming at. Buddy, you missed because YOU DON'T KNOW HOW TO PLAY, not because the game sucks. So to sum it up: L2P, n00b!

Re:Fear 2's AI sucked. (1)

cptnapalm (120276) | more than 5 years ago | (#27097969)

FPS: Something to shoot -> aim at something -> shoot at it.

F3: Something to shoot -> move to near point blank range -> shoot at it -> miss continuously

Re:Fear 2's AI sucked. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27114691)

Small guns = 5 over 100
Perception = 3 over 10
Intelligence = 1 over 10

Re:Fear 2's AI sucked. (1)

n1hilist (997601) | more than 5 years ago | (#27089895)

Yeah, they should have given you a very finite amount of VATS points, or allow you to earn them and have slow motion replays ONLY for critical hits.

Re:Fear 2's AI sucked. (1)

GMFTatsujin (239569) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093081)

Max Payne had this kind of mechanic: more bullet time accrued via better kills in real time. It was fun having to manage the amount of BT you had, knowing that somewhere down the road you'd need it, and it wasn't worth spending it higgledy-piggledy.

Re:Fear 2's AI sucked. (1)

randyest (589159) | more than 5 years ago | (#27097869)

I can't believe I'm posting this, but I believe you mean willy-nilly [merriam-webster.com] rather than higgledy-piggledy [thefreedictionary.com] .

The former means "by compulsion, without choice, in a haphazard or spontaneous manner " while the latter refers to that which is "In utter disorder or confusion, topsy-turvy, jumbled."

Mod Parent Up (1)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 5 years ago | (#27101453)

I can't decide if this is +1 informative or +1 funny. All I know is I wish I had mod points.

Re:Fear 2's AI sucked. (1)

Goateee (1415809) | more than 5 years ago | (#27092537)

Now I have only played FEAR 1 and expansions, but I'll assume FEAR 2 is about the same. If I remember correctly there were like Easy, Normal, Hard and Masochist.

I am by no means good at FPS games and barely needed to use the slowmo. If they care to name a difficulty Masochist it better be so hard that its almost impossible!

Re:Fear 2's AI sucked. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27093115)

like some programmer stated once,they can make the AI almost invincible and make them do perfect heads hot.

the hardest part is to make it flawed, hesitate and make bad decision or good (judgement call)

if by easy you meant you hid and then killed a dozen guard well, to me, that means that the AI did it's job because you were hidden thus giving you the advantage.

if you were hidden and they still found you, that's not hard to do, just have an area defined where the ennemy just detects that you are in range whether your on the same floor or hiding.

to me, the latest is pointless because it does not take into account the physics and reality of things.

In FEAR, the ennemy was hiding and ducking, for sure if an arm or a leg was showing you could kill them slowly by aiming at that and they would not budge.

But having an AI that is perfect would surely make the game unplayable specifically if it l earned your trick and adapted according to it or changed position if it decides that it's camping with a sniper rifle (of course some players would see this a the most challenging part and most fun since it would actually keep you on your guard)

Re:Fear 2's AI sucked. (1)

Lorcas (1299955) | more than 5 years ago | (#27100299)

I don't know what's to praise about the AI in FEAR 2. For me, it's just horrible AI with well thought out lines to make the immersion better. Under no way will I praise bots saying "Advancing" when the target is out of view or "Take cover" when a grenade is near. The AI in this game is below average at best.

Here's a little something that happened TWICE yesterday as I was playing through the game:

I enter a room with cubicles and 4 hostiles that aren't aware of my presence. I shoot to kill one of them and take cover behind a wall (room was shaped in L form). At that time I hear the hostiles saying "Flush him out".

*grenade lands somewhere*

---silence---

***BOOM***

As I turn the corner, I notice all 3 remaining hostiles are dead. And this isn't a 1 time fluke, the next room had hostiles and they heard the gunfire, they launched a grenade at the closed door, which bounced back in their face.

2 rooms cleared, 1 bullet used. My main weapon: Crappy AI

Realistic AI, yay! (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27089373)

When has a game not claimed it has ultra-realistic AI only to end up having blatantly unrealistic AI?

I don't think you can even have ultra-realistic AI and keep the game fun in most cases anyway, if the AI was in fact ultra-realistic then they'd all just move to the same part of the map, wait until you come along and ambush you from every direction leaving you no chance whatsoever after all.

AI has got better through the years, it's started using cover and that sort of thing and the odd game has managed to have one set of AI put down supressive fire on you whilst another flanks you to an extent, but still not brilliantly. Even this time of AI is meaningless though, because there's few games that are realistic enough for you to die in one shot for example even if someone is laying down supressive fire on you you can still stick your head up and take them out even if you do take a few bullets.

So there's a distinction to make too, I don't think AI needs to be realistic else we get silly scenarios where the player has no chance but it can be a lot better whilst keeping the game fun. So far not much has managed to achieve ultra-intelligent AI whilst keeping the game fun. I guess it begs the question as to whether ultra-intelligent AI and fun AI are mutually exclusive things and you simply can't have both.

Re:Realistic AI, yay! (4, Funny)

Crumplecorn (904797) | more than 5 years ago | (#27089421)

I've always thought that a never ending march towards smarter AI would go something like this:

The Past:
No real AI. Enemies know where you are at all times, and simply make a beeline for you. To the player, the enemies seems to always know where you are and make a beeline for you.

The Present:
The enemies are no longer allowed to know where you are. Instead, simple AI makes basic decisions about how to act when you walk right in front of it. To the player, the enemies seem stupid.

The Future:
The AI now has advanced heuristics which allow it to take prompts from the environment and knowledge of your probable goals to judge your probable location by using 50% of your CPU power, and use advanced physics engines and inverse kinematics to take a realistic route to get to you, using the other 50% of your CPU power. To the player, the enemies seems to always know where you are and make a beeline for you.

Re:Realistic AI, yay! (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27089529)

I think you're right, some of the AI systems we've seen touted as being the best just seem to the end player to be effectively no different from some of the worst earlier AI. Call of Duty 5 is a good example of AI gone wrong, where enemies do try to flank you, use cover efficiently and so on. They're also good at using grenades, the problem is, they're all too good at using grenades. So when you hide behind cover 5 germans will chuck grenades at you so you have to run for other cover at which point another 5 will throw more meaning you have to run back to where you were assuming those grenades have blown up, all whilst dying repeatedly anyway because enemies kill you in only two or three shots on veteran. The fact they just plaster the area with 5 grenades often left me feeling little difference to the "hard mode" of old in many past games where the enemies were made harder by simply making them automatically aim at you and do rediculously high damage. The additional "intelligence" simply added nothing to the game.

Ironically, Call of Duty 4 which uses the engine that Call of Duty 5 went on to use was slightly better in terms of AI despite coming out a year earlier. I'm not sure if this is just the difference between the two companies that make the CoD games (Infinity Ward and Treyarch) or if it's also a good example of more intelligent enemies leading to a worse experience for the player.

Re:Realistic AI, yay! (2, Insightful)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090177)

"So when you hide behind cover 5 germans will chuck grenades at you so you have to run for other cover at which point another 5 will throw more meaning you have to run back to where you were assuming those grenades have blown up, all whilst dying repeatedly anyway because enemies kill you in only two or three shots on veteran. The fact they just plaster the area with 5 grenades often left me feeling little difference to the "hard mode" of old in many past games where the enemies were made harder by simply making them automatically aim at you and do rediculously high damage. The additional "intelligence" simply added nothing to the game."

Well in a real war if the enemy wanted to be a douche about it? Then yes they all could be chucking grenades at you. Especially if they're set on "hard". Seriously think long-range weapon. Pick as much of the enemy as you can and then mop up closer. Now i would say that AI is improving and thank God for that. For example your teammates in GRAW1 are a bunch of idiots. Occasionally handy but mostly dead because they wandered into the line of fire. Graw2 doesn't require as much micromanagement and hence your jobs easier and they're more useful.

Re:Realistic AI, yay! (1)

Lord Crc (151920) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090365)

For example your teammates in GRAW1 are a bunch of idiots. Occasionally handy but mostly dead because they wandered into the line of fire.

You're talking about the XBox version or something? Cause on the PC, GRAW2 team AI is significantly worse. At least in GRAW1 they would correctly identify incoming fire and return it. In GRAW2 there's countless times where I've seen them sitting still in the open, facing the wrong direction, yelling "taking fire" until they die.

Re:Realistic AI, yay! (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090403)

Have you played the CoD series?

Some sections spawn unlimited enemies and the only way to prevent the constant spawn is to move up and push forward so you can't just sit back at a distance picking them off else you simply run out of ammo.

Re:Realistic AI, yay! (1)

YouWantFriesWithThat (1123591) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090565)

for what it's worth, i always thought that COD was overly grenade happy. i just got done playing Brothers in Arms, the first one (road to hill 80) and was pleasantly surprised with the AI of both your teammates and enemies.

teammates will find cover, when possible. if you point at an area for them to goto they will automatically stay low and not get shot if there is any nearby cover. if you order them to suppress an area they do a good job keeping up fire so you can flank the enemy. the only time i had any die was if i stupidly ordered them to leave cover when they were under fire.

enemies see you coming, lay suppressing fire (not hitting you much) and they stay low when under fire. the enemies never suicide charge or mechanically follow the same path as their now-dead companions. in general it is pretty realistic to the actions of dug-in germans with good cover. also nice, if they see you get close to their cover they go active and chase you around the hedge.

my only gripe is that they are far more accurate than me with the same gun. i always snatch whatever SMG they were carrying (what can i say, the thompson sucks) but they are able to get headshots from very far away with the same gun that i most get close to effectively use. they added some gun barrel sway for the player, and it is a little overdone and unrealistic. i know for a fact that i wouldn't have 1" sight deviation when sighting a M1 on a target 25 yards away.

Re:Realistic AI, yay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27090703)

Which COD4 were you playing? In any difficulty, if you so much as stopped moving long enough to reload, the enemy would plaster you with nades just as you described- unless the mission designer wanted you to stand still (fixed mg, sniper spot, etc.), or if the game was waiting for you to step on a trigger to spawn more guys.

Re:Realistic AI, yay! (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090795)

I played through it on Veteran on the 360 and never encountered anything like the grenade spam I did on Call of Duty 5 where it literally got as silly as at some points (i.e. taking out the artillery guns on the second last level) ending up with around 10 grenades on you and in the immediate area, that kind of thing made the "throw back grenade" mechanic pointless it seemed.

About the only place on CoD4 I had lots of grenades was on the sniper section where you're fleeing and there are those old buses you can hide in. When I hid in a bus and led down I was getting quite a few grenades, but not so many that I couldn't easily just throw them back out.

Re:Realistic AI, yay! (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 5 years ago | (#27091937)

I played through it on Veteran on the 360 and never encountered anything like the grenade spam I did on Call of Duty 5 where it literally got as silly as at some points (i.e. taking out the artillery guns on the second last level) ending up with around 10 grenades on you and in the immediate area, that kind of thing made the "throw back grenade" mechanic pointless it seemed.

Clearly, you were meant to use the "throw back grenades" mechanic instead.

STALKER (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 5 years ago | (#27090881)

STALKER and Clearsky were both terrible with grenades as well, they would throw them so far and hit you in the head with them.

I guess in a post-apox world people have nothing better to do than sit around and throw stuff that must be why they are so good with grenades.

Re:STALKER (2, Funny)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 5 years ago | (#27091751)

They were doing this during the Wars of Scottish Independence. Haven't you seen Braveheart?

Re:Realistic AI, yay! (1)

manekineko2 (1052430) | more than 5 years ago | (#27091959)

While your criticism holds for traditional Doom style run and gun AI, I think there's a number of ways you could still make a great game out of it, and I think the players would respond positively to a game with really great AI.

Just off the top of my head;
1) Halo style you're a tank with shields. Just because the AI is acting really smart, you're still a lot stronger than most of the enemies you face. That makes for a pretty entertaining scenario, and good AI would work great with it.
2) Enemies don't know you're coming. Okay, they can plan intelligently, but that doesn't mean they'd all cluster up in one spot and lay a trap for you if you're infiltrating their base.
3) Realistic AI should also include human weakness. Enemies should panic and run when the super human comes blasting through, and should flip out when half their squad is mowed down in 5 seconds. In real life, a single well-trained military unit can defeat a much larger number of untrained armed enemies.

More DRM (0, Troll)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 5 years ago | (#27091803)

As a side note

Empire: Total War uses online activation (through Steam), so if you buy this and you don't have an Internet connection all the time in your gaming PC, or you upgrade components on it or you upgrade your OS or any other arbitrary condition (which can change at any time at the whim of one of the suits at Creative Assembly) then you've just threw away a nice chunk of your fun money.

Also forget about re-selling them game or giving it to a friend once you've became bored with it (or if you find out that you don't like that kind of games)

Funny part is, if this just had a key check or CD check instead of the "can be remotely disabled at any time" style of DRM, this would be one of the few games that I would buy this year.

Re:More DRM (1)

ifrag (984323) | more than 5 years ago | (#27092567)

so if you buy this and you don't have an Internet connection all the time in your gaming PC

Emphasis mine. This is false. If it's just Steam activation it's a one time deal. After that you can play it in Steam offline mode without problems.

Re:More DRM (2, Informative)

clubby (1144121) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093499)

Empire: Total War uses online activation (through Steam), so if you buy this and you don't have an Internet connection all the time in your gaming PC, or you upgrade components on it or you upgrade your OS or any other arbitrary condition (which can change at any time at the whim of one of the suits at Creative Assembly) then you've just threw away a nice chunk of your fun money.

Where the hell are you getting this from? Why do you think that activation on Steam precludes you from upgrading your PC, changing your OS, etc? And why do you think that "arbitrary conditions" from Creative Assembly will stop you from playing the game?

FYI, Steam needs you to go online once to download/activate the game, and after that, you're pretty much free and clear. Every few weeks your Steam "ticket" will expire, and you'll have to go back online for all of 5 seconds to log in again. You can install it on a different PC. You can format & reload, and re-install it on the same PC. You can go from XP to Vista to Linux/WINE to the Windows 7 Beta, and Steam will allow you to install your game. (Whether the game itself will run well/at-all under certain environments is a different matter, but also not related to Steam.)

Some Steam games come with third-party DRM. I don't think Empire is one of them, but I haven't checked. Far Cry 2, X3: Terran Conflict, and GTA IV are all examples of this unfair and burdensome "extra DRM" but I don't feel it's fair to blame the store for the decisions of the publishers. I don't blame my local bookstore for, say, the content of an Ann Coulter book they carry.

AI not a priority (1)

bbasgen (165297) | more than 5 years ago | (#27092173)

This quote from the article identifies the problem quite well:

Creative Assembly's Richard Bull notes that "there's still this disturbing mindset among programmers, particularly game programmers, that if the AI is taking any kind of considerable chunk of time, that's a really bad thing. It's only just getting to the stage now where people regard it as important enough to deserve this chunk of time in a game. If your graphics rendering is taking up 50 percent of your CPU time it's like 'well, never mind, it looks great', but if you try to tell people that you have this really intelligent decision-making system that's taking up 30 percent of the CPU time, they'll say 'you obviously don't know what you're doing, it's badly programmed' and so on".

I'd bet every strategy gamer out there would take a better AI over seeing blades of grass, but alas, AI doesn't draw marketing like grass blowing in the wind. :( FWIW, reviews are already criticizing Empire a bit for what has been a problem in past versions: all focus on the tactical AI (much needed, no doubt), but the campaign AI is still problematic. In this sense, CA has a heck of a task developing two quite different AIs. It is hard enough getting just one of them in respectable shape!

AI, Npcs and a related study. (1)

Borg453b (746808) | more than 5 years ago | (#27094191)

I'm about to conduct a modest study of NPCs in games; and came across this article.

Having read several texts on narratives in games and played a fair share of games - many of which were well written crpgs; it seems to me that games that rely heavily on authoring player-character behavior (through non-interactive scenes - such as FMVs) - create a sort of pseudo-NPC of your player character - leaving you, as a player, passive and unimmersed in large parts of the game. This does not necessarily have to be a bad thing; but striving towards immersion and the illusion of choice and making a difference, I believe the plot is to be wrought through the NPCs - thus, I've turned to the makings of NPCs.

It's a fairly broad area; and only part of it relates to AI and programmed autonomy.

I may be looking into some of the following areas: AI/Autonomy, forms of interaction (dialogue, cooperation & other forms), Plot: Function & Relation dynamics, content (scripts, models/animation, static vs. dynamic, voice acting), extra-game presence ( npc's roles in advertising, IPs, translation between media, reception) and player reception.

I would appreciate:

- Any ideas for other NPC relevant areas
- References to articles or material regarding NPC's or AI in games
- Accounts of any particular memorable experience you may have had with NPC's in games: ( What game, What made it unique? )

Thank you :)

(P.s. Yes - my current scope is very broad, and I look to limit it - but I'm still in an early exploratory phase.)

Well that was interesting, where can I learn more? (1)

Draek (916851) | more than 5 years ago | (#27102333)

This is probably one of the best articles I've read in Slashdot in a while. Yes, game AI may be a couple steps below true AI, but it's certainly a step above the problem-solving your average software developer is used to, so it picked my interest.

Thing is, I'd like to learn more about this and perhaps try my hand at writing a basic AI for a game, but I have no clue on how or where to start. Anyone has any recommendations?

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