Maybe We Can't Handle Smart Enemies In Our Games

Maybe We Can't Handle Smart Enemies In Our Games

In an ideal world, video games are advanced enough to give us "smart" enemies — you know, the type of foes that provide a meaningful challenge because they use actual tactics. "Dumb" AI, by contrast, is often critiqued and made fun of — most players have head-shaking stories about a game with enemies that run straight at you, or stories about games with lacklustre AI.

It seems to me that, as a community, we eagerly await the day games provide us intelligent enemies. The funny thing is, there's a chance you'll hate it when an AI is smart, too. Over at the Ask A Game Dev blog, an anonymous developer details a fascinating story about playtesting a shooter.

Let's say you have a situation like this one — the player is on the left, the enemies are on the right, and there is some cover between you. The enemy outnumbers the player.

Maybe We Can't Handle Smart Enemies In Our Games

Bad AI, conventional wisdom goes, will simply run up to the player. Smart AI would maybe have one enemy provide cover fire and draw the player's attention while the rest of the enemies flank by using the cover on the north side of the map. This way, the player is kept on his or her toes. Sounds good, right? Except players ended up hating this "smart" AI behaviour. Here's what happened, according to Ask A Game Dev:

  • Players didn't always see the bad guys doing the flanking. In fact, most of the time, they were so caught up shooting at the bad guy acting as bait that they completely ignored the other guys sneaking around to bust a cap in their asses. When the other guys finally appeared and started shooting at the player from their new position, the players complained about how the stupid game was cheating by spawning bad guys behind/flanking them.
  • In order to combat this "unfair spawning behaviour", players would then tactically withdraw (run away) until they were in narrow hallways where the AI could not flank. There, the players could then pick off the AI at their leisure one by one, since they had nowhere to go.
  • Because this is the only tactic that worked well consistently, the players complained that the AI was dumb for just running in and getting shot while they stayed in relative safety.

In essence, we had built an AI that really did outsmart most players and players really don't respond well to being outsmarted, so they had turned the tables by repeatedly dragging the AI into situations where it was dumbest, and then winning through attrition. And that was a problem, because it wasn't fun. But it sure was effective.

Attempts to fix it weren't so successful, either:

We tried a few things to make it better. We recorded voice-over audio of thugs basically spelling out exactly what it was they were doing. The bait would shout "COVERING FIRE" as he did so, the other guys would yell things like "I'LL GET HIM FROM THIS SIDE!" as they moved. The bad guys would all periodically shout "RELOADING!" when they were supposed to stop firing and give the player a chance to shoot back with impunity. It didn't work. Most players still tunnel visioned in on the bait like tween girls on Edward Cullen. In the end, the AI team hastily cobbled together a second AI type which would rush the player in a suicide charge just for some variety.

Fascinating, no? Makes you wonder how many times we've actively forced an AI to act in a stupid way — I've definitely done that thing where I funnel enemies through a hallway, for example. Doing so made me feel powerful, but it also meant I cheated myself a bit — and then, naturally, I'd blame the game.

I'd still like to think I want smarter AI in my games, of course — I think back on the early showings of The Last of Us, where enemies seemed to do really cool things like get scared and negotiate with you if you held a friend at gunpoint, and thinking that it was so, so cool that a game would do something like that. That hopefully more games would follow suit and provide interesting, dynamic enemies.

But maybe I don't really know what I want. I'm not a game designer, after all. A "smart" AI, Ask A Game Dev postulates, is not always as fun as an AI that provides variety and is actively fun to beat — and ultimately, the idea that we want intelligent AI may be just a myth.

[via Sebastian Hanlon]


Comments

    There's nothing wrong with taking a tactically disadvantageous position and making it advantageous. If the player is outnumbered and there are limited options available, they'll withdraw to a position where they know that they'll be able to take the advantage.

    That's not dumb. The AI has to counter that.

    They couldn't even listen when the enemies were TELLING them they were coming?

    People are stupid.

    This sounds like a regular gripe about the much-maligned Far Cry 2. If you went steaming in guns blazing, chances are you were going to get flanked by opponents to seemed to spawn around you, although that actually wasn't the case.

    If there was a game that actively marketted their AI having smarts similar to that given in the example above, I would be really interested. Yeah, of course it would be challenging at first, but it wouldn't take long to evolve my/our style of play to match the 'smart' AI. However, with smarter AI must come more able/skilled characters as well. E.g being able to quickly transition from cover to cover and full use of surroundings, lean round corners, blind fire, etc.

    Last edited 13/03/14 10:17 am

      Halo.

        It's definitely got a great AI system and it's pretty 'smart' when you play on Legendary, but I don't think it's as 'smart' as what this article is getting at.

        Yeah they have smart AI on legendary difficulty. Though it feels like all the enemies are just bullet sponges and would soak up so much damage, it was stupid.

      Rage marketed alot of their AI to be "smart" and they were. They did all the things people complained about though

    I can understand the dilemma for the developers. I vaguely remember some older shooters where enemies kept jumping over low walls just when I managed to flank them...

    That's was decent AI at the time (i.e. back then most AI back then just stood there and took the hits), but when enemies do that consistently over a dozen times it can get frustrating and I eventually just gave up on trying to flank them if they were behind a low wall and just slugged it out.

    I love the article, but by this, the devs are responsible for training the audience to be dumber players in the long run, rather than helping them be smarter players?

    Case in point. When FEAR came out, most FPS gamers were used to enemies who would run at you, run through doors, would never flank but stand and shoot.

    Suddenly you had enemies who would barrel-dive through windows, who would flank while giving covering fire, throw grenades back AT you, for the time period, this enemy was generations ahead of anything we had ever seen at this point. This wasn't lauded as 'too difficult'. People revelled in it and FEAR became a game that had set a new benchmark in enemy AI. People bragged about how they surprised a squad and took them out, we would talk on forums about the 'realistic' reactions squads would have etc. But then, over the years, games have degraded again into 'hide behind shit, pop out and shoot' style games for the most part. Personally, I like to blame regenerating health systems for this as they give you an almost infinite amount of health in game as long as you have cover.

    By catering to the laziest of players instead of those who want a genuine challenge, making the AI dumber, reducing amounts of weapons you can carry to two overpowered machineguns for nearly all fps (because for some bloody reason every fps now has to be 'realistic right?') and giving regenerating health to every character under the sun, not to mention streamlining level design to an almost strictly linear path... we've dumbed FPS's down almost as far as they could possibly go?

    Last edited 13/03/14 10:20 am

      I like to blame regenerating health systems

      Quit copying me!

      I never played FEAR, going to pick up a copy today. I agree with everything you said, there was a time when AI was getting really clever, and I was so excited for the future of gaming. Then it seemed to get dumber, which I never understood at all.
      Poor AI = no immersion to me.

        The original FEAR was brilliant. FEAR 2 to a far lesser extent was ok, but part 3 was dire, truly dire.

      Now days most FPSs are basicly space invaders with better graphics...............I too liked the AI in FEAR when it first came out.

        The first time I played FEAR, I had heard the AI was good. But the moment one of the AI saw me, and leaped through the window to get me, then hit me with the buttstock of his gun when he was in range as it was an old trick of mine to run up to a single enemy to take them out in hand to hand... I appropriately shart myself lol.

      Have to agree with you hear. FEAR did exactly this kind of flanking, and although it was initially tough, it was also much more satisfying to defeat enemies who weren't retarded.

      Agreed, the AI in FEAR was my favourite part of the game. Before that, HL1 probably had the best AI with the marines.

        Thanks for the heads up, I'll pickup the original FEAR and have a play. Any platform recommendations?

          Definitely PC. Even low end PC's can run FEAR brilliantly these days. FEAR 2 and 3 are still worth playing, given they can be bought very cheaply on Steam, just don't expect the same level of quality part 1 can bring.

          Should run on any old PC these days, or the 360 version was pretty good. I remember one of my mates had the ps3 version and it ran a but chuggy, one of the bad old days early ps3 ports. Enjoy!

      I have noticed over the years that many aspects not beneficial to the player are met with condemnation and deemed too hard or unecessary.

      I also think that many of us either didn't notice the decline in difficulty as readily as we claim or were shocked to notice it had happened. When I first got my Wii I downloaded a few classics I played as a kid and found they absolutely kicked my ass when I used to clock them standing on my head. I couldn't even pass the Helicopter level in Alex the Kidd for gods sake!!!

      I realised that while I enjoyed hard games, I was just of guilty of complaining about certain aspects of some game, and even unfairly.
      I think we have all complained about how one game was badly designed for throwing us back to the start of a level we just spent 20 minutes labouring through.

      His example of players retreating when faced with smarter harder enemies and luring them in to a more beneficial area is something I admit having done on multiple occassions.

      (I should add I agree with everything you say, I am just exploring it from a personal perspective where I find im not as innocent as I could hope. It is a good article that highlights some of the double standards we all sometimes fall in to.)

      Oh....and I think FPS can fall even further. The gutter is the limit!!!

      Last edited 13/03/14 11:15 am

        He's definitely right with what he's said. I've used the tactic in Killzone Shadowfall recently of drawing enemies to a stairwell, making them stand in a line so they run past it, gunning them down one by one. Killing over ten of them in a line in a process. I'd like to see something coded, some sort of self preservation string that has the enemy see one of themselves die, then say 'Nope. Nope. Not going there.' then either retreat to an area they know you're not in and hunker down, or taunt you, 'Aint falling for that shit again buddy' and then simply *dont*. Forcing you to change tactics. While I espouse FEAR as a great AI game, and it is, it still has some issues, but its major fun. But I think the AI in some games has to be given better standards of self preservation rather than accepting itself as walking meatpuppets.

          But that's cheating!! What kind of respectable grunt would fall back to mount a better offensive?! I mean, why hang around and defend the objective you are obviously there to destroy when they can use the worlds must effective formation given to us by Sarge from Red vs Blue?!

          "We all run straight at the base in a single file line, screaming at the top of our lungs. The enemy will be so flabberghasted, by the time they have a chance to regroup, we'll already be inside.
          That's the inherent beauty of the single file line. They can only kill the person in front. So if we order from least important to most important, with Tucker being in the front and me being in the back, then we just might make it through. "

          From what one of my mates has been telling me, Shadowfall has that distinct "Has to be out with the console" feel to it. He's mentioned a similar stairwell issue that could easily have been solved with a simple grenade toss to flush you out had the AI thought of it

      Agree. Fear was pretty awesome. I remember getting flanked and paids strong attention to sound from then on. It helped.

      I adapted. I learned. I felt good about it. Didn't complain, wanted more.

      Started paying attention to other cues such as them yelling out that they need back up and then would change my strategy in order to hunt down the last guy or 2 guys.

      That game was fun and at times yes I did have to pull defensive strategies where I had to use the environment to my advantage, but it was satisfying. More than halo. Halo felt like a repeat every time. Seperate 1 enemy, pump bullets till dead. Continue, repeat.

      Edit: autocorect typos fixed

      Last edited 13/03/14 11:43 am

      I find it interesting to mention health regen systems when I'm pretty sure FEAR was a relatively early game to actually impliment one!... of course, like Halo, it was limited to prevent being stuck instead of a damage catch-all - slow health regen to 25% was enough to avoid the annoying 'quicksave with 1% health before firefight' issue, but nowhere near enough to give an edge against four flanking enemy infantry!

      It's even bad with MMO FPSes like BF4. More than once I've been able to hold a position and get my mates to flank other players. The general gamer seems to only know how to look forward.

      FEAR 1 was great, it made me have to be tactically aware. Far Cry 2 wasn't too bad either, though the grass pissed me off to no end (enemies could spot and shoot you through it though you couldn't see anything but where the bullets were coming from).

    I remember the joy in the original Half-life when I got baited by the marines and one had flanked me and I got taken out. It was a defining moment, it felt real, and experience, not just a game. I was nervous every time I heard voices. How many were there? Peek around the corner.
    Okay, there is three of them. Hide on stairs for a moment. Throw a grenade then run out. I see two of them... Aw crap...

    It made every encounter make me stop, think and sweat. Was there access behind me? Were they sending a guy to take me out while I stood there deciding what to do?

    I think they need better play-testers, and improve the AI just a bit more, make it so they won't follow you back to the tunnel to be picked off. Make it so they won't be drawn out.
    If players think the game is cheating, have a top-down replay that shows you how you died. I'd love that feature in games.

    I thought the AI in HL2 was worse, (thought HL2 was pretty sucky overall actually, from an immersion point of view. HL felt real, HL2 felt like a game) one of the things I liked in Halo was the occasional flanking by enemies.
    Very few games have ever made me feel that the enemies had a strategy or could think on their feet. And that is a shame, because when it des happen, gaming is a pure joy.

    I agree with a lot of what was said though, I will try and get enemies to come to me, so they can be picked off, that is just good strategy. But it is always disappointing when they do line up to be cannon fodder.

    I reckon, keep the good AI, make it better, and have a stupid AI in the settings, with a warning that unless you choose the hard levels enemies will not flank you etc.

    Games are either too brutally hard/punishing, or super easy. In both situations the AI is annoyingly stupid.

    Please mr and ms developers, if you can code good AI, at least have it as an option. I miss playing games that surprise you.

    Last edited 13/03/14 10:28 am

    I thought the vocal cues bit was interesting. They're often used in the opposite way, to give context to the player when the AI does something truly stupid.

    e.g. an enemy will shout 'Let's flush him out'before running into the open and waiting to be killed.

    It sounds like the game behaved very differently to most, but didn't effectively educate players about its systems.

    Last edited 13/03/14 10:26 am

    Not sure why enemies even yell stuff, I doubt real world opponents would do the same, they probably use hushed whispered tones.

      With gunfire and explosions all around? I'd think they'd have to speak up.

        That'd be when they do the gestures that the player couldn't see. All that signalling stuff. Point, point, two fingers, tip the hat, wink, touch the nose, rub the elbow etc.

          Probably not enough gestures for every situation, and they're mostly for when someone is some distance away and can't shout to them.

      Ex infantryman here. We definitely shouted stuff to each other.

        First, thank you for your service. :)

        Secondly, did you ever yell "I'm reloading?" like some characters do in mp? I am just curious. I found it a tad funny and odd to yell it out during a firefight.

        Last edited 13/03/14 11:44 am

          From what I gather you kind of have to to let your squadmates know that you're briefly not combat effective and can't help them

            You do. Most units will have their own standard operating procedures in which they outline codes for certain things like reloading. Individuals will yell a seemingly pointless word when reloading. Field signals are only usually for outside of contacts so that you can move undetected. But mid combat you all scream. A lot. And you all repeat most things people say so that the message travels along to everyone.

            Last edited 13/03/14 11:34 pm

            Yeah thats what I thought, but then what happens if you are all shooting at once, and yell it out at the same time. I would think there would be some sort of system so no one ever runs out at the same time.

            I find all this stuff fascinating.

              I'm just picturing an intense firefight that stops all of a sudden as everyone on both sides simultaneously shouts "Reloading", there's a pause and someone says "well this is awkward"

              I imagine in reality you're trained to fire at different rates and you'd normally have an automatic rifleman in an infantry squad who'd have a 1-200 round box magazine so chances are there'd always be someone with a few rounds available. I dare say @drewb would be able to shed a bit more light on the situation

              Last edited 13/03/14 6:16 pm

                You generally try have a constant rate of fire in your squad, that is to say, you will always have rounds going down range... if not you lose your cover by fire and die. There's always machine gunners (automatic rifleman as you called it) and they'll have bulk rounds. 200 rounders are pretty impractical to carry around and on certain guns, and will touch the ground before the bi-pod legs do which if you're moving frequently and crawling can de-seat the linked rounds and cause jams.

                Lol glad its not just me who imagines that.

                Last edited 13/03/14 11:53 pm

                There's all sort of tricks soldiers will use - some guys will patrol with only 20 rounds in a 30 round mag. Not only does it mean a staggered reloading through the squad, but it saves the springs in the mags - the cause of most jams in modern weapons.
                You'll usually have a gunner with you, so it's not like there's suddenly a tumbleweed moment whilst everyone is reloading. On top of that, you are so high on adrenaline and hate, everyone is screaming fire orders down the line, that there never is really a quiet moment.

                We used to also load a tracer to indicate when you were down to 5 rounds in your mag, but the downside was if the enemy knew that trick, you were basically telling them you were about to change mag. It also had the unfortunate side effect of setting fire to stuff, making it a firefight in more than one sense, so we discontinued the practise.

    It's why I love the Halo series. The A.I. is smart but without feeling like it's cheating. Throw a grenade into a group of enemies and watch them dive out of the way. Sure, they might jump into a wall or off a cliff, but if someone threw a grenade your way you probably would be paying attention to the direction you're running in.

    players really don’t respond well to being outsmarted

    Haha, aint that the truth. If its from another player they call the other player a BK.

    I seem to remember Rainbow Six 3 having quite decent AI, but that was a long time ago.

    "I'll just peek around this corner and..." BLAM my dude goes down. No regenerating health and then the loss of vital team members meant there was always real connequence to umm...sucking.

    Nostalgia's a bitch.

      ha, yeah I remember the Tango's being the quickest draw in the west. They could headshot you with an ak47 while facing the other way.

      It's not just nostalgia. We ran RAVEN SHIELD around 2 years ago for a lan at my place as well as Ghost Recon. The enemy in that game is surprisingly hard when in the more challenging settings. I believe this came from the time period when devs were more concerned with presenting a game to the public which was more technically impressive, that would challenge and present more longevity in it than a new shooter that will last 5 - 6 hours and sell 50 million copies just making them back their budget for their publisher. Given the games industry has changed almost completely in the last 10 - 12 years, I'd say that's a large reason as to why personally. Look for instance, at the depth of Raven Shield compared to Vegas.

      Raven Shield is a true tactical sim. Vegas is a by the numbers shooter. It's almost embarrassing how watered down Vegas 1 and 2 are in comparison. There's no tactical, TRUE tactical element to R6 Vegas 1 and 2 when comparing them to Rainbow 6, Rogue Spear or Raven Shield?

    In the end, when a gamer asks for "challenge", it is merely to stoke our own ego and delusions of grandeur.

    We are, in the end, supposed to be winners.

    Maybe thats why we yell at each other so much in multiplayer....

    Everybody above me is pointing out that they actually do want smart AI in games, but I agree with the article that you really don't. I think it's primarily down to the numbers. In online multiplayer, if you alone are facing 3 or 4 half-decent players working together, you have no hope. You die, and if you constantly find yourself in that situation, get frustrated and stop playing. It's going to be the same if you're facing the AI in the same situation.

    As long as these shooters rely on you vs the hordes, I don't see how consistently smart AI could work. It *might* if it's isolated to "boss fight" areas, where you can marvel at how realistically the boss or squad of bosses behave, then revert to fighting dumb guys and/or navigating scenery.

      That's just it. Games skew the odds against the player by having them fight alone against dozens, hundreds of guys. In order for success to be even remotely possible, the game has to make several logical concessions. That's why you can kite enemies from a distance in Dark Souls, and why the aggro distance is so minimal.

      That's why gun-toting thug enemies don't flank nearly as effectively as they should, why they shout to advertise their position, why they appear to all have death wishes, and why they're terrible at raising the alarm (in most of the black facilities infiltrated by players, a raised alarm would cause a lockdown, followed by a thorough sweep conducted by dozens of heavily armoured guys who don't split up and who check everything).

      Then just drop the amount of players that you are up against, or have you, the player, have better weaponry. Have it more important that you take a squad by surprise and have to have a plan on how to take them out so that they don't have a chance to flank you.
      Get used to having to look behind you occasionally.

      Far more fun to navigate the terrain, and have to stop and think whenever you hear enemies, than boringly cut through endless cannon fodder.

      From what I recall, the original Far Cry had halfway decent squad AI for the enemy soldiers. To counteract this, the player had radar tagging and stealth options, as well as an open world to approach from.
      This is what also made me a big fan of that game, including a playthrough of most of the game on Realistic difficulty. It was fun just messing with the AI.

      No, I do. It also depends on the game itself. If I'm playing say, Doom 4, do I want every grunt and demon in the game to have the equivelant IQ of a spec op Aussie military soldier? No. But what I want, is for it to be applied logically. If, however, I'm playing something like say, a tactical shooter, I'd like some great AI applied. It makes the game very rewarding when it is. Games such as ARMA 3, Operation Flashpoint etc, have great AI generally, but if the tactical ability of the enemy were increased and you knew you only won due to sheer skill, the feeling of winning becomes that much more rewarding. Not everyone stops playing when they're defeated, many might, but many more take the challenge and excel.

        Sure, but then it's the numbers game again. Smaller enemy counts in a more thoughtful environment works. Especially if you have a potentially equal tactical squad of humans or bots alongside you. But it won't work if you just apply smarter AI to shooters across the board.

          That's kind of the point. Bulk shooters such as games like Doom 3 (and the inevitable Doom 4), Serious Sam etc, never required overly intelligent AI, games that can have smaller squad sizes and larger quantities of AI, will benefit inherently from this, giving you the extra ego boost essentially from winning when your own tactics work against the enemy rather than 'run and gun' of the aforementioned games. However, that's not to say bulk-shooters have to be dumbass-mindless drones. There have been many community mods that have increased AI in various games, that make for an ever more exciting challenge.

          Last edited 13/03/14 12:26 pm

            Perhaps consider AI as a balanced equation, you need slightly more on the enemy side to make it a satisfying challenge. Assuming an average human has the equivalent of 100 units of AI, the game needs to spawn at least 110 units worth to be a decent opponent, whether it's done in 11 guys worth 10 points or 2 guys worth 55 points, as long as it adds up it'll feel like a challenge. If you want to go for realism, push it more towards fewer but smarter enemies, conversely go for higher numbers of dumber enemies if you want to go for balls to the wall action (why exactly does one want their balls on a wall anyway? I've never quite understood that).

        Ever seen videos of Arma 2 running the AI on the headless client? That shit is downright scary...

      Yeah but in mp I find myself to either being a part of that group or avoiding that group all together and fishing for a chance to break the group when other people run in.

    Reaperbot from Quake is still some of the best Area Style shooter Ai I have ever played against.

    I get what people are saying, that if the AI was as good as you, then the game would be unplayable as you are grossly outnumbered. But it doesn't have to be as good as you, just have to make you think and surprise you. And you don't have to be massively outnumbered.

    Enemies should do shit like suddenly dive through a window at you. They should try to flank if they hear you. The should do random shit like if two of their squad members are taken out, that the third guy might just turn tail and run. Or drop his weapon and try to surrender.
    Lots of soldiers freak out on the battle field and do some strange shit. Just have more variety, and act more like humans.

    Hell, even in the original APPLE IIe Wolfenstein, those bastards would raise the alarm at the drop of a hat and everyone would be after you.

    Game AI did go through a phase where it was getting really good, and far more believable, but then it went the other way.

    It used to be in games, surely it can be again, and with more powerful CPUs/GPUs/More Memory, surely it can have more smarts and more variety.

    Gamers were yelling "CHEATS!" when they were outsmarted? You don't say.

      Ha reminds me of what I get everytime I play kids on COD.

      Apparently running around the back of them while they are aiming up the map with the sniper is cheating.
      They would be the people yelling cheat at the AI players haha

    Smarter ai should be created for higher difficulty levels instead of just making the enemies bullet spongy

    I think one of the biggest problems here is the limits of the technology for the player, you just can't have the enemy acting as if they are real, when players are incapable of acting the same.

    - peripheral vision - a screen is only so wide, but a normal person's peripheral vision is about 120 degrees around in a semi circle so having enemies flank around to the side and have no way of seeing them is a bit unfair. Unless of course you move the camera around, but then the enemies to the front aren't visible, so it's the same thing again.

    - split actions - IRL you can point your gun forward and look off in any direction, but in FPS you are limited to looking only where your gun is pointing. It would be like if you weren't able to turn your head without your entire body turning too. Try doing that, it's really unco, you feel like an idiot.

    - reflexes - being able to quickly react to situations in a flexible and intuitive way is NOT what FPS games are all about particularly on consoles with analog sticks, not as bad on PC with a mouse. Nothing out there today that controls a FPS compares to the amount of flexibility, speed and adaptiveness of the human body and it's ability to react quickly and accurately to any situation. There is no subtlety or creativeness of movement when you are controlling a FPS, whereas the enemies are allowed this perk, as without it they would look like rigid automatons, which doesn't fit with the standard of 'realistic' graphics in the rest of the game.

    With something like the Oculus Rift and a purpose built controller and also the ability to map players every movement it would be a lot more in line with a realistic experience, where the enemies can then act accordingly, but that seems like an awful lot of tech to invest in an FPS when you could just go play laser-tag or something...

    I prefer my video game enemies to be big, dumb slabs of canon fodder. Come at me, bro!

      Man, you must've loved THE WALKING DEAD : SURVIVAL INSTINCT...

    You know, I'd be best described as a very amateur game designer but I think I can solve the entire problem described in the article in a single word:

    Replay.

    The player dies, they see an overhead replay of the previous minute or so and see why they died. They see they were the victim of an elementary suppress and flank tactic that they've performed a thousand times before, they realise why it was so successful in other games and in future know what to look for when its happening to them. The players learn the value of AI, the devs get praised for AI instead of criticised, games improve.

      Yeah, I reckon the same thing, a top-down replay of your death. It would be a fun feature anyway.

    This is really a critique of the way in which we experience computer games in general and first person shooters in particular. There's a reason that we are given games that involve a small squad or a single soldier to control, and there's a reason that we face off against an army of soldiers that are considerably weaker than ourselves, there's a reason why when we die, inevitably, we respawn, or load to a checkpoint. We like to feel like we are achieving something, that our actions had an impact on the overall objective that is completed.

    We don't want realism in our war games, because in a real war of two opposing and equally geared armies, our contributions would have a very small impact on the actual outcome of the war. Our survival would also largely be out of our hands. A random mortar shell could land on us at any moment, mines, a stray bullet, friendly fire. All of these things could lead to a premature and permanent death in a realistic war sim, which very few people would actually pay to play.

    No, we prefer it when the numbers are deliberately stacked against us, but then we are given a slew of advantages to make us feel powerful. It's a method of engaging players, of entertaining players. Games are only fun because we feel that our contributions made a difference to the result. Otherwise, why wouldn't we just watch a movie?

    IMO a lot of this has to do with immersion - and, more specifically, to sound. In nearly every game, because of the limited field of vision, it's entirely possible to sneak up on someone and kill them entirely silently..

    We all know in reality this would never happen.. I don't know about you but I dont care what the floor is made of, if someone is 5 inches from me, i'm probably going to notice something, and not in a round abouts way - in a "holy crap there's someone EXACTLY BEHIND ME" way..

    Sound is a critical factor of this, and something which is grossly underplayed in nearly every game - even those with acclaimed sound direction. Dying instantly from someone you never even could have seen or done anything about, whether its a human or an AI, is about the least satisfying thing possible.

      Vision is another major component though, stuff like TrackIR makes an insane amount of difference when you can just throw a really quick glance to the side without having to turn your entire body around.

      That said, I have no arguments whatsoever about sound, needs to be a lot better

    I was really disappointed to get Tom Clancy's Future Soldier and find this kind of dumb AI. Specifically, not moving when getting shot and walking on a repeated predefined path. Considering you have a team of marksmen I'd expect a bit of variety, like your targets wandering from their path to have a chat with a nearby soldier, or just doing minor things at random to keep you on your toes.

    As for flanking, it's a standard tactic. Devs should not be catering for those who just want to run forward and shoot - that's what the "Easy" setting is for. As a player, use the same damn tactics!

    Still, my number one hate though is enemies that don't even react to impacts. "Oh, I got shot in the leg, I'll stand in the open and return fi... I'm dead."

    Last edited 13/03/14 2:20 pm

    Battlefield 4 campaign was one of the worst for AI, not only would NPCs block you and speak to you as if you were standing the complete opposite direction but if you were in an encounter and paused in cover for more then a few moments, enemies will somehow, be able to get a grenade thrown at you every single time. It's quite amazing to know there isn't a single foe closer then a hundred meters away only to have the AI 'spawn' a frag on you out of nowhere, forcing you to move.

    Last edited 13/03/14 4:04 pm

    The problem is, is that as good as the FEAR AI was, it is still very basic AI.
    The game in no way replicated how a determined enemy would attack a single hostile - if they did, we would have found it much less enjoyable, and the communal whinefest would begin again.
    The fact that ALL AI have barks, to allow players to aurally locate them is telling in itself - we're lost without that extra bit of hand-holding, that we often don't realise is there.

    The AI in Operation Flashpoint was reasonably intelligent, and if you didn't move and fire from different locations, you'd die.
    Running and gunning - you'd die.
    Using concealment instead of cover - you'd die.
    It was designed by soldiers (for soldiers - VBS, natch), and quickly got a reputation of being too hard, and yet the AI was using real world tactics, though they were still dumbed down considerably.

    It appears the article is only partially correct, we do not want our AI too smart, but misses the other point - that having someone really,truely trying to kill you is not actually fun, because most times, they'll succeed.
    Cue the superpowers of HUD, damage indicators, health regen and carrying power like a Sherpa boss (2-3 weapons plus ammo ? Yeah, right).
    With these advantages, it is small wonder, we then wipe the floor with the AI.

    As for the problem of 'target fixation', it is one that soldiers and motorbike riders are taught to recognise, and it is surprising to see just how blinkered someone can be when they focus intently on an object , so for an untrained gamer, it'd be like the enemy had teleported onto them.

    To see an example for yourself: http://www.msf-usa.org/motion.html

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