Player-Centric AI Design (Video, Part 1)

Alex J. Champandard on October 21, 2008

In the “old days” of the games industry, everyone built their whole AI around what the player did. Not only was it cheap to do, but it was also a great way to get bang-for-buck on your programming time, and it was very easy to build a game with a strong design. These days, however, when AI characters are built of hundreds of thousands of lines of script and hundreds of behaviors, that information gets lost amidst lots of AI-centric concerns such as embodiment, sensory systems, knowledge representation, memories, etc.

Is there a balance to be found here? Could “modern” AI be made more fun by going back to its roots and focusing more on what the player wants or needs?

Stay tuned next week for Part 2 of this highlight where goals and planners come into the picture. In the meantime, post your comments below!

Discussion 2 Comments

Jare on October 23rd, 2008

Interesting point about predictability (often mentioned in AI discussions). [i]Truly[/i] oldschool games like shoot'em ups relied on fixed character spawns and trajectories to provide this predictability. I personally always preferred a level of unpredictability to make each play varied and unique, but when we published [url=]Stardust[/url] alongside [url=]Desperado/Gun Smoke[/url], we quickly found out that, in addition to the more colourful graphics, many players enjoyed the predictability of the other game as opposed to our random enemy spawns. Another point about predictability is that it allows essentially anyone to finish the game by memorization of what's going to happen, in a similar way that many RPGs allow character skills (levels, gear, etc) to overcome what the raw player skills may not. With the move to sandbox-ish games, simulation becomes more important, but you make a good point that the player should always be able to understand the rules of the world, and the game should not change them arbitrarily. The [url=]Commandos[/url] games were heavily oriented towards simulation, but the project lead was always quick to point out when programmers went too nuts and, in his words, "made the AIs have more fun than the player himself."

Spunkmeyer on October 23rd, 2008

Really good points. I am looking forward to part two. Keep up the good work.

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