There's a fine balance between challenge and just being downright mean. There needs to be a feeling of reward for a player who does things right and can utterly dominate a situation because of it. Certainly they will learn the magic method of defeating a boss to where it becomes trivial, but I think that's part of the Static content problem and not a problem with the AI itself.
I'm not talking about being mean, I'm talking about making the AI more intelligent. Why do the players need to dominate a situation? For me once a boss is trivial to kill it becomes boring shortly after. What I'm attempting to find out is if there's a way to make it possible for the strategies to be more dynamic. Think about battlegrounds when you're fighting against other players, there are multiple strategies that can win. Players try out different strategies and when they find one that works they continue with that. If at some point the opposing team effectively counters their strategy they begin searching for a new one again. AI in raid encounters use 1 strategy once players find out how to counter it they post it online in a video everyone reads it and spends a few weeks practicing and then the boss is on farm status. There doesn't have to be a "Magic Method" of defeating a boss you've just been brainwashed into thinking that's how it should be.
Personally my problem with Dungeon Crawls in MMOs is the "Trickle" problem. You walk into a base and see monsters around you standing and having a conversation, you really don't feel like you just infiltrated an enemy stronghold where everyone would be on alert. I think there needs to be more dynamics on that front to bring immersion.
I agree with this. I think its funny how if you're 51 meters away from the NPC he does nothing and suddenly at 50 meters you become a threat... Shouldn't it be obvious that if you're accompanied by 20 other players that you're obviously going to attack? Maybe if you're alone the NPC isn't threatened as much.
I too have been disappointed by how feeble the game situations have become in MMORPGs
The problem is with the shooting gallery arrangement that most MMORPGs have where they have to offer thousands of kills easily found (I call it the minefield of monsters). It makes it easy for the company scripters with their trigger area activate and then charge at player 30 feet away - very little AI processing needed and keeps the 14 year old mentalities happy thinking theyve achieved something because of their easy kill count.
Ive seen a tactic of a enemy NPC to run back and get reinforcements (forcing you to kill it quick before it does) but only in a few places.
If they did something like that all over or a much larger activation radius (Im apalled at how small the radius has gotten - now 20 feet away in many cases in one game) then the player would have to deal with alot more enemies simultaneously than the level content is usually balanced for (fight 1 ok, fight 2 a challenge, fight 3 and die pretty quick).
A Raid can be (have been) better choreographed and cut out interference by uninvolved players, but they largely work with similar scripting relying on simple initial placement to appear smart and then some special logic of when to apply special attacks (or to have add spawns thrown in at certain times)
The whole game style would have to be rebuilt to make most of the map have 'raid like' situation (an improved raid-like...) and more :
The combat would largely have to somehow be instanced so that griefer players cant interfere (and you know they will if allowed)
Respawns would be eliminated within the battle (stupid that the companies still have them pop in right next to you when a simple programmed check could stop that) I never did figure out why they think if you are having difficult slow time fighing that they should punish you by respawning enemies youve already killed.
Combat would have 'frontage' (front side rear) that effects tactics and bodies block movement
-- getting on their weak side as a tactic
-- using player movements (or actions/abilities)to block enemy movements
-- allowing a real front line and behind areas for the appropriate classes
-- maneuverbility and movement suddenly has a real effect in combat
Player needs additional actions to use in the tactics to counter the enemies 'smarter' actions
and the enemies of couse have a wider range of actions (and the more complex AI to do ALL this stuff)
Change the encounters so that the baddies are in fewer concentrated areas (no pointlesss illogical minefields) or huge bodycounts
- enemies often are in groups (you have to be careful to avoid or get then a few at a time)
- they communicate cooperatively so you have to counter that (they do calling for reinforcements)
- Enemies do real patrols to keep them moving instead of being murder mannekins
- they can utilize (via the game mechanics) defensive positions/factors (which is were all that magic crap comes in to nullify)
You get alot more experience (and the difficulty to justify it) from fewer baddies (Ive almost killed more orcs in LOTRO than there were in all the movies just by myself - and that includes the armies...) and more interesting mini battles (even just 1 on 1 fights)
Different foes use different tactics/abilities and you would progressively learn them as you progress in the game -- the boss over there uses something different then you may have to go back several times to figure out ways of countering it and have many alternatives (and not just the action of one class as the 'key')
Battles/combat need more outcomes than "you killed it or it killed you" if players are to be able to 'go back to try again' frequently.
Cooperation between players is good (more interesting) but its largely not practical these days for much of the game - so the players characters have to be more general in abilities (the classic divided team roles cant work any more except if they are amplified for real group 'raids' within the new changes)
Because of move and countermove variations the same situation will likely play differently each time - with more 'thinking on your feet' to counter the situations than the rediculous raid situations where players know exactly what to do at every scripted step that runs like clockwork.
Unfortunately to control the NPC baddies now they have to do AI logic about 1000 times more complicated than the feeble scripting they do now.
Every special case of special abilities/different actions (for players and NPCs) adds more code (ontop of customizing types of enemies to their type specific tactics)
Similarly much more complex game mechanics for combat and movement and interactions with terrain (all still having to work within the latency issue) has to be coded (and all the debugging/balancing that goes with it)
Can most players handle this kind of more realistic combat ? - is it too intense, too easy to mess up? No big body-counts? Not enough certainty?
Unfortunately the hardest thing of all will be breaking players out of their largely mindless mode of playing they have had pushed on them to get them to accept a better game.