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Racing AI + game ideas...


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#1 lmbarns   Members   -  Reputation: 459

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 01:50 PM

I've been chipping away at a kids game for a while and am looking for ways to make the racing AI more competitive. I believe it's a matter of slowing down if they're too far ahead of the player or speeding up if they're too far behind, and while they're in the "zone" around the player they're "competitive".

 

I'm using waypoints to drive the racers, I guess I could check distance from each racer to the player every so often, but it's a mobile game so performance is an issue.

 

In the game you're racing animals rather than vehicles, and the player's animal grows stronger over time. The animals have a strength and agility attribute which determine it's speed and maxCarryWeight. So I can't just set the opponent's speeds equal to the player or there's no sense of "progression".

 

One idea to improve the dynamics of the races is to add powerups and hazards. So far I've made 2 powerups, one is a speedboost for a few seconds, the other is a jump that can send you over terrain or somewhere as a shortcut.

 

I'm obviously looking at the old mario kart games for ideas with powerups and racetrack design, but aside from some mechanics the game's are much different.

 

The basic idea of the game was to be a "combat-less" rpg of sorts, you can tame then ride 30 different animals. You can ride around a somewhat open world with 5 village/towns. At each town you can enter (for a fee) whatever contest is happening there, right now I only have a few courses that are like steeplechase or "cross country" type races with jumps. I was thinking of adding barrel racing, sprint racing, and whatever else I can think of that use the simple mechanics of "go" and "turn/steer".  You can also accept jobs to haul resources to another town, the amount based off your maxCarryWeight.

 

Some quest ideas I had were finding a missing animal, retrieving an item, guiding a lost animal home before dark, scouting/investigate, anyone have any other ideas that involve steering and driving an animal?

 

Here's some of the prototype:

 

This is a little prototype "task generator" that's easy to swap out the icons/messages for a variety of tasks, one use is an npc might ask you to help assemble a few items, the farmer might ask you to feed an animal the right food, when you find a treasure chest you might have to try a combination of key turns to try to open it.

 

 

 

Another idea I threw together, but it's too much work for the time being, was to let the player buy building deeds, throw it on the ground and touch it to create the building at that spot, let the player position it, then confirm placement and destroy the deed, save the coordinates and rotation of the building to an xml file that's read each time the game starts to recreate the placements:

Would be a lot of work to make dozens of buildings, but would sure make an excellent gold sink to keep the player making money to build their dream farm or whatever.

 

I also thought about at each town/village letting a player buy land which they can keep animals at, or which unlocks new wild animals on that land for the player to tame and then ride.

 

Any feedback appreciated. I've been disabled for half of last year and couldn't work on anything. I'm trying to get back into this but have to take oxycodone and nerve pain meds to function and they kill creativity. :(


Edited by lmbarns, 26 January 2013 - 01:55 PM.


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#2 Stormynature   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2671

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 09:53 PM

Some random thoughts:

 

Food, wear and tear on saddles -- exotic animals require exotic saddles and food - so some costs there. Chance of gear breaking if you fall the mount off a cliff or something similar.

 

Ground terrain differences slow or speed up the mount - some mounts travel faster on rougher terrain than others.

 

Hedge maze races.

 

Jumping competitions.

 

Hazards can be swimming across the river or jumping from stepping stone to stepping stone

 

Delicate goods being carried such as eggs -- too fast and the eggs break

 

Dressage competitions - slightly more complicated but can spend money on rider gears

 

Novelty costumes for animals for halloweed christmas etc if you use a date function

 

Carts, carriages etc for increased carrying capacity but cost money to hire or buy

 

Special reward foods used to help train mounts i.e. apples, carrots - these can also be quest rewards i.e. a barrel of apples for helping the farmer moves his crop etc thus avoiding too much gold buildup.

 

Hiring riders to exercise mounts for you if you don't have enough time.

 

buying Jumps barrels etc for a competition practice field.

 

 

Hope these help

 

but mostly I hope your health gets better smile.png

 

And wish I could give you more than +1 for perservering through adversity!


Edited by Stormynature, 26 January 2013 - 09:54 PM.


#3 3Ddreamer   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2960

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 09:41 PM

It would probably be boring to race across open terrain for very long, so add obstacles.  Make the AI respond if the player causes a bump into an object - different reaction for each creature.


Personal life and your private thoughts always effect your career. Research is the intellectual backbone of game development and the first order. Version Control is crucial for full management of applications and software.  The better the workflow pipeline, then the greater the potential output for a quality game.  Completing projects is the last but finest order.

 

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#4 lmbarns   Members   -  Reputation: 459

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 03:53 PM

Thanks guys. Here's the map I'm going to use for the first release, can always branch off and add more later. There's 4 towns and the home "farm". The colored lines are races you can launch from each town. I was hoping to have 3+ "contests" for each town and have it randomly offer them so it's not always the same. It costs money to enter and you win money for winning. If you don't have enough money to enter contests you can do some small tasks for npcs within the town or haul resources to other towns.

 

s5aiyc.jpg

 

One issue I need to figure out is the main character. On the home farm level it uses a tap to move controller to move a "fairy" around and tame animals, but when you ride animals it loads them as fps controller with 3rd person camera and no rider, just "guiding" the animal so to speak. I haven't animated a riding character or looked for one on stock sites.

 

The animals are different sizes as well, the goat is 1/4 the size of the horse which is half the size of the elephant, the smaller animals turn faster and can be faster, I should probably make it slow you down when you turn or when you are on rougher terrain.

 

I like the idea of riding out to look for the chickens to gather eggs for a task that can be repeated daily, as well as find missing animal that didn't come in with the rest, little quests from the farmer.

 

I thought about making the elephant destroy jumps by running into them while the other animals jump over it. As it is now if you jump over a jump and get the treat floating above it, you have a small chance of increasing the animals stats, which increase it's speed. So while you're racing and trying to beat the other animals, you have incentive to try to hit some jumps as well.

 

I think I should incorporate more with food, like you can feed the different animals food you've gathered.

 

Building your own competition courses could be really good and something to keep people busy, instead of the buildings. I thought about making some resource management mechanics where the animals have jobs at the local zoo, so the more you tame the more money you start aggregating, and you have to buy food to keep your tamed animals happy or they go wild.

 

Dressage used to piss me off as a kid, I was one of the few guys in pony club hehe with all the hotties, I did eventing and dressage was never as fun as show jumping or cross country jumping. One thing I noticed was games that are basically riding simulation games get nitpicked by riders for not being perfect, where I was hoping to go for something more silly but that would interest girls. You can ride a goat, sheep, pig, etc as well so might be funny to more people.

 

I think the costumes is a great idea as well.

 

I was also thinking if you run into too many obstacles on an animal it becomes injured and you can't ride it for 3 real life days or something(based off timestamp). There's a total of 30 different animals so hopefully they'd have something they could ride as a replacement.

 

Here's something just for laughs, not part of what I'm working on:


Edited by lmbarns, 28 January 2013 - 04:08 PM.


#5 Rits   Members   -  Reputation: 259

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 03:20 AM

Have you nailed some basic form of the economy system? Since its RPG , the economy system is a massive workload, and many of your initially suggested elements will be eliminated mercilessly because of it. So you've got a bunch of elements, like food, gold, crafting, farming, breeding; but the real work for you would be "how and when does the player deserve to gain access to each element?". Assuming part of the game is resource management, you then need to think about a bunch of maths that is also certainly wouldn't be exploited by players in any way. Options of development is what make pet-raising gamers go nuts. For competitive gamers, they demand class balance, making sure that their choice in play-style has give-and-take, advantage and disadvantage. The further question is whether you allow them to overcome the disadvantage on the spot, by luck? or by skill?

 

Sounds like your creative mind is going berserk right now, making you uncertain about all the possibilities. perhaps you want to make the above questions your skeleton, maybe you'll get more sense of direction. hope this is helpful.



#6 lmbarns   Members   -  Reputation: 459

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 11:09 AM

As far as economy I'm still nailing down motivation for accruing wealth. Why does the player chase money, what is there to spend it on? I haven't implemented any resource management yet, I'm just trying to figure out if it would be worth the effort. The game is targeted at kids and animal lovers who probably won't exploit mechanics.

 

Reasons to spend money:

-Enter contests (to win more money)

-Upgrade gear, buy new equipment (thx stormynature)

-??????????

 

Potential reasons:

-Buy more land with wild animals on it (new animals to tame)

-Upgrade/customize farm (tied to resource management, you place a well you start accruing water)

-Animal footwear (horse shoes improve maneuverability on rough terrain)

-Building your own practice field/courses

-Carriages/wagons

-Hazard recovery (hit too many hazards, animal broke a leg, can't ride animal for 3 days, vet bill $150)

-Hire trainer to handle animals, increasing stats of animals passively

 

The other thing is when you enter a town/city, I'll populate a list for hauling offers, competitions, etc in that town and it won't generate a new list until you enter a different town, so you can't just pop in and out of town until you get the offers you want.

 

Another thought I've been debating over was harvesting, it would give the player things to do throughout the world while riding, you find a patch of mushrooms, herbs, etc or even firewood and can haul it back to town to sell, would be simple to add.

 

For hazards one idea was while you're riding through a narrow valley and have falling boulders you have to dodge, another is having holes you have to avoid in the ground....


Edited by lmbarns, 30 January 2013 - 11:15 AM.


#7 Rits   Members   -  Reputation: 259

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 02:19 PM

if its for a younger audience, what's going to be the challenge for them? is it luck dependent? preparation and calculation? or real time skill?



#8 lmbarns   Members   -  Reputation: 459

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 02:52 PM

if its for a younger audience, what's going to be the challenge for them? is it luck dependent? preparation and calculation? or real time skill?

The only places where luck comes in are when the player enters a town/city/outpost the active "competitions" or "contests" for that town are generated, so there may only be 1 contest going at that time, or there could be 3-5 active contests that the player can choose to enter. Contests can be anything from an open field race against several animals, barrel race, sprint race, or some other type of obstacle race I haven't thought up yet.

 

The other place where luck comes in is when the player jumps over an obstacle/jump that has a "treat" floating above it. If they line up their trajectory to hit the treat it disappears, increments that treat count in their inventory and runs a stat gain function which may or may not award a stat gain for the animal which affects it's speed and agility.

 

The player has a taming skill and some animals have a minimum skill to tame, so they are locked until the player raises their skill high enough. I was also going to make certain animals spawn in certain areas like african animals spawn in the desert while farm animals are already on your starting farm and available from the start.

 

There's also a transition from trotting to gallop, once you go forward for 3 seconds the animation changes and your speed increases 50%. I could make stats reduce the time or maybe larger animals are slower to get up to max speed.

 

There are a couple games I'm drawing inspiration from, which are for a similar audience I'd like to target.

 

-"Spirit's herd", an old game where you play a horse as the main character looking for missing members of your herd.

It has some good non-combat ideas(buck off a rider in rodeo and escape, get water to put out fire, start an avalanche), and an open world. Throughout the world there are animals that offer you quests, ask you to race, or help you look for the missing animal/give a clue.

 

-"Barbie wild horse rescue" hehe I know it's corny and not something you or I would play, but it's similar with the riding around in my world looking for missing animals:

 

 

Then as far as making racing fun I'm looking at mario kart for ideas on power ups and course design, that game was fun for all ages.


Edited by lmbarns, 30 January 2013 - 02:58 PM.


#9 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4582

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 05:25 PM

This is a horse jumping and agility game I enjoy the controls of.  I keep hoping they'll add a racing segment to the game.

http://apps.facebook.com/ridingclub/

The Petz Horse Club series is also good, and they have an interesting mouse gesture system for taming wild animals.

http://www.amazon.com/Petz-Horse-Club-Pc/dp/B001E4VL36/ref=sr_1_1?s=videogames&ie=UTF8&qid=1359587992&sr=1-1&keywords=horse+club+mustang

And of course chocobo racing from FF7 had a popular control scheme involving a stamina meter that could be used up faster for bursts of speed.

 

The main thing I wanted to comment on is that even though the player's animal gets stronger, you never want the player to win a racing game more than 70% of the time, so the opponents have to get stronger too.  Ideally there will be at least one opponent animal that is slightly faster than the player's but worse at steering, which allows the player to travel the course more efficiently.  One opponent could be the opposite too, slower than the player but travels the course with maximum efficiency.


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#10 Rits   Members   -  Reputation: 259

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 06:05 PM

The main thing I wanted to comment on is that even though the player's animal gets stronger, you never want the player to win a racing game more than 70% of the time, so the opponents have to get stronger too.  Ideally there will be at least one opponent animal that is slightly faster than the player's but worse at steering, which allows the player to travel the course more efficiently.  One opponent could be the opposite too, slower than the player but travels the course with maximum efficiency.

 

Indeed, your market would have a different attention span all that. Time your gameplay right where it's builds desire for the players to continue and repeat, while just about the moment they lose interest, you give them a candy. I'm not familiar with younger audience's market, so can't help you with that. 

 

Also I see yours having the potential to hit the younger girls' market. They like dressing up and appearance customization, aka, the sims. Get an artist who can mass produce skin varieties for objects.



#11 lmbarns   Members   -  Reputation: 459

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 02:34 PM

This is a horse jumping and agility game I enjoy the controls of.  I keep hoping they'll add a racing segment to the game.

http://apps.facebook.com/ridingclub/

The Petz Horse Club series is also good, and they have an interesting mouse gesture system for taming wild animals.

http://www.amazon.com/Petz-Horse-Club-Pc/dp/B001E4VL36/ref=sr_1_1?s=videogames&ie=UTF8&qid=1359587992&sr=1-1&keywords=horse+club+mustang

And of course chocobo racing from FF7 had a popular control scheme involving a stamina meter that could be used up faster for bursts of speed.

 

The main thing I wanted to comment on is that even though the player's animal gets stronger, you never want the player to win a racing game more than 70% of the time, so the opponents have to get stronger too.  Ideally there will be at least one opponent animal that is slightly faster than the player's but worse at steering, which allows the player to travel the course more efficiently.  One opponent could be the opposite too, slower than the player but travels the course with maximum efficiency.

TYVM for this, after playing the riding club I much prefer it's controls to what I was doing. I like how you press once to get the horse going rather than holding it down, then you can hold down the button to "canter/gallop" faster like a shift key to sprint. Then to turn/look I'll have it so you slide your finger anywhere on the screen to pivot that direction rather than having to touch the touchpad.

 

I haven't checked the swipes in the other game for taming but definitely will. Also thanks for clarifying the 70% threshold, I was just blindly guessing how it should be. 

 

I'm torn on whether I should do a toddler mode or very easy and then a normal mode. In the toddler mode running up to a jump would automatically make the animal jump over, so all you have to do is steer and line up with the jump and run into it. Then in toddler mode it might just be several mini games rather than the open world. Like the stable you can view all the different animals and information about each, wander around the paddock, maybe go for a ride. Then in normal mode you have to press the jump key at the right time to clear the jump, and have the whole "rpg" aspect where you unlock new animals and travel around earning money, competing in races, etc. And in your stable would only be animals you've already tamed. Initially the game started as a toddler game and then I added riding, leveling, and other stuff that makes it too complicated for little kids.

 

Similarly I probably need to add an option for accelerometer to steer as an option as well.



#12 Dan Violet Sagmiller   Members   -  Reputation: 896

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 10:49 AM

You brought up the racing as one of your first concepts, but I didn't notice it talked up much.  

 

I've been chipping away at a kids game for a while and am looking for ways to make the racing AI more competitive. I believe it's a matter of slowing down if they're too far ahead of the player or speeding up if they're too far behind, and while they're in the "zone" around the player they're "competitive".

 

 

Here are a few concepts to potentially help there.

 

Less processing on the non-rendered.  On each racer object, maintain a distance from start.  just a simple meter type thing that roughly translates to the visuals in the game.  If a creature is not being rendered, you can just move the distance of where the creature is, and not the model.  If the creature is in sight range, then you process the visuals, and the visuals will update the meter distance to be more accurate.

 

AI for fun.  To keep the race fun, it is best that there is always a challenge to over come.  If the next racer is too far away, that is tougher, and gets boring on the player. Presuming 5 opponents in the race, select 1 that will typicalyl be behind, 1 that starts out at about the same pace, and the other 3 that are a little ahead.  (of each other as well)  When you are closer, your character gets a *slight boost, but not much.  typically make it a gradual increase as you approach the racer.  Once you pass, distant racers should start closing the gap through mistakes.  I.e. not making a jump, or choosing a slower/easier route.  This will help you catch up with the next racer.  It also helps if as you approach, the opponents keep glancing back, and any complication in the route at that time will trip them up.  You can apply the same principal to your player, so don't look back when coming up to a complication.


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