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Ned_K

Poll: What AI aspects are missing in RPGs today?

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Ned_K    175
For the various RPG and RPG type games out there, what AI improvements would people like to see that are reasonable to implement (i.e. self-aware dragons are out)? The range of games goes from turn based games like Never Winter Nights to action RPGs like Diablo 2. How are designers/programmers getting it wrong when they could be doing better without massive headaches?

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TheWanderer    194
I think that one important aspect that is missing in RPG's today is truly interactive NPC's who do not feel like tape recorders.

While I know that Natural Language Processing is still a long way off, I've always wished for a more interactive approcach to conversations, something like the older Sierra games (King's Quest, etc). Hell, Adventure felt more interactive than some of today's games. I think it would be more immersive for the player if they had a chance to formulate their own responses to what an NPS says (although given the state of grammar most gamers posses... :D).

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Unwise owl    158
For one, it would be great if all those monsters did not just mindlessly spawn, walk around, and die out of the fields (at least for the more intelligent ones such as goblins etc.). A bit more complex individual behaviour (not self-awareness, but more than "rush forward and get slain"), as well as some sort of group behaviour would be very cool. Imagine the following two examples:

Example 1: Goblin Cave

Design description:
All goblins from a certain tribe spawn in a cave at a certain rate until they reach a max threshold. At regular intervals they move out and attack human settlements in the surrounding farmlands in search of food. Only way to permanently get rid of them is to assault the cave, which is very difficult since it is heavily guarded (this will require some major team cooperation = FUN). If the cave is ridden from goblin, the server spawns a new goblin tribe is some other (at the time unpopulated) cave somewhere else in the game world. Some static objects could be placed inside the cave as themery that suggests goblin activity in there, but since no humans will permanently stay there no other than raiding and defensive behaviour needs to be accounted for.

Technical considerations:
In this particular example, some sort of social behaviour as well as a planning behaviour would need to be implemented. While this sounds very complicated at first, a target for each raid could be located and then a path generated once. The individuals of the raiding party could then simply follow and approximation of the path until they encountered a combat situation. They could also follow the same path back into the cave. Server side this definately takes a higher load than what appears to be the current AI of most RPGs: Run in a straight line to the target, but I think the pay off is worth it if the game design is weighted so that battles do not occur as often as the current "slaughter feasts".

Example 2: Lone Dragon

Design description:
Deep inside a cave (just as an example, I do not suggest everything should appear in caves), an ancient dragon sleeps unless awoken. In most stories dragons are portrayed as very powerful creatures; yet in most RPGs they occur in the amounts where you can say "I killed five dragons today". This dragon however displays sufficiently intelligent combat behaviour against anyone that awakes its sleep so that it doesn't lend itself as easy pray. Furthermore some additional behaviours are found, and all work together to provide a more glorifying picture of the dragon than we currently are used to. Additionally, the dragon is not suicidal and will attempt to retreat if threatened by superior forces through its intricate cave system.

Technical considerations:
The AI code would be fairly complex for this monster, as it is desirable to give it more behaviours such as a sense of smell of intruders. Since they will only appear one and one this will not be that much of an issue (as well as the task of killing a dragon ties up a significant amount of players working together), because the difficulty level of assaulting one dragon should be equal to assaulting a group of 50 goblins or something similar. The retreating behaviour again should be solved by a one time pre-planned path, which is followed approximately to another cave (remember the dragon flies so it should be able to escape any aggressors if its allowed to leave the cave's exit tunnels ;)).

Be aware of that these examples may suffer from some balancing issues if the RPG in itself is one of those RPGs where character powers can get very uneven by extensive levelling. The solution is to get rid of development alltogether as the major focus, and the difficulty of the game would instead derive from these new original AI features of the opponents. This is very unlike current RPGs where it perhaps takes 200 hits to kill a dragon, but the dragon in itself is a jackass and lends itself to destruction.

I'm still probably only dreaming of what is more advanced than what current technology allows for MMORPGs. Perhaps it can be done for multiplayer RPGs on a smaller scale. Still, I am a programmer and I don't think what I'm asking for here is a full scale simulation of creature behaviour. The task is rather to make something which appears intelligent and which certainly is capable enough to provide a greater challenge in return for lower outright stats. It also provides for a more logical gaming world where cooperation is required, which ultimately is what I would think be severely fun instead of the current anti-social levelling and looting RPGs. Not that you cannot cooperate in these RPGs, but "going hunting" is just absurd.

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Ned_K    175
I was also thinking in terms of occasionally "chaotic" behavior. Not so much AI as something that catches the players offguard; a sort of, "Wow! I've played this game for months and I've never seen Monster X do that before." Not necessarily suicidal behavior but unexpected behavior. The kind of thing that can really catch people off-guard.

Also, monsters that tailor their attacks to those attacking them would be possible. I.e., the monster's AI knows who the weakest link is and goes after them fullbore. The player closest to death all of a sudden becomes a prime target because the monsters react to those low life levels. Or the character with the weakest defense is locked on to by those able to punch through low defense while other characters are specifically targeted by the most appropriate type of attack for them personally. Obviously this could be ratched up or toned down depending on difficulty level.

Both of these would be, it seems to me, reasonable to implement.

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x_gamer_x    136
Quote:

Also, monsters that tailor their attacks to those attacking them would be possible. I.e., the monster's AI knows who the weakest link is and goes after them fullbore. The player closest to death all of a sudden becomes a prime target because the monsters react to those low life levels. Or the character with the weakest defense is locked on to by those able to punch through low defense while other characters are specifically targeted by the most appropriate type of attack for them personally.


This has been done in a few MMO's I've played. Also very annoying, if you are the one with the lowest defense/threat-ratio in a group :).

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
1.generic aspect:
The AI won't mind you doing something strange in their house, or an area defined as their. This can be solved ny creating a hierarchy of 'places', that is public places, which inherit unapropriate behavior and define the AI reaction to it. Most games today have an "what are you doing"&&/||attack reaction. People don't act like that!

When I'm stealing from someone I'd expect him to either call the police, or try to get help. Killing and aggression would be the last thing to do, depending on the AI character, for one, your reputation, two, and your current behaviour, three.

2. not-so generic
When running in a library and placing things on the ground, a clerk would ask me if I'm all right, since (if object worth is high) those are valuable things, so they shouldn't be put on the floor, or (else) that he doesn't want you to litter. Also, he tells me not to run since (if peopleinroom>1) the people here want to study a bit, (else) this is a library, and you shouldn't run in a library.

Those texts could be repeated twice you run, then for some time there would be silence, he wouldn't compalin, but a build-in counter would tick, until he got quite a bit irritated and gave a last warning, then he would kick you out of the library, and your overall karma would decrease, so would the respect for you n this town. If you would not leave, he would call the police. (perhaps this is a bit extreme, but an example). Every time you'd run after this moment, he would say a very short text informing you that you must leave.

Although that is a bit of voice acting, it adds depth. I'm assuming not every player will annoy the clerk, but those who do will surely be impressed... and perhaps will annoy the clerk just to see his reaction! The clerk however doesn't care if there are more important things, like the city being raided by goblins or the library burning. That sort of behaviour should be generic, and at best, it would have speech attached. But that'd be a problem...

A truly generic situation is some mansion, where you usually don't just run freely in every room - the guards get irritated, and if needed, guide you by hand, and not kill you all of a sudden, unless they are crazy. Instead of writing a script for every guard, do a ganeric publicplacebeh, then inherit a housebeh, then mansionbe, in the publicbeh you could go anywhere, shout scream and do whatever. In a house you shouldn't scream or run around like Bush trying to win the elections, but drinking beer or eating would be in place, unlike in an office.

One more thing, but it is rather non-AI. When big and important things happen, people simply don't know about them. Example: F2 (greatest RPG of all time, IMHO) Arroyo has dissapeared, then the enclave destroyed, but people of Klamath know nothing new. Or perhaps the world is about to end, fire raining from the sky, and the village you visited at the beggining of the game lives as if nothing happened, people telling you the generic "What a beautyfull weather we're having!", despite being hit in the next second by a fireball. It kills depth, but doing it by hand, every important event is simply a long and boring task. Instead, if you plan to have the game with ony certain things said, and the rest written (like Neverwinter), do a speech generator, which creates a generic speech for a given person, given the time of day, his character, health and surroundings. Give a few random phrases to all of the categories above, and you should have people saying things like "Yo, bad weather today, worse is the peeps at X got fried man!" and "Hello chap! It's a bit late now, isn't it? Oh, well, anyway do you know someone *finally* taught those X a lesson?"

AI

Monsters as such want to eat, reproduce, and not kill the player. They want to live, so the pray on weak animals, which are alone. Some monsters flee when they can't win, the player must stalk to get them, instead of just going in range and killing them easily. When you'd look at it from a different perspective, weak mosters would pose a challenge as well, first as fierce enemies in combat, then hard-to-catch prey. Although this isn't dear hunter, I'd like to see such an element.

Beside that, you should be able to observe the creatures live. Eat berries, breed, fight eachother. And let them live overall. When the player would be in the city, the individual creatures wouldn't do anything, since that'd take CPU. They would be handled as a group, a statistic, not as single creatures. What I mean though is that when you hurt a bear, you will find it in a cave somewhere later, hurt. But the engine doesn't have to make him eat berries, it does that only when you are close to the animal. I did that kind of management when I was doing my RPG.

Oh, and make people die like in Gothic. Apart from the fact that it's a little sadistic, IMnsHO it was a good solution.

....forgot my user....

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lonesock    807
maybe combine the idea of a hive-mind species with neural nets. The more people who fight and kill creature type X, the better the rest of them get at fighting. X could also adapt itself to new styles of fighting, new weapons, etc. Not that NN for AI is a new idea, but writing the hive-mind portion into the docs allows players to notice the difference between X and other, more rigid, species.

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Extrarius    1412
Any AI at all would be good. My experience with RPGs so far is that the monsters are essentially mini-mini-mini-mini expert machines that goes something like "if health > 25% then Fireball else HealSelf"
Personally, I'd like to see some kind of tactics from more powerfull/intelligent monsters (humans, dragons etc). Perhaps something like the work Willaim van der Sterren has been doing the last many years, with all kinds of threat assesment and ambushes and cornering etc - in other words, typical military / special ops type stuff.

You can see the stuff he's done on his site, http://www.cgf-ai.com/

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nagromo    676
I would like a pack of wolves that hunts together. They don't like humans but will attack if provoked. They work together in fihgting. They don't randomly spawn; they have a natural habitat with somewhat realistic rules. (I'm not talking about number-of-rabits-eaten realistic, I'm talking about fudge-it-with-a-bunch-of-numbers-so-it's-not-just-a-static-environment realistic.)

I think that little things like that would really help. Instead of random encounters you could have an actual system. There could be a community of goblins; they would build a walled town and try to keep outsiders out. That specific example is much more sophisticated, though, unless you scripted and mapped it manually.

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