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Globally aware enemies in open world shooters

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Enemies in open world shooters I've played have only basic AI and a hate level. They might be camped or they might be on patrol. But they do not respond to global events. In other words, if they can't hear you or the enemy you are attacking, they don't exist. I firmly believe that a great innovation in open world shooters will involve the an enemy and how he responds to the player. GTA simulated a globally aware enemy with the police and imo was a critical component in design and development process. Lots of open world shooters ignored this element of GTA (!!!). Besides adding depth in the openness to the game, it can also keep action high. Take STALKER; They were forced to utilize enemy respawns so that returning to a place like a train station is as action packed as the first time you were there. Most people complained about the task of going through "recycled content", but the devs knew that it sure beat a cleared-out field devoid of action. A dynamic enemy could have resolved this problem because engaging the static enemy would only be the first part of the battle... dealing with the reinforcements (point of entry, level of response) would have brought about diversity in the conflict simply by adding these dynamic variables. The symptom is so obvious. When I'm attacking an outpost, the rest of the world does not exist. All that exists are the enemies at the camp. Compared to a linear game with heavily scripted scenarios this open world results in a much devolved and degraded player-vs-enemy relationship. Open world shooters commonly improve the conflicts between the player and enemy by utilizing mission-specific scripts. But this does nothing for battles taking place outside of mission content. This is so critical because a dynamic enemy adds to the sandbox appeal and I think an open world shooter is only as good as its sandbox elements. For example, in GTA, city driving was fun, interacting with the police response was incredible, and city exploration itself was pleasant. Without sandbox elements like these, your open world shooter is just a wanna be that should have been linear because creating a sandbox IS the reason for creating that open world. I've got some ideas about creating an open world shooter, and you better believe it revolves around an innovated approach to creating globally aware enemies. I think I might make it into a board game first! If you have something to say about sandbox or globally aware enemies, please share!

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Scripting could accomplish a lot of the same, without any new technological advancement. It's just that devs haven't been interested in doing that.

In general, very simple scripting (guards attempt to get on the radio and call reinforcements; reinforcements arrive from a particular direction and sweep the area) would make a huge difference. And you wouldn't even need to do that all over in the game to make it extremely memorable.

I was disappointed in the lack of that in FEAR, of all places. After all, it told you that your opponents are a *battalion* of *super soldiers*. Meh... more like mall security making the rounds hung over on a Saturday morning. They were nicely aggressive and reasonably quiet, but they just didn't act even slightly like soldiers, especially on defense. It would be interesting if the most dangerous guy among a squad of enemies was the one who has a radio and can call in two other squads, if he isn't killed fast enough. One alternative tactic would be to get one squad to call for help, to dodge the counterattack and wreck face in the other squads' positions which would then temporarily be lightly manned.

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I think the problem has less to do with developers being "lazy" or whatever, and more with technological constraints that such a system would impose.

It's one thing to simulate a dozen soldiers right in front of you, it's a totally other thing to simulate ten thousand people in a giant world, even if the AI for each of them is fairly basic.

As Stroppy Katamari says, I think much of what you're after could be acomplished with some cleverly scripted events. You might even be able to fake it a bit for non-scripted situations. But I don't think you can simulate the entire world all at the same time.

Also, if enemies keep calling for reinforcements, every fight you got into would be extremely dangerous - because now you've not only got to worry about the guys in front of you, but also the reinforcements they'll call, and the reinforcements they'll call, and so on. How does it end? In GTA, for example, you can end the encounter by going to a spray-shop, but that's not going to work in all games...

Imagine if, in Crysis, they used a radio to notify the rest of the island of your presense. Realisticly, as soon as you got into your first fight, the entire island would've been alerted to your presence. You wouldn't be able to go anywhere without being shot on sight. And it wouldn't take long for them to start bringing in the helicopters and search-parties to come looking for you.

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Quote:
Original post by Stroppy Katamari
Scripting could accomplish a lot of the same, without any new technological advancement. It's just that devs haven't been interested in doing that.

In general, very simple scripting (guards attempt to get on the radio and call reinforcements; reinforcements arrive from a particular direction and sweep the area) would make a huge difference. And you wouldn't even need to do that all over in the game to make it extremely memorable.


Script use varies in its importance, appeal, use, etc. For example, in the classic Goldeneye 64, they had alarms that once pressed would bring reinforcements. Memorable? yes, but not at all game defining.

And in COD4, enemies spawn endlessly until you advance to a certain position on the field. The entire game from start to finish is defined by these scripts, and this innovation garnered big time critic attention, both positive and negative.

Like I said in the first post, I bet scripting the police in GTA was a major part of development and was a crucial part of what made the game work. It must have also been a major design challenge. Why open world shooters haven't carried this design into their game is obvious, lack of creativity and experimentation, and the duplication is difficult.

btw I'm almost suggesting an enemy that operates like a computer opponent in an RTS. Aren't there games out there that use some RTS elements to create a FPS sandbox? Maybe I just haven't seen them yet, because it seems like an obvious approach to innovate in the genre of FPS sandbox.

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Quote:
Original post by Codeka
Also, if enemies keep calling for reinforcements, every fight you got into would be extremely dangerous - because now you've not only got to worry about the guys in front of you, but also the reinforcements they'll call, and the reinforcements they'll call, and so on.


You could do a lot of hit, run and hide tactics but I agree it would be difficult to balance performance requirements with it being more believable than your standard infinitely or not infinite but still far too many enemies spawning nonsensically scenario.

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ack... let me rephrase this post.
@Codeka You wouldn't have to have 10000 AI units on the map simultaneously and you wouldn't have to involve them all in every scenario. The script design would dictate the "who, how, and when" characteristics of a given reinforcement or response to a player action.

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What I'd really like would be that the enemy had an explicit system of command and communication, not an inexplicable "global awareness" like in GTA. Squad and platoon leaders you can kill, putting all under their command in chaos for a moment until someone takes charge again. Radios and phone lines you can destroy, so the enemy won't know in advance you are coming, or can't send timely reinforcements to a unit you are taking apart. Normal enemy grunts wouldn't need to be very dangerous, as the danger would come from the fact that the enemy would try to do all sorts of pincer movements and e.g. trap you between two whole infantry squads.

This would also allow distinguishing enemies not according to individual grunts' weaponry, accuracy, etc (they could even be the exact same), but how good their morale and leadership is.

When you faced a draftee unit, you'd crush them because they take so much time to come back online after a leader is killed, and a squad that lost communications would - at best - carry out their last mission, or even stay put or head back towards HQ.

In an elite unit, on the other hand, leadership would be transferred almost instantly after the leader is down. When appropriate, they would tolerate a horrible number of casualties without retreating, and squads that have lost comms and have no objectives would take their own initiative (e.g. hunting you down after they spot you).

Re: reinforcements. I'd actually prefer that instead of spawning, the (potential) reinforcements are already deployed in the area, and if someone calls for help on the radio, they head towards where the distress call came from. If this didn't happen, they'd just stay where they were. And even if they were triggered, you could just break contact and they wouldn't magically know exactly where you are.

Even if they are spawned, like arriving in a helicopter, the reinforcements hardly need to be infinite. On some level, the enemy might have one chopper with an infantry squad ready for immediate deployment (1 minute), and no more. On another, they'd have that much and additionally a platoon of mechanized infantry which comes from far enough that it takes ten minutes to reach the mission area. These would create natural, soft time limits.

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For my vision it would be counterproductive to let the player interfere with their dispatch via communication blocking. Although it certainly sounds fun as a player to engage in communication blocking for self preservation, I'd require the player to experience the intensity of dealing with the adds directly, either through evasion or combat, rather than reward him for preemptively neutralizing it. I wouldn't even want it as an optional playstyle because I can't let one playstyle turn my main focus of the game into an experience of fault/shame/punishment. Even so, the player who wishes to avoid combat would still find evasion to be as important of a tactic as combat.

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There are so many faults in sandbox worlds,

1. One thing that aggravates me with these sandbox games is that the interior of buildings are usually so simplistic in design, that it feels like you're playing in a cardboard box-- as opposed to a game that would make the interior design it's priority.

2. Another sandbox pet peeve is that there are never different points of entry. You always come in through the same entrance, to fight the same barrage of enemies every single time. There should always be different ways to enter a stage so that you can set up a different plans to break in. How can this really feel like a full world, if you don't have the option to break into every single available window/door?

3. In association to the previous point, I would like it if the enemies responded a little more realistically. If there was a "situation" in a building, security will all run to the commotion and investigate-- of course with the exception of the persons watching the monitors.

Now, mixing all three points together-- you will now have a game where you could cause a commotion on one side of the building, and enter another way.

Pretty much, I think any one that ever creates an espionage game, should work as a security guard first to see how it works.

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I like the idea of having reinforcements respond to the situations specifically. If you've killed half of an enemy of squad in an average amount of time they could call in a second one to turn the tide. If you quickly devastate a squad they would report a major threat and send two or three times the response. An easy way to stop continuous reinforcements would be to set a number of soldiers that can die before the battle is considered a loss for them. I would have liked to see something like this in Far Cry 2. The enemies could be seriously wounded, but that only meant that they were going to die a little bit later. Having an enemy survive and comment appropriately when you run into them(or someone with the same model) again would be pretty cool.

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