Unprecedented A.I.

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Silverphish
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Unprecedented A.I.

Postby Silverphish » Sun Dec 25, 2016 4:43 pm

Okay, I was thinking about this today. When planning for the success of a game it is important to be able to point out innovative things that make yours unique, fascinating, and compelling when compared to the rest of the field. What if SoH made the mob AI something that has not been seen in MOG before. More strategic positioning, more interacting with the environment, less predictable roaming, running away to heal, more intelligent teaming, signaling for backup etc.

Also, It seems like all MOGs today have this really small aggro area around mobs, the mobs stay clustered, if they aggro they tend to lose interest after about 20 feet, etc. It's so predictable that you can almost see the imaginary circle you know you shouldn't cross. Has anyone ever played Anarchy Online? That game is genuinely old now, but it had some of the best aggro behaviors of any game I've played because you really didn't know what might happen. I will never forget the first time I picked on a robot that was a lot stronger than I was. There was genuine terror as I was trying to run away, and it just kept chasing me through the whole dungeon instance. In the large world zones some mobs would continue chasing you across a map even if you put significant distance between them and you. Imagine running over a hill, going 40 more yards and turning around just in time to see the mob cresting the hill in the distance and still coming after you. It's creepy, but awesome. Also, you couldn't always tell if a group of mobs was together, or if you could aggro them individually, because they would mingle in each other's areas.

We have the processing power these days to really up the game on mob AI and I think it would be a great attention-getter to do things like this. I would like occasionally for a mob to be able to chase me outside of an instance. For gangs to make use of a lookout to sneak around and get the drop on you. For large groups to split up to create a pincer attack or some other strategy. The bad guys should know their lair a lot better than you do, and they should be able to tactically use that against you. For instance, instead of running at you like a gang brawl, maybe they split up and take advantageous positions for ranged attacks, or run away down multiple passages to loop back around to shoot at you through slits in a wall or to operate remote defenses. They need to use the environment more. If a fallen comrade has a better weapon, they swap it for theirs and start using it. Maybe they could even pick up the weapon of a fallen hero.

I would love it to be at a complexity where it's actually entertaining to just observe mobs and npcs, like watching ants in an ant farm. It would make the game a lot richer and more entertaining.

What other behaviors would you like to see from the AI?

AxerJ
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Re: Unprecedented A.I.

Postby AxerJ » Sun Dec 25, 2016 4:44 pm

100% agree!

If SoH could rid itself of much of the "enemy standing in a group waiting to be attacked" scenario, especially while another group is engaged nearly right in front of them, it could be truly great. How to do this, though..? One way would be to perhaps spread out gang groups so they don't necessarily see other members being attacked near them. Another way could be to potentially allow rival gangs to fight each other (and you) when one of the groups is engaged. It'd be fantastic though to see the enemies behave more tactically, as you said!

Of course, focus on the core gameplay and make sure the basic 1-2-3 combat is fun before implementing these things (goes without saying) =)

I also like the idea of some serious enemies chasing you throughout an entire zone. Loved that mechanic in EQ1, but wouldn't make as much sense for every enemy to chase indefinitely in this game.

Lazarus
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Re: Unprecedented A.I.

Postby Lazarus » Sun Dec 25, 2016 4:44 pm

I like the idea of the AI being more interesting than just the usual behavior: small area aggro - gets bored beyond small area - doesn't attack anyone unless provoked. I'd like enemies to chase you depending on your relative strength to the enemy - a really strong enemy might lose interest sooner because you're just 'small fry' to him, but a same-strength enemy might pursue you for much longer because he thinks you're a real threat he wants to eliminate.

I'd like to see NPCs that are in theory allies - like policemen - occasionally chase down enemies to arrest or defeat them. I'm not seen that done before but I think that would be cool.

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Silverphish
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Re: Unprecedented A.I.

Postby Silverphish » Thu Jan 26, 2017 3:39 am

I had some more thoughts on this. No matter how good the AI is, you will tend to get used to it after so much exposure. So, the only real way to keep it interesting and compelling is to have the mindset that it's one of those things that is never finished. Make a handful of tweaks to various existing AI components every patch/update/release. Not to "fix" them, but just to make them slightly different from what they were.

I'm thinking of a few different things here. First, and most easily accomplished, would be to change ranges in variables that cause actions to be triggered. Second, would be to throw in a few completely new actions to be triggered from time to time. And third, make some new/alternative motion captures for existing actions. I think it would be awesome if areas I had played before had mobs that behave differently and did new things.

I think this is one area where a little effort goes a long way. You don't have to have lots of these all the time, just a few here and there. This stuff is noticeable and keeps content fresh.

I would also like to see mobs have a bit of self preservation logic with regards to things that they know they can't defeat. I always thought it was rather crappy when a group of thugs would just rush headlong into a police outpost where, realistically, they would know they were going to be vaporized. That's just dumb. They should generally stay away from things like that, but should occasionally test the limits so that you can sometimes see one get into trouble. Fuzzy boundaries.

Pyrion
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Re: Unprecedented A.I.

Postby Pyrion » Thu Jan 26, 2017 9:37 am

While i would really like interesting mob behaviour i think this can be implemented at a later time. You could go all the way and use deep neural networks for really self learning AIs, but i am not sure if that's something the players would really want. A compromise would be some randomization of mob behaviour so that it doesn't get stale fast without the mobs becoming too good. Maybe human mobs should display some sense of self preservation (try to run or give up, pleading for the hero to stop).

In CoH lore it was stated that all the mobs that we heros kill are in reality just arrested somehow magically. This is something i would like to see implemented better. Since this is the future you could make criminals walk onto a teleporter, teleporting them directly to prison. Or just call the police drones. Maybe there is an even better idea. This doesn't have to be high priority but it was one of the flaws of CoHs, heros being pretty brutal, unlike in most comics.

Gooch
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Re: Unprecedented A.I.

Postby Gooch » Thu Jan 26, 2017 12:30 pm

I'm not a programmer, so I can't speak for what can or can't be done, but I like everything I'm reading here in these posts.

One of the worst things, in my mind, is when you play through a mission or instance, and all of the same mobs spawn in exactly the same place, doing exactly the same things. I would love to see some more randomization at the very least, so you have to rely more on your wits and skill in any given situation, than always saying "ok, around the next corner there are 3 megazorphs, so be ready!"

Having said that, some "dungeons" are so tough that I'm not sure how you'd survive without being able to plan somewhat, based on the fact that you've failed it in the past, and now have a better idea of what to do. Will be interesting to experiment with. 8-)

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Silverphish
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Re: Unprecedented A.I.

Postby Silverphish » Thu Jan 26, 2017 10:14 pm

You could go all the way and use deep neural networks for really self learning AIs, but i am not sure if that's something the players would really want.
Yeah I was thinking about this too. I think it might be less about what players want and more about what devs want, meaning you would have to program all kinds of intent into the learning system to box it in, instead of just telling it what you want it to do.

That siad, it might be interesting to try in some areas. It would certainly blur the line between PvP and PvE, which might be both really cool, and really popular. Gotta take some risks if you don't want to be milktoast.

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thePatriot
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Re: Unprecedented A.I.

Postby thePatriot » Fri Jan 27, 2017 11:50 am

I just completed a mid-level mission on a villain character in DC Universe Online and the AI in that mission changed everything. Normally the mobs have a simple aggro range but it was slightly different in this mission.

1. There were more groups in same area and they wandered away from each other a little farther.
2. There were some wandering groups that kept a tight formation but patrolled a large area.
3. All groups would immediately call for backup which would aggro other nearby groups.

This led to me attacking a close target, who would call for backup bringing in the patrol who would call for backup bringing in the mobs at the back of the room. I had to be careful and use my pull power (yanks a target to me) on targets that had wandered a little far from his friends.

This was a solo mission but ended up with mass rushs of mobs trying to attack me. It was very refreshing.
It's time for a bodyslam!
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BicycleWalrus
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Re: Unprecedented A.I.

Postby BicycleWalrus » Fri Jan 27, 2017 7:11 pm

SpatialOS would provide Ship of Heroes a set of Logic Workers which would enable them to create very compelling AI, and do away with aggro circles, and be more specific to stimuli, such as sounds, explosions, and even personal needs such as deification, eating, sleep, etc. The AI tech out there already exists.

Chronicles of Elyria is already using SpatialOS to do similar things. This isn't something they'd have to develop from scratch. Improbable is looking for more customers, and an 'Off-The Shelf' solution would keep the game on schedule.

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Silverphish
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Re: Unprecedented A.I.

Postby Silverphish » Mon Jan 30, 2017 12:20 am

SpatialOS would provide Ship of Heroes a set of Logic Workers which would enable them to create very compelling AI...
SpatialOS seems pretty interesting, but it looks like it doesn't work with Unreal yet.

Wing Leader
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Re: Unprecedented A.I.

Postby Wing Leader » Mon Jan 30, 2017 5:33 pm

Game A.I. development seems somewhat stagnant to me. We are stuck in the same old paradigms that shaped Everquest. Even the vocabulary we use to talk about it is 15 years old.

Has anyone thought to explore other computing domains? For instance, genetic algorithms could be used to "evolve" enemies with behaviors that range from not-so-smart to shockingly brilliant. Have a system that puts neural net-like brains into the enemies, and have millions of behavior trials arrive at optimal coefficients. The dumber enemies (level 1) are the ones whose development is stopped after only one million trials, while smarter enemies benefit from many more passes in the incubator. This was the sort of process that helped generate digital actor behaviors in Massive for the Lord of the Rings movies.

Has anyone thought to give the enemies actual things to do, so that they aren't just standing around waiting to be attacked by PCs? Yes, CoH was wonderfully immersive (it was for me anyway), but one area where it most certainly was not was in the "random gangs of enemies that just stand or walk around without purpose" element. Perhaps a development philosophy could be adopted that says, No enemy will be on the map that isn't actually doing something meaningful. In terms of aspirational checkboxes, that ought to be right up there with infinite costume/power customizability and a powers system that works identically in both PvE and PvP.

brawlizard
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Re: Unprecedented A.I.

Postby brawlizard » Wed Feb 08, 2017 1:30 pm

This is a particularly tough nut to crack. Several triple A gaming studios have tried in recent memory and failed. AI is easier to simulate/create in a non-persistent/persisted world.
So while I'd love to have better mob AI, good core game-play and strong story, with varied content is far more important to me.

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Blue Djinn
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Re: Unprecedented A.I.

Postby Blue Djinn » Thu Feb 23, 2017 9:45 am

There are some really good points, but I think mostly wish lists...

I have always been a fan of the "randomized" dungeon. Obviously a lair is a lair is a lair, but the mobs inside should be doing something different the next time you go in there. Seriously, we have raided them a hundred times and Frankie the Thug is still hanging out by the water fountain flipping his lighter. (And of course we will reminisce about poor Frankie when he gets coded out).

I did see that in Sword Coast Legends the mobs would leave the room and go raise the dead. That was annoying, creepy, and really fun! It had been a long time since I pointed at the screen and screamed "Yes! Oh Yea! Yes! that's what I'm talkin' about!"

Mobs hanging out having random conversations is something that has gotten a lot better. Lookouts now actually look like they are "looking out", and patrols look down hallways. ESO has guards that come back and annoyingly wait for you to come back when you duck and hide, sometimes it seems like they can just smell you.

Games are always getting better. Remember that devs are gamer's too and they want to have just as much fun as we do!

Ferrum
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Re: Unprecedented A.I.

Postby Ferrum » Thu Feb 23, 2017 10:07 am

The Mob AI for Ship of Heroes came up in a recent interview.

From the 2P article http://2p.com/47345154_1/Ship-of-Heroes ... phthys.htm:
"For the enemy AI, we are scripting our own decision trees, and setting a lot of interesting capability in motion. For example, each type of enemy will be using different weapons and tactics in combat, so players will have the challenge of responding to different combat settings, tactics, weapons, and powers from the enemies. In addition, NPC enemies can randomly select different attack decision trees even if they are identically armed, which will change up combat quite a bit, making it less predictable. The enemies can be very smart. In addition, enemies are aware of one another and interact with one another. The player has allies and so do the enemies. We have currently scripted a line of sight AI system, so a player can sneak up on enemies. This is not a standard plug and play MMO AI – UE4 allows some very interesting features, and we are picking and choosing what we want to enable, and to change."

Now it's tricky to assume too much from a quote, but the fact that the enemies are 'aware of one another' and 'interact with one another' suggests their placement can be affected by these interactions. If the background bots have their moods adjusted by interacting with each other it seems entirely likely that the actual enemy AIs will adjust each other as well in terms of mood, choices, and placement.

Wing Leader
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Re: Unprecedented A.I.

Postby Wing Leader » Thu Feb 23, 2017 5:15 pm

Those are helpful improvements, to be sure.

But they don't really address the fundamental weakness of most PvE mobs which is that they rarely have objectives of their own. All they tend to do is react to the presence of the PCs. CoX had bank heists in which the boss was being driven by an action script that resembled independent objectives (get out of the bank), but even that was quite primitive.

If enemy mobs are going to present non-repetitive challenges to players, then they need to have their own objectives that go beyond simply reacting to PC incursions.


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