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Thread: Game features that you hate

  1. #51
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    The AI for System Shock 2 & Thief was quite good, with the sound based alert system.

  2. #52
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    They certainly have some great qualities, but if we come full circle to the idea of being smart enough combatants to make up for not being damage sponges - I'm going to say no, they don't make that hurdle.

  3. #53
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2006
    Location: Washington DC
    The bar for 'smarter' AI isn't particularly high at the moment. Wildlands' AI actually impresses me for the same reason FEAR's does: the enemies are mobile. So many FPSes have enemies hop into cover and stay there, turning it essentially into a game of whack-a-mole where you flank around to find the optimal cover-denying angle and then shoot.

    In FEAR, the enemies don't actually coordinate, but their AI uses a 'priority' system where characters have different goals that their AI tries to execute. If they suddenly can't see you anymore, their goal to take cover in the face of immediate threat gets outweighed by their goal to move up, and so they redeploy. You can drop back from an encounter and take a flanking route, only to find that none of the enemies are where they left them. Some are now behind new cover that provides protection from your maneuver, while others are performing a flanking maneuver of their own. As far as 'smoke and mirrors' goes, it's simple in concept but it works brilliantly.

    Wildlands takes the same idea and applies it to a much more lethal combat system, so that if you're not paying attention it's easy to get flanked and taken out by a single enemy. The AI may not be particularly intelligent in most respects, but taking initiative rather than just responding to what the player does makes it unpredictable and dangerous.

    I don't think we need super-complex AI to make a more compelling experience, it just seems like AI is often treated like either an afterthought, or a Skinner box where specific stimuli go in and predictable results come out. That certainly works for some games (most stealth games would be a lot harder if enemies weren't predictable), but for shooters I can't think of any recent titles that have advertised intelligent, unpredictable AI as a core feature.

  4. #54
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    I think if we made AI too good, then that would be a real pain in the ass, as you'd be getting your ass handed to you on a regular basis.

    Be like taking on one of those arrogant chess players that takes you out in a few moves.

  5. #55
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2004
    The goal of good AI is not to be smart, but to be a fun challenge for the player

  6. #56
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    It's why behaviour and accuracy should be decoupled (and perhaps it is most of the time). Creating an AI that never misses a shot isn't particularly fun, whereas an AI that flanks you, that surprises you (and that may be smoke and mirrors, but if they're done well I don't think that's a problem).

    And it's not just shooters. As much as I've enjoyed the Civilization games I've played, the AI has never been particularly good. What's worse, though, is that when you turn up the difficulty, the AI doesn't get better in terms of strategy and tactics, it just gets more perks. I'm sure the following metaphor falls down in practical terms, but I'd want AI that thinks four or five moves ahead (or however you'd put it for games that aren't turn-based) and when you pick a higher level it thinks six or seven moves ahead. Instead we get AI that thinks two or three moves ahead but they get 150% hitpoints and a bonus to accuracy.

  7. #57
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    To go university teacher on you for a second (as I'm currently teaching a unit on Artificial Intelligence this semester), it's all down to the Finite State Machines for the AI's:



    So you first work out on paper, or in paint or whatever the logic flow that you want your AI to go and then code it in according to your FSM. Here is a classic one for the ghosts in Pac-Man:



    For this weeks workshop class we had students create a Frogger-ish like game, but just with the frog and the highway and they had to setup a FSM for the frog to run off automatically to move up and down the road without being hit by a car. Really fun stuff.



    The scary bit is that the lecturer for this unit (not me) had never heard of Frogger before.
    Last edited by icemann; 15th Mar 2018 at 05:17.

  8. #58
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    I recommend a needs hierarchy instead of an FSM. It really is the same thing only better. A needs hierarchy is better organized, easier to think about, less prone to weird bugs, and generally just better in every conceivable way. Take that top image, for instance:

    Priority 1: Health points are low? Find aid.
    Priority 2: Player is attacking? Evade.
    Priority 3: Player in sight? Attack.
    Priority 4: Wander.

    Note that in this system, transitions from any state to any state are easily covered without turning the diagram into spaghetti.

  9. #59
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    Note that I know nothing about AI programming, so the following may be painfully naive, but looking at that I can't help but want something a bit more complex and interesting and less black and white, e.g.

    Priority 1: Health points are low, but there's no obvious aid (health packs, friendly units) in sight, so depending on a number of variables (e.g. skill, equipment, courage, intelligence, aggression) the unit might go for a suicide attack, because finding aid is unlikely to succeed, so at least they can go out doing some damage to the player.
    Priority 2: Should evade and attack be different actions by definition? Should an enemy unit be able to shoot from the hip while they're evading, perhaps suppressing the player in the process? Also, enemies might have more personality if some of them are cautious while others are cocky.
    Priority 3: I'd want the enemy to have some situational awareness. A dude with a pistol that spots a player wielding a BFG would be suicidal to attack directly. There may be cover nearby from which they can attack just as well, but with less risk to themselves. Or there might be friendly units about that they could team up with.

    How would either an FSM or a needs hierarchy do this kind of thing?

  10. #60
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    A FSM definitely. Just would be a much more complex one, as I'd be betting most FSM's that are in the games with more sophisticated AI.

    On a side note, I tried typing "F.E.A.R FSM" into Google and got this really long discussion paper on F.E.A.R's AI's. So it looks like FSM's was what they went with.
    Last edited by icemann; 15th Mar 2018 at 11:29.

  11. #61
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Ireland
    What you're talking about there is a priority-based system with more complex priorities.

    That's not a state machine, it's a dynamic hierarchy.


    The AI would have a set of potential goals, and it would score each of those goals based on various criteria, stack them up, and perform the goal with the highest score.

    An example goal score might be for finding health, which starts off at zero, goes up depending on how injured the character is, but also goes down if there's no health nearby, or depending on what they think their chances of beating the player are, based on their weapons and the player's health. All of that could be worked into a single mathematical formula which would give a concrete score value.


    As a random aside, this "goals with priorities" system is how Isaac Asimov wrote the Three Laws of Robotics. They were not actually written in a strict hierarchy, but instead the lower laws could overrule higher ones depending on the priority value that the situation gave each law.

    The simple example was that a robot wouldn't put itself in extreme danger just because it was casually told to, even though doing what it was told was Second Law and self-preservation only Third Law, because it deemed its own value and worth to be higher priority than a casual command. The laws are in a rough order, but the exact priority is based on a calculation of their current value.

  12. #62
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Thanks for the link, icemann, that's great.
    Quote Originally Posted by icemann View Post
    So it looks like FSM's was what they went with.
    So it looks like icemann didn't read the paper he linked. Pity, 'cause it's really pretty cool.

    FSM's are too generic, and the number of transitions can easily spiral out of control in practice. Read the linked documents' takedown of FSM's on page 3; they used it before, and it, um, failed to help solve complex problems. As I demonstrated above, an FSM is significantly improved by putting it in a hierarchy; easier to build and understand. (Technically the basic hierarchy IS an FSM, but... A transistor is an FSM. That's the "generic" problem.) The so-called "FSM" that FEAR uses is entirely below the decision making process and just specifies to the animation system whether its a moving animation or not. (IMO that's not an FSM at all, not really.)

    Anyway, yeah, at the top level the FEAR AI is a hierarchy:
    We need to assign a Goal Set to each A.I. in WorldEdit. These goals compete for activation, and the A.I. uses the planner to try to satisfy the highest priority goal.
    The "planner" is interesting, though. It's a glorified pathfinder. Literally A*. They have a bunch of actions which, like goals, can be assigned to individuals (as something that unit can do). The planner picks actions that form a "path" to completing the goal. The example given in the document is a soldier that can either reload then shoot, or move forward, jump over a desk, and make a melee attack. The planner can decide which one to do based on which takes longer! (Although they can set whatever weight they want for various actions, it's not literally just time taken.)

    Interesting stuff. Glade Raid uses more of a straight hierarchy system, with a few subhierarchies ("what KIND of attack should I make?"). The pathfinder just feeds data into it, providing a list of reachable-this-turn hexes in time-to-reach order (making it very easy to find the closest hex that has line of sight, for example - I just iterate through the list until I find one).

    Anyway, I don't think I'm ever again going to swallow the "smoke and mirrors" criticism of FEAR's AI. Yeah, they don't "really" do everything it looks like they do, but what they DO do is pretty cool.

  13. #63
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by Pyrian View Post
    Anyway, I don't think I'm ever again going to swallow the "smoke and mirrors" criticism of FEAR's AI. Yeah, they don't "really" do everything it looks like they do, but what they DO do is pretty cool.
    I'd say that smoke and mirrors are just as important to game design than the real thing, if not more. Some of the ways FEAR made the AI look more intelligent were pretty ingenious, actually -- an NPC would first decide on an action, then another NPC would give him the order to do the action, creating the illusion that they were following commands.

    And there's a ton more stuff like this that devs do in order to create a better (or the intended) experience: https://twitter.com/Gaohmee/status/903510060197744640
    Last edited by Starker; 16th Mar 2018 at 01:11.

  14. #64
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2006
    Location: Washington DC
    Quote Originally Posted by Pyrian View Post
    I recommend a needs hierarchy instead of an FSM. It really is the same thing only better. A needs hierarchy is better organized, easier to think about, less prone to weird bugs, and generally just better in every conceivable way. Take that top image, for instance:

    Priority 1: Health points are low? Find aid.
    Priority 2: Player is attacking? Evade.
    Priority 3: Player in sight? Attack.
    Priority 4: Wander.

    Note that in this system, transitions from any state to any state are easily covered without turning the diagram into spaghetti.
    When I was in college I did a lot of research on FEAR's AI for a class on developing AI in gaming. I wholeheartedly recommend reading the paper icemann linked to, it's got a lot of good information about how game AI works. I would disagree with the assessment that a needs hierarchy is easier to think about and less prone to weird bugs, and in fact, I'd argue the opposite.

    I remember my team designed an AI that prioritized getting close enough to the player to fight, followed by getting into cover as a secondary. What happened in practice was that the enemy would be triggered from a long distance, it would start to run close, and then as soon as it got close enough, the desire to get into cover would take priority and it would double back towards cover behind it. At which point it would be far enough away that the desire to get closer would take priority and so on and so on. It would just stand there and vibrate, unable to decide between two courses of action as they quickly changed priorities.

    It wasn't too hard to fix, but FSMs don't have to worry about that sort of thing at all, because you define the conditions that drive an AI into a different state. If we implemented our AI as an FSM, we could rigidly define the transition conditions between each activity such that the back-and-forth behavior wouldn't occur. If a similar sort of behavior did crop up from an unwanted transition condition, then it's easy enough to adjust, whereas with a needs-based system messing with the weights and conditions to solve one problem can easily have ripple effects on the rest of the system.

    It's fitting that Nameless Voice mentioned Asimov's rule of robotics- the entire point of I, Robot is to illustrate how three non-rigid priorities are inadequate to govern artificial intelligence, and could conflict and interact in unexpected and undesired ways. Every short story is about an unexpected emergent behavior from the application of a needs-based hierarchy. Despite its wholly fictional context it's actually a really good illustration of why developing AI is so hard.

    As for 'AI that's too good wouldn't be fun'- I'm not so sure about that. As FEAR shows, smart AI that doesn't 'cheat' (respond to information it cannot realistically have) is a more interesting source of challenge than just giving dumb AI extra health. I could definitely see a shooter, particularly one geared towards realism, use the intelligence of its AI as a selling point. It wouldn't even necessarily have to be particularly difficult, as you can always make other aspects of the game easier to compensate (eg don't give them aimbot accuracy). Personally I would much rather get frustrated at an enemy being believably intelligent than sponging up my bullets and beating me through attrition.

    On that note, I know some of you folks have played Alien: Isolation, did you notice the Alien's ability to learn? I thought it was a nice touch that the more you use fire against the Alien, the more wary it becomes of it, but the more aggressive it gets once you put the weapon down or turn away. It's got to be a pretty simple mechanism under the hood, but it really adds to the immersion.
    Last edited by catbarf; 15th Mar 2018 at 19:29.

  15. #65
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Also, an interesting note, the AI in A:I cheated. Apparently, it had two "brains", one of which always knew where you were and gave the other one hints: https://twitter.com/get_tuda_choppa/...76441836769281

  16. #66
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by catbarf View Post
    I wholeheartedly recommend reading the paper icemann linked to, it's got a lot of good information about how game AI works.
    I did. It's pretty cool.

    Quote Originally Posted by catbarf View Post
    I would disagree with the assessment that a needs hierarchy is easier to think about and less prone to weird bugs, and in fact, I'd argue the opposite.
    Despite having in the same paragraph recommended a paper which uses a needs hierarchy as its top level of AI?

    Quote Originally Posted by catbarf View Post
    It wasn't too hard to fix, but FSMs don't have to worry about that sort of thing at all...
    Nonsense. I've literally worked on FSM's doing the exact same back-and-forth thing. (A hierarchy is little more than a type of FSM anyway.) And frankly, it was a lot harder to fix in the FSM precisely because of the focus on the transition rather than the goal meant that fixes tended to fail whenever things got complex (you fix one transition, but other transitions and other combinations of transitions end up doing the same thing), while the hierarchy simply involves less complexity up front, especially as it scales. Fixes on a hierarchy are one and done, fixes on non-hierarchical FSM's end up being the ones that are all over the place and having unforeseen ripple effects.

    Here's the bottom line: Lacking the need to define multiple transitions per state (transitions that have an obnoxious tendency to trend towards exponential), hierarchies fundamentally accomplish the same thing with less logic. It's a more elegant solution that will always be easier to build and maintain precisely because there's less of it to build and maintain.

    Quote Originally Posted by catbarf View Post
    ...we could rigidly define the transition conditions between each activity...
    How can you not immediately see the problem with this? Exponential growth of special case handling. NOT a good plan. Not a good architecture.

    I mean, think about the case you yourself cited. In the hierarchy, you fix the cover seeking behavior to seek cover in range. One and done. And hey, it doesn't just fix the case where the closing in transition needed that logic, it also fixes any cases where the guy WASN'T closing in and needed that logic. If you have an FSM and just fix the closing-in transition, you still potentially have a guy who's already in range moving out of range to get cover, because that isn't covered by that particular transition. You've just built yourself a maintenance nightmare, precisely because FSM allowed you to fix a symptom instead of fixing the problem.

    EDIT: tl;dr: Just read this cool document icemann linked to for yourself. It's saying much the same thing I am about FSM: "...it is the complexity of the combination and interaction of all of the behaviors that becomes unmanageable", with a bunch more other interesting stuff as well.
    Last edited by Pyrian; 15th Mar 2018 at 21:40.

  17. #67
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2002
    Location: Pacific Northwest
    I was watching a video of still-unreleased Far Cry 5 and the target tracking wall hack thing looks so tacky. Whatever happened to just sneaking around not knowing exactly where your antagonists were?

    You think they could put at least a modicum of effort into explaining it. Assassin Vision. Outsider gifted powers. UAVs. Spy satellites. The Force. Unicorn farts. I just came up with a bunch of ideas better than FC5's and I'm not even paid to. No One Lives Forever 2 gave you tracking darts you could shoot at enemies.

    I think in previous FC games, tracking can be disabled. But I'm pretty sure it's on by default, so I'm going to consider it a "feature."

  18. #68
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    Quote Originally Posted by Pyrian View Post
    Thanks for the link, icemann, that's great.So it looks like icemann didn't read the paper he linked. Pity, 'cause it's really pretty cool.
    Yes I'll admit that I didn't read it. I was running off 4 hours sleep at the time .

    I mostly just looked at the pictures which had what appeared to be a 3 state FSM, and then much further ahead (about 20 pages) then went switched to something else.

  19. #69
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2014
    Location: Yeah.
    Long, drawn out, non-optional, un-skippable tutorial sections for games that are really not that complicated. Looking at you, Pokemon Moon. I've been playing these games for 2 decades, I know how to play!

    Also not a fan of overly long dialog. I don't mind reading, but there are several CRPGs that just feel like they were written by someone who thought the longer and more drawn out the dialog is, the more intelligent it will seem.

    And, finally, real time in a 4X game. I'm sorry but it's what prevented me from getting into Stellaris. Yes I know, you can pause but even so, I can't get into a 4X game if it's not turn based and I can really think over my decisions.

  20. #70
    Thing What Kicks
    Registered: Apr 2004
    Location: London
    Okay, so couldn't find a specifically related thread, but yesterday Monolith announced that they're cutting microtransactions and lootboxes out of Shadow of War.

    I don't know about anyone else here, but I didn't buy the game specifically because of how they'd monetised it. I'd like to think that was the gaming community's feeling as a whole and that the microtransactions impacted sales of the game; the sales figures do seem to indicate a waning interest, especially on the PC where apparently it only sold 20,666 copies in the first week.

    Whatever, a cynical and nasty system is being cut out one of the few triple-A franchises that did something genuinely new, so I think I'll finally be buying this once it's done.

  21. #71
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    Quote Originally Posted by Buccura View Post
    Also not a fan of overly long dialog. I don't mind reading, but there are several CRPGs that just feel like they were written by someone who thought the longer and more drawn out the dialog is, the more intelligent it will seem.
    Same here. It's not that I mind reading, far from it - but exposition dressed up as conversation tends to lack credibility, both in terms of dialogue (that's not how people talk, it's at best how they lecture) and characterisation (it's usually more or less clear that those long stretches of conversation are there for the benefit of the player rather than the characters who are actually talking).

    I'm fine with all of that worldbuilding informing dialogues. I'm fine with in-game encyclopedias that contain all of that stuff. But the moment that a character speaks like an encyclopedia without good in-game justification, they being an actual character.

  22. #72
    New Member
    Registered: Mar 2018
    Quote Originally Posted by Thirith View Post
    Same here. It's not that I mind reading, far from it - but exposition dressed up as conversation tends to lack credibility, both in terms of dialogue (that's not how people talk, it's at best how they lecture) and characterisation (it's usually more or less clear that those long stretches of conversation are there for the benefit of the player rather than the characters who are actually talking).

    I'm fine with all of that worldbuilding informing dialogues. I'm fine with in-game encyclopedias that contain all of that stuff. But the moment that a character speaks like an encyclopedia without good in-game justification, they being an actual character.
    Nothing annoys me more in movies or games than forced exposition. It's one thing when it can at least be pawned off as one character explaining something to another, but when two characters that obviously both have a shared knowledge then explain something to each other, it immediately removes me from any immersion that I had.
    Last edited by GamingDadOfFour; 18th Apr 2018 at 20:06.
    I have the best dad jokes.

  23. #73
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    Annoying characters in games that the game prevents you from killing.

    For example:

    Minor Far Cry 4 spoilers ahead. Be warned.

    In Far Cry 4 (which I'm currently playing) you come back to your parents house (both deceased) to find it now inhabited by a bunch of drug dealing losers. You (in a cutscene) point your gun at them and tell to get the fuck out (as you would). The junkies instead make up some excuses, then when your backs turned, knock you out via a syringe of some drug. You then get shipped off to a arena and nearly get killed.

    On coming back (cutscene again) you don't shoot them for some god damn reason, even though their still in your god damn parents house doing drugs. They then talk you into doing a fetch quest and continue to live at the house. It's not until the 3rd time where they drug you up, you go off for some quest, then come back, that you actually kick them out. WHY THE FUCK WOULD THE GAME NOT LET YOU SHOOT THEM!!!! Gah. Hell, why didn't the player character in the first cutscene shoot them, rather than let them continue on.

    That's really bad game design right there.

    Even the GTA's are victim to this. Having bad guys insult the hell out of you, but taking control away so that you can't do anything. That's just really annoying. But it was just more annoying this time round with Far Cry 4. I was just sitting there yelling "LET ME SHOOT THEM FOR FUCK SAKE". Their doing drugs in your deceased parents house. Come on. You can't get much more insulting than that.

  24. #74
    New Member
    Registered: Mar 2018
    Quote Originally Posted by icemann View Post
    Annoying characters in games that the game prevents you from killing.
    That's something that I thought Morrowind handled fantastically. They let you kill anyone you wanted, they just let you know when doing that ruined the main quest line.
    Last edited by GamingDadOfFour; 18th Apr 2018 at 20:05.
    I have the best dad jokes.

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