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goingsupersonic
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Good read here.

 

I think the problem is that picking chess as an example was not the best choice. Let's take poker: There we have the element of chance as part of the game. As long as everybody is aware of how many and what cards are in the deck, nobody can complain that the game would be unfair.

 

As for the question about what ensures the enjoyment of a game - well, if I knew a fool-proof way, I'd be a rich man. I've seen people argue that a good game employs the basic instincts of humans, and I basicaly agree (in Thief we've got "hide and seek", and "gathering", for example). Ombrenuit talks about challange and reward, which is also part of the basic human rule-set. Here's a bit of what I mean, although that article focuses on something else.

 

In my opinion, it is impossible to say which difficulty is "just right" for a game, as this varies from player to player. The actual question is how much the player should be able to change the difficulty without breaking the game.

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Finally there is light at the end of the tunnel. Now you must only learn to heed your advice as well.

Burn! And now the gloves come off. :laugh:

My games | Public Service Announcement: TDM is not set in the Thief universe. The city in which it takes place is not the City from Thief. The player character is not called Garrett. Any person who contradicts these facts will be subjected to disapproving stares.
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With access to the source, you could write your own AI if you don't like the default one. That is, if you can. :D

 

Ok, seriously now: What you'll able to tweak easily are constants that determine characteristicts of the AI, such as health, walking speed, maybe search acuracy, alertness and so on. I'm not really the right person to ask, because all I'm doing is making pretty ambients and obnoxious comments in the Team forums.

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Just an idea for discussion, but what if the AI were able to adapt to the players style +just a little bit?+

Rather than having this constant ramping up of the AI's intelligence to the point where they are unbeatable, wouldnt it be feasible to have their abilities improve just a few notches. This would seem to be applicable only to FMs that are big enough to have the player in-game long enough for improved AI to make a difference in gameplay.

 

Heres an example of what I mean. Lets say Im in the first few stages of an FM and I've managed to beat a number of goals or KO a certain number of guards after a certain period of time. If I am moving too readily through the level, the AI's intelligence is allowed to increase somehow. Suddenly, guards start lingering longer, making a few surprise visits to dark corners, hiding in shadows. Noises that before barely caught their attention now elicit an inspection.

 

Im sure this is not problem-free but I just wanted some comments. ONe more point, although gameplay is of course crucial to the success of any game, so is atmosphere. There is much truth to the position that random behaviour on the part of AIs can destroy gameplay, learning their reactions and learning to work around them is part of the fun of the game. But a touch of randomness, the surprised of finding a guard waiting in a dark nook or of having a guard loop back for a second look, can also lend itself mightily to the emotional response that this genre in particular is so very good at generating. It was the proper blending of atmosphere and gameplay that made the LGS games so good. OF course, this is not the only way to generate good atmosphere, but making the AI a little more flexible could contribute significantly.

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I just noticed in the last map I made that AI in the original Thief can randomize the next patrol way-point they'll go to, which in effect randomizes them backtracking sometimes and not others.

 

I think simple things like this (easy for the builder to design and control) are really the way to go, and not something too complicated to predict and control, since it will largely be up to a builder how random behavior will effect gameplay in the context of his map.

 

Another thing, it seems a lot of the stuff you mention re: in game "learning" could be taken care of with scripting.

What do you see when you turn out the light? I can't tell you but I know that it's mine.

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Just an idea for discussion, but what if the AI were able to adapt to the players style +just a little bit?+ Rather than having this constant ramping up of the AI's intelligence to the point where they are unbeatable, wouldnt it be feasible to have their abilities improve just a few notches.

That would be horrible, and you're a horrible person for suggesting it.

 

Why would this be so horrible? Because it would be a blatantly "gamey" element. Guards that become more aware as they hear and see things are good. Guards that become more aware just to arbitrarily make the game harder are bad. Very, very, very bad.

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You shouldn't punish a player for playing well by making the AI harder. If a player wants very challenging AI then they'll pick that level of difficulty from the start.

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Perhaps, but then make it an option. There are quite a few games that let you select "scalable" AI difficulty, choosing a base difficulty as well (whether those systems actually work well is a separate issue). I remember Far Cry did this. So if you don't think AI's getting smarter unfairly punishes good playing, don't turn on that option.

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How do you judge how well the player is doing against the AI in a stealth game? It's not like Max Payne 2 where the player had to kill such and such AI to survive each section. What do you track, how long the player has gone without being seen? What if it's a map with very few AI and the player hasn't been seen because they've been nowhere near AI? Do you track how much loot they get vs alerts they cause, or what? We'd have to spend a lot of time coding up a system to track the player's performance, only to ramp the AI acuities up/down from "beginner" to "expert," which the player could have just chosen at the beginning.

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Oh I'm not saying it would be easy or even possible in TDM, I'm just defending the basic concept of having such a system, and having it be optional.

 

But like someone said, some aspects could conceivably be rigged up with scripting and timers

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Unfortunately such a system fails the most basic cost/benefit analysis.

 

Cost: considerable algorithmic and coding issues relating to detecting how "well" the player is performing.

Benefit: most players probably wouldn't even notice, others would find it frustrating

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I hated the way Oblivion tried to make the game more challenging as you level up, by allowing the enemies to sort of level up too aswell as more tough class of enemies appear in areas where wolves etc used to appear before. It really spoiled the whole mystique of the game.

ZylonBane's confession about himself:

"What can I say, I'm a jerk. A three times all American Jerk, from Jerksville, Kentucky. Yee Haw"

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It sounds gamey to me, as well, about on par with racing games with the cars in front of you that slow down so you can catch up, and burst with speed when they are left behind to be suddenly on your tail. There is a distinct line between actual "game" and an interactive movie that's just playing out for your entertainment.

 

I have less of a problem with AI appearing to "learn" things from the PC's actions (patterns of behavior), though, if it isn't gamey like this, but even here I stand with thinking it's best done ad hoc by the builder, with scripting or whatnot, rather than wasting the team's time making it a default attribute.

Edited by demagogue

What do you see when you turn out the light? I can't tell you but I know that it's mine.

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sounds to me, what is needed is pretty much what Thief tried to do already with varying levels of success. In a stealth game, if one is good enough to sneak through a mission without giving any alerts or hints away of thier presence then the AI should stay as dumb and unconcerned as they were at the very start. once a player is spotted the AI become more alert and things get tougher. what i would love to see is this: not only have the AI become more alert/sensitive when they've spotted you, but also have them be able to pick up on small clues cumulatively. for example if 1 AI sees 1 door left open, no big deal, but if it sees 1 door left open then a stack of coins missing, then a valuable plate missing, a trunk open, and a torch doused, i think that AI should start looking for an intruder. this would reward those who are sneaky enough to leave no trace, but also build up the difficulty as the mission progresses and the AI start to become suspicious. i agree that difficulty level doesn't need to change. I'm ok with the AI learning anything or adapting to things that they are able to OBSERVE, but not to the AI getting harder when they have no reason. this could be as simple to do as scripting an increase in alertness level if X number of clues are observed within Y amount of time. actually getting the AI to pick up on the clues could be a lot harder i guess, but i don't know much about coding and all that. as far as randomness goes i think people tend to be a lot less random than most of think provided we are talking about a routine situation. serious randomness and improvisation doesn't often occur until the person experiences stress or barriers to the goal at hand. I'm in the military and i've observed people standing watch and making rounds for about 15 years now, and i can tell you that a person on a patrol or round tends to take the route in the same order every time and tends to take very close to the same amount of time, every time. yes, they might stop for a minute to gaze out the window or talk for a minute to a passing sentry, or walk into the trees or other secluded spot to take a leak once in a while but for the most part a round that takes 35 minutes is going to take between 33 and 39 minutes almost every single time. I know, for instance, that my ship's security watchstander starts his round at the top of the hour and that if I walk into the A/C flat at five minutes after the hour i'll find the watchstander in that space taking readings on the A/C, and at 15 minutes after they'll be forward by the paint locker or bow-prop. people are creatures of habit so it is not unrealistic for AI to be pattern-based, too much randomness would detract from the reality and gameplay not add to it but a small amount would be great. think of randomness like salt.

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