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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

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Arcadia Codesmith

I was doing much the same last night in Lord of the Rings Online, engaging guards in protracted swordfights within easy earshot of the enemy camp, and then walking into that same camp unmolested as long as I stayed out of agro range.

It might have been more realistic to have the whole camp descend upon my head at the first clash of swords, but that would have quickly resulted in a greasy hobbit-sized stain on the forest floor -- not very fun or heroic.

I think designers could do a better job of presenting opponents that aren't blind and deaf idiots, but that must be carefully balanced to keep the game engaging and not too frustrating even for unskilled players.

Ordinal Malaprop

It does spoil things a little when there are these obvious AI flaws. It isn't simply that it makes things easy, more that it spoils immersiveness. (Immersivity? "Being convinced by the game as an experience", anyway.) I was playing a certain iPad RPG recently, for instance, which was fairly atmospheric until I discovered that one could just retreat a little from a fight and one's opponents would simply forget your existence and wander around as before.

One way of getting around it is to cast the AI opponents as, well, AIs. Discover a flaw in their behaviour? Why, that's a flaw in their programming in the game world! We meant to put that in so you could exploit it! Ahem.

Vooper Werribee

There's quite a bit of interest in making game play that draws more from a dramatic improv tradition by improving AI so that it is aware of dramatic story elements.
Nameste has had a lot of good feedback on their prototype of Storybricks and there is an interesting conference in Vienna this September on Storytelling and Games (known intriguingly as STAGconf!)
I'm looking forward to when games start to resemble interactive dramatic entertainment - I'm not sure that cop's colleague is going to get wise to your shenanigans any time soon though.

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