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> Imagine a game like Warcraft 3 where the units actually seem to have a personality and follow "their guts" in battles rather than following simple patterns like attacking the nearest enemy.

> Maybe I'm ignorant about the current state of the art and games already do that. Do you know examples?

It's a really tough trade-off between fun and realism. It's cool that your units have personality for a bit "Oh, look, those 2 dwarves are fleeing from the troll fight early!", but not fun once they disobey your intentions "That fucking troll has 3 hit points left. If my 2 dwarves didn't run away, it would be dead! Now it's destroying my base!"

One game I remember striking a good middle ground with this was the original Battle For Middle Earth. It changed animations, sounds and other aesthetic things based on AI, while the game remained the same mechanically. If your units ran up against a mountain troll, you would see the ones in front of it cowering and holding up shields, while units behind attack furiously, but every unit was really doing the same damage. Or if you left troops of Orcs just standing around too long, they'd break out into fights and kill other orcs, but the animation is done as a trick where as one orc model "dies", a new one spawns in the group. So you didn't really ever lose Orcs, even though there would be orc corpses strewn wherever you had been camping.

I think the main reason though is just that AI doesn't really sell. Graphics, physics and voice actors sell. You can blame a failure on AI, but very rarely is success attributed to good AI in a game.




>Graphics, physics and voice actors sell.

This is hardly arguable, but personally, after some time playing I begin to recognize animation/sound/timing (i.e. behavioral) patterns of non-plot entities and that ruins the entire experience. That's what retains me on the storyline and prevents free exploration -- there is nothing really interesting besides nice graphics. I think there is a room to evolve from [hundreds of] programmed random encounters to purely independent world.

Actually, I'm fine with GTA3/GTASA-like graphics, like I was with roguelikes and physical book-and-dice quests, so idk how that applies to wide public.

ps. Another conclusion, it may appear too frustrating. We probably play games to win and achieve. If there is no end, no goal and no perfect winning strategy, that understanding alone may cause depression, like IRL.


Not necessarily, we play games for play sometimes. Because it is fun. Take Minecraft for example. No serious win-state (until fairly recently) but it still has tremendous appeal.


>I think the main reason though is just that AI doesn't really sell. Graphics, physics and voice actors sell. You can blame a failure on AI, but very rarely is success attributed to good AI in a game.

The main reason that I avoided buying Civilization 6 is that the AI was notoriously bad. For any kind of turn-based strategy game, I want the AI to be superb.


I'll note that this actually makes the original point, since despite your avoidance of the game, Civ VI is estimated to have been the top grossing game on Steam in 2016. So, even in this case, the game has sold gangbusters despite lackluster* AI.

*I didn't intentionally rhyme lackluster with gangbuster. Rather these are the words that sprang initially to mind, and it's a kind of satisfyingly weird combo, so I'm leaving it in.

Source: https://galyonk.in/steam-sales-in-2016-def2a8ab15f2#.nxpnuko...


Bad AI often winds up panned in a game's review scores, which have an impact on sales.

For instance, bad pathfinding in an RTS game can make the game almost unplayable. Halo is just about legendary at this point for teammate AI that is worse than worthless [1]. Any one of these things can destroy immersion at a critical point.

AI is to video games as IT is to a modern enterprise. If it's doing its job, nobody notices, but if it's bad, it sticks out like a sore thumb.

[1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdbg8h3d3uM


Or, if it does its job really well, it gets accused of cheating.

My former company had a backgammon game with a really good AI. We constantly got accused of cheating, even though the dice-roll algorithm was identical (it didn't have a parameter to specify who the roll was for). What people missed is that a good backgammon player will position themselves to benefit from a wider set of possible dice outcomes.


I was under the impression that backgammon was a solved game (i.e. there is a known optimal move for every possible position), can I ask why you used an AI instead?


Probably because an AI that always plays optimally wouldn't be very fun to play against.


Cannot find it right now, but I saw a video of Civilization 's Sid Meier saying that about Civ's playtests.


> Bad AI often winds up panned in a game's review scores, which have an impact on sales.

This is what I said though. A game's failures can be blamed on bad AI. But once you reach the point of okay AI, you stop hearing about it. There's very little reason to put in whatever effort is required to make your AI great, because the only people who will take notice are hardcore players who put in tons of hours. And that's nice and all, but the game costs $60 whether you play it for 10 hours or 100. So why spend millions on a feature that's hard to make a trailer for, and is only noticeable to your most hardcore fans?


I remember that in Close Combat https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Close_Combat_(series) the units have some small independent thinking and refused to follow very stupid orders and wanted to take cover. It probably has a few simple rules, like an expert system.

As discussed in other comment, it was a pain to manage them, because they didn't follow all the (stupid/suicidal) orders.


> I think the main reason though is just that AI doesn't really sell.

I'm not sure that's the case. Last of Us and MGS:V both had intelligent AI where they would change their behaviour based on what you've done in the past and work together as a team to flush you out of a hiding spot. This was widely covered and praised in reviews and pre-launch interviews.




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