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The next evolution in video games should be A.I, not graphics

Jokerevo

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May 30, 2020
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Visual fidelity will take care of itself but if anything is long overdue an overhaul it's A.I. This would usher in a true next-gen leap of gameplay because right now NPC A.I behaviour is so bad it's actually immersion-breaking.

Consider this scenario:

I approach an enemy base in stealth, I headshot a guard with an arrow and he squeals in pain. I stay in cover. The NPC's nearby continue to follow their guard patrol routes, while one NPC notices the guard is down and inspects. I headshot him. Another guard notices and walks over to inspect. I headshot him. I headshot him. Etc. I never once move from my position and watch as each guard approaches the increasing pile of bodies.....I move on and take a shot at a sniper in a guard tower....but I miss, my arrow hits the wall behind him. The sniper looks around quizzically and then after a few moments resumes his routine and this time I headshot him.


With proper A.I routines consider the same scenario again:

I approach an enemy base in stealth, the sniper in the guard tower has noticed me but I do not notice that he has. The sniper takes cover, signals one of his buddies and waits for an opportunity to shoot. I headshot a guard on the ground, his cry of pain alerts another guard. The guard notices the arrow in the head of his comrade and immediately goes prone, he knows from the position of the body and placement of the arrow...the general direction of where the shot came from. The guard shouts, alerting the base and putting every guard into a state of readiness, all of them assume cover. I now move because there is no clear shot on any target. The sniper fires and hits me. I scramble for cover. I aim at the guard tower but the tower is empty....or appears so....I wait for the sniper to pop his head back up but he never does because his position is compromised and any sniper with half a brain does not trade shots with another sniper in position. I move further into the base when suddenly I am being shot from both sides, the guards who were signalled to by the sniper have flanked me so I run back into the forest to lose them, I run and run because I know that after a certain distance they'll stop pursuing me. 3 of the guards don't have the stamina and give up but guard no.4 is smarter than the others...he finds a horse and rides after me but I'm in stealth...the guards return to the base. I decide to return to my entry point and am promptly head-shotted as soon as I emerge from the forest by the sniper who has been waiting for me. Mr.Sniper has been scanning the tree-line ever since I fled.


Now the second example is kinda extreme but I play out the exact same routine of version 1 when I play AC games, Farcry, Cyberprank etc etc. because the A.I is so shit. If I mess up I simply abuse line of sight and move back into stealth and that resets the encounter. It's dumb. History is not recorded, the fact that someone died on their team should completely change the encounter, the A.I doesn't use it's superior numbers to flush me out etc etc


Now before you start screaming: But I don't want realism, I don't want my games to turn into a military operation. We can balance these A.I routines by adding.....personality traits.....so elite fortresses will be patrolled by the best A.I versions and assaulting those bases will require actual thought because those bases should be challenging. Smaller bases will practice complacency and be staffed by less skilled guards. What does this mean for these encounters? Emergent gameplay! You could face a guard who has low bravery, so he panics and runs and hides or he unloads an entire clip at you but misses completely, or the dude just kneels and begs for his life.


What am I trying to introduce here? RANDOM CHAOS. We don't want robots guarding these bases, we want HUMANS and humans are unpredictable. This means no two encounters are the same. You could run into a guard who just came out of the toilet and he surrenders, puts his hands up but then he starts shouting for help. What do you do? He's behaving like a real human, not just following some NPC routine. These personality traits can spill into how they speak, what they say, the animations they access. Maybe next time that guard who just came out of the toilet will be ice cool, he'll tell you he has a family so you stand behind him to tie him up but he thinks you're going to execute him because you've stepped out of his line of sight so he soils himself and then he feels the rope being tied around his hands...so he starts calling for help because he knows you're weak.


In Cyberprank 2077 factions are only distinguished by their cosmetics and weapons, they don't actually behave any differently and require zero adjustment of strategy. But with with the A.I personality packages facing Maelstrom is now like facing a rushing pack of shotgun wielding psycho's and facing Tyger is having to deal with cyborg ninja's. Missing a headshot should induce panic...there's risk..there should be a reward for being accurate. But currently I miss shot, I try again. No one cares about the sound I'm making, no one gives a shit about where it came from.


Imagine applying these routines to games you've completed, how would they play differently? Imagine playing Dark Souls and the A.I guard having seen you parry his pal to death, changes weapons to negate this tactic. Imagine MGS remake with new A.I. Or Skyrim, or Fallout etc

Conversely this could be applied to your A.I companions, imagine them being actually competent and useful...

No more cheap kills. Who's with me? :D
 
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Glass Prison

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Jan 23, 2020
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Would it be fun to play though? This sound so stressful and difficult.
I love hard games but, wouldn't human like A.I. just make it impossible to overcome basically any challenges from almost any game?

You're citing MGS, let's use it as an example. If I'm seen one time in an enemy base, that's it. I'm done. The alert status should not be off until they see my dead body. What chance do I have, even If I'm playing Big Boss, against 20 well trained soldiers who use human like combat tactics?

It would be like playing a game of chess, but you can only use the Queen while your opponent has every piece to defend himself.
 

harmny

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Oct 29, 2020
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It will be both. But not ai the way we refer at ai in games but deep learning and neural networks. Basically AI dungeon.
 

Fahdis

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Killzone 2 Elite mode had the most advanced A.I. enemies/Helghast I had ever encountered in a game. KZ3 and the rest were severely dumbed down. Don't believe me? Go play KZ2 on Elite, it was a thrill... the literally flank you from different directions as a team, they hide or evade when you're firing, they run away from grenades... even though it wasn't perfect.
 
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bitbydeath

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Nov 25, 2015
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TLOU2 has some brilliant combat AI that's probably the closest you can get right now to some of the stuff you described.
Yeah the TLOU series has brilliant enemy AI that knows how to work together and is programmed to react accordingly depending on how you try to accomplish a mission.
 
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Diddy X

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AI and Physics, graphics are good enough already, but those two are really bad, better interactions and behaviour would truly change gaming as we know it, you think about it it's videogames not movies so graphics should never be the priority.
 

Self

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I agree, A.I is mostly shitty, but Part2, Killzone and Halo are really good.
 

deriks

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AI and Physics, graphics are good enough already, but those two are really bad, better interactions and behaviour would truly change gaming as we know it, you think about it it's videogames not movies so graphics should never be the priority.


We really need better physics. Shit, Fallout 4 was launched with physics from the early PS2 era
 

nkarafo

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IMO it all comes down to this:

Graphics = An artist's job.
AI = A programmer's job.

Even an average artist can make a good looking game today with the tools and technology available. But that's not the same for the AI programmer. For them, better technology only means more room for more complex AI that they have to write themselves. There are no texture presets here, no functioning lights you can easily put wherever you want. This is a more raw thinking/problem solving oriented job. And better technology doesn't make it any easier. It probably makes it harder.

Sure, artists mostly rely on the graphics engines/tools programmers provide. But the lack of "AI engines" tells me that making good, convincing AI is probably even harder than making a good graphics engine. I think it's just hard to program something that has so many more random variables.
 

martino

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That and on story side expand on Nemesis like systems...what a shame mtx clouded the magic the system reached in shadow of war.
If you want to really rely on strength the media can give you it should be about interactivity and adaptation to it.
 
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Camaway2

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Sep 14, 2016
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Absolutely. I take a low poli, great AI character whose behaviour seem intelligent over an amazingly rendered doll that is unaware of my actions and situation any day.
 

namekuseijin

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Jun 10, 2020
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I think you're forgetting that we're not in MGS days anymore: single-player games are a niche and multiplayer gaymers don't give a fuck to either AI or graphics whoring
 

Moogle11

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Feb 7, 2020
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Would it be fun to play though? This sound so stressful and difficult.
I love hard games but, wouldn't human like A.I. just make it impossible to overcome basically any challenges from almost any game?

You're citing MGS, let's use it as an example. If I'm seen one time in an enemy base, that's it. I'm done. The alert status should not be off until they see my dead body. What chance do I have, even If I'm playing Big Boss, against 20 well trained soldiers who use human like combat tactics?

It would be like playing a game of chess, but you can only use the Queen while your opponent has every piece to defend himself.

That’s my though as well, though I hate hard games. AI isn’t on my list of things I want improved as it seems likely to only make games harder. Granted, I’m sure there’s ways it can be used to improve story driven games. Things like chat bot AI for NPC interactions that make dialogue more random, building more consquences for our dialogue choices etc. So I’m sure there are AI related things I like.

But I don’t want smarter, harder enemies or more crap to deal with in games when I’m just trying to get through the story, see the end and move on to he next one. Even things like the police AI being janky in Cyberpunk and making them easy to lose was something that was a benefit for me. Fleeing fom the cops constantly (as I’m going to run over people just trying to get to the next mission marker ASAP in open world games as I don’t like the open world parts) kills games like GTA for me so I’m glad it was a non factor here. They fix that AI issue and I’d have to think hard about whether to bother with the paid expansions.
 

Alx

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What am I trying to introduce here? RANDOM CHAOS. We don't want robots guarding these bases, we want HUMANS and humans are unpredictable.
As a matter of fact, most people want "robots guarding these bases". Most games are based on a limited set of rules that the player will learn to use in a predictable way. It's also a way for the game designer to make sure he's in control of the interactive experience and make sure that it's fun to play (or at least try). Complex games just have more rules than simple ones, but they're not based on being unpredictable.
 
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93xfan

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AI is nice, but I’d rather have some new gimmick. How about instead of wrist straps for a controller, just a long string that ties around a finger? Then when fishing in a game, you can do a yo-yo maneuver
 
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Bogey

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I'd think if NPCs had anything even close to human behaviour, gameplay would be tricky for a lot of games. Facing off against anything more than 2 enemies at once would pretty much mean you're guaranteed to die.

Finding that balance between "more dynamic, human-like responses" and "still so dumb the player can mow down dozens of enemies" is actually quite tricky.
 

Dampf

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Indeed. AI will be huge this generation.

The reason why we haven't progressed that much in terms of AI is because the CPU in the PS3 specifically was extremly OP, it was nearly or even more powerful than the jaguar cores so the jump in CPU raw power was not that great. AI therefore is still on a similar level like it was 10-13 years ago.

With the new consoles, this is going to change dramatically once last gen consoles are ditched. The Ryzen CPU are significantly more powerful, not to mention the GPUs now support all kinds of ML instructions.
 
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Bernd Lauert

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I bet it wouldn't be very fun to play, at least to the average gamer.

What we need instead is more interactivity in the world.
 

nikolino840

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I'd think if NPCs had anything even close to human behaviour, gameplay would be tricky for a lot of games. Facing off against anything more than 2 enemies at once would pretty much mean you're guaranteed to die.

Finding that balance between "more dynamic, human-like responses" and "still so dumb the player can mow down dozens of enemies" is actually quite tricky.
Like playing cod/bf/siege but instead of respawn you have to load the save
 
Mar 7, 2017
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Honestly? It depends on the game. In some games it's more fun to mow down swathes of dumb-as-rocks enemies.

Believable NPC behaviours is more important to me in gaming than smart enemies. So NPCs in an open world that react in believable ways and have their own "apparent" personalities and are going about their own business.
 

Miles708

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As a matter of fact, most people want "robots guarding these bases". Most games are based on a limited set of rules that the player will learn to use in a predictable way. It's also a way for the game designer to make sure he's in control of the interactive experience and make sure that it's fun to play (or at least try). Complex games just have more rules than simple ones, but they're not based on being unpredictable.
This is the point, I think. Smart enemies are fun gameplay, genius enemies are crap gameplay.

AI could be nice to have more lively cities and enhance interaction with npcs, and with every non-critical element. But for actual gameplay, you want a defined set of rules, just like you need a defined set of objectives.
Unless you spend all your time free-roaming in watchdogs.

As Bernd Lauert Bernd Lauert said, interactivity (more procedural animations, faster way to build assets, more tools to cut the amount of work) should be the priority more than pure AI.

EDIT: dang, TheThreadsThatBindUs TheThreadsThatBindUs beat me
 
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Fredrik

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Jun 27, 2005
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AI is cool but I want physics and interactivity.

Take a game like Mudrunners; the mud, suspension and tire physics makes even the best AAA racers look like they’re several generations old.

And Breath of the Wild still make every other third person game seem rushed when it comes to world interactivity.

It’s all facade but no substance nowdays, system resources are wasted on native 4K and ray-tracing while the games still behave like they’re made in 1995.
 

Delco Airsoft

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Killzone 2 Elite mode had the most advanced A.I. enemies/Helghast I had ever encountered in a game. KZ3 and the rest were severely dumbed down. Don't believe me? Go play KZ2 on Elite, it was a thrill... the literally flank you from different directions as a team, they hide or evade when you're firing, they run away from grenades... even though it wasn't perfect.
Yep, Killzone 2 and Far Cry 2 are for me, the peak of A.I. in gaming. No one has come close to those games since.
 

meech

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Aug 4, 2020
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Visual fidelity will take care of itself but if anything is long overdue an overhaul it's A.I. This would usher in a true next-gen leap of gameplay because right now NPC A.I behaviour is so bad it's actually immersion-breaking.

Consider this scenario:

I approach an enemy base in stealth, I headshot a guard with an arrow and he squeals in pain. I stay in cover. The NPC's nearby continue to follow their guard patrol routes, while one NPC notices the guard is down and inspects. I headshot him. Another guard notices and walks over to inspect. I headshot him. I headshot him. Etc. I never once move from my position and watch as each guard approaches the increasing pile of bodies.....I move on and take a shot at a sniper in a guard tower....but I miss, my arrow hits the wall behind him. The sniper looks around quizzically and then after a few moments resumes his routine and this time I headshot him.


With proper A.I routines consider the same scenario again:

I approach an enemy base in stealth, the sniper in the guard tower has noticed me but I do not notice that he has. The sniper takes cover, signals one of his buddies and waits for an opportunity to shoot. I headshot a guard on the ground, his cry of pain alerts another guard. The guard notices the arrow in the head of his comrade and immediately goes prone, he knows from the position of the body and placement of the arrow...the general direction of where the shot came from. The guard shouts, alerting the base and putting every guard into a state of readiness, all of them assume cover. I now move because there is no clear shot on any target. The sniper fires and hits me. I scramble for cover. I aim at the guard tower but the tower is empty....or appears so....I wait for the sniper to pop his head back up but he never does because his position is compromised and any sniper with half a brain does not trade shots with another sniper in position. I move further into the base when suddenly I am being shot from both sides, the guards who were signalled to by the sniper have flanked me so I run back into the forest to lose them, I run and run because I know that after a certain distance they'll stop pursuing me. 3 of the guards don't have the stamina and give up but guard no.4 is smarter than the others...he finds a horse and rides after me but I'm in stealth...the guards return to the base. I decide to return to my entry point and am promptly head-shotted as soon as I emerge from the forest by the sniper who has been waiting for me. Mr.Sniper has been scanning the tree-line ever since I fled.


Now the second example is kinda extreme but I play out the exact same routine of version 1 when I play AC games, Farcry, Cyberprank etc etc. because the A.I is so shit. If I mess up I simply abuse line of sight and move back into stealth and that resets the encounter. It's dumb. History is not recorded, the fact that someone died on their team should completely change the encounter, the A.I doesn't use it's superior numbers to flush me out etc etc


Now before you start screaming: But I don't want realism, I don't want my games to turn into a military operation. We can balance these A.I routines by adding.....personality traits.....so elite fortresses will be patrolled by the best A.I versions and assaulting those bases will require actual thought because those bases should be challenging. Smaller bases will practice complacency and be staffed by less skilled guards. What does this mean for these encounters? Emergent gameplay! You could face a guard who has low bravery, so he panics and runs and hides or he unloads an entire clip at you but misses completely, or the dude just kneels and begs for his life.


What am I trying to introduce here? RANDOM CHAOS. We don't want robots guarding these bases, we want HUMANS and humans are unpredictable. This means no two encounters are the same. You could run into a guard who just came out of the toilet and he surrenders, puts his hands up but then he starts shouting for help. What do you do? He's behaving like a real human, not just following some NPC routine. These personality traits can spill into how they speak, what they say, the animations they access. Maybe next time that guard who just came out of the toilet will be ice cool, he'll tell you he has a family so you stand behind him to tie him up but he thinks you're going to execute him because you've stepped out of his line of sight so he soils himself and then he feels the rope being tied around his hands...so he starts calling for help because he knows you're weak.


In Cyberprank 2077 factions are only distinguished by their cosmetics and weapons, they don't actually behave any differently and require zero adjustment of strategy. But with with the A.I personality packages facing Maelstrom is now like facing a rushing pack of shotgun wielding psycho's and facing Tyger is having to deal with cyborg ninja's. Missing a headshot should induce panic...there's risk..there should be a reward for being accurate. But currently I miss shot, I try again. No one cares about the sound I'm making, no one gives a shit about where it came from.


Imagine applying these routines to games you've completed, how would they play differently? Imagine playing Dark Souls and the A.I guard having seen you parry his pal to death, changes weapons to negate this tactic. Imagine MGS remake with new A.I. Or Skyrim, or Fallout etc

Conversely this could be applied to your A.I companions, imagine them being actually competent and useful...

No more cheap kills. Who's with me? :D
What?? In Cyberpunk they seem almost instantly know now if i take out someone(even nonlethal takedown behind walls) and go into alert status immediately .
 

meech

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Aug 4, 2020
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Indeed. AI will be huge this generation.

The reason why we haven't progressed that much in terms of AI is because the CPU in the PS3 specifically was extremly OP, it was nearly or even more powerful than the jaguar cores so the jump in CPU raw power was not that great. AI therefore is still on a similar level like it was 10-13 years ago.

With the new consoles, this is going to change dramatically once last gen consoles are ditched. The Ryzen CPU are significantly more powerful, not to mention the GPUs now support all kinds of ML instructions.
Fear was developed using only one processor core but to this day has better ai than most recent games. Cpu power is not the issue.
 

kiphalfton

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TLOU2 has some brilliant combat AI that's probably the closest you can get right now to some of the stuff you described.
What OP was complaining about in his post sounded exactly like my encounters in TLOU2, so not sure what you're talking about. The AI is stupid, just like in the first game.
 

MarlboroRed

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Heres hoping ML will help a lot with that in the near future. Great AI is just way harder to market than pretty graphics.

As others mentioned, TLOU2 does some good stuff. Rockstar does some good stuff, too. Still, most of the industry seems to be content with applying the same AI routines we had for 2 generations now.
 
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Men_in_Boxes

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Why invest in AI when we have 7 billion people on the planet?

Evolve PvP into something more interesting.

I'm with you that graphics are now low priority.
 
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Danjin44

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To me fun enemies/bosses has much more to do with their design and interesting attack patterns rather advance A.I.
 
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I've been replaying FEAR the past month and I completely agree. Just yesterday I was in a short firefight with an enemy where we were both peeking around corners, exchanging shotgun blasts after I wiped out the rest of his squad.