The Difficult, The Frustrating, And The Downright Cheap

October 11, 2007

Visualization of a cheap AI…

I’m sure you can guess what this post is about: AI. In modern games, the AI of enemies, allies and NPCs are very important to gameplay. Some games have done it right, some games have tried their best, and there are those games which cut corners on one of the most vital parts of today’s games. All three concepts are after the same goal. That is, to provide a level of challenge for the player as a ways of entertainment. However, the means for each of the three to challenge the player differs.

IBM’s Deep BlueWhat does it really mean for something to be difficult? I believe true difficulty comes from a well written AI. Sometimes it may feel frustrating, but it should never feel cheap. A game is difficult when the enemy provides a challenge, yet is still bound by the same rules and skill set as the player. This proves a daunting task for many developers. Computers – and therefore AI – are excellent at logic and conditionals, yet they do not adapt well to situations not prearranged in their program. In other words, if a situation should arise where the AI is not programmed for, then it will be unable to form an effective strategy. The root of this problem lies in duplicating the higher functions of the human brain. The brain is just an organ which produces electrical and chemical signals. However, the mind is more than just the sum of its parts. Our mind is a complex entity not completely understood. With it, we can form complex thoughts such as beliefs, theories, strategies and attain awareness, not just of ourselves, but of our surroundings, the world and the universe. This is what limits AI in any game. As any competitive game can show, the most skilled player easily triumphs over even the hardest AI levels. Therefore until we can fully understand our mind, the true challenge in any game will be from a fellow player.

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Gabe Newell Hates Everything!

October 11, 2007

Gabe NewellHalf-Life and Half-Life 2 brought Gabe Newell just about everything but tact. The only thing as big as the Half-Life franchise is Newell’s mouth. He apparently hates just about everything that isn’t a PC running Windows XP.

Here are some choice quotes from Newell on:

The Playstation 3: “I think [PS3 is] a waste of everybody’s time. Investing in the Cell, investing in the SPE gives you no long-term benefits. There’s nothing there that you’re going to apply to anything else. You’re not going to gain anything except a hatred of the architecture they’ve created.”

The Xbox 360 and Vista: “Look, I spoke to some people at Microsoft, and as I said, I can’t point to a single feature in Vista that I care about that solves problems for us at all. And I had the same conversation with the Xbox 360 guys. It’s like, Xbox 360 doesn’t make my life any better, and in fact, it makes it a lot worse, as you’re telling me I can’t count on having a hard drive.”

Vista and DirectX 10: He was quoted as having said that Microsoft Microsoft made a terrible mistake releasing DirectX 10 for Vista only and excluding Windows XP. He said this decision affected the whole industry as so far only a very small percentage of players can use DirectX 10.

Your mother: Your mother is a sea hag.

The Mac: “…they seem to think that they want to do gaming, but there’s never any follow through on any of the things they say they’re going to do. That makes it hard to be excited about doing games for their platforms.”

Like the guy or hate the guy, agree with what he says or disagree with what he says, Newell just seems to be an outspoken being of bitterness and hatred. . .
Actually I wonder if he could be a guest writer for this blog.


Deus Ex 2: Visible Taint

October 11, 2007

Deus Ex 2: Invisible War had all the makings of an excellent sequel, it had the name recognition of its game of the year predecessor, it was set in a well crafted universe that was open to a sequel and the director and producers involved with the original game were also involved with this project. Despite all of the good things going for it and the excellent reviews it was getting on the Xbox, PC gamers felt slighted. Why did PC gamers feel slighted? Do I ask more rhetorical questions? Read on to find out. Read the rest of this entry »