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Cover Me! Promoting MMO Player Interaction Through Advanced AI. Dave Mark President & Lead Designer Intrinsic Algorithm LLC. Dave Mark. President & Lead Designer of Intrinsic Algorithm LLC Game Studio AI Consulting Company Author of Behavioral Mathematics for Game AI

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cover me promoting mmo player interaction through advanced ai

Cover Me!Promoting MMO Player InteractionThrough Advanced AI

Dave MarkPresident & Lead DesignerIntrinsic Algorithm LLC

dave mark
Dave Mark
  • President & Lead Designer ofIntrinsic AlgorithmLLC
      • Game Studio
      • AI Consulting Company
  • Author of Behavioral Mathematics for Game AI
  • Co-founder ofAI Game Programmers Guild
  • Organizer and co-host of theAI Summit at GDC 2009
premises disclaimers
Premises/Disclaimers
  • WoW is a good game.
  • Not everyone wants to be like WoW.
  • Bad AI has its place in games.
  • Not everyone wants to have bad AI.
  • You are here because you are working on an MMO.
  • You are here because you want to know:
    • How good AI can make your game better
    • How to use AI in an MMO environment
what makes a game a game
What makes a game a game?

“A game isa series of interesting choices.”

- Sid Meier

in the beginning
In the beginning…
  • Early games were entirely played against the computer.
  • AI sucked
  • Choices were rudimentary
  • Problem-solving was simplistic.
1 player games w multi player component
1-Player Games w/Multi-player Component
  • People played against each other more than computer
  • Game won’t sell without multi-player
  • 1-player campaign often neglected
  • “I love Halo 3… but I’ve never played the campaign.”
multiplayer co op
Multiplayer Co-Op
  • People prefer playing with other people
    • Interactivity
    • Teamwork (AI allies still not up to par)
    • Solving problems together
the draw of pvp
The Draw of PvP
  • People prefer playing against other people
    • Difficulty of opponents
    • Adaptability of opponents
    • Dynamicity (e.g. the unexpected)
    • Solving problems together

Replayability!

the necessity of pve
The Necessity of PvE
  • Beyond Game Mechanics
    • Environments
    • Weapons
    • Characters
  • World Immersion
    • Who is going to role-play the dragon?
    • The harmless little bunny?
    • The slime creature?
ai is your world
AI is Your World!

Boring AI = Boring World

Deep AI = Immersive World

Repetitive AI = Monotonous World

Dynamic AI = Dynamic World

pvp vs pve
PvP

Difficult

Adaptable

Dynamic

Necessitates ongoing problem-solving

PvE

Simple

Rigid

Predictable

“Solve Once” and repeat

PvP vs. PvE

PvE

  • Difficult
  • Adaptable
  • Dynamic
  • Necessitates ongoing problem-solving

So how do we do it?

making pve feel like pvp
Making PvE feel like PvP
  • Single-player games have been improving their AI to generate a PvP-like feel
  • What techniques can we import from single-player games into MMOs?
    • What effect does that have on the player’s individual experience?
    • What effect does that have on the players working together?
ai techniques
By Genre

Shooter

RPG

Strategy

By Concept

Behavioral

Tactical

Strategic

Simulation

Economic

AI Techniques
ai techniques1
By Genre

Shooter

RPG

Strategy

By Concept

Behavioral

Tactical

Strategic

Simulation

Economic

AI Techniques

Multiple vs. Multiple

behavioral ai
Behavioral AI
  • How does the NPC make decisions?
    • Idle behaviors
    • When to attack
    • Who to attack
    • How to attack
when to attack
When to Attack
  • Generating “Aggro”
    • Distance
    • Environment Threshold Triggers
    • Line of Sight
  • Well documented by the public
    • Attack happens when the player(s) want it to
    • Removes sense of enemy’s autonomy
who to attack
Who to Attack
  • Nearest opponent
  • Strongest opponent
  • Well documented by the public
    • Attack is against whom the player(s) expect
    • Attack is against whom the player(s) want
    • Removes sense of enemy’s autonomy
how to attack
How to Attack
  • Primary attack most of the time
  • After delay of x, use secondary attack
  • In given situation, use special attack
  • Well documented by the public
    • Attack happens how the player(s) expect it to
    • Removes sense of enemy’s dynamicity
effect on the players
Effect on the Players
  • On the Individual Player
    • Calculatable
    • Predictable
    • Boring
  • On the Group
    • No need for interaction
    • “Read the script…”
    • “Play your part…”
what is your reaction
What is your reaction?
  • Want to pet
  • Want to meet
  • Just curious
  • Annoyed
  • Want to kick
  • Want to run screaming
slide21
Now what is your reaction?
  • Want to pet
  • Want to meet
  • Just curious
  • Annoyed
  • Want to kick
  • Want to run screaming
same model for all agents
Same Model for All Agents

Extreme Reactions

varieties of reactions1
Varieties of Reactions
  • Differences Exist
  • Don’t need to know why
  • Need to simulate that difference do exist
    • Not completely random selection
    • Must be reasonable
    • Can be simulated with weighted randoms
know when to walk away
Know when to walk away…
  • Design Decision: “Enemies don’t always fight to the death”
  • Enemies can sometimes retreat
    • Flat % chance
      • Is random… therefore looks random
      • Not realistic
    • Situational random
      • Based on circumstances
      • Circumstances are flexible and dynamic
know when to walk away2
Know when to walk away…

How many on my side are still fighting?

8

1.6

5

How many of my enemies are still fighting?

know when to walk away3
Know when to walk away…

PercentChance = (4 – Ratio)3 / (43)

know when to walk away4
Know when to walk away…

PercentChance = (4 – Ratio)4 / (44)

PercentChance = (4 – 1.6)4 / (44)

PercentChance = 13%

know when to walk away6
Know when to walk away…

How many on my side are still fighting?

7

1.4

5

How many of my enemies are still fighting?

know when to walk away7
Know when to walk away…

PercentChance = (4 – Ratio)4 / (44)

PercentChance = (4 – 1.4)4 / (44)

PercentChance = 18%

know when to walk away8
Know when to walk away…

PercentChance = (4 × Ratio)4 / (44)

know when to walk away10
Know when to walk away…

PercentChance =

( ( MaxRatio – Ratio )k× MaxPct)/ (MaxRatio k )

know when to walk away11
Know when to walk away…

( ( 4 – Ratio )4 × 1.00 ) / ( 44 )

( ( 4 – Ratio )6 × 0.75 ) / ( 46 )

( ( 4 – Ratio )8 × 0.50 ) / ( 48 )

know when to walk away12
Know when to walk away…
  • Factors to Consider
    • Number of allies
    • Number of enemies
    • Proximity to Base
    • Strength of allies
    • Strength of enemies
    • My own health
    • Proximity of my leader
know when to walk away13
Know when to walk away…

Numberof Allies

Strengthof Allies

Numberof Enemies

Strengthof Enemies

Allied Strength

Enemy Strength

Proximityto Leader

My Health

Proximityto Base

Threat Ratio

My Morale

“Compartmentalized Confidence”

Urgency

Retreat %

how does this look to the players
How does this look to the players?
  • Enemies aren’t completely fearless
  • They are slightly unpredictable
  • They are still reasonable
  • Curiosity: “Where is he going?”
  • “If we show force, they might break and run.”
  • “If we back them up, they are more aggressive.”
  • We have to react to their reactions.
more than fight or flight
More than “Fight or Flight”
  • Fight normally
  • Flee
  • Charge
more than fight or flight2
Fight

Melee weapon

Ranged weapon

Special rare weapon

Advance

Press forward

Berserker charge

Retreat

Fighting withdrawal

Find Cover

Organized pull back

Flee in abject terror

Surrender

More than “Fight or Flight”
more than fight or flight5
More than “Fight or Flight”

“Normal”

“Defensive”

21%

42%

how does this look to the players1
How does this look to the players?
  • Not predictable
  • Reasonable
  • Causes us to have to react to his reaction
target selection
Target Selection
  • Who should I attack?
    • Closest enemy
    • Biggest threat (highest DPS)
    • Weakest link (least health)
    • Most valuable (healer helping the other enemies)
tactics
Tactics
  • Multiple NPCs working in a coordinated plan
    • Formations
      • Protecting high-value units (fighters protecting a mage)
      • Adequate defense coverage of a point
    • Coordinated movement
      • Flanking
      • Covering fire
      • Leapfrogging advance
tactical manager
Tactical Manager

TacticalManager

Agent

Agent

Agent

Agent

tactical manager1
Tactical Manager
  • Has Rudimentary Goals
    • “Protect X”
    • “Attack Y”
  • Situation Analysis
  • Reactive
    • Responds to players’ actions
    • Responds to situation changes
  • Proactive
    • Looks for opportunities
    • “Running a play”
how does this look to the players2
How does this look to the players?
  • Enemies react to our positioning
    • “They’re moving to block us.”
  • Enemies react to each others’ actions
    • “They’re pulling back and closing ranks!”
  • Enemies dynamically allocate their own resources as a cohesive unit
    • “OK… he saw me coming around the side.”
strategy
Strategy
  • The entire body of a certain type of enemy working together to accomplish an over-arching goal
  • Super-set of tactics
    • Strategy to tactics = tactical to individual
strategy1
Strategy

TacticalManager

Order

Order

Order

Order

Agent

Agent

Agent

Agent

3 tier hierarchy
TacticalManager

TacticalManager

TacticalManager

TacticalManager

Agent

Agent

Agent

Agent

Agent

Agent

Agent

Agent

Agent

Agent

Agent

Agent

Agent

Agent

Agent

Agent

3-tier Hierarchy

StrategicManager

Goal

Goal

Goal

Goal

using influence maps
Using Influence Maps
  • Store relevant data in underlying grid structure
  • Periodically update the data map
  • Propagate information about individual objects to surrounding squares
  • Aggregate the data to yield a broad representation
  • Different influence maps can be used in conjunction with one another
how does this look to the players3
How does this look to the players?
  • Requires communication among players:
    • “There are continual raids on the northern road.”
    • “We should take the southern road instead.”
    • “We should send patrols out along the northern road to keep it open.”
  • Continually dynamic:
    • “The orcs have figured out that we are using the southern road instead.”
quest givers
Quest Givers
  • Information can be kept on:
    • Movements of NPCs and monsters
    • Significant events in the world
  • Quest Givers can use dynamic information from the world to notify players of…
    • Threats to avoid
    • Challenges to overcome
strategic disposition4
Strategic Disposition

The orcs have gathered…

west of town, near the river.

Fort

A

strategic disposition5
Strategic Disposition

The orcs have regrouped…

west of the fort, east of the river.

Fort

A

strategic disposition6
Strategic Disposition

Fort

A

The orcs have moved…

north of town, near the fort.

how does this look to the players4
How does this look to the players?
  • “There are groups of them moving methodically through the outlying villages.”
  • “They have our city surrounded.”
  • “Their other groups are coming to the aid of the army we just routed.”
  • “There is a group trying to cut off our retreat back to the fort!”
other uses
Other Uses
  • Big Bad Dragon in the mountains
    • Too many players hunting the dragon
    • Moves away from the players to some hills
    • Now feasting on Farmer Ted’s cows
    • Quest giver tells you to help Farmer Ted

Influence Map

Influence Map

Influence Map

Event Log

other uses1
Other Uses
  • Living Areas
    • Moving toward player areas
    • Moving away from player areas
    • Moving towards food prey
    • Moving away from predators

Influence Map

Influence Map

Influence Map

Influence Map

sooo what have we learned
Sooo… what have we learned?
  • People like playing against challenging opponents
  • Playing against challenging, dynamic, adaptive opponents forces the players to communicate and work together
  • AI can be designed to be challenging in similar ways to human opponents
  • By using advanced AI techniques in MMOs, we can create more engaging environments for our players to thrive in
how does this change things for our players
How does this change thingsfor our players?
  • Identify differences in enemy behavior
  • Communicate what they see to each other
  • Communicate their personal needs (“Cover me!”)
  • Formulate cooperative plans
  • Execute plans together
  • Adapt those plans to account for changing circumstances
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