With the game releases growing each year, not having an unique appeal for your game means that your project will most likely end up in failure. By failure I mean not being able to get the sales numbers to make a living out of it.
To succeed in this crowded market, the developers are constantly searching the the next tip or trick that they can make use in their project.
And you have arrived at the best place! In this article you will find 3 practical tips that will improve your Game’s AI.
Do you like coding complex things? Neither do I! Don’t worry, we will focus on game design decisions regarding AI. If done right, these will make the game a fun experience for the player.
Let’s find them out!
Tip #1: Have your AI Communicate more
“Go Go Go”, “Cover me”, “Grenade!” – most likely this is what comes to your mind. And you are not too far from it.
Developing a great AI means developing a great experience. Imagine you are playing a stealth game and you don’t know what the enemy is doing. Is it patrolling? Searching for the player?
Just search for “Must have been the wind” and the memes will keep coming at an astounding rate.
This phrase serves a good purpose, beside the fun factor: it signals the player that the AI changed it’s state from searching to idle or back to an activity. After this, the player will know that they are not being actively searched for.
The AI does not need to communicate only with sound, but it’s important that it does in a way or another. By using lights red – attack / yellow – search / green – idle, UI elements hovering above to indicate their state the developer can achieve the desired effect.
Don’t worry that this might make the game more predictable – yes, you might lose a little uncertainty but the end goal is to give the player an environment that can be learned and mastered.
Tip #2: Give your player Superpowers
Games need to be fun, first and foremost. If you make your AI too good, it can become an issue quite fast. The problem with “too good” AIs is that no one likes an AI Agent that has 360 field of view or insane response time.
But what if we reversed the idea? What if we notice that our player is missing the hits a lot and dies repeatedly which inevitably creates frustration.
It’s time for some “tricks”. Increase the enemy box collider, give the player a hit no matter where they aim. These are just a couple of the fixes from a game designer’s toolbox that can be done in order to make the experience more pleasant.
When it comes to AI Agents, the interaction with them needs to feel satisfying. In DOOM you are killing demons with your various weapons and killing animations. In Assassins Creed games you stalk your prey that does not sit in one spot but rather poses a real challenge.
By giving your player small temporary advantages over the AI, you will increase the chances of them liking your game. Don’t overdo it though. This might create the opposite effect and make the game too easy.
Tip #3: Give your AI a Personality
Having a great challenge works. Having it 10, 20, 50 times consecutively might not. In fact, it might achieve the opposite effect: your game’s player will get bored and move on to the next game.
A simple way to fix this is to include different AI personalities. For example, in my Game AI Course, I use 3 different AI types: Aggressive, Defensive and Tactical. Each one with its own strengths and weaknesses.
Using different AI personalities not only keeps players engaged longer but also provides a varied challenge, an approach that can increase the game’s replayability.
The good part? A personality might not mean a full makeover of the Agent. It can reuse the same 3D or 2D object, texture, etc. The parameters telling when to attack, lose target or retreat are what makes the difference.
Simple to implement and huge impact. Sounds like a great deal, right?
Improving your AI is essential, since the moment you start developing one. The challenge needs to be just right – not too easy, not too hard.
Don’t be scared to experiment and especially to make mistakes. Coming up with great AI solutions usually takes a lot of experience and there’s only one to make it: build build build.
Let me know your AI story in the comments 🙂
All the best,