artificial intelligence

EVE Vegas 2017: Pirate factions will hunt you down in new EVE PvE

If your experience with EVE Online‘s PvE is of grinding through waves of predictable NPC pirates firing space pea shooters at you, get ready for that to change. CCP Games has been working on advanced AI for the past few years with the aim of turning those mindless drones we fight in PvE into intelligent actors similar to players. The first stage of this was shown off with the roaming Drifter battleships and later with the Blood Raider Shipyard and NPC mining operations that will form up counter-defense fleets and try to drive you out of the star system.

The next step in this plan is landing with the Lifeblood expansion on October 24th with Pirate Forward Operating Bases (or FOBs for short) and a new Resource Wars PvE system. We learned more about these new features this weekend at EVE Vegas 2017, and they’re beginning to sound pretty epic. Read on for a breakdown of both features and details of how the Blood Raider and Guristas pirate factions may soon be actively hunting you down.

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Heroes of the Storm wants to keep its AI smart and adaptive

It’s quite possible you don’t think that AI is a big part of gameplay in Heroes of the Storm, but a lot of the game’s matches are played against AI opponents, and AI takes over when a player unexpectedly disconnects from the game. So it’s important for the game to have AI that is fast, responsive, and satisfying to play against or alongside. The latest development dispatch explains changes made to the AI and gives a broad overview of the way that the game keeps AI heroes engaging.

Rather than scripts, the game’s emerging new AI is controlled instead by coding conditions and scenarios, leading to a more organic experience that keeps the AI heroes putting the emphasis on player-controlled characters. AI opponents should be reactive and dynamic, calculating the safety and range of a given position and moving to better positions as they become available; the same basic process is used for accomplishing each goal on a given map. Check out the full article for more details about how the developers are making sure that AI opponents and allies still feel interesting to play against.

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EVE Fanfest 2017: EVE Online plans amazing new PvE gameplay

Today’s EVE Online is a far cry from the empty but hopeful sandbox released back in 2003, having constantly re-invented itself for over 14 years and put together some incredibly ambitious visions for the future. Executive Producer Andie “CCP Seagull” Nordgren shared one of these visions in her Fanfest keynote speech four years ago, laying out the long-term goal of having players build their own stargates, explore deep space and colonise previously undiscovered star systems. This trajectory has brought us Citadels, Engineering Complexes, and soon Upwell Refineries, but it isn’t the only plan for evolving EVE and it may not even be the most impressive one.

Last year we heard from CCP Burger and CCP Affinity on some amazing advances that had been made in NPC AI for the powerful roaming Drifter ships, and broad plans to integrate parts of that more widely into the game, possibly even creating something CCP Burger called “PvPvE.” We got our first taste of the end result after EVE Vegas 2016 when NPC mining operations began appearing in certain star systems and mimicking the activity of real player mining ops — They had mining barges hoovering up rocks in the belts, haulers picking up the ore, and even combat ships using PvP setups and strategies modelled on real players that would chase attackers around the star system. This first iteration of the feature was impressive, but at EVE Fanfest 2017 we discovered that an even more incredible future awaits EVE players.

Read on for a breakdown of the next stage in EVE‘s PvE gameplay and an interview with CCP Seagull on how this feature will be rolled out over high-security space and beyond.

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Star Citizen cracks the code of artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence isn’t merely being thrown into Star Citizen because of its futuristic theme but because the tech is essential to how the game will play, from its mission system to ship handling.

In the latest episode of Around the Verse, the AI team engages in a lengthy Q&A session about how this tech will help the game as a whole. Thanks to the AI, missions will be able to vary a bit as you replay them, stations on large ships can function without a human at the controls, and players will be able to develop relationships with NPCs over time.

You can read the full transcript of the show on Relay or watch it for yourself after the jump!

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Self-driving cars are learning to drive with Grand Theft Auto

So it turns out that people were right when they said that self-driving cars were a terrible idea. We were all in favor of them; it seemed like a nice chance to relax, stare at the scenery, and possibly game while three sheets to the wind and without asking someone to pick us up. But researchers from Intel Labs and Darmstadt University in Germany are teaching the vehicles to drive using Grand Theft Auto, which means that self-driving cars will collide with other vehicles, drive on the sidewalk, and attempt to hide from police investigations by parking in a paint shop.

Jokes aside, the system being used is pretty awesome, using the environments of the games as a way to place the vehicles in real-life situations without any risk to human life. It’s a complex process allowing the vehicles to “see” and analyze a large number of objects in quick succession, thus providing valuable data to be used in finished models. If you’ve got any interest in the technology, it’s well worth a read. And if the next time you play Grand Theft Auto Online you notice that someone in your group seems to be moving rather robotically, maybe you should cut that player some slack.

Source: MIT Technology Review; thanks to Stemline for the tip!

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EVE Evolved: CCP Games on the future of EVE Online’s PvE

It’s no secret that EVE Online has always been a primarily PvP-focused game, with thousands of players smashing fleets of ships together on a daily basis. PvE requires a different set of skills and ship setups than PvP and is often seen as little more than a necessary grind to replace lost ships. Even with great PvE additions over the years such as Sleeper NPCs in wormhole space or Sansha incursions, almost all PvE ultimately still boils down to shooting at predictable NPC ships that don’t pose a real threat. Players have engineered all of the risks out of PvE, coming up with optimum strategies and ways to predict NPC behaviour.

Things have begun to slowly change over the past year or so with the introduction of dynamic NPCs like the powerful Drifter menace with its advanced AI, Burner missions that in some ways almost mimic PvP, and new high-level capital ship NPCs. We’ve even had several seasonal events that can be completed in PvP-fit ships, turning the event dungeons into unexpected flashpoints for PvP. At EVE Fanfest 2016 we learned that CCP has begun stepping up these efforts to merge PvE with the rest of the game world and adding some unpredictability and engagement back into the game, and two new PvE dev teams have been formed to get the job done.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I talk to game designer Linzi “CCP Affinity” Campbell and senior creative producer CCP Burger about two new PvE dev teams they’re part of, CCP’s plans to integrate PvE more closely with the rest of the game, and how the Drifters were developed behind the scenes.

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Chronicles of Elyria dev blog: Offline player characters

Announced earlier this year, Chronicles of Elyria is a startup sandbox in a sea of such sandboxes, but some of its features are rare even within the MMORPG genre.

Massively OP has been hosting a series of exclusive dev diaries from the CoE team at Soulbound Studios over the last few weeks to further explore the game and solicit feedback and questions, and today we have the next installment. This fourth entry, written by the devs themselves, is presented below and focuses on offline player characters — characters that are a mix of player characters and AI-driven NPCs. Enjoy!
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Massively Overthinking: Random encounters in MMORPGs

This week’s Massively Overthinking question comes to us from Kickstarter donor TheChiHawk, and it’s coming from an unusually not-so-massive corner of gamesdom for us:

Are there any MMORPGs that employ a Left 4 Dead 2 type of “director feature”? It occurred to me that I still play L4D2 somewhat regularly because it continues to be fun due to the random element each time you play the same campaign. By contrast, the static layout of every single MMO I’ve played stands in stark contrast; you always know exactly what needs to be done. BORING! L4D2 would seem to be a perfect model for keeping things fun and uncertain with each new dungeon delve in an MMO. Why hasn’t anyone incorporated this into MMO games?

The director feature TheChiHawk is talking about is basically an AI governor for the whole game — with a twist. I’ll let the Left 4 Dead Wikia explain:

The Director, sometimes referred to as the AI Director, or simply as AID, is the artificial intelligence of Left 4 Dead that features a dynamic system for game dramatics, pacing, and difficulty. Instead of set spawn points for enemies, the Director places enemies in varying positions and numbers based upon each player’s current situation, status, skill, and location, creating a new experience for each play-through. The Director also creates mood and tension with emotional cues such as visual effects, dynamic music and character communication. Moreover, the Director is responsible for spawning additional health, ammo, weapons, and Special Infected, like the Witch or the Tank.

So let’s talk about MMO AI! I posed Chi’s question to the MOP team. Which MMOs have similar features? How do they work? Do they solve any major problems with MMO AI?

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NCsoft hopes its AI tech will lead to less predictable game environments

NCsoft is spending time and money on artificial intelligence, according to a report in the Korea IT Times. “Controlling games [in a] mobile environment is becoming more complicated and difficult. If artificial intelligence is applied to games, it will bring bigger fun to users,” said CFO Yoon Jae-soo in a recent conference call.

The company plans to use its AI technology to create unpredictable game environments, with the first such titles likely arriving in 2016.

Source: Korea IT Times; thanks Sally!

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