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?