Videogame A.I.

After being given this idea, I began thinking of the best way to put my thoughts on the subject into words. Well, my mind went blank and now I have this little write-up.

Videogame Artificial Intelligence is a weird topic. It's not really discussed in volume, and it's hard to label a game as having bad A.I. and not consider the context. For example, is it fair to say that a zombie game has horrible A.I. even though the zombies act like zombies? Well, I'm here to say "Yes". It's very fair and very correct.

So, I hate zombie games. I hate almost all of them. I hate them, because I hate/despise/utterly shit on everything that zombies are in and what they stand for. Let's start by what they stand for - eating brains. Really? Either that or infected raging people is the best behind the 'glory' of zombies? I see a huge lack of imagination behind it. Besides, either way you have shambling or charging directly at you type of zombies, and that brings us to the subject of games and how they fit in. People like zombies because of the stupid concept and because they resemble humans, but avoid the taboo of being actual humans that you can dismember. That's fine, but you wanna know what I think?

Zombies in games are SO fucking boring to fight against. Most zombies simply shamble right after you (sometimes run) without any regard to their own personal safety and make the same grunting/screaming sounds over and over. This makes sense for the whole zombie concept, but they make for the worst, most piss-poor video game enemies ever. The worst part is that more and more zombie games are getting shat out, so A.I. seems to be taking a real nose-dive in gaming. The only zombie franchise/game that I'll even consider owning is Left 4 Dead, because they have the most diverse set of zombies in any zombie game. I'm not saying that zombies are to blame for this, but even Call of Duty enemies are extremely boring to fight.

If you really stop and look at what the enemies in a Call of Duty game do, they are either scripted to do something crazy, or just hunker down behind cover, pop up and shoot, and then hunker back down to throw a grenade. Instead of causing you to change your tactics or out-think them, they are really just making you hide, or move to another spot and hide, and then wait for them to peak up at the worst possible time for a headshot. Compare that to a game like the original F.E.A.R. and it makes CoD's A.I. look amateur. FEAR's enemies do everything that you, the player, can do besides time slowing stuff. They kick over objects, move from cover to cover, advance upon your position, and jump through glass to kill you. Instead of just making you move to another cover point, they make you think about which cover point is best and how to out-flank them. If you hunker down behind cover, you may peek up to find that that same enemy that was in the firefight with you has taken the opportunity to run right up on your left side and is now shooting you in the face. It's a really spectacular experience fighting those enemies, and even though they didn't vary at all, the game stayed fun and engaging throughout the entire story. It reminds me a lot of the original Halo in respect to the elites.

This brings me to my conclusion that the best type of enemy A.I. is the one that acts most like the player character. The enemies should be able to move around and interact with the entire environmental space just as the player is able to. If a game can nail that, enemy variation really isn't that necessary, because if that one enemy can keep me on my toes the entire 10-15 hours then I'll have no problem fighting it. In fact, Halo is a good example of good enemy A.I. and enemy variety with elites, grunts, and the flood all taking extremely different tactics to take you down. Not only that, but they weren't like CoD's enemies with perfect accuracy, and actually had recoil to deal with as well. I hope more game developers start programming better A.I. into their games, because I'd rather keep playing older games with good A.I. for a second time, rather than play one with cover-attached, bullet soaking, mindlessly shambling towards you-style enemies whether it be a zombie game, or not.


Batman combat specifics, and the completionist's nightmare.

Batman Arkham City has one of the best combat systems of all time. There, I said it. Now that I got that out of the way, I'll say what the combat system really means to a completionist gamer. As a completionist, I like getting as much as I can out of the games I buy. I'll spend every hour available collecting feathers, riddler trophies, treasures, or whatever else games hide in their respective worlds. Once I've done that, I move on to PSN Trophies, or Xbox Live Achievements, and there's where I run into a problem.

Achievements/Trophies in games are a pain in the ass to get. Take, for example, the most common one - Beat this game on the hardest difficulty. This one seems like the biggest waste of time because, unless you're insane, you most likely aren't going to play through the game on hard the first time, this you'll have to replay it a second time. Usually, this isn't a big deal, because I replay games all the time. However, on the hardest difficulty it usually amounts to hiding to repeatedly regenerate health, resorting to meleeing enemies due to lack of ammo, and then just dying over and over. Video games just don't seem to provide a difficult, yet fair experience on their hardest settings. So, the Achievements/Trophies that require me to do so usually never get completed and I can never reach 1000/1000 or a Platinum Trophy.

This brings me to Batman, which has kind of the same basic problem, but not really. Batman Arkham City has an Achievement/Trophy that has me trying to execute every move that Batman has in one, flowing combo - that is, I cannot be hit or I cannot miss. Now, on paper this sounds like a pretty cool, challenging, and fair Achievement/Trophy, however, it ends up being just as frustrating as "Beat this game on hard"; which the game also has. Now, the harder difficulty isn't as bad as most games, but the Freeflow Combo one is just horrible. For the most part, the combo system allows for precise, controlled attacks, but there is a large amount of randomness that come from enemy attacks.

Enemies can attack with fists, knives, stun batons, shields, and thrown objects. When they attack with their fists they are almost completely manageable if not for the random times when Batman has 'longer than usual' attack animations or the enemies bunch way too close together for Batman to handle. It worsens when an enemy has a knife or a stun rod, because the attacks cannot be countered and must be dodged entirely. Likewise, armored or shielded enemies must be targeted specifically and it makes it more challenging. Now, the problem with this is that it is incredibly difficult to target one enemy over another if they are in close proximity. If I see an enemy holding a barrel, and I try to target him behind the crowd or jump over the crowd, I will either hit an enemy I didn't want to hit or he'll throw it after I take too long to get to him. It's infuriating!

Not only that, but imagine if you're doing your hardest to chain a combo together with the guys around you, and then a knife wielding son of a bitch or garbage-can throwing motherfucker bum-rush you and ruin everything. It's that kind of randomness that ruins 'beat this game on hard' Achievements/Trophies, because they almost always involve a ton of luck. Uncharted 2 has some of the most maddening enemies near the end of the game that I could not imagine fighting on Brutal difficulty. Don't even get me started on how utterly stupid and ridiculous Call of Duty is on Veteran. I beat Modern Warfare 2 on veteran and was completely ashamed that I did so and not proud at all. Why? Because I did so, by getting extremely lucky and hiding, instead of having a fun, rewarding, fair challenge that I overcame.


If BF3 is anything like BC2 ...

I still had a ton of fun playing, though!

... then sign me up! I just starting playing this again, which I haven't played in a year or more, and it's almost capturing the same feeling I was having when I was still really big into counter-strike. It's not having the same effect (that I want to get really good and compete), but is capturing me all the same. Here are some moments/aspects that I just have to share.

Killing Dudes. Okay, this is fun and all, but it has the same trappings that other games in the genre do as well. Shooting an enemy causes a hit marker to appear over them, takes a few shots, and eventually causes a number to appear on the center of your screen - great. However, the mechanics or systems in place are what are really getting me. For instance, I love that distance, stance, and the weapon all effect the outcome of a firefight. If an enemy is at long distance, you can certainly hit him, but chances of killing said enemy before he can find cover are slimmer and slimmer the farther off he is. With that in mind, if you're walking while shooting, your chances of actually hitting that guy are very poor; and standing still or crouching both increase accuracy more and more. It makes running and gunning at medium range less prominent than in most other first-person shooters, but all weapons are still, at least, viable at most ranges.

See this ATV? I'm going to ride this so I can find someone else's and blow it the fuck up!

Powerful, but fair, vehicles. I hate vehicles, and I always have in shooters. It's always hard to deal with them, and they're not always fun to use. Bad Company 2 does the best job at making me come around to the idea the more I play it. I do like using them, because they make me feel empowered, although, I know a C4 or two would end my fun very quickly. Driving around in a tank or raining down hot death from a helicopter are both exciting and make me emit an evil smile at all the destruction, however, being in the thick of all of that chaos is almost more fun in a way. But the most fun to be had with the vehicles is ruining someone's day by destroying theirs. It's like crashing and flipping your friend's RC Car over with your own only better, because you're just any other dude on the ground. So yeah, my favorite thing is shooting down a chopper with a guided rocket and watching it crash down on enemies ... or team-mates, haha!

The constant snow blowing around, and even obscuring my vision, makes winter maps my favorite.

Atmosphere and effects. I like atmosphere. I like it a lot. It's the reason I liked Bioshock as much as I did, so it goes a long way with me. BFBC2 creates some fantastic atmosphere in environments that would normally be bland, military-themed areas designed for players to kill each other. Instead, in urban environments you can see trash flying around, smoke blowing across your face, and the ocean right behind what's left of the buildings. The sun is always blinding and shadows can make me squint as I try to make out an enemy in a corner. My favorite part of the effects is being under heavy fire from almost everything at the same time, but still managing to pull off amazing things - like killing several dudes trying to destroy my MCOM station. It really feels like I'm in the thick of 'it' and makes me want to GFTO of there ASAP!

Please be good!

My new stance on BF3. So yeah, BFBC2 is great. I am enjoying it more than I have enjoyed an online shooter in about 3-5 years. I like that objective modes are the primary modes in Battlefield, because it gives a permanent incentive to work for the good of the team - even though you might be cowering in a corner due to the multitude of explosions popping off all around you. You can probably find me talking about how bad a time I had with the Battlefield 3 Beta, and I don't retract my comments. I have been reading coverage on the game as it comes closer to release, and if it feels closer to Bad Company 2 like "they're" saying, then I'll happily go along for the ride. I just hope it's as chaotic, atmospheric, rewarding, and just so much fucking fun as Battlefield Bad Company 2 is.


Bulletstorm: This game is a lot better than I thought!

Wow, I mean, from the release trailers and the press coverage, I thought this game was gonna be a big chunk o' shit, but I am very pleasantly surprised to see that I can accept this game. I was expecting this game to be extremely juvenile, and repulsive for that matter, but the trailers really did this game a disservice. All of the "kill your dicks" type language really isn't that bad and is tastefully used. I...actually find this game to be hilarious!

So, not only that, but I am actually liking where the story is headed (i'm on Act 4, Chapter 1) and the characters are good enough. I really like how the main character has this "wreck stuff, figure it out later" mentality, because it leads to a lot of set-piece moments that make me say "oh what did I do, haha!". The wreckless attitude that this game has, I feel, gives it an identity of its own, and I'd like to see a sequel...I think.

I just think that shooters need characters with something that separates them from all of the other 'ruff N tuff' military dudes, and dudettes, out there. The gameplay is holding up, although, I've heard that this game is pretty short. For what it is, the game keeps me engaged the whole way through, and the multiplayer, while empty, is a cool idea and fun when people actually show up. I love coop games, and this game has such a cool concept. I hope it did well enough that more games would at least be possibilities.

So yeah, if you can handle cursing, you can handle this game, because it's not as bad as it seems...and you'll probably really dig it!


Pistols - The 'nearly useless' weapon in Multiplayer.

So, when did pistols start becoming some of the worst weapons in multiplayer games?

I remember Counter-Stike's pistols not being so bad; and Halo's pistol is okay too. However, I've been playing quite a few online multiplayer games, because I've been looking to find a series I like and follow it almost exclusively for my online multiplayer fix. These games include: Crysis, Black Ops, Far Cry 2, Metal Gear Online, Battlefield BC 2, and Rainbow Six Vegas 2. Each of these games either have a pistol or no pistols that are even remotely effective unless my enemy is near death anyways. My question is this: Why are developers making pistols exclusive secondary weapons, and why are they so weak?

I mean, I understand that assault rifles, sniper rifles, and whatever other primary weapon are much better than pistols, but pistols shouldn't be so weak. In any stealth-action game, the main character can always use a pistol effectively. Let's take Metal Gear Solid 4 for instance, I could use a pistol in singleplayer almost through the entire game, and it would take maybe two shots to the head to kill an enemy with a helmet. I jump into multiplayer and two shots to the head only stunned my enemy for a second as he then proceeded to shake it off and pop a single assault rifle round to my head, killing me. It's so easy to use the assault rifles, and it seems like the game rewards you for doing so; while pistols which are harder to use have arbitrary damage restrictions added to them.

In Black Ops I've put two bullets from a silenced pistol into an enemies head at medium range (i then missed the rest), and he killed me and walked away. They are also very hard to aim, keep under control, and have usually only 2 clips worth of bullets. I've also put five bullets into someone's chest and it didn't kill them either. I know body armor can stop 9mm bullets, but if the game isn't really based on reality in a big way, couldn't the pistols be more effective?

Why not let players specialize into whichever weapons they want? It'd be cool if I could specialize into pistols and stealth, or something that would make them more useful than what they are now. I usually have some pretty random thoughts like this, but does anyone feel the same way at all? If pistols are as hard to use as they are, shouldn't they do some more damage or something? Are there any games, in which they are actually useful, that I'm missing?


2010: Year of buggy games? (no complaining I promise)

First, I am not complaining or whining in this thread. Just wanted to see if anyone has had any specific glitches in games that came out this year. Sorry if this has been posted, but I searched for this and didn't find an exact match, and I really just wanted to create this topic. Anyone think this year is riddled with bug-filled games? Here are just some of the games I have encountered bugs on that are on my shelf in front of me:  

  • Assassin's Creed Brotherhood: There have been times where characters were animating improperly and even a time when I could not exit my base. I even had a glitch in one of the Romulus lair thingys where Ezio refused to jump to a platform and instead would jump backwards every time until I rebooted.
  • Bioshock 2: The multiplayer was almost broken. Unreal engine hiccups were a dime a dozen on the 360 version, and the PS3 version had some weird framerate problems. 
  • Call of Duty Black Ops: My friend cannot even connect to the internet, and I can't even open up the XMB without the menus glitching out. At one point I had an invisible gun. 
  • Dj Hero 2: I can't go back to the XMB without my console crashing. I have to take the disc out instead of selecting 'quit'. 
  • Red Dead Redemption: One hyphenated word: Cougar-lady. I don't think I really need to explain this one too much. 
  • Skate 3: I have done some really incredible things due to glitches in this game. Also, the online cuts out voice chat sometimes for no reason. 
  • The Sly Collection: Only one bug here - I jumped over a barrel and the game froze and started emitting a loud, high-pitched screech out of my speakers. My ears exploded.
  • Fallout New Vegs: I don't think I should go into this one. Well, I really REALLY just don't wanna talk about it. 
I think this year is a great year for games, and it could have been even better if some of these issues were ironed out before they shipped. Still, some games are awesome in ways just because of the glitches *cough* Red Dead Redemption, or a certain basketball demo.  Any bugs to share??
  • 16 results
  • 1
  • 2