I got your back, bro...

Many years ago Call Of Duty 1 ignited a strange appreciation for Artificial Intelligence in computer games that I search for continually.

 I remember crouching in the trench while Sgt. Moody dashed through enemy fire to save a wounded soldier. If you don't give adequate covering fire, he collapses. The mission is far from failed, but goddamn I did not want that man to fall. After battling our way through the previous mission I wanted that guy to stick around. With him out, that just left me and Private Elder - and Private Elder was a bit of a pussy. Group dynamics have since been of great importance to me - something which the Call Of Duty franchise has always accomplished with startling prowess. It's not simply how a character contributes to the success or failure of a mission, but how the intentions of a non-playable character can influence your actions as a player.  

  [ Skip to 4:20 ]
 
The simple way of making this happen is to simply substitute players for NPC's. That's how you get Left 4 Dead - a game with subtle group dynamics that is perhaps a little too lacking in structure to successfully tell a full story - which is, admittedly, not really what Valve were aiming at. The subtlety sort of works to the games advantage.

 Considering it's history it's understandable the latest trailer for the Kane and Lynch sequel was met with hostility here on giantbomb. Understandable, but not really necessary. Whatever transpired at Gamespot concerning Jeff, Eidos, Kayne and Lynch resulted in Giantbomb. So... I'm kind of ok with it. Politics aside, I thought the latest K&L trailer was pretty interesting. It looks to be focusing more on the relationships between the two protagonists, prioritizing the emotional interactions between the two complex characters - let's not fuck about, the guy is a psychopath. If Eidos can find a balance between fear, friendship and respect for your AI counterpart, Kane and Lynch could demonstrate a much more interesting couple dynamic than the fist-bumping action of Army Of Two. The concept, if nothing else, appears to have potential.
  
 

Having heard repeatedly

 that the characters in Dragon Age origins are as fickle as they are violent, i'm also interested to see how this evolution within Bioware will be reflected in Mass Effect 2. Your party members have seemed fairly disposable in Dragon Age - whereas the characters in Mass Effect always seemed to have much more meaningful character interactions with your group - perhaps a result of them being better realized and slightly more stereotyped: Wrex the brute, Garrus the by-the-book police officer, Tali the literal robo-smoke lady, and Liara the hippy. When Wrex was killed I was heartbroken - not to mention left with a large hole in my battle strategy. Giving you a wider variety of team members in Mass Effect 2 implies that there will be more room for similar dramatic exits - if Dragon Age Origins is anything to go by. 
 
Anyways, thanks to the ongoing shenanigans in MW2's multiplayer i'm taking a bit of a break to play some more Company Of Heroes. I am addicted. Fuck rehab, I love this shit.
 
Thanks For Reading
Love Sweep
16 Comments
17 Comments
Edited by Sweep

Many years ago Call Of Duty 1 ignited a strange appreciation for Artificial Intelligence in computer games that I search for continually.

 I remember crouching in the trench while Sgt. Moody dashed through enemy fire to save a wounded soldier. If you don't give adequate covering fire, he collapses. The mission is far from failed, but goddamn I did not want that man to fall. After battling our way through the previous mission I wanted that guy to stick around. With him out, that just left me and Private Elder - and Private Elder was a bit of a pussy. Group dynamics have since been of great importance to me - something which the Call Of Duty franchise has always accomplished with startling prowess. It's not simply how a character contributes to the success or failure of a mission, but how the intentions of a non-playable character can influence your actions as a player.  

  [ Skip to 4:20 ]
 
The simple way of making this happen is to simply substitute players for NPC's. That's how you get Left 4 Dead - a game with subtle group dynamics that is perhaps a little too lacking in structure to successfully tell a full story - which is, admittedly, not really what Valve were aiming at. The subtlety sort of works to the games advantage.

 Considering it's history it's understandable the latest trailer for the Kane and Lynch sequel was met with hostility here on giantbomb. Understandable, but not really necessary. Whatever transpired at Gamespot concerning Jeff, Eidos, Kayne and Lynch resulted in Giantbomb. So... I'm kind of ok with it. Politics aside, I thought the latest K&L trailer was pretty interesting. It looks to be focusing more on the relationships between the two protagonists, prioritizing the emotional interactions between the two complex characters - let's not fuck about, the guy is a psychopath. If Eidos can find a balance between fear, friendship and respect for your AI counterpart, Kane and Lynch could demonstrate a much more interesting couple dynamic than the fist-bumping action of Army Of Two. The concept, if nothing else, appears to have potential.
  
 

Having heard repeatedly

 that the characters in Dragon Age origins are as fickle as they are violent, i'm also interested to see how this evolution within Bioware will be reflected in Mass Effect 2. Your party members have seemed fairly disposable in Dragon Age - whereas the characters in Mass Effect always seemed to have much more meaningful character interactions with your group - perhaps a result of them being better realized and slightly more stereotyped: Wrex the brute, Garrus the by-the-book police officer, Tali the literal robo-smoke lady, and Liara the hippy. When Wrex was killed I was heartbroken - not to mention left with a large hole in my battle strategy. Giving you a wider variety of team members in Mass Effect 2 implies that there will be more room for similar dramatic exits - if Dragon Age Origins is anything to go by. 
 
Anyways, thanks to the ongoing shenanigans in MW2's multiplayer i'm taking a bit of a break to play some more Company Of Heroes. I am addicted. Fuck rehab, I love this shit.
 
Thanks For Reading
Love Sweep
Moderator
Edited by Red12b

Totally agree with you on the army of two, my best mate and I take the everlasting piss out of that game,  
 

BACK TO BACK!!!!

Posted by Oni

I really, really like that K&L2 trailer. Kinda makes me wanna go back and finish the first game. I mean that game was flawed as hell, so it's kind of cool they're making a sequel to that (assuming they learned from it).
 
I have to disagree with you about Dragon Age characters not having meaningful interactions with you (or each other) though. You haven't played it yet, have you? I thought the characters in Dragon Age, by and large, felt MUCH more meaningful than the Mass Effect party members. In ME, there's basically only two moments of real importance, both on Virmire - when Wrex makes his stand, and when you have to choose between Kaidan and Ashely. Conversely, in Dragon Age, there are many, many points where a given party member can leave you, based on your decision-making. You'll actually have to fight them if you do something really drastic and they're in your party. And these aren't throwaway characters. There are two mages in the entire game, and they are vital, and they have meaningful dialogue and stories, but you can chase them away if you want to. Hell, even if you don't want to, if you do something they drastically disagree with (like corrupting a holy relic, for one of the mages), they'll just straight-up try and kill you.
 
You really should play Dragon Age, you seem to have the wrong idea about that game. It is most certainly not ME with Orcs. I think it has better writing by far and better characters, Wrex and Garrus excluded, those guys rocked. It's worth nothing that ME has a different lead writer than Mass Effect, too, so it will indeed be interesting to see how much of that, if any, makes it into ME2.

Edited by Sweep
@Oni: My housemate has it, I have watched him play a bunch of times - i'll admit I havent played it firsthand, though I am becoming increasingly tempted. My point was that because there is less variety in the characters in Mass Effect they are a lot less inter-changable and losing them delivers much more of an impact. Familiarity with a character affects how you feel when they leave. I played with Wrex as an active party member for the whole game so I was totally bummed when he got blasted. The characters in Dragon Age feel a lot more hollow... maybe because of the generic voice acting? So it doesn't seem like such a big deal because you know there will be others to replace them.
Moderator
Posted by AhmadMetallic
@Oni said:
" I really, really like that K&L2 trailer. Kinda makes me wanna go back and finish the first game. I mean that game was flawed as hell, so it's kind of cool they're making a sequel to that (assuming they learned from it).   "
my-thoughts-exactly 
 
and 
@Sweep:  what you said about the AI in the first call of duty really made me feel kinda sad that i didnt pay much attention to it when i played it.. i always happen to be oblivious about a couple of things going on in games.. good blog.
Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

One area I'd love to see more ranges of artifiicial intelligence would be in real-time strategy games.  I just have yet to see any sort of AI in those games that doesn't feel robotic and mechanical in its function.
Moderator
Posted by Venatio

Well said, Im like you and I think about alot of this stuff  while playing games and this was a good read

Posted by phlegms

This blog needed more graphs :(

Edited by Oni
@Sweep said:

" @Oni: My housemate has it, I have watched him play a bunch of times - i'll admit I havent played it firsthand, though I am becoming increasingly tempted. My point was that because there is less variety in the characters in Mass Effect they are a lot less inter-changable and losing them delivers much more of an impact. Familiarity with a character affects how you feel when they leave. I played with Wrex as an active party member for the whole game so I was totally bummed when he got blasted. The characters in Dragon Age feel a lot more hollow... maybe because of the generic voice acting? So it doesn't seem like such a big deal because you know there will be others to replace them. "

Well I can only say they probably only feel hollow because you haven't actually played it and had YOUR character interact with them. Trust me, just because they don't look as visually distinct as a Krogan or Turian, doesn't mean they're identikit characters. They all feel really unique and fleshed out and like I said, you get two mages - count 'em - the entire game, so you WILL be bummed if you mess it up big-time with one of them. Warriors and rogues are functionally much more interchangeable in the game play, but personality-wise, again, all very distinct. I don't think you can really judge it without having had your own dude/lady interact with them. Think about it - if you had only watched someone else play ME, would you have been as attached to Wrex? Probably not, right?
 
Also the voice acting is really solid, I think. I'm not sure what you mean by generic, exactly. They sound like human beings. But they definitely have distinct voices. You won't mistake Morrigan for Wynne or Leliana. Some of the non-party member NPC's have some 'generic fantasy' voice acting, sure, but the party members don't really, imo.
Posted by Lies

GARRUS IS NOT A "BY THE BOOK" POLICE OFFICER HE IS A POLICE OFFICER WHO IS DISILLUSIONED BY THE INEFFICIENCY AND BUREAUCRACY OF THE SYSTEM AND WELCOMES A CHANCE TO WORK IN A CAPACITY WHERE HE CAN DO GOOD WORK WITHOUT CONSTANTLY GETTING FUCKED OVER BY POLITICS DON'T YOU KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT MASS EFFECT GOD SWEEP EVERYTHING YOU JUST SAID IS INVALIDATED

Posted by RHCPfan24

Very nice blog, Sweep. I met the Kane and Lynch 2 trailer with skepticism not because of the "politics," per se, of it but the grainy, Blair Witch-style it is attempting. I am all about originality but I can't help but be somewhat suspicious of how a game will turn out when doing a style like that. Plus, I hate Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity and all those movies anyway. If they pull it off, however, then we have something special.

Posted by TheMustacheHero

I killed Wrex and I liked it.

Posted by Sweep
@Oni: Ok look, I don't actually give a fuck about Dragon Age I only wanted to use it as a contrast to Mass Effect so I could speculate about Mass Effect 2. There. Happy Oni? Sheesh.
 
@Lies: I could have wrote all that nonsense but I knew you would be the only person on the internet to truly appreciate it. And you already know it. So shhh with your full caps.
 
 
 
Everybody is being mean :(
Moderator
Posted by Oni
@Sweep: uhh wow dude sorry for using your blog as a jumping off point to actually, you know, start a discussion. I thought that's what these things were for? In the future I will not disagree with your judgments about games you haven't actually played.
Posted by Claude

I never saw you as a Company of Heroes kind of guy Sweep.

Posted by Sweep
@Oni: <3
Moderator
Posted by Origina1Penguin
@Oni: You didn't finish Kane & Lynch? You can play through it in one sitting, so I suggest starting from the beginning again.
 
I still like the game and I'm going to quote my usual response to any hate or objection aimed at a game for a specific event:

I don't blame or punish the people who worked hard to make a game in retaliation of poor PR/marketing choices.

The last time I used that was for someone boycotting Dante's Inferno because of the marketing ploy with "acts of lust" towards an EA booth babe. I judge a game based on its own merits, not shortsightedness from someone who didn't even help make the game. I can clearly see what was trying to be done with K&L with its story. I think if you didn't like the characters the first time around, then you probably still won't. However, there might be a better execution of creating sympathy for the villains this time around.