[GW] Artifical Intelligence and Natural Stupidity

Computer-controlled characters do some things better than humans can. They have complete battlefield awareness, so they can see someone start a spell with a 0.5s casting time, switch targets, and interrupt with a 0.25s casting time spell. (Of course, a human can occasionally interrupt a 0.25s spell with a 0.25s spell by just firing at random, “I’ve got a hunch he’s about to cast…”) NPC healers never whine about needing to be the healer, and they never get tired of staring at hit point bars.

The hard part can be making it so you want anything other than NPC companions. There is a narrow space between “completely useless” and “good AI,” and then between “good AI” and “better than the player.” In a FPS, the only limits on how aware and accurate an NPC is are computer-defined. One balancing factor is that NPCs exhibit perfect tactics but absolutely no strategy. Another is that you can just stop trying to improve the AI at some point; if it is already competitive with the humans, you don’t need to improve it, and you may have gone too far. GW also PVE-only skills, which are overpowered and not available to heroes and henchmen.

Another is letting the computer do completely stupid things that humans do. This also adds a sense of verisimilitude when playing with them. I used to joke that my heroes needed advanced “don’t stand in the fire” lessons. Then I watched a hero run past me into a sandstorm to start casting his spells, and it stopped being funny.

: Zubon

4 thoughts on “[GW] Artifical Intelligence and Natural Stupidity”

  1. “The thing about artificial intelligence is, there’s so little natural intelligence in existence to form a baseline.” – Some famous dead dude

  2. All I want from my Heroes and Henchmen is for them to switch to whatever target I call (ctrl-space/click). And to otherwise NOT automatically swarm what I start attacking and switching with me so that I can actually complete Dagger combos outside of Hard Mode or not have my target die when I’m casting a long spell at it (especially AoE). :/ Also wish Ranger pets could be set to stay in battle like the H/H do instead of wasting time to start running back to me when their current target dies…

    Seriously, my Warrior main does crap for damage, but when he’s using anything but Daggers the AI’ll regularly ignore his non-flagged orders and attack pretty much anything other than the Warrior’s target ’til there’s nothing left. On my Assassin, on the other hand, I can run to the back of a spawn and all my melee AI & minions’ll follow me and ignore the rest of the swarm and the casters’ll go for my target (and will break off and switch if I do :/).

  3. Back when we only had Prophecies I would spend a few nights a week in Fissure of Woe. Eventually it got to the point that I would know the mob rotation/recharge times so well that I could active an interrupt before they started casting and have it land at the right time. Having carried 10 characters through most of the games I can still pick out the rotation enough to save up an interrupt for their elites after seeing the same mob once or twice. I’ve gotten used to the AI and doing the things I need to get the most out of my heroes. Going to be interesting when I get into Guild Wars 2 and don’t have an army of allies tailing behind me at all times.

  4. I, too, will miss my heroes and henchmen in GW2.

    That said, the one thing I really wish the AI / UI would allow you to do is tell your AI friends to “spread out a bit.” Oh, with heroes you can flag them apart, but that takes more micro than is fun. I’d love to just have a setting that is “spread out” and let them manage their placement, within limits, so they leave a bit more space to foil the masses of AoE nastiness the game has.

    Well, that and recognizing when they are shooting into walls / hills / cliffsides. Idiots.

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