In the latest in Gamasutra’s series of discipline-targeted articles, programming veteran Mick West offers a thought-provoking look at improving the believability of AI opponents in games
by upping their use of “intelligent mistakes.”
Neversoft co-founder West observes, in a piece originally written for Game Developer
magazine, that in many genres, programming opponents that understand the situation and can perform perfectly is trivial.
But programming opponents that make convincing and believable mistakes is much more of a challenge. Gamers are often very keenly aware that they are being manipulated by AI that makes deliberate and obvious mistakes to level the playing field.
Says West, "Remember what we are trying to accomplish: We want people to have an enjoyable experience. No matter what the game, we want the players to feel challenged so that when they win, they feel a sense of accomplishment. We want them to feel that they were playing against an opponent who was really trying to beat them."
"The computer has to throw the game in order to make it fun. When you beat the computer, it's an illusion. The computer let you win. We just want it to let you win in a way that feels good," says West.
The solution? West examines the implementation he used in programming a poker game: "For weak poker AI, an intelligent mistake consists of figuring out what you should do, and then not doing it, so long as not doing it does not make you look stupid." Real players make realistic mistakes; so much realistic AI.
For more insights and applications of the theory to other genres, you can now read the full feature article on the subject