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NPC Spacecraft AI

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Foundation

Jumpgate Evolution will have a far more intelligent and robust AI than the original title. The goal is to create a fuller, more interesting, and more immersive universe. The AI system is used to populate loot and mining tables, generate NPCs to service stations neglected by players, and handle NPC ships in space.

“I know that it means we have to make sacrifices in other areas of the game, but I can promise you that we will not rest until flying, shooting and fighting AI is the best that it can possibly be.”[1]
-- Hermann Peterscheck

The following bulleted section is extracted from Istvan's AI Nuts & Bolts interview with mmorpg.com. For a comprehensive look at these actions in a scripted scenario, please see the source article.[2]

  • The AI routine begins with the system's chief task of populating space.
    • AI bots are created to perform "real tasks in real ways" using a list of available behaviors
  • AI bots are able to communicate with one another, and with real players.
  • AI bots will team up to accomplish a common goal such as destroying or defending another AI entity.
  • The following is a list of currently known AI "actions"
    • Dock
    • Launch
    • Jump
    • Avoid
    • Attack me
    • Pirate me
    • Help me
    • Detect Collision
    • Mine
    • Attack
  • AI Chatter will correspond with these functions. For example “Imagine that, rather than the defender bot rescuing the hauler, instead the nearby players see a HUD indicator flash with a message: "This is Free Trader Beowulf, calling anybody... Mayday, Mayday…”
  • Ideally, player actions will also transmit action signals to the AI, allowing it to react, generating spontaneous unscripted events in the game world.
    • For example: reinforcing a unit or helping defend a tow.

Interesting Details

  • AI is being handled primarily by programmer Josh Stefanski. You can read a brief interview with him at the Ture Game Headz - Dev Box
  • The AI now only sees what its radar can see (no cheating)[3]-- Scorch
  • Enemy ships can now communicate cross-sector. This means they can call re-enforcements from the next sector over. Yes, on the other side of any attached jumpgate.[4]
    • Additionally, this means that enemies like the Conflux can blockade jumpgates from the other side and prevent your reinforcements getting to you.[4]
  • "There are not 25,000 persistent AI bots that learn over time or anything. However, we are playing with the idea of a few "named" bots that do play some interesting roles, kind of like Scar from BSG."[3]-- Scorch

“People start saying "AI is too easy" which to me is nice. It means that people feel powerful, but are starting to get bored. Now we need to open up the challenge. We made ships in the next sector over that are called "curses" that pretty much wax people in the office during play tests. We've had to dumb them down because they are too early in the game to be that tough, but we saved their configuration for later on in the game when you're fighting another battle station. Trust me. AI will NOT be easy further on.”[1]
-- Herman Peterscheck

Sources

  1. 1.0 1.1 Hermann Peterscheck - Codemasters Forums
  2. Istvan - AI Nuts & Bolts - MMORPG.com
  3. 3.0 3.1 Scorch - NetDevil Forum
  4. 4.0 4.1 Scott "Scorch" Brown - IRC Chat, logged at Codemasters Forums

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