A bit on the game’s Radiant AI system from Gamespot:
The game’s characters might not be highly scripted, but they will, instead, use the game’s “Radiant AI” system, which will give them a rough daily schedule, a few specific goals, and some personal needs (such as the need to eat and the need to sleep). Then it will basically turn them loose in the world. We watched an example in which we entered a bookstore and chatted up the storekeeper using the game’s diplomacy skill (which has been changed from Morrowind to a circle onscreen that lets you move your cursor between options like joke or threaten; the character you’re speaking to will react accordingly with facial animations). The bookkeeper seemed to prefer jokes and smiled when she heard them. She then invited us upstairs to keep her company. The bookkeeper then went about one of her general goals: training in archery by firing arrows at a hanging target in her room while her enthusiastic dog leaped about. The bookkeeper’s aim was off, so she voluntarily quaffed a marksmanship potion, which improved her aim considerably. She also tossed her hungry dog a cut of venison, which affected the excited quadruped in much the same way it would affect a player. The dog then got so excited that the short-tempered bookkeeper cast a paralysis spell on her pet, causing it to tumble to the floor. The bookkeeper then attempted to lie down and go to sleep, but her dog recovered and began yapping excitedly again. So the impatient bookkeeper then cast a fire spell on her poor pooch, setting the dog on fire and sending it yelping from the room. After the bookkeeper laid down for the evening and subsequently nodded off, we helped ourselves to the two-handed claymore sword on her table and departed for the besieged town.
Does this set off any alarms to anyone else?
I mean, she drinks a potion to get better at practicing archery?
She fucking sets her dog on fire just because its annoying?
Is Oblivion going to be populated by a society of sociopaths?
Anyone see this demo at E3 and can comment on whether this was just an extreme example of what to expect?
Lighting their dogs on fire and using drugs to get better at archery is better than them sitting in front of the counter constantly. This is TES so, a fire spell wouldn’t kill the dog, it’s a pretty low direct damage spell. Magical Animal Abuse I guess.
What worries me is that Gamespy, IGN, and Gamespot all describe that scene exactly the same. Either it’s scripted, and thus not an example of working A.I., or the reporters were all watching the exact same demoing of the game (which I find unlikely).
Well, it’s obvious that the scene is scripted or the game would be totally out of control.
But there are other parts that feel rather faked:
The floor was littered with the bones of past prisoners that could be tossed through the air and reacted with believable physics. The main character brushed against some shackles hanging from the ceiling and swung through the air, bouncing off of each other.
Arrows bounce off of stone and stick into wooden objects and can be collected after being fired. In a demonstration of the game’s excellent physics engine, an arrow was fired into a bucket hanging from a rope. The bucket swung from the impact then hung at an angle due to the weight of the arrow.
Allies were seen fighting with the main character as well as riding on horses.
He tries out several options, first resulting in the store owner getting mad at us, visibly affecting her facial features to reflect that change in disposition. He then mentions to her that he was just joking, which gets her disposition back to a friendly level. She then invites him upstairs. There, we meet her dog - Thunder - to whom she’s talking. Thunder is actually standing on his hind legs to greet her. Todd then mentions that NPCs do a lot of the things that the player would do, and that they get afffected by the same stats and effects. The store owner starts practicing her marksman skill, accidently shooting some of her furniture instead of the target, resulting in her cursing. She then remembers she has a potion somewhere that fortifies her marksman skill and drinks that, trying again, hitting the target and noticing that “this is much better”. She then talks to her dog again, noticing that he must be hungry because he is so grumpy. She fetches and throws him a chunk of deer meet which he happily eats. He then appears to be much happier and starts to roam about. Eventually, he becomes too active for her taste, so she paralyses Thunder with a spell. She sits down to read a book - moving her finger over the lines and turning the pages - and to eat and eventually decides to hit the hay herself, all in fluid motion. Unfortunally, her dog wakes up again and wakes her up. At this point, she gets really upset and slays the dog with a fireball.
And a very nice feature:
In dialog mode, new keywords are displayed in gold, old topics in gray
In fact, one of the interesting problems that the team has had to face came about precisely because the AI is so good. According to Howard, the AI has caused guards to decide to eat and go hunting deer, only to get themselves arrested for attacking something. When they fight back against the arresting guard, the other guards see a fight and try to join in. In not too much time, every guard in the town was involved in the scuffle, which left the rest of the town open to thievery by other NPCs, resulting in empty stores. Much of the team’s current effort is going into putting sensible governors on the AI’s behavior to avoid situations like empty stores that would result in situations that wouldn’t be fun for the player.
I certainly hope they fix the AI so that the game is, you know, playable. But I also pray that they allow you to activate these less-restricted versions of the AI via cheat codes (sorta like Grand Theft Auto’s “pedestrians riot” code) because this stuff is too great.
What is with Bethesda? Why do they insist on these massively overkill solutions that just end up sucking anyway?
Daggerfall was criticised for its randomly generated world, so they decided to hand-place every last piece of furniture in Morrowind. They didn’t really make the world more interesting, they just made it not random.
Morrowind was criticised (among other things) for having uniform and boring NPCs, so they (apparently) decide to implement a complicated AI system. So instead of having boring NPCs doing nothing, we’ll have boring NPCs doing essentially random stuff.
Piranha Bytes managed to make non-static and interesting NPCs four years ago without an insanely complex AI.
In dialog mode, new keywords are displayed in gold, old topics in gray
They’re keeping the old dialogue system? The one that made every NPC a terminal of a centralized database of information? That’ll help.
Some of these AI scenarios sound just way too impressive. I’m talking Molyneux levels here. Honestly I’d just be happy if NPC had schedules ala U7. Something which sadly most RPGs have turned away from. :/
It’s not a million miles from Gothic’s old AI. NPCs constantly assess who’s around them, and repsond to readying of of weapons or magic, attack, sneaking, attack on comrades, appearance of dangerous animals…
Non-scripted reponses are basically: greet, warn, threaten, attack, shoot, cast or run, but they’re all there.