A Photostory about Game AI (Part 1)
Example: Codemasters FIA F1 2013While making screenshots, I took a plunge and started the campaign mode. Usually, I only drive the tracks solo, to get a sense of the tracks, their apex and breaking points, for my FIA F1 viewing pleasure on Sky Sports F1.When I see the live TV moving pictures during Practice, Qualifying or Race, or Ted Kravitz, Martin Brundle or Anthony Davidson explain something, I get a better sense of what is going on, being familiar with the tracks. So, I would recommend this for Formula 1 fans, who usually don't 'play' video games.
Starting the campaign mode in Codemasters official FIA F1 2013 game. I barely qualified. I was last. 6 seconds slower than P1.
My task, as the 2nd Renault/Williams driver, was beat my team mate, Maldonado. My goal was, to make it to the end of the race.
After the first pit-stop, the leading car, Alonso, was on my tail. I was shown a blue flag and drove to the side to let him pass me. A few seconds behind him was Kimi's car.
The second to last corner - one (if not 'the') slowest corner of the whole season - I made myself small, driving to the edge of the track, driving in 2nd gear, when Kimi's NPC car (NPC = Non Playable Character: in this case, a car, which is handled by the game's AI) drove into me, nonetheless, ruining my front wing, making me have to pit.
After that my race was ruined. I was not able to keep up with the pack, nor to close the gap.
I failed my objective. I failed my team.
This is what happens in a virtual world and it is dramatic, like it would be in a real life scenario. While there is a lot of enjoyment - which I had - even in losing a race, the trouble is, how can the game developers allow 'bad' players to progress through the campaign?
How realistic can you allow the Game AI to be?
If you tweak it towards realism - which all the F1 players "obviously" want, after all, that is why they buy and play those games - you allow for a certain aggressiveness. Player punishment is the price. The game would be over quick. What player say they want and what they really want are two different things. Most often, they don't really know
- it is the game developer who has to think it through for them.
And if you allow a more forgiving setting, you lose the sense of reality and simulation and players would start to complain about the "unrealistic handling" of the cars and the "fake" realism of the representation of this sport. The game loses it's most valid selling point - the 'official' license comes with a burden. It has to 'look' right.
It has to 'feel' right.
Whatever you do, as a developer, you lose either way. To find the right balance for the majority is the only answer to this. Having an official license gives you even less room to wiggle.
And even if the player is not completely new to video games, the different skillset each and every of the millions of players bring to the game, is impossible to account for. Especially, in sports or racing games, which have to follow very strict rules. The track time has to reflect the real times. Everyone has to drive 'fast', which means the AI cannot be that forgiving.
Furthermore, the AI has to react to the player input. And players are unpredictable.
To have a video game race, which reflects the back and forth of real drivers, which all are trained professionals, having driven cars before they could walk, who are capable of reacting 'properly' in milliseconds, while normal mortals would panic - all these things have to be balanced and accounted for, when making a racing video game which has an official FIA license.
There is not much room left for resiliance. Something, I find fascinating, is how Rockstar Games Grand Theft Auto
series allows driving fast in traffic, without getting hit so many times. It often feels, like the player miraculously avoided a crash and was able to 'squeeze' his fast moving car, between those others.
The probable answer to this is: the game ignores its own set of fake physics rules. You can get passed 'close encounters' in GTA, because the developers just turn down collision detection, unless you drive way too close, towards the car next to you?
In Codemasters games, all cars have their set proportions and collision is 'always on' and simulated (simulated, to a degree. Some of us - including me - would even want more simulation, and breaking parts, but that's another discussion). When you don't brake, as accurate as the car in front of you or behind you, a collision will occur, something will happen. Something bad.
I cannot speak how these effects work in the game when assists are 'on', if this affects the races the same way. I always turn all assists off (no brake assists, no ABS, etc).
Am I complaining? No. Not at all.
I am able to use a mid-season save file and repeat the race as many times as I like. Getting better at it too, hopefully. This incident, I just experienced, made me think, how hard it is to pull this off. Rigorous simulation promises vs game/play/ability, otherwise there is no 'fun'.
Being able to lose in video games and still progress, is something I applaude. Not having to win every race as first. Having a campaign goal like "beat your team mate", "finish 10th or better" is more reasonable, than having to pretend to be superman. Although video games, in general, are all about you, doing things you would normally never be able to do ... like driving a F1 car in the Australian GP. #GameAI #gamedev #f12015 #SkyF1