Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
do not always have to be positive to be meaningful. Games are an art form
capable of a wide range of expression, for good or ill. We have already seen that
the real problem with bad AI is that it frustrates, annoys, or angers the player. We
would like to avoid evoking those particular emotions in the player. The AI can
be the most frustrating part of a computer game, but with some effort, it can also
be one of the parts that evokes the strongest positive emotions.
Showing human faces expressing simulated emotions is a tremendously powerful
tool for evoking an emotional response in the player, but it is far from being the
only tool. There are other, less direct means—many of which are far cheaper to
implement. Novice AI programmers might not want to start with the most
complex tool available. We can evoke emotion via music, mood, plot, and even
camera control. This is only a partial list; the AI can creep into nearly everything,
giving the game better chances at evoking an emotional response from the player.
These tend to be design elements, but they have to be controlled somehow, and
that somehow is AI.
Before delving into other tools, we should recall our definition of game AI to see
if what we will be doing is really AI. Our AI reacts intelligently to changing
conditions. Things that will never change have no need of AI. A face that never
changes expression or lighting that never changes or even music that never
changes require no decisions. These static elements start out purely as art, music,
and level design. These elements need not be static, but once they start changing,
they raise the question, ''How do we control the changes?'' This is the realm of
AI—even if artists, musicians, and level designers do not always think that way at
first. Like any part of game AI, once it is well understood, it stops being AI to
many people. Everyone knows how to go somewhere, but pedestrians, drivers,
and pilots have different skills, levels of training, and available tools to get
themselves someplace else. The job of the AI programmer is to bring intelligence
into any part of the virtual world that would benefit from it. Doing so gives the
entire creative team a richer palette of tools with which to craft an emotionally
engaging experience. They all know how to ''walk'' but the AI programmer
provides them a ''pilot and plane'' when they need one.
Before we get into how we might evoke an emotional response from the player,
we will consider what emotions games evoke. After that, the bulk of this chapter
will go over tools that can be used to evoke an emotional response in the player
other than body posture and facial expression. These more indirect methods
have an impact on what the AI programmer needs to know about other team
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