Sunday, March 29, 2009

SWG Idea: Improving the AI

To say this game has Artificial Intelligence is a gross exaggeration. Very few PvE opponents in this game present any form of tactical challenge. (You are free to insert an appropriate PvP joke here, if it pleases you.)

Aside from knowing when to fire off a heal and when to close up the store and run from the aggro, combat in SWG is little more then two very large numbers each informing the other how much to subtract; first one to zero loses.

If your toon is properly equipped with level-appropriate weapons, armor, and expertise, you should have absolutely no trouble defeating any single opponent (and likely a few of his buddies) of similar level. Add in some entertainer, medic, or officer buffs and the game fails to deliver any sort of combat worth talking about later over drinks at a cantina.

Without increasing the difficulty - because that just perpetuates the continued passes over the player professions - how can we make combat more engaging and less "target lock, button mash" oriented?

First thing to do is to categorize the potential PvE opponents. Despite the names, the following terms apply to both creatures and NPCs. For simplicity's sake, we will refer to all PvE opponents as "creatures".


It is VERY important that the game provide visual clues and information that can be used by players to learn how the AI is operating. For example, if a certain creature in a mob is unique in that it acts in a Support combat role, it should become evident to the experienced player that this creature will perform that combat role.

It should not be guesswork beyond the initial encounter (or for those who simply refuse to learn how the gameworld is reacting to them.)

This point cannot be stressed enough, as the goal is not to surprise the player but rather provide them with an additional level of detail and combat immersion from which they can learn and adapt their tactics from.

Read and Discuss: How Can We Improve the AI?

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