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A.I.

November 17, 2008

Longtime readers and/or players might recall that the ballyhooed Preview Weekend in late August introduced a few new bugs that weren’t present in the previous closed beta incarnation. One of the more notable problems was that mobs became incredibly erratic — you could hit a mob and they just wouldn’t run over to you at all, or they would up and flee away from you the second they got one point of damage. And then there was the persistent bug (since fixed) in which mobs became untargetable/unattackable by you — but they could still keep on hitting you.

It seems weird to say this now, but in all the broken behavior that the mobs showed during that weekend, they became infinitely more interesting as foes than they are now.

Mob artificial intelligence in most MMORPGs is close to non-existent. Bad guys usually just wait around or roam in set patterns, eager for their turn to be “tapped” by a player’s attack, at which point the mob will run over and begin its own attack sequence, which is usually a tried-and-true autoattack sometimes sprinkled with a few secial abilities. The density of mobs in a region, coupled with the sheer number you have to kill in these games, and multiplied by the complexity of a massively multiplayer environment means that mob A.I. is destined to be a bit… short bus, if you’ll excuse the expression. They’re not the sharpest hammer in the toolshed, and it can’t be good for their morale that players view them as XP & Loot piñatas.

Yet that’s no excuse for Warhammer Online’s mob A.I., which seems to be even dumber than those guys who keep making the Date Movie, Epic Movie, Superhero Move and soforth. I’ve started to make a list of questionable mob A.I. decisions/code, which have been noted by me and several forum posters:

  • Mobs in WAR don’t seem to have a “buddy” system, where you pull one mob but he’ll drag along a nearby friend who sees that mob being attacked. This results in two mobs standing face-to-face, you tagging one of the mobs, and only he runs over while his pal stands still, conversing with the wind.
  • Mob aggro radius is questionable and inconsistent from what I’ve seen. Sometimes you can get within inches of a mob without aggroing them, and sometimes mobs travel across hill and vale just to get their turn at whacking you on the noggin.
  • A minor issue, but it’s hard to predict how long you have to run away from an aggroed mob before they lose interest and reset.
  • Mobs hardly ever run away, and if they do, they never seek out a fellow enemy mob nearby to drag back with them for reinforcements.
  • Apart from hero and lord mobs, we just don’t see a lot of special abilities popping out of these guys. A lot of my skills are set up to combat fairly complex player behavior in PvP, yet surprising few of these moves are necessary in PvE. Spell interruption? How often do these guys cast at me? Do I ever need to root a mob to prevent their escape?
  • Although it’s not A.I. per se, mob respawn time can range from extremely rare to almost instantaneous. I can’t start to detail the amount of times I’ve been clearing a path to a particular quest objective only to have six mobs respawn right on top of me without warning, faster than I can kill them.

The end result of WAR’s stupid mobs is another weak link in their PvE chain. I know PvE can’t be expected to rise to the challenge or complexity of PvP, but c’mon. We can try a bit harder than this. How the enemy mobs act, react and fight goes a long way to making me feel as though world PvE combat actually means something and has context — that I can strain my believability to the point where I accept that these mobs have an identity of their own.

(And not to pile on or anything, but can I put a vote in that WAR needs a bit more in terms of death animations? It’s always groan-sway-collapse, with zero blood or visual injury. Heck, when World of Warcraft has more blood than Warhammer, you know something’s amiss.)

Tomorrow: Positivity! I promise!

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17 comments

  1. Actually some mobs seem to have a buddy system..But it’s all inconsistent. Some mobs are linked..
    others are aggroed when a “friend” of them dies nearby by. This leads to some “aggro/hate-chains” where you can fight for hours (when combined with tiny dps from Runepriest and fast respawns..)

    This mob behavior is inconsistent atm which just strengthens that meh-feeling regarding PvE in WAR.
    Oh..and mobs run away..just try to fight something as a Runepriest.. you’d wish they won’t run away as it takes nearly forever for them to come back just to get tickled to death 😉


  2. Good issues that hopefully will be addressed. I feel there’s no real distinction between the mobs I encounter. They’re all much of a muchness. No different tactics are required – perhaps the only think I encounter is the occasional knockback. I think its indicative of the focus by the developers on RvR rather than PvE.

    But if they were serious about RvR then it might have been better to model the game after Planetside and do away with PvE altogether.


  3. There is a “Bring a friend” system. If you pull a single mob as a soloer you’ll pull a single mob, but in a group it pulls more. This makes it more friendly to soloers.


  4. I’ll second the need for buddy-pulling even in solo-pve. In WoW some pulls could actually require more than just a ranged attack to pull of properly. And yes, knockback/ranged/melee seems to be the only difference between mobs these days.

    Chefen
    moheelz.blogspot.com


  5. I have to agree on most of the comments about AI; however, let me tell you that the fact that you can single pull mobs is something I’ve always wanted in a game like this. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I like a simple game or dumb enemies, but being a BW, having three, four, or five enemies trying to hit me will not have a very happy ending.

    “Mob aggro radius is questionable and inconsistent…” now THIS one is a big issue. I thought it was just me having some sort of bug or the like, but now that you mention it, the radius mobs can or can’t “see” you is awkward. Let’s wait and see how they fix some of these issues, if that is what Mythic considers to be something to fix


  6. weird.. i was more on the lines of they shouldn’t run away, ever.. like honestly a dwarf that runs away.. not good.. aka grudge aka dishonor etc..

    well damned if you do damned if you don’t


  7. Mobs hardly ever run away? When I play every single humanoid seems to be doing exactly that. I get three or four bunched up on me (WP) and when one get low on health he runs away and I must turn the attention to the remaining. The one who runs away will always run into a group of other mobs where I can’t reach him, and somewhere in the middle of running back to me he will reset, coming back to my location with full health.


  8. From my perspective, I haven’t witnessed a lot of fleeing mobs, but I’ll concede that they’re there (and in greater numbers, as Mr. Kenobi says) if you attest to it.


  9. Ha, and here I was going to post about mobs running away as well :).

    For sure as a melee class / tank I think you see it a lot more often because we can’t burn them down as quick. The health at which they run away seems to be inconsistent as well (ok, I don’t really pay attention to that part) and there have been times when one more slash kills them as they’re running away.

    What I’d like to see is what EQ1 use to do, which is two fold:
    1. Mobs don’t “run” away, they walk away. You know being crippled and such.
    2. If a mob was snared in anyway they didn’t even walk away. They just stopped attacking, turned around, and said, “Thank you sir, may I have another?”


  10. Crofe: it would make sense to have the mobs limp/walk away — after all, when we’re down to our last sliver of health, we can’t run at all.


  11. The buddy system would be very painful for soloers. Same goes for dragging along other mobs when coming back. Special abilities for regular mobs are also annoying – just think of the bats with the silencing ability or many others with knockdowns.


  12. To me it seems that PvE is a means to an end so you can kill time until the next RvR/PQ opens up. Unlike other games it does a good job at not popping you in the middle of strife when you get booted due to lag or come back from RvR.

    I quite frankly like the fact its biased towards RvR in WAR. PvE is so bloody boring most of the time.


  13. What does ‘mob’ actually stand for, I know it refers to the NPC baddies, but ‘mob’?


  14. […] A.I. “The end result of WAR’s stupid mobs is another weak link in their PvE chain. I know PvE can’t be expected to rise to the challenge or complexity of PvP, but c’mon. We can try a bit harder than this. How the enemy mobs act, react and fight goes a long way to making me feel as though world PvE combat actually means something and has context — that I can strain my believability to the point where I accept that these mobs have an identity of their own. (And not to pile on or anything, but can I put a vote in that WAR needs a bit more in terms of death animations?)” […]


  15. Yesterday I took my Ironbreaker Alt into the Marshes of Madness for the first time. Mob aggro? YUP! I got jumped by one, then two, then 5 goblins riding wolves! I was giving them the better part of the fight until I realized their mounts were a separate mob. In the end it was not pretty.

    Observation: Shouldn’t named mobs give better loot than 2 s and 35 brass coins?


  16. mob = mobile object

    I have played most of the MMO’s out there and none have impressed me as much as EQ1 did for mob ai. Patrols were nice, mobs running away and getting big friends from deeper in dungeon, spell selection by mobs …. I have never felt that the mobs were as ‘alive’ as in EQ1.

    Though it would toughen the solo pve, I would like to see more of the traditional MMO AI implemented. BaF, complex patrols, pve events beyond PQs, etc.


  17. […] https://waaagh.wordpress.com/2008/11/17/ai/ Apart from hero and lord mobs, we just don’t see a lot of special abilities popping out of these […]



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