With Elemental: War of Magic v1.1 BETA now out, you can see the direction we’re heading with the game. Global mana has made a huge positive impact on game play and having your population being put to work (literally) not only provides a great game mechanic but connects the player to the game more closely.
As you can imagine, such significant game play changes require a lot of new AI coding to make it effective. With Kael joining us to relieve me as the Producer on Elemental, I have more time for working on the AI (I am still handling the role of senior lead developer on the game which is a position I’m looking to fill – hint hint).
A 5 step process
The process I use to make good AI works roughly as follows:
Step #1: Make the AI multithreaded.
This is the most important thing because it allows the developers to focus on making the AI effective without worrying about time so much. Games with single-threaded AI have painful late games where you can wait a long time between turns.
This part was accomplished in the v1.1 beta. It still has to be debugged (90% of crashes are due to this) since you have to make sure the AI isn’t monkeying around with main game data.
Step #2: Play the game at a basic level
This is pretty obvious. Can the computer players do everything that the human can do? This is something that I’m working on this week. This can be effectively described as playing the game without worrying about opposing forces.
Step #3: Play the game at a competitive level
This is where it plays the game knowing that there are others trying to thwart it or destroy it.
Step #4: Play the game at the meta-game level
This is where it gets good at handling diplomacy, its dynasty, trade, and maximizing resources.
Step #5: Eliminate stupid AI tricks
Stupid AI tricks are simply little holes or little exploits that really need to be explicitly looked for and eliminated.
So for those of you who have v1.1, can you list THREE (no more, no fewer) things that you see the AI do that are either stupid or result in its destruction and what you would do if you were them?