Posts Tagged ‘game rewards’

My friend Justin recently drew my attention to an article by game designer Brice Morrison, “How Megaman 9 Resembles. . .Real Life?” published a little over a year ago at Gamasutra.  (It also appears on Morrison’s own blog, which seems to have been superceded by his current project, The Game Prodigy).

Megaman 9 takes the idea of “retro” very seriously: “Capcom has sought now adult players of the old games by painstakingly emulating every graphical restriction, sound channel limit, and level design choice as it would have occurred on the original Nintendo Entertainment System, and the result is an entirely new game that appears as though it belongs in the 1980’s.”  But what really interests Morrison is the way in which gameplay also seems to hark back to a different time.  Morrison describes the game as “unreasonably difficult,” due mainly to a steep learning curve and punishingly restrictive save-game system.  The resultant gameplay experience is one that Morrison suggests is “almost extinct.”

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I think we’re getting into the ever-present, ever-frustrating topic of corporate influence on game development. Maybe it’s a copout, but I can see how “Good AI” development can be pricey and thereby unappealing to developers (specifically development firms) driven by profit. As much as I would argue that games are someone’s or a group of people’s works of art, I do recognize a significant difference between artists in the traditional sense and game developers: money. Even the most famous of traditional artists starved, often surviving only on their love for what they did. Please do correct me if I’m wrong, but I at least have the impression that there are few if any starving artists in the game development community who would have enough passion and resources to invest the time and money in developing better AI, not knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that it would make them rich.

However, the above is my belief related to the development of a perfect (or close to perfect) single artificial entity, a bot. Because of corporate interests and the easy alternatives that Twitchdoctor pointed out, I don’t think we will see development companies focusing on making the bots in their games ‘think’ rather than simply giving them more health, stronger weapons, better aim, and of course, more grenades. Twitchdoctor’s post (Good AI, Bad AI) presents a powerful alternative to adjusting the bots though—changing the conditions of the game. As in Twitchdoctor’s example of Thief, the conditions of the game can be changed to accommodate difficulty increase and substitute for (or at least distract from) imperfect AI.

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