What's the secret to creating intelligent, immersive artificial intelligence in video games? While there's likely no universal answer, there are some tips and tricks that can be gleaned by talking to some of the best in the biz.
For instance, when it comes to shooters, it seems one of the best things AI programmers can do is forget about subtlety. Why? Because according Damian Isla, the man responsible for crafting the AI in Halo 2 and Halo 3, it's impossible for players to keep tabs on the minutiae during frantic firefights and helter-skelter skirmishes.
Speaking to Hyper Magazine in the first of three AI-focused interviews, Isla explained how the Halo team had to overplay certain aspects of the game's artificial intelligence to grab the attention of players.
"The most memorable of the interactions between elite and grunt -- that the grunts would turn tail and run when an elite was killed in their vicinity -- was actually part of Halo 1. In Halo 2 (and even more in Halo 3) we expanded and deepened those interactions," he recalls.
"One thing that is quite hard to do in game AI is subtlety -- there's just so much going on, subtlety flies straight over the player's head. So if you want to portray something like a social hierarchy in the midst of a gun-battle, you really have to crank it to 11.
"That's why the grunts fleeing when the elite dies works well. The fleeing animation is way over-the-top, and accompanied by loud squealing-grunt sounds. That's why it was something that actually read for players."
He explains there were other elements that reinforced that social hierarchy, such as grunts always positioning themselves in front of the more respected and valuable elites, but "nothing ever reached the crisp clarity of that fleeing mechanic."
There are tonnes of other interesting tidbits where that came from, so be sure to check out the full interview over on Hyper.