An interesting read on game AI

I posted this article in regards to a bug with follower targetting:

I’m a developer and I’ve been coding for over 20 years professionally. As for game development I have only modded existing games, mostly focusing on AI behavior and altering game mechanics. So just code work, no modelling or animation.

The article is a good read regardless of your background, in particular the chapter on Advanced Decision Making which is a few scrolls down.
They use a guard as an example for how it could/should behave.

I’m not going to rant about “devs should read this” or “if only Conan had feature X”, but thought it would be useful for others to give some insights in the game dev world.

I do like the concept of fleeing though. When you’re lvl 60, trekking along the south river, thralls would flee at the sight of you.


Nah, bro. Them Cannibals can totally take my lvl 60 and his Flawless gear.

I’m curious when the term AI got abused to mean any programming that makes some virtual thing appear to have some intelligence. AI used to mean human like intelligence, now it means maybe as smart as a cockroach :slight_smile:

It was quite commonly used in gaming terminology before it caught on to the degree you see today.
Mostly when media calls something AI it’s more ML (Machine Learning) though.

AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) aims to be that of human like intelligence.

For the most part in games it’s a matter of “If this, then that” though like the diagrams in the article illustrate well.

thanks mate, i’m curently on study about QA tester and this will surely come handly !

As for A.I, if i remember what i’ve learn, the dificulty for programing it on game like Conan Exiles come mostly because Thrall & Pet are the same as any other NPC, but can be found anywhere on the map. So their NPC (player owned or not, witch are the same for the computing mastermind) pathfinding have to be altered for a LOT of situation, along with their intention regarding players (would like a second opinion on this^^)

This is just a matter of proper inheritance usage and state.
Sorry if I sound cocky, not saying it’s an easy fix for some of the bugs, but at some point in any code, be it an application or game, you need to refactor stuff instead of patching in hotfixes.

As for NPCs belonging to a player or the world, this could just property in the NPC model.
Then state is dictated based on that property.
I am most likely simplifying a lot in my assumptions, but I’ve spent a lot of time digging through game data when modding games.

Some PC users with a devkit might shed some light on this, as I have no clue if the datamodel for NPCs are exposed.
But strip away the graphics, 3d model, sound fx and animations, and a NPC is just a row in a datatable with values.


I am fairly sure that the single most pressing issue for AI is not (strictly speaking) an AI issue as such, but rather one of server resources. The sheer size of the map and the truly absurd number of pets and thralls placed upon it means that there’s precious few resources available to each NPC to run their “brain”.

That’s not to say it’s an excuse and no improvements can or should be made, while it is an issue, it’s one that is inherent to the game design.

Of course this is in every practical way an AI issue as well, as the question is almost never “how good of an AI can you make” but rather “how good of an AI can you make with these resources”. Resources in this instance being not only development time but also CPU cycles in the finished product.

As have I, from both sides of the fence. A lot of the time, what modders have access to lies “one abstraction layer higher” than the core game code, ie as a scripting language or similar on top of the game itself. That means it’s often (significantly) simpler to understand and edit, but also that A) it’s often limited in what it can do, and B) every operation has the potential to cost many more resources than it would if implemented properly. This sentence deals in generalities and exceptions DO of course exist.

Amen brother!

This is what I’m thinking too. Granted I play on Xbox, I’ve done a lot of fiddling with the console tuning unreal settings and also the graphine settings for texture streaming. The responsiveness of thralls and enemy NPCs is drastically different in SP.

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