They have deceived us. Return to the future it made me dream of the wonders of the future, but finally it turns out that not only we have become idiots… Also the AIs (artificial intelligences) of video games! I’ve been wanting to talk about this topic for a long time and the RNG (“luck” factor in games) of life has given me an opportunity.
For years many of us have clearly seen how the AIs of video games they are falling far behind with respect to other sections. Incredible graphics, cool physics, highly detailed animations, turbo immersive sound, improved voice acting, motion capture and facial expressions, increased worlds and possibilities, etc.
All these improvements not only increase the quality of the new deliveries, they also denote the obvious lack of interest of the companies in making really competent AIs… or at least not screwing up the gaming experience. I don’t make it up. You don’t have to go far back in time to see it: Aloy from Horizon Forbidden West, the companions of God of War Ragnarök and our character in Hogwarts Legacy.
SHUT UP, BOY!
All this comes as a result of a recent interview with two heads of God of War Ragnarök. They point out that the fact that our AI teammates screwed up our puzzles and brain teasers was an oversight, something that was not seen during development and that they only got feedback on after the game launched. They implemented a update to fix it (sort of), but a lot of the puzzles and brain teasers had already been screwed up by then.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll put you in context. video games like Horizon Forbidden West y God of War Ragnarök they have AI characters, protagonist, and companions respectively, with lines of dialogue to help players solve puzzles and riddles. So far everything normal.
The problem is that both Aloy and Atreus, for example, say clues or directly solve puzzles, riddles, or where to go. a few seconds after starting to explore area. No matter the difficulty. This is very comfortable for those who play with their brains turned off (totally respectable), but a source of anger for those of us who want to earn progress… or just play.
In Hogwarts Legacy The same thing has happened to me several times. I enter a room and the character says out loud that he should use a spell that does such or that we are supposed to look for a certain type of magic. And my reaction is the same in all games: SHUT YOUR MOUTH!, WHO ASKED YOU?!
Use: I use these examples because they are recent. Other franchises like Assassin’s Creed and Gears of War, for example, have also driven me crazy for many years with this issue.
In the same interview it is admitted that this is really annoying and that it is usually the “cheap solution” to the problem of users getting stuck. These two statements make me doubt whether it really was an oversight. How are you going to miss that your characters don’t shut up even under water? And above Atreus, who is stupid.
From pleasant companies to unbearable burdens
I understand that developing an AI for a video game It is not an easy task and that it is closer to the nightmare than I could imagine, but I am also paying an average of 60-80 euros per game. That’s not counting the special and collector’s editions. Forgive me if you think I’m asking too much by calling for AIs to rise to the occasion.
Elden Ring is a good example. There is no doubt that normal enemies have their little things… and despite this they are competent. Allies are story catalysts and aid in battle. And then there are the bosses, who have been said to learn from our movements with each attempt. This is not true, but yes they adapt to our way of playing: If we move away to heal, they throw us. If we get too close, they use area attacks to push us away and/or reposition/flank.
La IA the Elden Ring act accordingly to our actions and takes into account our place in the world. On the other hand, The Last of Us Part I remake (more or less) fixes the horrible AI behavior of its original namesake: companions no longer run around in front of infected and humans unseen, and try to stay close to you without being too annoying. And better not to talk about the games in which your game or mission depends on the life of your AI partner.
I don’t ask for more… at least in large deliveries. Nor am I asking for a technological revolution. Some games wait for a while before asking you if you want help by pressing a particular button, for example.
we are not morons
Returning to the matter of lines of dialogue, the AI audio and visual aids It is very useful for many people, especially for small players and those who have some kind of problem. It is much cheaper to introduce them on any difficulty and without options than to offer them as a accessibility option and/or through the mechanics of asking you if you want help.
It doesn’t have to be a billboard in the middle of the screen, just introduce an interaction with the partner or press a button to make the protagonist think aloud. I repeat that I am not proposing revolutionary solutions: they already exist, but they take time and work, and therefore money.
I wish the developers would stop treating players like jerks and dare to offer challenges that test the abilities of all. We live in 2023. The internet is overflowing with guides that are sometimes released even before the video games themselves. Nobody is going to be left without completing a game because they choke for a few minutes or hours.
On a very personal note, video games already look and feel good enough. There is no need to follow this absurd graphic race while the rest of the sections are neglected, especially the development of AIs. The Callisto Protocol and Forkspoken are two recent examples: beautiful on a graphic level, but very forgettable on a playable level. And I’m being very good with both titles.
Maybe I ask too much. Perhaps asking for the behavior of AI in video games to feel as alive and authentic such as scenarios and physics is more than what technology currently reaches in this field. I don’t think so, although I wouldn’t be surprised if it were. I will continue dreaming, although deceived, because I believe that it is possible after seeing the wonders that I have seen in video games.