Fans sometimes clamour for 'better' AI in shooters like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, but would a smarter, more flexible 'bot line-up necessarily improve an experience that's so calculatedly rigid? Frontier Developments' David Braben reckons not, arguing that Call of Duty's big rival Battlefield has more potential in this department.
"When you mess with a delicately balanced formula like Modern Warfare, a lot of fans get upset," Braben told OXM as part of an AI feature in our latest issue, on sale now. "But what we could see is Battlefield, with its squad tactics and destruction... that's a tapestry you could add to by bringing more sophisticated AI into those worlds.
"The parts have been optimised out of current games to make them work on the current [console] generation," he added. "What we may well see in a future generation is many of the same techniques at the start, but then newer opportunities becoming available."
DICE has positioned Battlefield 3's Frostbite 2 engine as next-gen technology in waiting. The game's larger environments and plethora of dynamic terrain variables do, in our humble opinion, seem to present more possibilities for complex AI behaviours. Shame it chose to ape Call of Duty's more restrictive single player formula.
Elsewhere in the piece, Braben offered a pocket dissection of linear shooters in general. "If you look at how the games respond to the player, that's what we'd call very, very heavily scripted; someone has written a script to say that if the player's in this area, hide in this bunker; if the player moves to this area, move to these other three spots.
"It's trying to give the impression of intelligence without it being necessarily all that intelligent. Because it's quite possible that, by doing something the designers didn't expect, you can completely break the game's logic."
Question for the thread: what/who is the cleverest AI you've met? I think Halo steals the show.
Pick up issue 82 to read the AI feature in full - it explores ways next gen hardware might empower AI programming in detail. You can order a copy online with free delivery, download it to your Android tablet or buy for £2 cheaper on Apple Newsstand.