Author Topic: Which Creature AI was better?  (Read 1760 times)

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Offline Nickelob_Ultra

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Which Creature AI was better?
« on: Dec 25, 2017, 12:11 pm »
I've been reading into the development of B&W1's creature AI lately, recalling how it's still a Guiness world record holder for most complex AI.  It got me thinking to how B&W2 felt like a major step back with creature AI versus B&W1, and how robotic 2's felt versus how natural and developed 1's was.

I want to hear anyone else's thoughts on the matter.  What did you like and what didn't you like?

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Having just recently played both games again, I definitely enjoy the first game's creature AI more, it boils down to three things for my experience:

1.  Naturally having to teach things in 1 through repetition, whereas in 2 you simply buy the knowledge in tribute including in skills like fighting or entertaining which merely increases the benefits (e.g. do more damage with soldier upgrade, give bigger happiness bonus with entertainer upgrade, etc.).  Even when teaching by repetition in 1, unless your creature reached 100%, they might try and fail to do a miracle and possibly (I think) get discouraged without proper support from you.

2.  Being able to immediately recall and modify creature's thoughts and opinions in 2, where in 1 you have to wait for the action to happen to be able to perform a reward or punishment to the creature.  This creates an easily memorized compendium of what a creature will or won't do with objects in the second game, ranging from healing your/neutral/enemy troops/villagers/creatures, to damaging your/neutral/enemy walls/buildings.  From there it's simply a matter of tuning your creature's personality into how you want it to perform exactly, and in virtually all cases it's a binary 'yes/no' of whether you want a creature to do or not do something (I can hardly imagine that any player wants their creature to "sometimes but not always attack enemy troops" or "seldom entertain villagers").  The ability to literally tune the creature AI how you want it to perform makes it feel robotic, which in turn leads to...

3.  How the creature decides to perform actions.  In 2, if you slap your creature into never eating your villagers, you can bet your net worth and the net worth of your ancestors combined that your creature WILL NOT eat a single villager of yours.  In 1, you can slap it to "Bad! 100%" after it eats a villager of yours, it'll feel ashamed, but if you go away and come back after awhile you might still see your creature grab one for a quick snack!  The creature AI in 1, at least in my experience through observation, takes the judgments it received into account to generate a decision rather than flat-out decide to do or not do an action.  I think it's taken probably 3 thorough punishments (unfortunately :no ) for my creature in 1 to hopefully never eat my villagers again.  A few times when I'd take him for a walk to drum up some belief and keep him fit, I'd leash him to a building to tend to something and when I came back I'd see all the villagers screaming and running straight away from him, no doubt because he probably just ate one and then I have to slap him until he stumbles and crashes into a building.  I digress but it feels a lot more natural, every game I've played in 2 the creature will always respect your decision, which while nice, certainly gives more of a robotic feeling to the creature AI and personality than the "free will" mechanic.  Speaking of which...

bonus:  Is there any actual point to the second game's creature free will?  All I ever noticed is my creature gets a little more unhappy quicker.  In the tutorial the advisers note he'll act more machine than pet if left with no free will but he already seems like a machine as is so I'm not sure if there's anything to it.

Just my thoughts, but I definitely wanna hear some discussion and thoughts on which AI people think is better.

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Re: Which Creature AI was better?
« Reply #1 on: Jan 01, 2018, 11:51 pm »
This was something I posted on a lot back in the day.

The creature AI in B&W1 was a double-edged sword for players.  Powerful, but (in an admittedly realistic way) frustrating :( .

As you referred to, no matter how hard you tried, there were some behaviours you just couldn't train it in or out of  :banghead :cmad .

So as part of the development in B&W2, they wanted to give you more control over the creature AI.

If I had to guess, I'd say that the B&W2 creature AI was technically more powerful in what it could do.  It was just let down by the user interface.

In B&W1, you the only "interface" you had with your creature was really via actions in the game.

In B&W2, most of your interactions were done via menus and sliders.

I believe this was at least in part due to the hastily finished implementation of the game due to financial troubles in Lionhead Studios at the time.

I'm not saying that if they had all the time in the world that they would have got the B&W2 AI right.  But not having that time definitely harmed things.

I suppose the failure of the B&W2 Creature AIs appeal boiled down to two things:
  • Rushed development
  • Giving the fans what they wanted and not what they needed.
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