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Author Topic: Difficulty Increases Equate To Greater Challenges  (Read 3903 times)

OldSpider

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Difficulty Increases Equate To Greater Challenges
« on: June 14, 2013, 20:35 »

Have you ever wondered just how stupid your average baron of Hell is?  He just keeps walking up to your corner to face another blow from your focused double barrels of death like they won't be there next time.  I can understand there's a bit of pride leading up to the ultimate loss of control; when that bullet grazed his skull tattoo he knew it was you and that's was all he could stand.  As we have seen with pinkies, some monsters are really quite mindless, but does this always have to be so?

This is DoomRL.  This is the future.

If I'm playing on ITYTD I expect the monsters to be reasonably stupid and there not to be very many of them.  It's like I woke up in a broom closet to find them all partying and not paying much attention through the haze of liquor.  This level is acceptable as is.

Okay, here comes HNTR, which looks like some cheesy 80s crime show.  I can understand it if the barons are getting a bit wobbly and it's like they didn't quite see you walk in there, so I'm okay with this level.

But now we're playing on HMP.  Knights, barons, archviles, and any supposedly smarterer demon isn't acting like it at all; rather, what I'm confronted with is more targets and the same old lazy AI.  UV suggests lots of spam bots sent to get in my way, which soon covers the floor in blood.  N! and holy crap I've been caught in the middle of the initial waves of the invasion... but no AI in sight.  Increasing difficulty levels shouldn't necessarily equate to more targets, but to more challenging situations.

HMP: there are the same amount of demons as HNTR, but smarter demons will actually wait at choke points to surprise you and every now and then will walk through short stretches of acid or lava to get to you.  Some of the smarter demons who have hands will actually pick up powerful weapons and use them against you.  Archviles won't just play coward while spamming you with reanimated corpses; rather, they'll direct the attack and attempt to surround and corner you.

UV: not only are hell's forces on the march, but there are still some exhausted humans attempting to fight them.  And there are targets all over the place.  Do you blast your way through or do you wait patiently, dropping needful items to fellow humans in the hope they'll help you get through this nightmare?  Or perhaps you'll just clear a way for them to escape.

N!: did I say nightmare?  You didn't just wake up in the broom closet, you woke up in the middle of the initial invasion.  Not only are your comrades being eaten and blasted to goop all around you, but so will you if you don't get up and boogie.  N! shouldn't just be more monsters teleporting in all the time, but there should be special levels where you have to run or be swamped with waves of those things.  The human forces left on base should be armed to the teeth... which could be too bad if you get in the way.  Places like the Military Base are still under human control when you get there and if you're really lucky you might get some real help if you save them.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2013, 20:36 by OldSpider »
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Sereg

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Re: Difficulty Increases Equate To Greater Challenges
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2013, 21:11 »

I feel like this already exists to some degree, although it could just be that it's less punishing when it happens at lower levels - but it seems like sometimes I'll wait for an obscenely long time, and as soon as I've decided it's safe and whoever's left on the level can't quite get to me for some reason, and I walk out into the open all unsuspecting, something horrible is just chilling there waiting to blow me away.

Again, I can't say if they're actually waiting like that, or if it's just that it hurts more on the harder difficulties, but it sure feels like they're smarter sometimes.
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Tavana

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Re: Difficulty Increases Equate To Greater Challenges
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2013, 02:13 »

Not to nitpick, but you spoke first of different AI, and then of a completely different story.

I agree that AI could be raised in harder difficulties - it would be a nice change to drop into a group that can pick you apart strategically with only four monsters instead of being dropped into 10+ monsters that cannot help but kill you due to their numbers.

As to the other things - the intro to the game specifically says that you're here some time after the invasion. I suppose that could be changed for different difficulties, but that seems a bit odd. A lot of people skip the intro now-a-days, so...

In the long run, if the AI is changed there will need to be a lot of pre-release testing for balance. I do agree that some of the small changes would be excellent - skipping over one tile of lava if they're smart enough and you're close enough, hanging around choke points for a limited period of time once they're aware of your presence - but I don't really agree with any of the larger changes you describe. They seem more like a module to be written by someone.
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Klear

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Re: Difficulty Increases Equate To Greater Challenges
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2013, 02:35 »

Hmm.. I'd be all for improved AI, but I'd keep it the same across difficulties. The lower difficulties are there to train for UV and N! anyway, no?
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grommile

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Re: Difficulty Increases Equate To Greater Challenges
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2013, 04:51 »

The problem with improving DoomRL's AI is that you basically have to rebalance the game from the ground up if you make any significant changes. Also, the difficulty slider being basically a "more and harder-hitting monsters" slider fits the source material quite nicely.
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thelaptop

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Re: Difficulty Increases Equate To Greater Challenges
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2013, 10:01 »

Okay lemme give a different take on this.

Creating a "good" AI is a notoriously hard problem, and the philosophy with regards to DoomRL has been to do this with a light touch.  While I agree somewhat that "simple edge cases" should be taken into account to make the behaviour more believable, from a development standpoint it is not obvious what constitutes a "simple" edge case.  Everyone knows that no one knows how to write "good" AI that is both challenging and still fun.

If we did, it would be a pretty big breakthrough in AI research.  But then, more than 75% of the code of DoomRL would be the AI itself, and the amount of memory used by the binary would have expanded hundred-fold.
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OldSpider

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Re: Difficulty Increases Equate To Greater Challenges
« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2013, 22:09 »

Choke points are any narrow places where at least one operative can stay and attempt to hold.  This isn't AI; rather, it's simple robotics.  if($narrow) area.camp;

Moving around the character in an attempt to get behind them is also simple.  Rather than moving directly toward the character, for a given number of paces the critter instead moves laterally and retargets normally.  Reanimated corpses can automatically do this until the controlling archvile is destroyed (unless they're too smart not to).  Moving laterally in an effort to dodge the character's shots should also be an option.  But not for pinkies.  Pinkies are dumb.

If the character being targeted has moved behind a shot-gun friendly door or similar object made of a crappitanium, then a strong critter should be able to tear it's way through the door.  Critters with the appropriate weapons should be able to deal with those doors in an appropriate fashion.

But this wasn't the point I was attempting.  Adding more targets to deal with doesn't up the challenge; rather, it makes me not want to play it anymore.  When I up the difficulty I want to see the opponents acting differently, I want to see the game's story change slightly, and I want to see more opportunities to explore and adapt.  And the character awards don't equate to any perks, so fuck that shit.  This is the future!
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Re: Difficulty Increases Equate To Greater Challenges
« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2013, 22:36 »

AI is something anyone can experiment with right now with modding.  There's nothing hidden in the engine--if someone wants to make a new AI all of the pieces are there and I'd love to see it personally.

Although I will probably never have time to do it I would like to make a player AI that would try to play the game not unlike a human being.  Or a squad AI so that I could watch duels between enemy units.  Game Hunter is our resident AI expert; I don't think he has any professional credentials in the field but his changes have been improvements.  The AIs we have work well considering what Doom is and drastically changing them, even if someone else did the work, is not something I'd suggest lightly.
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thelaptop

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Re: Difficulty Increases Equate To Greater Challenges
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2013, 01:15 »

* thelaptop sits out of the conversation and observes intently

Keep the discourse civil...  >.>
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Klear

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Re: Difficulty Increases Equate To Greater Challenges
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2013, 05:14 »

Hmmm.. there's also the matter of this being Doom, where the enemies didn't have any AI to speak of...
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Re: Difficulty Increases Equate To Greater Challenges
« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2013, 05:37 »

Hmmm.. there's also the matter of this being Doom, where the enemies didn't have any AI to speak of...

Yeah, but this is the future!  ;)

@Oldspider, Yafi had a good suggestion about modding.  Since, as you say, your changes are simple, I look forward to seeing your creations!  :)
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