3D Dark & Scary Investigations III
Dark & Scary Investigations is a continually evolving series of games based in a virtual environment. The unique characteristic of the game is that it can be played in a truly 3D space thanks to a combination of Hardware and the Maverik software package. The third incarnation was divided amongst two pupils. This report concentrates primarily on ensuring in game intelligence was exhibited, in both design and game play. Elements investigated for this report were existing A.I.'s, movement tactics, collective intelligence and goal achievement. The aims for the project were to create a unique group enemy intelligence and an arena which was extensible and flexible that could allow a large degree of user adaptation and possible improvement. The success of the project lay in the groundwork, the area in which an enemy was to exist needed to be adaptable to allow for many different locations to be made. To this end a hierarchy was created. With this in place the design of every facet of the enemy intelligence were under taken. Game play wise the game exhibits all of the traits set out to create. As this has only opened the door to such game A.I. there is huge scope for extension in almost endless combinations. Conclusions reached show that the theories behind the design are sound, and can be applied to other systems, not just games but crowd simulations and genetic evolution.
This project was shared amongst two students with differing reasons for requesting the project, and as such a division had to be made. The key area agreed on was the need to do something that the previous projects hadn't addressed, but also take and learn from them.
Dark & Scary Investigations has been tackled twice before in equally different manners. The first primarily concentrated on fear, and fear was derived from the unknown. To this extent game rooms were random, with random obstacles. This was a logical and sensible approach, employing intelligent design to construct the game. This chimed with a main reason for selecting this project; the potential for creating a truly intelligent game. The second incarnation took a more holistic approach, incorporating almost every single element of modern games, with a clear emphasis on game play. This is always an important balance within computer games, making an enjoyable game that doesn't condescend the player.
The two pronged attack would need to be established. My personal preference was to coalesce the elements of creating an intelligent game and a desire for game play. The lead to an investigation into the world of Enemy Intelligence that exhibited reasonable behaviour but also a maniacal penchant for spilt player blood. This grounded the game play in reality, not breaking the suspension of belief key to game play concepts.
Steve expressed a desire to work with a more nuts and bolts approach. Amongst many others; saving, creating navigation and relatively non-interacting environment elements such as sound. This allowed for a very focused project geared toward A.I. While being confident the enemies would have a thoroughly interactive platform in which to exist.
Having been an avid game player in my formative years, to a lesser extent now time is at a premium, I have a good understanding of the recent increase in A.I. and what gamers expect from it. With this in mind an overview of the current areas was needed. It became quite clear that many modern games were striving toward human realism. Ground breaking games such as Half-Life 2, have enemies perform nearly every conceivable action. One glaring area that has not been addressed is the trading of information or tactics. Enemies can co-ordinate attacks, but this isn't based on any group choices, it is merely a set algorithm of attack. If enemies could trade true information to one another, they themselves would make an informed choice about what action to perform. This is an area to focus upon. Admittedly Half-Life 2 had programmers whose job it is to be brilliant and churn million upon million lines of code for their wage. This meant there would need to be a scaled down version, which still exhibited group choices and the trading of information, which could be advanced and adapted when time and power allowed.
Therefore the main aim is to create an intelligence for enemies, with minor aims to contain pluggable elements that allow for change and an environment that is holey adaptable, but powerful enough to be used to design any room configuration.