Volition Interview on Red Faction
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Now that this first-person shooter has been declared "gold" (see related story) we can expect a flood of post-release screen shots, details and interviews to flood the Web. The first of the coming deluge is this short but interesting interview posted by EBGames.com with five key members of Volition, the team behind Red Faction and other titles such as Summoner, FreeSpace (which never made it to the Mac OS) and even the Descent series.
The interview begins with short, humorous bios of the team members and then proceeds with a few standard questions. They delve into matters surrounding the plot of the game, the main character's role and motivations, and the technology behind the "Geo-Mod" engine which will allow you to modify the level geometry with really big guns. However Red Faction isn't all shattering glass and swiss-cheese walls -- the game has been praised for its AI as well. While we apologize in advance for the very big quote, this Q&A on the game's artificial intelligence was quite interesting:
The enemy AI seems very advanced. Ultor guards don't just stand around and wait to die, and the mercenaries are particularly uncooperative. Describe the process of developing the AI for the enemies.We certainly can't wait to go up against them, that's for certain. Other aspects of the game such as the editing tools (which sadly Mac users will not get) and netplay features are also discussed. A worthwhile read for anyone anticipating the release of this title by GraphSim, on target for an October release.
Volition Team Interview at EBGames
Alan Lawrance: AI is developed by starting with very basic behavior and then adding more interesting and detailed behavior after we have playable AI. The basics are getting your enemies to move around the level without running into walls or objects and making your enemies select targets and fire weapons. These basic elements were more challenging in Red Faction to get working because the environment is destructible. Once you have basic enemy AI, the fun part is trying to make the AI appear intelligent by making them run away when wounded, take cover when reloading, using cover when attacking the player, etc. There is a lot of playtesting and gathering of feedback from the rest of the team when developing AI. It's hard to know when the AI for enemies in the game is good enough, since there is always something cool you could add to the game. At some point you have to stop adding features and focus on balancing the gameplay.
Chris Helvig: Originally, they would find a nice place to shoot you from, and then just stand there and shoot ... forever. This didn't feel very realistic, and it wasn't very exciting or challenging. After working on behavior of ambient creatures such as bats and fish, I got the idea that I could also make the AI dodge with similar random movements, particularly if you were pointing a dangerous weapon in their direction. The dodging AI was a lot more exciting to play against, and required more skill to defeat. Then, we created a system for making the AI flee in full-fledged panic if they were hurt badly or had no weapons. And finally, we had the "take cover" AI. As they were dodging, they often accidentally found themselves already in cover (i.e. not visible to the player), so they would "take cover" by just staying there for a while. Combining the fleeing, finding cover, and dodging AI behaviors made for surprisingly intelligent-appearing AI.
Red Faction Gold, for PC
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