Designing satisfying enemies in games is often a question of balance: too many vs. too few, too aggressive vs. too skittish, too authored vs. too systemic.
To help you better understand that balance, organizers of the 2017 Game Developers Conference have lined up a great talk from the folks at Naughty Dog about how they fine-tuned the combat AI in their blockbuster 2016 game Uncharted 4: A Thief's End.
Matthew Gallant is a game designer at Naughty Dog, and in his Design track talk on "Authored vs. Systemic: Finding a Balance for Combat AI in 'Uncharted 4'" he'll show you how to evaluate which aspects of combat AI should be authored by designers and which parts are better handled with systems-driven logic. This includes specific methods for assigning roles in combat situations, particularly when larger number of NPCs or complex level geometry are involved.
While combat in the Uncharted series has historically been tightly authored by the design team, Naughty Dog knew early in development that Uncharted 4 was going to be different. The open-ended gameplay and large complex environments led them to explore a more systems-driven approach to artificial intelligence.
After over-steering in that direction, they ultimately found a balance between authored content and systemic behaviors. Thus, Gallant's talk also explores the development process of Uncharted, and the lessons they learned about partitioning control of the AI between design and engineering.
It's going to be a great session, so don't forget about it when it comes time to make your GDC 2017 schedule! And don't miss your opportunity to save money by registering early -- the deadline to register for passes at a discounted rate is January 18, 2017!
GDC 2017 itself will take place February 27th - March 3rd at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.