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Thread: AI Awareness!

  1. #1
    Developer No_Dice's Avatar
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    Default AI Awareness!

    Hey everyone! Your friendly neighborhood AI designer here! During the next Lamannia update parts of upcoming stealth system changes will be visible. I’m still getting stealth ready for actual previewing at a later time. However, since parts of it will be showing up on Lamannia prematurely during the Enhancements second look, now is a great time to tell you more about what I’ve been working on. I guess the best place to start is the beginning…

    This all started months ago when I started fixing AI bugs and AI-related "lag" (yes I am working on the "lag bug"1 and have been since November… lag of course has multiple sources and symptoms, but this was one possible source.) As I worked, I started implementing triggers for myself to understand what was going on behind the scenes, and eventually implemented my debug cues as player-facing icons we could share with y'all.

    We took a good long look at stealth, invisibility, detection, blind attacks, noises, and the visual/audio cues you get from all of these systems. Major work was done to repair long-outstanding inconsistencies, correct bad monster behavior, and rework visual feedback that was misleading on when you were actually being “stealthy” or not.

    We also looked into why the “eye level” vs lighting influences wasn’t always matching up with the actual lighting placement/visuals in quests. In the end, I revamped the system in order to achieve some significant performance gains as well as fix many of the (now visible with icon cues) bugs.

    So what does that mean specifically? Here are some of our goals:

    Most critically, we’ve made some performance improvements that should SIGNIFICANTLY reduce AI-related lag and framerate issues, especially in large group and raid situations.

    So when the enhancement preview opens up, you’ll also see that these stealth features are being worked on – some of these are in later stages of development than others:

    • We want to make red footsteps only appear when a monster actually hears you while you’re sneaking. If you see the red splash, your position has been given away! (It used to play any time you might be heard, but weren’t necessarily actually being heard.)
      • We also want to make the footsteps show when more monsters hear you, such as by making it darker and redder!
      • Invisible characters should also display red footsteps to indicate when a monster can hear them as well. This is only a visual change - monsters could always hear you when you were running around invisible... We're just extending the visual feedback to more situations!

    • White footsteps still indicate that you are sneaking near a monster who might hear you if you get closer, and will still play only if sneaking. That's one of the benefits of trying to be sneaky : )
    • Monsters should no longer slide around when they are searching for a hidden enemy. Instead, we’re going to be adding a visual cue that doesn’t look like an animation bug.
      • We’re going to try giving them a “searching” icon to indicate that they haven’t found a target yet.
      • Similarly, we want to give monsters a “red ear” icon whenever they hear a suspicious noise.

    • We now have the ability to give your character the awareness to know when you have aggro from something. This will allow us to do things like putting you into combat stance rather than standing around idly until you’re getting punched in the head.


    We’re also sending our monsters back to Dungeon Monster 101 class to learn to play by the rules better:

    • We’ve been looking into the ways that monsters could “improperly” detect you. .. They currently cheat and get their target's location every 6 seconds or less even if the target is hidden or invisible, as well as essentially echo-locating players using the sounds of their own ranged attacks. This also has an unintended side effect of being a performance hog. Bad monsters! We want to replace these with fairer ways for the monsters to find players, as well as bring a big performance improvement.
      • We’ve improved the search attack algorithms. They’ll expand their search radius when making blind attacks, hate the target less after a few whiffs, and eventually give up after a number of fruitless attacks where they’re unable to hit anything. If they manage to get a relevant clue on their enemy’s whereabouts, then they’ll resume their search.
      • I’ve begun updating monsters to fire at your most recent known position when they can’t see you, where they used to cheat and fire directly to you when they aren’t supposed to know where you are.

    • We’ve also improved how monsters handle being blind, bringing it more in line with how they handle invisibility.
    • With the updated AI awareness, we’d like it to be possible for a sufficiently skilled player to use sneak to lose monsters after they spot you! This is something that was never possible in combat before because monsters had too many ways to “cheat” and see/hear you if you attempted it.
    • Here are some other “monster vs stealth” behaviors we’re working on:
      • We don’t want scorpions to burrow directly to you when they aren’t supposed to know where you are.
      • We don’t want minotaurs to charge directly to you when they aren’t supposed to know where you are.


    Generally speaking, these changes should have the effect of:
    • Making casual use of sneak actually valid, especially combined with other upcoming changes to how sneak works.
    • Trained use of sneak should be much more effective, and a valid build path/gameplay style that can be enjoyed by many more people.


    Obviously people will have questions about how this brave new world of sneakiness will impact invisibility. One of our goals was to add more value to using stealth in combat even if you are running with a party that does not want to wait for you to sneak ahead. We'd like to support a stealth character as a more viable build path, which can do more stuff that any random character who can slurp an invis potion.

    Stealth should have the following advantages over mere invisibility:
    1. With sufficiently high skill, monsters won’t hear you, allowing you to avoid detection completely as you sneak by (go go move silently!)
    2. Escaping combat using sneak - this largely hasn’t been possible before, but we’d like skilled players with appropriate skills to be able to escape completely by activating sneak and escaping the area where their opponents last saw them. When monsters search the area they lost you in making blind attacks, they should lose aggro over time and eventually give up if they receive no additional clues to your location. I’ve been spending a lot of time on this, as it was the most requested fix by stealth enthusiasts on the forums, and from my testing I think it'll be quite fun : )
    3. Assassinate! Still finalizing the application here but the goal is making sure our Assassins can … you know… assassinate things!


    We’ll go into more detail about the way stealth will work, particularly for you aspiring Shadar-kai Assassins. For now just be aware that there is a LOT going on with the stealth system at the moment, and the version that first appears on Lamannia is not ready for the spotlight yet. Once we’re closer to a playable test of the new stealth features, we will let you know!

  2. #2
    Founder Epitome's Avatar
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    Wow, this is an unexpected but awesome potential change. I never thought that Stealth would get an overhaul in this game.

    Thanks for the information/communication.
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  3. #3
    Scholar Of Adventure & Hero Missing_Minds's Avatar
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    Thank you for flattly telling us what you are wanting to do and what we can expect to see. That should help with bug report.

    "Monsters should no longer slide around when they are searching for a hidden enemy. Instead, we’re going to be adding a visual cue that doesn’t look like an animation bug.

    We’re going to try giving them a “searching” icon to indicate that they haven’t found a target yet.
    Similarly, we want to give monsters a “red ear” icon whenever they hear a suspicious noise."

    This part makes me a bit sad though. By popping up an icon over their head it, for me, removes some of the immersion of the game where player skill (such as it is) being able to recognize behaviors of the mobs WAS the visible clue. It required the player to put ranks into Knowledge:Mob vs. cheeply using sign boards to indicate actions.

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    Community Member Teh_Troll's Avatar
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    Sounds great. Looking forward to seeing it in action.

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    Quote Originally Posted by No_Dice View Post
    As I worked, I started implementing triggers for myself to understand what was going on behind the scenes, and eventually implemented my debug cues as player-facing icons we could share with y'all.
    Wonderful news!

    I would really like to see the wall dedicated to the decision trees you made for this. It must look like a stump full of granddaddy longlegs.
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  6. #6
    Community Member Varinox's Avatar
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    First up: Thank you for sharing No Dice, I found all of the post very refreshing and interesting, looking forward to seeing how some of these things turn out.

    Secondly I have a few questions:
    1) Does this mean we will see the potential for 'Hide in Plain Sight' abilities in the future, looking at rogues particularly, so they can hide even when mobs are watching them?

    2) How will Sneak interact with Concealment effects, like Cloudkill etc?

    3) How will Sneak interact with Blindness?

    4) Will we see the option of Deafness?

    5) If someone were to train Move Silently, how much of an effect would the Skill have in conjunction with the Invisibility Spell?

    6) Is Sneak Attack going to work when flanking mobs, instead of just when the attacker doesn't have aggro?

    Thanks in advance for any answers!
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  7. #7
    Founder Epitome's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Missing_Minds View Post
    Thank you for flattly telling us what you are wanting to do and what we can expect to see. That should help with bug report.

    "Monsters should no longer slide around when they are searching for a hidden enemy. Instead, we’re going to be adding a visual cue that doesn’t look like an animation bug.

    We’re going to try giving them a “searching” icon to indicate that they haven’t found a target yet.
    Similarly, we want to give monsters a “red ear” icon whenever they hear a suspicious noise."

    This part makes me a bit sad though. By popping up an icon over their head it, for me, removes some of the immersion of the game where player skill (such as it is) being able to recognize behaviors of the mobs WAS the visible clue. It required the player to put ranks into Knowledge:Mob vs. cheeply using sign boards to indicate actions.
    I guess it would be cool if they programmed it to be capable of "toggling" on an off.

    Would also be interesting if more knowledge of the monster, i.e., higher achievements for that monster type in the monster manuals, would have some effect on knowing what they are doing (icons above their head and so forth) and maybe on stealth efficacy against those particular monsters. However people will feel that it would be required and be upset that they are "forced" to purchase monster manuals. Sorry, rambling on about a system that doesn't exist.
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    Community Member Orratti's Avatar
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    VERY NICE! The stealth mechanics have needed work for years and by now no one thought they would ever be looked over. It's also nice to know you guys are doing things with the AI period.

  9. #9
    Founder Epitome's Avatar
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    I'm curious if any other devs are working on anything else like this or if they are is it too "risky" for them to talk about it early on.
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  10. #10
    Community Member Orratti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Missing_Minds View Post
    By popping up an icon over their head it, for me, removes some of the immersion of the game where player skill (such as it is) being able to recognize behaviors of the mobs WAS the visible clue. It required the player to put ranks into Knowledge:Mob vs. cheeply using sign boards to indicate actions.
    I agree with this. Try to keep the flash down to a minimum. Having too many flashy aspects in the game is actually detracting. If you're trying to help new player's understand how the game works better you could add more tutorial aspects of the game's mechanics to the introduction quest in Korthos.

  11. #11
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    I'm shocked and excited all at once! I miss the early days of ddo where sneak was used to bypass fights. Now it seems as if everyone just runs wildly and kills everything in sight.


    I have a question though:
    Can you increase the incentive to sneak?


    Let me explain:
    1. Increase dubious cunning bonuses (live is so little bonus considering how much harder it is to sneak than kill)
    2. Add more rogue traps and caster "trap" spells
    3. Increase damage of traps and trap spells signicantly (fire trap spell should do double damage of delayed blast fireball considering the extra time etc to set up the trap, on live trap spells and rogue traps are considered to weak to use or too low DCs as it is so much easier to just run around and cast a quickened delayed blast fireball)
    4. Allow spell wards to effect NPCs as well as players (part of DDOs charm is luring enemies into traps, its a shame these traps are so selective)
    5. Allow rogues and artificers to lay spell ward traps!


    Keep up the great work!
    Making DDO a better game 1 post at a time!

  12. #12
    Community Member UurlockYgmeov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by No_Dice View Post
    hate the target less
    Love the communication! KEEP IT COMING! Pass memo's around to all Turbine staff - this is what we as a community want and deserve! BRAVISSIMO!

    Love the initiative - several bad birds (ok - pigs) with one stone (bird) --- finding root causes to lag issues, cheating / sliding mobs, stealth being well... meh.... and so on.

    +1 rep!

    Quote Originally Posted by Missing_Minds View Post
    We’re going to try giving them a “searching” icon to indicate that they haven’t found a target yet.
    Similarly, we want to give monsters a “red ear” icon whenever they hear a suspicious noise."

    This part makes me a bit sad though. By popping up an icon over their head it, for me, removes some of the immersion of the game where player skill (such as it is) being able to recognize behaviors of the mobs WAS the visible clue. It required the player to put ranks into Knowledge:Mob vs. cheeply using sign boards to indicate actions.
    Maybe ask Turbine to put a 'show mob behavior icons' checkbox in the options panel? might even further help reduce lag.

    While Turbine is it - please split the UI Settings in Options into several category tabs - this really is where we get to decide our gameplay experience.

    Quote Originally Posted by Epitome View Post
    I guess it would be cool if they programmed it to be capable of "toggling" on an off.

    Would also be interesting if more knowledge of the monster, i.e., higher achievements for that monster type in the monster manuals, would have some effect on knowing what they are doing (icons above their head and so forth) and maybe on stealth efficacy against those particular monsters. However people will feel that it would be required and be upset that they are "forced" to purchase monster manuals. Sorry, rambling on about a system that doesn't exist.
    Agree with both statements.

    Again - thank you for the communication No Dice! Please keep it coming!

  13. #13
    Community Member rest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by No_Dice View Post
    stuff
    I'm not really all that excited for YET ANOTHER new system to be introduced to an (obviously) already overburdened game engine. The graveyard wasteland of half-finished abandoned systems (crafting systems in particular) is already to the point of ridiculous. Add in the fact that any time a new system is introduced it break a dozen other things and this is really shaping up to be not a good thing.

    Good luck with your new system. I'm glad you're revamping a system that, while not perfect, seems to work adequately. Let's make no mention of the other things that could use attention, even just within the realm of the UI. New shiny stuff is WAY better than fixing or even completing the other stuff. NEW SHINEYS!

    I guess the upside is that when this new system crashes and burns, you will release a new creature companion to distract people from how poorly it works. If it's tiny mudmen I won't even be mad!

  14. #14

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    Is this going to make it too easy to Zerg thru quests? Just run by everything, duck around the corner, slam an invis and go into stealth?

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    Community Member rest's Avatar
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    I WILL say that this type of developer post is TOTALLY AWESOME and something I wish we could see more of. Laying out what you're doing, and why, is great and gives players a peek into the mindset of the developer. It can help with bug reports and to get more, better actionable feedback (completely opposite of my previous post, but I digress) as well as opening people's eyes to see something from an angle or perspective they may not have considered before.

    So thanks for the post. Don't let my cynicism stop you from posting more like it in the future.

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    Hero AZgreentea's Avatar
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    As a person who plays a rogue as their main, I am really looking forward to this. I also tend to be sneaky with my other characters. Maybe I can finally make my arcane casters fun for me by adding a little true stealth to them.
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  17. #17
    Hero AZgreentea's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddong View Post
    Is this going to make it too easy to Zerg thru quests? Just run by everything, duck around the corner, slam an invis and go into stealth?
    From what I read above, I would think they would follow you around the corner and look for you. Stopping long enough to lose the aggro dosen't feel very "zerg" to me....
    The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out. Every mind is a building filled with archaic furniture. Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it.
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  18. #18
    The Hatchery danotmano1998's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by No_Dice View Post
    Hey everyone! Your friendly neighborhood AI designer here!
    +1 For that post. It's awesome to hear not only what is being changed, but the WHY of it.
    Seriously. Great stuff, good luck on it and can't wait to see how it all turns out.
    It's looking like my idea of finally getting around to making an assassin build would be a lot of fun. Can't wait!
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  19. #19

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    Seems like a good time to ask for a new spell and mechanic if your working on stealth AI as it would need an AI overhaul to implement...

    From the SRD:
    Silence
    Illusion (Glamer)
    Level: Brd 2, Clr 2
    Components: V, S
    Casting Time: 1 standard action
    Range: Long (400 ft. + 40 ft./level)
    Area: 20-ft.-radius emanation centered on a creature, object, or point in space
    Duration: 1 min./level (D)
    Saving Throw: Will negates; see text or none (object)
    Spell Resistance: Yes; see text or no (object)

    Upon the casting of this spell, complete silence prevails in the affected area. All sound is stopped: Conversation is impossible, spells with verbal components cannot be cast, and no noise whatsoever issues from, enters, or passes through the area. The spell can be cast on a point in space, but the effect is stationary unless cast on a mobile object. The spell can be centered on a creature, and the effect then radiates from the creature and moves as it moves. An unwilling creature can attempt a Will save to negate the spell and can use spell resistance, if any. Items in a creature’s possession or magic items that emit sound receive the benefits of saves and spell resistance, but unattended objects and points in space do not. This spell provides a defense against sonic or language-based attacks.

    And or course update existing ones..

    Blindness/Deafness
    Necromancy
    Level: Brd 2, Clr 3, Sor/Wiz 2
    Components: V
    Casting Time: 1 standard action
    Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
    Target: One living creature
    Duration: Permanent (D)
    Saving Throw: Fortitude negates
    Spell Resistance: Yes

    You call upon the powers of unlife to render the subject blinded or deafened, as you choose.

  20. #20
    Community Member redspecter23's Avatar
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    I really like the potential stated in the OP. It sounds like it could be quite fun. However, I'm not sure if the #1 (at least for me) concern has been addressed. Stealthy players move slower than non stealthy players. In group situations, this means that in order to play stealthy, all players must slow down to the speed of the slowest player, the sneaky one. I find it hard to believe that players will adapt to a new slower system if the "invis and run" technique still works almost as well and allows full speed (+ more as you avoid multiple encounters completely).

    I'm not suggesting a nerf to invisibility, but perhaps a buff to sneaky move speed?
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