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    Artificial Intelligence

    Alright, one of the things people have asked about a few times is the AI. How is it going to work in WoM? Are we ready to handle something of such grand complexity? Well, this post is to give you a little more information (albeit in the loosest philosophically terms).

    I want to start by addressing what Artificial Intelligence is. I know that most of you know and that it's fairly obvious, but I have to start somewhere and the beginning seems like a logical place. Artificial Intelligence is Intelligence that is (wait for it) Artificial. It's job (in WoM anyway) is to do what a player would do without a player being there. When you play against the computer in WoM you will be playing against a number of AI opponents. Each of them should have a unique play style. As you play against them you should be able to recognize their patterns of behavior and get to know them just as you would a player. It should leave you with the feeling “That's just how George plays.” not “The computer gets confused if you BLANK.”

    So far, that's pretty straight forward. How does it work? On the most basic level the coder who wrote the AI looks at the current information and makes decisions on what the AI forces should do. A lot of people don't seem to get that when you play against an AI you are actually playing against another person (or team of people). The computer doesn't have a goal, it doesn't want to win, it doesn't want you to enjoy the game, it just computes. This may not seem to matter, but it explains why a lot of AIs fail. The coder who is writing the AI doesn't know how to play the game. That's a problem. It leads to things like just dumping loads of resources into the AI's lap in order to give them a chance to beat a player that can actually PLAY.

    Now, that's one of the advantages our team has. We can play. Not only that, a lot of you can play. So, when we start banging out AI code we're going to be putting together computer opponents that have strategy arcs that span the entire game. As we get feedback from play testers explaining some weakness in a certain opponent's strategy we'll be able to work on that point and strengthen it. Plus, of course, the computer never forgets to check anything. It doesn't make a rough guess at the odds, it knows exactly what they are. It doesn't get tired of checking every city every turn. It doesn't feel any sense of loss when it sacrifices a hero to win the game. All this added together means that we can make opponents that are truly almost impossible to defeat.

    We plan to go beyond the basic “Make the AI play like we would” and attempt to quantify certain strategic concepts like “Expansionist”. The idea is to boil down certain elements of strategy and use them like legos to build a completely new and unique AI that has a solid play style pieced together out of a number of viable play strategies. Now, that is going to be the real trick. It's relatively easy to hand craft a sorcerer with a certain set of skills to play a certain way. It's another thing entirely to be given a set of skills and strategic “methods” and try to dynamically make something that can actually offer a challenge. However, it's something we're aiming for.

    We want the AI in WoM to feel like artificial intelligence not artificial intelligence. It's going to take a lot of work to make it happen, but it's work we're going to love. As with all things WoM related, play testing is going to be a big element. In fact, it's going to matter more with the AI than with any other single element.

    I could go into more detail here, but this post is almost a page long. As you guys know I try to cut it there. (Also it's my sixteenth anniversary, so I have to take the wife out for a bite to eat here in a minute, lol). Anyways, feedback and suggestions. You know the drill.
    Last edited by Aaron; 03-09-2013 at 02:31 PM. Reason: Typo

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