Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Putting It All Together

I've received a number of requests from people who want to see the bots in action, but don't have Quake 3 installed. So I recorded a short demo of the bots in action, spectating from a bot's point of view. All the bots in this game are skill 4 out of 5, so they're intended to give an experienced player a run for their money. While there's a lot to be said about how each individual piece of code works, it's the entire package that matters. Weapon selection is meaningless without good aiming or item pickup, for example. Here's the video:

The biggest thing this demo shows is how realistic their aiming is. The bot's view changes as chaotically and accurately as a real person would, which is to say "generally pretty accurate, but fast enough to be a bit hard to follow". They quickly respond to changes in attention and their aim isn't instantly spot on, but they correct their aiming mistakes relatively rapidly. You can also see some good firing decisions. For example, early on Xaero fights Mynx in a narrow hallway. Xaero correctly chooses the rocket launcher and kills Mynx with two well placed blast hits.

You can also see how the bots do a pretty good job of picking up the crucial items. One of the first things they do when they respawn is grab a weapon, and they make sure to pickup health and armor when needed. It might not seem like a big deal that bots choose to pickup armor when they are near it, but it really is. The original Quake 3 bots were notorious for ignoring perfectly useful items.

This video also highlights areas where the bots could improve. Most notably, the navigation algorithm, which I could not change. Later in the demo, you can see Xaero dodge in place for maybe 10 seconds before Hunter arrives and Xaero kills her. In this situation, Xaero hears Hunter below him and wants to get to her, but he can't figure out how to jump down the ledge. So he dodges in place until she arrives. Once Xaero kills hunter, he goes on his way, picking up the megahealth and some armor.

So BrainWorks represents a lot of progress for First Person Shooter AI, but there's still a lot of room for improvement. As I said before, AI is hard! For those of you interested in more posts describing exactly how BrainWorks, uh, works, fear not! Next post we'll dive into one of the most complicated systems in the code, item pickup, and explain how the BrainWorks bots solve this difficult problem.

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