Artificial intelligence

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Jermaine Torment of Illwind boss mob.[1]

You can see how we utilize some of the different armor pieces- you've probably seen some of these pieces on different outfits like that toast Corvid Castigator cloak is on him.[1]Margaret Krohn

Ashes of Creation utilizes an adaptive artificial intelligence (AI), meaning different encounters with similar mobs and bosses will yield different player experiences.[2][3]

  • Some NPC AI behaviors may be randomly selected at the time of initial engagement causing them to make decisions dynamically during an encounter.[2][4][5][6]
    • Higher frequency of AoE attacks depending on how many players are participating.[4]
    • Unlock rage, recovery effects and buffs.[7][4]
    • Supporting other monster types or classes nearby.[7]
    • Additional adds and add classes.[4]
    • Some NPCs may attempt to seek cover behind obstacles during encounters.[8]
  • NPCs performing "idle actions" to make the world seem more alive has been discussed by the developers but is not confirmed.[9]
Part of the NPC encounter design is not always going to be the same behavior tree. There will be purposefully behaviors that exist for the boss that are rolled at the time of the initial engagement; and so that is in an effort to keep things emergent, to keep things different, to try to not keep a static monotonous engagement idea.[2]Steven Sharif

There are AI systems that don't relate to controlling NPCs.[10]

There are some additional AI parameters that are set that don't relate necessarily to controlling NPCs. There are AIs with regards to the development of the borders for nodes in the direction and also the decisions that are made of which lower nodes to enslave as vassal states. There's AI that relates to a little bit of the stock market that's going to be present in the economy. There's some AI systems that are going to be announced also that are pretty innovative I think with regards to the MMORPG genre and that's going to make the triggered event system very interesting I think; and that's with regards to how nodes develop and the environment reacts to that development by spawning these triggered events of a horde of zombies attacking a city or a legendary raid boss coming out of the mountain. I think there's a lot of opportunity for some of the innovations that's been in the AI sector of game development too to come out in Ashes.[10]Steven Sharif

NPC perception

NPC perception is intended to have different sensory types, ranges, and angles.[12][13][14]

  • NPCs will have varying fields of view. Some will have the ability to perceive sounds.[12][13][14]
We are talking about things like unique abilities played by characters that extend the perception radius, or sounds and different types of walking that are angular from the mob's perception perspective to be unique, different types of creatures that might be of three-dimensional in space, whether it is in water or birds in the sky that have a downward cone angle type perception as well. Those are things we want to do, but we haven't yet spent the time on the AI behaviors there.[13]Steven Sharif
Q: How far away from hostile targets will be before they act aggressively towards us? More specifically, will creatures watch us murder their friends in the open world with no reaction, will they try to kill us in retaliation, or will they run away in sheer terror?
A: Obviously as MMO Gamers we're accustomed to the concept of social aggro. When I hit a target out in the field, they're going to aggro other creatures nearby. We have similar functionality. Obviously however we also have this concept of a more puzzle-oriented level design, where you have different patrollers that might be moving around the world. So that dynamic is always changing the creatures that are near each other might be something that you need to be cognizant of as you begin to navigate those areas. And there might even be certain faction types, where you may have dedicated aggro social tags between certain creature types; and that might be like goblins with their goblin dogs. They could be far away but they send off an alert to those nearby enemies when you aggro another target. And then you also have these perception radiuses; and there's a number of different perception radius types that we incorporate as part of our AI. Those things might be a forward-looking perception cone that represents sight-based perception; and then you might also have a rear perception radius that might represent kind of sound; and those perception types might even interact with unique stats. So, as a Rogue you might have a stealth ability, or as a Ranger you might have camouflage ability: Those are going to dampen those stats which are checked by those perception radiuses; and then you might even have different creature types that fly above the battlefield, or beneath the battlefield, and they may have downward cone type angles. The whole idea is that that navigating the world should be like a puzzle as you move throughout.[12]Steven Sharif
  • NPCs in certain encounters may be aware of their local environment and can seek cover behind obstacles, for example; but this will not be prevalent in general AI designs.[8]

PvE difficulty

Tumok the Wretched Alpha-2 world boss.[15]

Raid bosses are aware of the number of combatants within an area in proximity to them and that awareness is part of an indicator to which behaviors they're going to utilize as part of their behavior tree. So as it's assessing the types of combatants that are facing it, the number of those combatants, the position of those combatants, the abilities and totals of those combatants, it weighs certain actions in its behavior tree and then it acts on those actions; and in the scenario where you're bringing overwhelming odds to a particular fight, that might weigh heavier the AoE options that the boss has access to, where they're utilizing a lot more AoE abilities during an engagement due to that overage of of players. So in that sense it's a bit adaptive. It's a bit dynamic based on the encounter scenario.[16]Steven Sharif

The difficulty of PvE content, such as raids and dungeons, will adapt based on the number of participants and their performance against that and previous bosses in that encounter. This applies to both instanced and open-world encounters.[17][16][4][18]

How does the state tree of the NPC respond to the actions of the players? Well, it weights certain actions and behaviors based off of what the players are doing and as it weights those things, it makes decisions that will be unique according to the encounter that's occurring in front of it. So, each time might be different as a result of that. That's one section. In addition, when we talk about the adaptive scaling- this isn't scaling in like power relation to the level of the player- this is scaling in the quantity of participants; and that means that it starts to weight the behaviors that include AoE actions higher than others as a result of the number of players who are present. This intrinsically increases the challenge rating of the encounter, because those AoE abilities are providing a higher return on DPS overall to the to the raid encounter for the monster.[17]Steven Sharif
  • There will be mobs who's level is above the player level cap.[21]
Both in Alpha-2 and when the game launches, there will be monsters whose technical level is above that of the cap; and the intent there is obviously again to provide some level of challenge that exceeds a comparable level challenge rating.{livestream|2023-11-30|1h53m50|V9F_AJl9ozY}}Steven Sharif
Q: How challenging will raid boss mechanics be given the given that players may need to simultaneously fight other players while also fighting the boss?
A: It depends. The great thing about our encounter system is that it has a wide scalability from encounters that some might consider easy given their composition to encounters that some might consider impossible until they get their gear level to a certain stage. The level of interaction with other players is really predicated on the encounter itself. We may have some encounters that are in instances although the predominant portion of those will be in the open world, in which case they do have the potential being contested; and these encounters, especially the big ones that might land in contention, are giving some of the best-in-slot gear you can get in the game. So it's important that they are contested because it is a significant victory point; and one of our core pillars is risk versus reward: and the higher that risk the higher that reward should be. So those two things seem fitting and then in addition we do have the concept of winners and losers. Not everybody in Ashes of Creation is going to be a winner; and that sucks if you're not I guess, but there is opportunity for you to continue to excel and become one. But it gives much more meaning to an achievement when not everybody gets the achievement. That's our philosophy.[22]Steven Sharif
Q: So it's the sort of thing where it might be, we're going do a dungeon that's oops, all fire golems, so if everybody straps up with plate armor and fire resistance, you don't have to worry about the magic fire: you've got the fire resistance for. And when you start getting punched around, that's why everyone's come in with plate?
A: The encounters design team presents a particular type of challenge rating- for those you're familiar with playing DnD or whatever, challenge rating gets informed by a few different vertical power levels, but then there's also the horizontal perspective: That is, what tools does your party have to address the challenge rating of the situation and some of the horizontal progression exists within how you kit your equipment slots. Some of those can be enhancements or stones, as you're discussing with fire resistance. Some of those are base stats that exist on a particular item, such as physical damage mitigation versus magical damage mitigation and what subtype of damage is incoming based on that. These are the ways that we emphasize that more rock-paper-scissors type of interaction with balance to where it's okay to have asymmetric imbalance if there are horizontal methods by which you achieve the challenge rating.[23]Steven Sharif

World manager

The World manager is an algorithm in Ashes of Creation that controls dynamic world elements. It acts as both a throttle and an incentive system for various activities to ensure certain parameters are within acceptable thresholds.[24]

A world manager is a technical term to define a server process that lives alongside the game server; and when the game server needs to do things- communicating with other game servers within that grid- it tells that manager and that manager sends it down to the appropriate server.[25]Steven Sharif
For example if you know iron is being used as a raw resource for a specific crafting path that might drive up the price of mithril or silver; and that will incentivize the market to course correct a little bit. The idea is to provide soft incentives that help to alleviate the demand and also to prop up the supply that might not be present from the economic systems.[26]Steven Sharif

Adaptive content

Alpha-1 preview pirate themed dynamic point of interest.[29]

This is actually a dynamic POI. This one will evolve as players evolve the node that it's attached to. So this is its final state.[29]Jeffrey Bard

New points of interest (such as dungeons, world bosses, and corrupted areas) spawn as nodes develop.[30][31] This content adapts to the node progression of the zone it is in.[29][32]

Certain dungeons and other points of interest across the map will all be affected by the server’s node development. Some dungeons will only be unlocked if nodes are developed to certain stages. The storyline objectives for players inside dungeons will also be dependent on the story arc paths chosen through the node system. The drop tables in area and dungeons will also be tied into the progression of certain areas. For example, let’s say that the humans have developed a node in Region A, and a storyline has opened up that leads players to inspect the ruins (dungeon) of a nearby area. And let’s say that this node was developed in a scientific (crafting) zone… Well before the node developed, this dungeon was accessible… But now the dungeon has propagated new monster assets that include a drop table catering to a crafting emphasis because of the development of that academic node. And perhaps, a new boss appears in different rooms of the dungeon that includes different adventure quest starts, like a mysterious item with a storyline that can only be progressed if a node develops to the metropolis stage in a certain region, across the world. Our system is so vast, when it comes to interconnectivity and how the world reacts to the players.[33]

Raid strategies

Raids will have elements that can be pre-planned.[39]

Raids will also have dynamic elements that can change from session to session.[39]

One of the design elements that we're implementing into our raids is that the raid will not be exactly the same every single time. You're going to have variables that can't necessarily be pre-planned out for. You can pre-plan out for a lot of the raid like how many DPS do you need and healers and support; where the key position and all that stuff; but I think the compelling aspect of Ashes raiding will be the difficulty in achieving this content and having that content change from session to session as well. We want there to be variables that get manifested by what type of node got developed elsewhere. Is he going to have acolytes or cultists? What will the acolytes have skills [available] to them? What kit is the boss gonna have? What available skill repertoire will the boss be able to [wield]? ... A lot of those systems are influenced obviously by world development. So the raid takes into account at what stage has the world developed: Are there two metropolises now available in the world? Okay well let's activate this skill in this skill. Now you have five metropolises, well now all these skills have been activated. Are there are they all economic nodes? Are they all military nodes? That we can change things based on that stuff. And it really is a threat assessment from the environment against the players.[39]{{ndash|Steven Sharif}

Player driven narrative

One of the major goals I feel like we have is to allow player decisions to have consequences and to have meaningful results from the decisions that they make, so it seems like people can really create their own stories.[40]Aimi Watanabe

The world of Verra will be the same on each server, but Nodes will develop differently. Different servers will have different narratives. Things that happen on one server may not happen on another.[41]

We want as many people as possible to experience the main server Narrative. These will branch at different scales, but largely at the personal level. Where things change is at the Node level – different parts of the story will be unlocked based on where and when Nodes grow. Unlocking a part of the story in a certain way locks out progression of the story in a different way. You’ll see different antagonists, different NPCs, and different calls to action depending on what’s happening with the server at that time.[43]

It redefines what the players will experience in an MMORPG to come into a wilderness that is devoid of really any structure outside of what the community creates themselves; and then what can be created can be changed, if they want to experience a storyline that's been seen on another server, but you're fighting a dragon because you're near a mountain and the other server's fighting a Kraken because they're near the coast and you want to fight that Kraken because of its drop table. If you want to meta it or because you just want that under your belt: to be the server first to take out that Kraken and you have yet to develop the node there, it's incumbent upon you to manifest that in the game.[44]Steven Sharif

See also

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Livestream, June 25, 2021 (21:24).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Interview, September 10, 2023 (34:51).
  3. About Ashes of Creation.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Interview, June 13, 2021 (22:20).
  5. Livestream, July 28, 2017 (43:57).
  6. Livestream, May 5, 2017 (11:55).
  7. 7.0 7.1 Livestream, July 29, 2022 (1:23:56).
  8. 8.0 8.1 Livestream, February 25, 2022 (1:03:32).
  9. Livestream, 2018-04-8 (PM) (3:56).
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 Podcast, May 11, 2018 (24:23).
  11. Livestream, March 26, 2021 (54:26).
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 Livestream, February 29, 2024 (3:12).
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Livestream, November 30, 2023 (1:36:32).
  14. 14.0 14.1 Livestream, June 4, 2018 (29:28).
  15. Newsletter - June 2023.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 Livestream, January 27, 2023 (1:34:06).
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Podcast, May 10, 2024 (48:54).
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Interview, July 19, 2020 (14:51).
  19. 19.0 19.1 Livestream, November 30, 2020 (1:16:09).
  20. Interview, July 19, 2020 (17:12).
  21. Livestream, November 30, 2023 (1:53:50).
  22. Livestream, May 27, 2022 (1:20:35).
  23. Interview, July 9, 2023 (1:40:41).
  24. Interview, July 19, 2020 (1:10:55).
  25. Livestream, October 14, 2022 (57:22).
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 Interview, July 19, 2020 (1:08:22).
  27. Interview, July 18, 2020 (10:04).
  28. Interview, July 8, 2020 (1:00:15).
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 29.3 29.4 29.5 29.6 Livestream, March 26, 2021 (50:33).
  30. Livestream, March 26, 2021 (22:53).
  31. Livestream, November 17, 2017 (36:22).
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 32.3 32.4 Livestream, November 17, 2017 (18:29).
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 33.3 MMOGames interview, January 2017
  34. steven-pois.png
  35. steven-dungeons.png
  36. Livestream, July 25, 2020 (46:08).
  37. Livestream, April 29, 2022 (40:21).
  38. jindrack-pois.png
  39. 39.0 39.1 39.2 39.3 39.4 39.5 39.6 39.7 39.8 Podcast, July 9, 2018 (22:24).
  40. Video, March 31, 2023 (28:11).
  41. Livestream, May 19, 2017 (37:03).
  42. Livestream, December 17, 2019 (1:10:30).
  43. Interview: Ashes of Creation on Building Their Virtual World, 2017-04-13.
  44. Livestream, May 22, 2017 (28:02).