What Makes Good AI?

Game Maker's Toolkit
31 May 201715:42

TLDRThe video script from Game Maker's Toolkit discusses the concept of 'good AI' in gaming, highlighting that it's not just about creating enemies who can defeat the player. It emphasizes the importance of AI that fits the game's experience, such as aggressive enemies in FEAR and Halo, and the need for AI to be predictable yet yield unpredictable outcomes. The script also explores how AI can interact with game systems, react to the player, and have its own goals beyond defeating the player, citing examples from various games. It concludes by advocating for nuanced AI behaviors that enhance gameplay and player satisfaction.


  • ๐ŸŽฎ Aggressive and resilient enemies in games like FEAR, Halo, and Half Life contribute to the perception of 'good AI'.
  • ๐Ÿง  AI in games should fit the intended experience; aggressive AI works for some games but not for all.
  • ๐Ÿ”ง Good AI allows players to 'cheat' subtly, giving them small advantages without breaking the game's balance.
  • ๐Ÿ’ก AI should communicate its intentions to the player through audio cues, animations, or game mechanics.
  • ๐ŸŒˆ Distinct personalities for AI characters can make them seem smarter and enhance player engagement.
  • ๐Ÿ“ˆ Predictable AI behavior allows players to strategize effectively and interact intentionally with the game world.
  • ๐Ÿค– AI that interacts with the game's systems, like using weapons or environmental features, appears more intelligent.
  • ๐Ÿ”„ Reactive AI that adapts to the player's actions can create memorable experiences and personal stories.
  • ๐ŸŽฒ AI with its own goals beyond 'kill the player' can lead to emergent gameplay and a more dynamic game world.
  • ๐Ÿค– Good AI isn't just about enemies; well-designed friendly AI characters can also enhance the gaming experience.
  • ๐Ÿš€ Advancements in AI technology should be coupled with thoughtful design to create nuanced and engaging game behaviors.

Q & A

  • What are the three examples of 'good AI' in games that are often cited?

    -The three examples of 'good AI' in games often cited are the replica soldiers in the original FEAR, the various aliens in the Halo series, and the marines in the first Half Life game.

  • How did Bungie demonstrate the perception of AI intelligence in players during the development of the first Halo game?

    -Bungie set up a playtest with two versions of the game, both with the same enemy AI, but with different damage output and hit points for the aliens. The number of players who thought the enemies were 'very intelligent' increased from 8 percent to 43 percent when playing against more resilient enemies.

  • What is the significance of aggressive AI in game design?

    -Aggressive AI, which actively hunts down and kills the player with higher health points, makes the enemies feel smarter and more challenging. However, it doesn't work for every type of game and must fit the game's intended experience.

  • How does good AI contribute to a fair gaming experience?

    -Good AI often lets the player cheat in subtle ways that are not immediately noticeable, like giving them a chance to shoot first when popping out of cover or limiting the number of enemies that can shoot at the player at once. This makes the game feel more fair, even though most games are biased in the player's favor.

  • What is the importance of AI characters having distinct personalities in games?

    -AI characters with distinct personalities, such as the colored ghosts in Pac-Man or the different leaders in Civilization, seem smarter to players. This is because complex decision-making and perception skills are communicated to the player through the AI's actions and vocalizations, providing critical feedback for the player to understand and plan accordingly.

  • Why is predictability in AI behavior considered good for game design?

    -Predictability in AI behavior allows players to devise their own meaningful goals through their understanding of the game dynamics. It enables intentional gameplay, where players can create plans, diversions, and traps based on consistent AI reactions.

  • How can AI interact with the game's systems to enhance the player experience?

    -AI can interact with the game's systems by utilizing environmental elements and game mechanics, like picking up weapons or setting clubs alight in Breath of the Wild, or running to a health dispenser in Bioshock. This not only makes the AI seem smarter but also provides interesting and indirect ways for players to deal with foes.

  • What is an example of AI reacting to the player's actions in a game?

    -In Shadow of Mordor, special Orc captains are randomly generated with names, abilities, and relationships, and they remember their interactions with the hero. If the player runs away from a battle, the Orc might reference this the next time they meet, creating memorable and personal stories for the player.

  • How does the AI director in Left 4 Dead contribute to the game's pacing and mood?

    -The AI director in Left 4 Dead tracks the wellbeing of each player and adjusts the intensity of the zombie horde accordingly. If the team is doing well, the intensity increases; if they need a break, the director eases off, creating a dynamic and responsive gameplay experience.

  • What is the significance of AI having its own goals in games?

    -AI having its own goals beyond 'kill the player' adds depth to the game world and can lead to emergent gameplay experiences. For example, in Rainworld, animals hunt for food and engage in territorial disputes, while in STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl, bandits make plans and wander the wasteland, potentially leading to unexpected encounters for the player.

  • How can friendly AI characters enhance the gameplay experience?

    -Friendly AI characters can enhance the gameplay experience by providing more nuanced interactions and collaboration with the player. Examples include Trico in The Last Guardian, who works with the player but also has its own behaviors and fears, or Prompto in Final Fantasy XV, who takes photos during the adventure, adding to the player's personal experience and character development.



๐ŸŽฎ Understanding 'Good AI' in Gaming

This paragraph discusses the common misconceptions about 'good AI' in video games, focusing on three iconic examples: the replica soldiers in FEAR, the aliens in the Halo series, and the marines in Half Life. It highlights how these games feature aggressive enemies with high health points, creating a perception of intelligence. The discussion includes a playtest by Bungie that demonstrated how resilience in enemies significantly increased player perception of their intelligence. However, it also emphasizes that aggressive AI does not fit all game types, as evidenced by the development of Doom 2016, where a more passive approach was ultimately adopted.


๐ŸŽฒ Predictability and Interaction in AI Design

This section delves into the importance of predictability in AI design, arguing that it allows players to devise strategies and interact meaningfully with the game world. It uses examples from Far Cry 2 and Halo to illustrate how predictable AI behaviors can lead to satisfying gameplay. The paragraph also touches on how AI can interact with game systems, like in Breath of the Wild and Bioshock, to create the illusion of intelligence and provide players with more strategic options. The concept of AI adapting to player behavior is introduced, with references to games like Metal Gear Solid V and Alien Isolation.


๐Ÿ•น๏ธ Dynamic AI and Player Experience

This paragraph explores how AI can dynamically react to the player's actions and adapt to create a more engaging experience. It discusses the AI director in Left 4 Dead, which adjusts the difficulty based on the player's performance, and how games like Pac-Man and Rainworld give AI characters their own goals beyond simply opposing the player. The section also addresses the need for better AI in friendly characters, providing examples from The Last Guardian and Final Fantasy XV, and emphasizes that AI is as much a design problem as it is a technical one.


๐Ÿš€ Advancements and Ambitions in AI Gaming

The final paragraph calls for continuous advancements in AI technology and the creation of more nuanced behaviors for in-game characters. It acknowledges the need for games featuring tactical and aggressive enemies but also warns against losing sight of the ultimate goal: creating interesting gameplay experiences. The paragraph references the AI experimentation in Uncharted 4 and encourages developers to approach AI design in a way that best suits their game's intended experience. It ends with a recommendation for the AI & Games YouTube channel and an invitation for viewers to share their thoughts on games with impressive AI.



๐Ÿ’กAggressive AI

Aggressive AI refers to artificial intelligence in video games that actively pursues and attacks the player. This type of AI is often perceived as smarter due to its relentless and forceful behavior. In the video, it is mentioned that games like the original FEAR and the Halo series feature aggressive AI enemies with high health points, making them more challenging and thus enhancing the player's perception of their intelligence.

๐Ÿ’กResilient Enemies

Resilient enemies are AI-controlled characters in video games that have a high capacity to absorb damage, allowing them to survive longer and pose a more significant challenge to the player. The video highlights a playtest by Bungie where increasing an enemy's resilience and damage output led to a significant rise in the player's perception of the enemy's intelligence.

๐Ÿ’กGame Design

Game design encompasses the creation, planning, and execution of the rules, structure, and mechanics of a game. It is a critical aspect of developing video games and includes considerations for how AI should behave to fit the intended experience of the game. The video emphasizes that AI must be tailored to the game's design to ensure a cohesive and enjoyable player experience.

๐Ÿ’กStealth Games

Stealth games are a genre of video games that emphasize avoiding detection and combat, often requiring players to use stealth and strategy to progress. These games often employ AI that can perceive the player's actions and react accordingly, adding to the challenge and immersion. The video mentions that good AI in stealth games provides critical feedback to the player, allowing them to understand and predict the AI's actions.

๐Ÿ’กPredictable AI

Predictable AI refers to artificial intelligence in games that behaves in consistent, foreseeable ways. This predictability allows players to strategize and plan their actions effectively. The video argues that while AI should be predictable to some extent, it should also offer unpredictable consequences to keep gameplay engaging and challenging.

๐Ÿ’กAI Personality

AI personality in video games refers to the distinct characteristics and traits given to AI-controlled characters, making them seem more lifelike and engaging. By giving AI unique quirks and behaviors, games can create a more immersive and memorable experience for the player, as the AI feels more like a character with its own agenda.

๐Ÿ’กInteractive Systems

Interactive systems in the context of video game AI refer to the ways in which AI characters can engage with the game environment and its mechanics. This interaction can make AI seem more intelligent and responsive, as they are not just passive obstacles but active participants in the game world.

๐Ÿ’กAdaptive AI

Adaptive AI is a type of artificial intelligence in video games that can change its behavior based on the player's actions. This dynamic response to the player's strategies and tactics creates a more engaging and personalized gameplay experience. Adaptive AI can make the game more challenging and responsive to the player's style, ensuring that no two playthroughs are exactly the same.

๐Ÿ’กAI Director

The AI director is a system used in video games to dynamically adjust the game's difficulty and pacing based on the player's performance. This system tracks various player metrics and modifies the game's challenges accordingly, aiming to keep the player engaged and maintain a sense of tension and excitement.

๐Ÿ’กAI Goals

AI goals refer to the objectives and purposes that artificial intelligence characters have within a video game. These goals go beyond the basic 'kill the player' and can include behaviors that mimic real-world motivations, such as self-preservation, resource gathering, or even personal vendettas. By giving AI their own goals, games can create a more dynamic and believable game world.

๐Ÿ’กFriendly AI

Friendly AI refers to non-hostile artificial intelligence characters in video games that assist or accompany the player. These characters can provide support in combat, solve puzzles, or contribute to the game's narrative. The video emphasizes the importance of developing these characters beyond mere companions, to enhance the player's experience and emotional connection.


The three iconic examples of 'good AI' in games are the replica soldiers in FEAR, the aliens in the Halo series, and the marines in Half Life.

Aggressive enemies with high health points make them feel smarter, as seen in games like Halo 2 and FEAR that pioneered AI technologies.

Bungie's playtest showed that players perceived enemies as more intelligent when they were more resilient, increasing from 8% to 43%.

Aggressive AI doesn't suit all game types, as id Software discovered during Doom 2016's development, opting for enemies that hold their ground.

Good AI allows players to cheat subtly, like in Skyrim where you can put a bucket on a shopkeeper's head and rob them without detection.

AI 'barks' or vocal clips, animations, and game elements like vision cones provide insight into AI's thoughts and intentions.

Distinct personalities for AI characters, like in Pac-Man or Civilization, make them seem smarter and provide critical feedback to the player.

Predictable AI behavior is key to strategic gameplay, allowing players to devise meaningful goals and plans based on consistent AI reactions.

Good AI interacts with the game's systems, like enemies in Breath of the Wild using weapons and environmental hazards against the player.

AI that reacts to the player, such as in Shadow of Mordor where Orcs remember past encounters and adapt their behavior, creates memorable experiences.

AI that adapts to the player's strategies, like in Metal Gear Solid V, prevents repetitive gameplay and enhances the experience.

The AI director in Left 4 Dead adjusts the difficulty based on the team's performance, a technique also seen in Pac-Man's monster behavior.

AI with its own goals beyond 'kill the player', such as in Rainworld and STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl, creates dynamic and emergent gameplay.

Good AI isn't limited to enemies; well-designed friendly AI companions enhance gameplay, as seen in The Last Guardian and Final Fantasy XV.

AI technology should be advanced and nuanced, but it's also a design problem that requires a tailored approach for each game.

Naughty Dog's approach to AI in Uncharted 4 focused on presenting interesting gameplay over finding the player.

Good AI enhances the player's experience by making the game feel fair, providing critical feedback, and maintaining predictability for strategic planning.