Bot AI issues

If I flank a bunch of bots, even if I'm standing behind them, they somehow know I'm there and see me.

Another issue I've run into is that when you're you're defending an area (at least in games with extra bots), sometimes they just enter a doorway to an objective and stand there, in crowds of up to three or four. This happened to me twice on the third objective on the oil pipeline map. You'd think they'd move around the objective, clearing every area.

@dark1202 After this last update I felt like the AI has gotten a whole world better than it used to be. This kind of behavior is what used to happen all the time, now I'm actually not seeing it. Perhaps its a problem with that specific objective on the map given that its kind of a work in progress.

I think the whole bots knowing where you are thing is because your footsteps are now very audible. Bots used to sneak around like ninjas real silently all the time, and the response by the devs was to increase footstep sounds, I guess. This probably applies to the player too and makes you pretty detectable if you're moving uncrouched. It doesn't really bother me that much, as now I don't get surprised by bots who silently snuck around anymore, plus I just crouch and move if I want to be more stealthy.

@thehappybub Don't get me wrong bro, AI is way better than it used to be. And trust, I've got no problem whatsoever with some bots hearing me if they're in a room five feet away and I'm running at them.

But if they're facing my teammates, actively shooting at them and getting shot at, and I'm standing 30 meters behind them or on their flanks not shooting, it's hard to believe they can sense me when not even a human player could.

Sometimes I'm not even moving. I'm just aiming at them, and after a second they just turn around and starting shooting at me. Other times I'm ALT walking, no noise and the same thing happens.

AI has improved, but it's got some holes. On a side note, it would be glorious is if they cleared rooms in groups. Sort of like they did in Metal gear solid. Not sure if that's some unsurmountable task, but if they could do it in 2001 surely it must be easier these days.

@dark1202 yea I hear you, I haven't played too much since the last update, it just hasn't happened to me as much as I remember it happening. The group room clear though, has happened to me on multiple occasions in a few games. Bots would breach the room I was in from multiple doors at the same time (usually 2 doors, but once from three different doors). One time, I heard one of them say "now, brothers" or something like that.

Bots absolutely need more work, but compared to how they used to be, this is night and day.

Yeah I've been playing a lot of co-op recently and though there are some small things to scrub out, but I did notice the room clearing is a lot better since the last update. You're right about that.

It's not perfect, but yeah, it's definitely much better than it used to be.

@dark1202

Its about as good as it gets without it being too easy. A human player would constantly swipe area for visual clues and keep more hidden. If the bots where more "realistic" don't turn around when you aim at them, they would by their natural bot playing stupid playstyle (like in every game ever made) be way too easy to predict and counter. Personally I wish they where a lot harder and would wait to play coop until we get some heavily modded server with a lot higher difficulty. If it feels difficult you have room for improvement, which would be the only motivation I could ever have to feel like playing against bots in the first place, so lucky you=)

last edited by Pacalis

I think the developers really took into consideration people's complaints about the AI. It used to be the exact same stupid AI that were in ins2. I have no clue what they did, but I'm honestly pretty satisfied with the bots. If the game shipped with them the way they are I wouldn't have a problem (except the laser-guided molotovs need a change).

I've found that with the current AI, increasing the number of bots makes the game more difficult in a balanced way. Some custom servers which up the bot count and give players more supply are loads of fun, but it does become very hard to win unless you have a highly-coordinated team. I like that simply increasing manpower leads to a harder game now. With the old AI there could be hordes coming in their conga lines and it would just be a massacre for the poor bots.

@pacalis it could be better. I'd be satisfied if it shipped like this, there are still some small issues, like the ones I stated above.

Try standing behind a bot, not shooting. just stand still and look at them for a second or two. More often than not they will somehow sense you are there for no reason, spin around and start shooting you.

@Dark1202
Yeah, I believe I understand what you mean - I just think that if you are behind the bot for a second without getting shot you have the time needed to aim and shot, it would be disappointing if it was more like splinter cell or some other stealth game, because if the bots allowed for sneaking more than they currently do, it would be too forgiving. In pvp, just a tiny sound would make a player instantly turn around and twitch shot - Even without a sound, many players have a healthy habit of constantly flipping around to check all angles for flankers - Bots showing this behaviour makes them better for practice. Why would you need to not shot anyway? If you want to recon the area to be able to take out several enemies, a suppresssor goes a long way. Take the bot down the moment you have a clear shot, flank to another angle and sneak around that way. Then the bots will not need an adjustment, and therefore be a better challenge for the players with a more aggressive approach as well.

Yeah I know what you mean. The AI sight radius must be around the 180+ mark I reckon, instead of the standard 120 most games use. Even right now on the first insurgency if you peaked a corner and a bot was walking past, he doesn't spin round to lock on target, if he hasn't seen you he'll keep walking.

The AI are definitely better, we all agree on that. I still think some things need fine tuning, the grenade/molotov spamming is a bit insane at times. I can't count the amount of times I've seen a molotov get hurled into the sky from hundreds of meters away only for it to fly through a window and land on a bloke camping a defensive obj. Some of these bots have artillery guns for arms! haha

Another thing, AI accuracy at close range is really inconsistent. I've found that at close range 0-10 meters bots tend to become really stupid all of a sudden and shoot at the ground around a player rather than the players torso. This even happens when the AI get the drop on players. They need better accuracy and better reaction time at close range in my opinion.

Yea the two things I notice most is the laser-guided Molotov thing, the second is when a bot gets within melee range of you, you like instantly die. They don't like thwack you with the butt of your gun, they just like move through you and you just die. Vulcan death grip.

@thehappybub yeah that's another thing, I saw a teammate by a molly from about 100 meters away, no exaggeration. Apparently the terrorists are all pro-baseball players.

@pacalis said in Bot AI issues:

@Dark1202
Yeah, I believe I understand what you mean - I just think that if you are behind the bot for a second without getting shot you have the time needed to aim and shot, it would be disappointing if it was more like splinter cell or some other stealth game, because if the bots allowed for sneaking more than they currently do, it would be too forgiving.

It's doesn't make it that much more difficult at all, just more annoying and non-sensical. Plus if difficulty needs to be increased, it should be done by actually improving their intelligence, not by giving them supernatural powers.

I'm ok with them turning around to check their flank if after getting a kill or moving to cover or something. But not if they're fighting an enemy or focused on covering a heavy traffic firing lane. Not even humans do that.

Allowing them to have spidey sense to balance out the game is like giving them the ability to fly in order to make the game harder. It's ridiculous.

@Dark1202
I agree that it is ridiculous and non-sensical and that optimally it should be done by actually improving their intelligence, not by giving them supernatural powers.

I think we are closer in opinion than what you may realize - The reason I argue in defense of current solution is actually because these bots are the state of the art in computer games. I have written many posts about this subject in this forum if you would want to browse my old posts to see where I am coming from, but the short story is:

There exist no good alternatives. Nobody in this forum have given me one single example of other games that does this right (in fact, nobody has tried to answer the question) In what computer game does a smarter A.I exist? Now, if you want to answer this question, it is important that you understand the difference between the dynamic algorithms used in games like the NWI games and heavely scripted events that you find in single player games.

In other words, the current solution is not optimal, but neither are the alternatives in modern "a.i" in any other game, as it would simply demand a lot of resources to develop such an "a.i" - both in money and strain on the system (computing power needed), and people does not understand the difference or appreciate it enough for developers to give it much thought.

Therefore it is no real alternative to improve their "intelligence" in any significant way - At least it has not been done yet anywhere, so it boils down to finding a solution that applies to the largest amount of players to make it fun and challenging for most of us.

EDIT: I am talking about shooter games, 2d starcraft/rts board games is another ballpark.

last edited by Pacalis

@pacalis said in Bot AI issues:

@Dark1202
I agree that it is ridiculous and non-sensical and that optimally it should be done by actually improving their intelligence, not by giving them supernatural powers.

I think we are closer in opinion than what you may realize - The reason I argue in defense of current solution is actually because these bots are the state of the art in computer games. I have written many posts about this subject in this forum if you would want to browse my old posts to see where I am coming from, but the short story is:

There exist no good alternatives. Nobody in this forum have given me one single example of other games that does this right (in fact, nobody has tried to answer the question) In what computer game does a smarter A.I exist? Now, if you want to answer this question, it is important that you understand the difference between the dynamic algorithms used in games like the NWI games and heavely scripted events that you find in single player games.

Metal Gear Solid 5 had fantastic AI. That was (aside for boss battles and trigger points) a dynamic non-scripted environment, far larger maps and exponentially more options/outcomes that had to be accounted for than this game.
Both Deus-Ex games as well. Also huge maps, more options than this game. What I loved about Deus Ex is that when you shot, then ducked behind cover they would suppress where they last saw you while someone else went to flank it or check it out. You could say they only did this on "missions" but they did it everywhere in the openworld; mission, unscripted or not.

The Last of Us (not sure if this one would count to you; that being said, I can't say for certainty but if you were to drop the AI in any environment they'd probably behave the same anywhere regardless of script). F.E.A.R. AI was brilliant... I'm pretty sure (though not 100% certain) they'd behave the same in any environment you dropped them in as well. It was also co-op.

So yeah, there are quite a few that had better AI. Some of these games were released 5-15 years ago, so I disagree that the AI in this game is "state of the art". It's pretty good, but not at that level (yet?).

@dark1202 said in Bot AI issues:

Metal Gear Solid 5 had fantastic AI
F.E.A.R. AI was brilliant...
The Last of Us
Deus-Ex

I made a list of posts I wrote on the subject and pasted them here for easy navigation. If you read these you may want to reevaluate the list you proposed, reply me back after if you want, so I avoid repeating the same information. Its a mixed text, but it is relevant and address molotov throwing, restricted areas, why A.I. is not better elsewhere, difference between single and coop etc.

HERE WE GO:

POST 1:

Yeah, I think AI or the bots algorithms could be improved in all games always, as I have never met good AI in any video game ever. (I have played video games since Wolf3d came out).
Certain games like half-life 1 had A.I that seemed to react in a smart way, but those situations were actually heavily scripted events from what I've read meaning they would perform certain tasks when you touch a point on the ground. The AI from NWI on the other hand have some dynamic behaviour (ruleset they can follow in different situations) so even if they seems dumber than for example in half- life 1 or 2, they are actually better in the games from NWI because you want the dynamic behavior to keep the game fun in repeated playthroughs.
My favourite AI is the librarians from the Metro series, meeting them was the weirdest experience as they felt so unpredictable in the theme of the situation. In shooters I really like the AI from the Misery mod for stalker call of pripryat, though that ai would kill you from 600 meters away with a single headshot, so it would not be fun without a save/load function.
Imrovements to coop from my point of view in Insurgency Sandstorm:
-There could be incorporated more bots. A lot more (though more bots = more strain on your system, so optimization first right)
-Different difficulty settings, and a lot higher difficulty settings as options (a setting higher than the old brutal named suicide or slaughter or along those lines would be cool, and have dedicated servers locked on top difficulty for the players yawning through the brutal setting)
Rule changes to the mode: If you play a game of coop as the state is now and just run from objective to objective only killing direct threats but trying to avoid most, you will end up on top of the scoreboard with the Ranking "Professional" "secured the most objectives, x objectives secured" or something alone those lines. Even if you are the reason the rest of the players must rush after you and adapt to the same playstyle to traverse the map, no tactics, no safety planning, no consideration of anythig you would brand as professional in reality. They could add team alive bonus to try promoting teamwork, lower the points considerably if you cap an objective alone when x teammates are alive, I don't know, and these changes would go against competitive, as in competitive, initiative and fast reflexes is key skills to get ahead of the opposing team. In light of competitive training it is therefore straight on point already^^ I guess they could have to different categories of coop, 1 category being competitive oriented, like promoting behavior that will help in PVP, and another coop mode that is focused on team strategy and promoting mechanics that ensures people play in a way that helps the whole team.
It is still great fun though, and I guess people rush because it works the best within the current ruleset + makes it faster to level up to get those nice clothing. I don't know but the points I save up gets erased all the time, so I can not save up 600 game currency to get shades to my soldier even if I am lvl 17. But devs are aware of these things I am sure, and with time iron those bugs out.
What is it about the current state of the AI that you find frustrating, could you provide an example? (Like do they kill too fast or too slow, have a moving pattern you mean is not optimal, stay in unnatural places when inactive/camping/guarding etc)

POST 2:

Yes, I believe they got a lot right with that AI in that type of game, some of the devs on metro are the same that worked on Stalker series, even one of the devs working on Escape from Tarkov now. Too bad the company was closed and the X-ray engine not updated anymore (the program the stalker games were built on, Metro used 4a engine and the new Metro will use a version of 4a from what I've heard) The AI there were also very nice in my opinion, but they had to make a trade off at least in Stalker. The A.I. had different states, like alerted or just patrolling, and I think the trade off was made in that when the bots were alerted they kind of knew where you was at all times, making it more fun to fight them if you wanted a challenge, but less different ways to approach after they got alerted, as they would all shot your direction with aggression at max.
The comparison can be difficult to make between games like Metro and Insurgency Sandstorm because of how different the size and type of games they are (single- vs multiplayer), and the scripting I mentioned earlier. Have a look at the A.I in Escape from Tarkov (a more similar game in comparison with Ins sandstorm), it does not seem more impressive? Though I don't own the game, only seen footage, the bots seem to be quite easy to take out and not being routed to play smarter moves. I guess that in multiplayer focused games there is not any other A.I. that actually plays a lot better than in Sandstom, not from what I have seen anyway.
Reaction time on bots is just one of the numbers they can adjust to change difficulty, and I have yet to see an example from a similar game with better routing for the bots - They could probably make the bots stay closer to cover and hide more in bushes, don't walk in groups, make them lean and such, but I don't know what the cost would be on the performance. All this kind of stuff costs more strain on the system when the operations get more complex, and they might have decided on current solution to have a balance between quality of bots and quality of gameplay. I have not seen any articles on the subject.

POST 3:

Not too difficult in singleplayer games, was done in the F.E.A.R game back in 2005, you can read about how they did it in this link named Three States and a Plan: The A.I. of F.E.A.R.
http://alumni.media.mit.edu/~jorkin/gdc2006_orkin_jeff_fear.pdf
In multiplayer it is apparently a lot more difficult to make it work well, as @Zafer states, it should already be implemented if it is present in the change log, but it will be difficult to notice when a lot of players attract the attention of the bots.
Also this article: (D)evolution Of AI In Video Games was interesting in regards to why bots in video games don't evolve that much.
https://www.pointsprizes.com/blog/174/devolution-of-ai-in-video-games

POST 4:

Hehe, the conga lines takes the challenge away, or lack of ability to spread out and act more like in guerilla warfare - This would be the most important behaviour to improve in my opinion if any improvements should be done.
The modded servers from Insurgency 2014, especially the pve BEF server gave me just the right challenge, and hopefully we will see similar mods in this game.
I do like that they often use melee attacks when up close even in smoke, which is a change in the right direction, though a small change. Hopefully they will leave out some of the noises/shouts the bots currently makes on higher difficulty in the finished version as well.
The molotov throwed directly at players from 100 meters could be a good thing. It would probably be easy to implement a behaviour where the bots randomly hit and miss with the throw. They always hit directly from such distance? The farther away a frag/molly is thrown from, the easier it is to predict and avoid - What would you see as an improvement in that regard?
Look at other pve multiplayer games, they often add difficulty by making enemies bullet sponges, having higher damage output or increase their number, but still acting like jackasses:)
I have yet to see anyone give examples of bots actually performing good in any multiplayer game though, "Poor AI" compared to a specific game which does this successfully would be interesting, as it would be cool to analyze that game and see what they did right, to get a feel of the actual situation regarding bots in multiplayer games in general. It would also create a platform to discuss what other developers in such cases have been able to achieve in the bot development department when also creating a multiplayer game.
The developers gotta balance their time to create a good game, and how much resources would it be logical to invest in pve when the main selling point is pvp, marketing wise.
After all, you get to play against real people and get all the challenge you could possibly need, and personally I find it cool that they even have bots in a game like this so I can enjoy the more relaxed experience of pve, practice reflexes and test weapons without competing.
From the last developer Q&A on youtube, it is mentioned only one person in NWI deals with A.I - which might be good enough regarding where the focus in a pvp game should be, though I respect that a lot of people see it differently.
As we have discussed earlier, it is difficult to compare a multiplayer game to a singleplayer game regarding bots, so that games like Metro and S.T.A.L.K.E.R - having both fun engagements with bots - Falls into a different category.
From the article I linked to about the (d)evolution of A.I. in video games it is also a point in my opinion that most people don't actually understands all the effort it is to make solid A.I. in video games (not referring to happybub or anyone in particular, just gamers in general according to the article).
As you probably know already (just for those interested) there is not much advanced A.I. in video games as the bots don't learn anything as far as I know and improve their own coding - That would probably be a bad idea and would make the bots exploit bugs and glitches as they just use the most optimal strategy disregarding game rules not clearly defined -Everyone would hate them and never win a game=D
Scripted behaviour, preset paths and "AI nodes" are all a lot easier to implement in singleplayer games where you can have triggers to activate behaviour because of player position or pushing a button, etc. More players change all this significantly.
I definitely agree with you though, just saying there is a lot of elements to consider both regarding resources spent on development, cost to performance on the system and actual reasons for a developer to invest in this regarding cost/gain of doing so.
I'd rather have the developers making the game the best pvp experience possible, but would of course welcome an improvement of the bots.
Specific suggestions to small changes the bots could do would from my guessing be the easiest way of getting the developers to actually change bot behaviour, as I believe the developers are aware of the current situation but need to prioritize their resource spending carefully.
So from my point of view this thread could be vitalized by:
Suggestions to small improvements in the bots in Sandstorm (easy to implement).
Examples of other games with multiple players that does the job better and being specific in what situation.

POST ABOUT DYNAMIC SPAWNS (kinda unrelated to our current topic).:

I have played a lot of coop as well in Insurgency 2014, but after a while I started using coop as a warm up game before entering PVP to be at the top of my game. I agree that coop could be tweaked - Most of the time I played custom coop servers (BEF was my favourite) because vanilla coop on brutal difficulty felt too easy and one reason for that is when you join a coop there is people only playing coop in the game - They use incendiary and frags + C4 on the poor stupid bots, taking away the gun play from the game and making vanilla servers mostly useless to join because of the low difficulty.
Now if you remove the restricted areas what will happen?
1- Players who play coop 24/7 will enter the spawn of the bots and putting down C4 removing the gun play from the game
2- The same players will use incendiary in choke points close to the bot spawn removing the gun play from the game.
3 - New players and/or players who don't like pvp because they think it is so difficult, prefer games that are easier so they can manage the situation. Restricted areas are probably good for inexperienced players as it makes the gameplay more linear, and should be kept at lower difficulties.
Maybe you are right that the restricted area in coop should be removed as the aspect of flanking and having free movement can be more fun, but it should not be done without thinking about the problems with the points I mentioned.
Possible soulutions:
• Make bot spawns dynamic: You never know where they will be, thus keeping the game fresh and the cheese -gameplay (abuse of mechanics to make game too easy) to a minimum.
• Remove most of the supply points on higher difficulty so players are forced to spend less points on explosives and other cheap options against bots ( I mean bots in every PC game are pretty bad because they are very easy to understand/recognize their pattern++) therefore explosives and other secondary items takes away the challenge when playing against bots.

last edited by Pacalis

@pacalis said in Bot AI issues:

My favourite AI is the librarians from the Metro series

I thought just the regular human AI from metro were great. Beyond their "intelligence" the small scripted responses like bullet dodges, rolls, and getting behind cover were quite good.

I wouldn't mind "scripted" bot behaviors that are very short and correspond to reflexes. For example being fired upon should make every bot try to drop to the ground or get behind cover and that could be a semi-scripted thing (if bullet is within this radius, find closest cover or whatever).

@thehappybub

Yeah thats what could be called more dynamic behaviour as done in the F.E.A.R. and in Sandstorm already to a certain degree because the bots can react to your behaviour by throwing themselves behind the closest cover, where they can react whenever you start shooting and encounter them on the map - What is often the case in the single player games like metro is that when you encounter them in a hallway and shooting starts, all the covers they jump behind and what the bots are doing have been written for that specific encounter - hence the word scripted event. They would not react smart if placed in another situation without getting a new written script made specifically for the new situation. So when comparing Insurgency Sandstorm we can use similar games where the coding must follow similar rules, because it is so much easier to program games like Metro or Deus Ex - When we do that and look at the multiplayer pve, its not easy to find anybody else doing a better job imo

But I think pve in Sandstorm is reaching out to a lot of people as there is a lot of people putting out videos on youtube describing how they enjoy playing against the bots in Sandstorm even if they normally would stay away from pve - So if NWI would be willing to do some testing/research in the "bot ai", maybe this pve gameplay could be even more popular.

last edited by Pacalis

Video start at 0:52, brief history of bots:
Youtube Video

A customer point of view regarding bots:
Youtube Video

For the geeks:
https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1806/1806.05554.pdf

last edited by Pacalis

Will a user/server admin have complete access to the bot's behaviour trees?

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