When it comes to making games more immersive, artificial intelligence is key. Here, Shaun Grech CTO and Co-Founder of Game Champions, outlines how developments in AI are improving player experience.
From building realism to creating a level playing field, AI technology is essential for ensuring games are as immersive and as exciting as possible. However, some big titles have attempted to impress gamers by promising significant improvements to their AI, only to disappoint once they reach the market — the release of Cyberpunk 2077 last year being a prime example.
Well-executed AI is vital for the development of the gaming industry, and players are calling out for more intuitive and immersive experiences. This technology works best when players don’t notice it’s there at all. AI needs to be seamless, so it enhances gameplay rather than distracting from it, making each event entirely unique to the player.
Luckily, developers are taking note and have started to recognise how important AI technology is for the success of their titles. Below, I’ll be going through the ways recent developments in AI are set to elevate player experience.
Better NPC interactions and behaviours
Non-playable characters are key to making a game feel more immersive and realistic, but often we’re faced with stiff and buggy characters with limited movement and dialogue, which immediately takes players out of the game.
Developments in AI could change all that with minute details being added to make the overall experience much more realistic. Successful execution of AI and NPCs should make it feel like the characters exist beyond the boundaries of the game, living their own lives and stories.
Advancements in graphics and voice programming mean NPCs can look, move, and sound just like real people. Meanwhile, more dynamic pathfinding means characters can go about their day in a more believable way. Using AI technology, NPCs, can navigate obstacles better, make more realistic movements, and even react more accurately to the world around them.
Once title that has been praised for its well-executed NPCs include Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2, in which townspeople have a more realistic reactions to the events happening around them. For example, players have noticed NPCs commenting on the in-game weather, as well as talking to them about decisions they made earlier in the game.
More adaptive gameplay
It’s not just the small details that AI will be able to improve, because advancements in technology are now able to improve gameplay more directly. This includes making games more adaptive to the player’s skill level. For example, NPCs in games like FIFA can be automatically programmed to be more or less challenging based on the player’s past performance, ensuring that the game is always the right difficulty level to keep the game engaging without putting anyone off by being too hard.
AI technology can also alter the story based on the player’s behaviour and decisions. Decision trees like the ones we’ve seen in the Fallout series are a common example of this, but players are desperate for their choices to make more of an impact to the game. This means developers are looking at ways to make decision trees more complex to make stories and dialogue options more unique to the player.
It’s also possible for AI to track how players navigate the game, including which areas they play the most and which areas cause them to stop playing. This data means developers can figure out what their audience wants, allowing them to make updates to fine-tune their gameplay.
Wider scope for content generation
As well as making stories more unique, AI can also improve the gaming experience by providing a wider scope for content generation. Using complex algorithms and machine learning, levels, maps, tasks, and goals can be altered to produce less predictable gameplay. Stories and tasks can be different each time the player loads the game, meaning no two experiences are ever the same.
Minecraft and No Man’s Sky are popular examples of games that use procedural content generation. Players almost experience a new game each time they play, rather than repeating the same actions time and time again. This means they can’t memorize each level and learn how to complete it, which ensures the game is always a challenge and encourages players to keep coming back for more.
While AI technology can improve the quality of gameplay, it is also being used to create a more level playing field for multiplayer titles. This includes sophisticated matchmaking systems which pair players based on skill level and experience, meaning there’s enough of a challenge for highly skilled competitors without putting newer players off.
For example, at Game Champions, our new Champions Draft mode uses an AI system and machine learning to study a player’s behavioural patterns, including factors like form, rating, and gaming history, before giving them a score. This data is then used to assign each player to a team based on the score the AI model gives them, ensuring each player has an equal chance of winning. This makes sure that each match is fun and fair for every player.
AI is vital for making games more immersive and exciting and these are just some of the ways the technology is being used to improve gamer experience. By making NPCs feel more realistic, developing a more unique gaming experience, and levelling the playing field for online and multiplayer competitions, these advancements should help to make future games more interesting and enjoyable for all.
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