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Author Topic: RPG battle engines topic: companion character AI  (Read 2235 times)
Dincrest
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« on: October 13, 2007, 08:01:00 PM »

If you look at a lot of recent (and even not so recent) console RPGs featuring hero parties, there seems to be a trend towards battle systems where you manually control your avatar and the AI controls the rest of your party members.  This has obviously been done in RPGs with real-time battle engines like the Tales of... and Star Ocean series but has also been done in some turn-based RPGs like Persona 3.  

Am I alone in not really liking this trend?  

I've heaped mountains of praise unto Persona 3 (best RPG for 2007 in my book), but the one thing I didn't like about the game was that AI controlled the rest of my party during battles.  The characters often never did what I wanted them to do.  Even when I would set AI commands, the characters STILL wouldn't do what I wanted them to do.  I was always burning my SP to set up All-Out attacks when if I had complete control of my party's actions in battle, I could have them set things up.  If I had complete control, I could've won battles at a smoother and quicker rate.  I can understand needing AI in real-time battles when you can't stop the action to think, but in a turn-based battle engine such as Persona 3's?    

I like Soul Nomad, but whenever my squad encounters another squad, the battles just play out.  I wished I could tell my squad members which enemies to target because they almost never did what I wanted them to do.  Bahamut Lagoon did this right.  

Maybe it's because I cut my teeth on more traditional turn-based RPGs that I prefer battle engines where I have complete control over each party member's actions.  

I ask once again, am I alone in not really liking this trend?  How about everyone else?  Do you think the whole you control "you" and the AI controls everyone else is a good thing?  Praise is often heaped on battle engines like Star Ocean's or FF12's that follow the "AI controls your party members" paradigm, but it's not really for me.  Maybe I just prefer control over action?  I'll take good ol' fashioned turn-based battling over some of this newfangled hoosefudge any day.  But that's just me.
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Lord Scottish
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« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2007, 08:51:08 PM »

Like I said in the FF12 thread, I think that game's AI algorithms would work very well in a lot of these games where you can't control your party members.
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« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2007, 09:27:23 PM »

They could probably would work well, however that is not what I prefer overall.  I don't mind the occasional fresh feel of a Star Ocean or a Tales or Rouge Galaxy when they break up things once in a while in between traditional JRPGs, however more and more games are using this kind of AI assisted system now since they seem to be taking over too much.

For Persona 3 I agree, even with the excuse of it somehow re-enforcing that your party members are their own people it really wasn't to anyone's benefit in a turn-based system like Persona 3's, still the game is awesome.  I'd rather see new tweaks to a system like FFX-2's surprisingly fast paced turn-based strategic system in a better game or something like that or other turn-based systems like Shadow Hearts or Suikoden getting expanded and improved.

You are definitely not alone, in my opinion.  I would go into details but after your post it's not necessary, even with good AI, I too much prefer the feeling I get with "old fashioned" turn-based battling where you have 100% control over everyone.
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Kstar
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« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2007, 09:27:39 PM »

Maybe it's because I'm more of a fan of turn based rpgs and maybe it's more because I'm a control freak (a little of both), but I don't like when I don't have control over all of my party members.  I totally hear ya on Persona 3 there were many times where I was pissed off by the computer's choices, especially when they repeated the same moronic choice that didn't work over and over again haha.  However, in Star Ocean (I've only played the third) I didn't mind the computer having control (probably because it was real time battles).  I think with turn based systems it just works out better if they give you control over everyone.  AI control is fine as long as they make appropriate choices and you still can give commands if necessary.
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« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2007, 05:58:56 PM »

I think you've just identified for me one of the reasons why I find myself playing more turn-based games these days.  I like controlling the whole party.

As you said, it can be done well.  I thought that was something Kingdom Hearts did well, except for the AI's use of items.  They used them more than I wanted no matter how I set things.  (I tend to be a hoarder, though...)

Freedom Force (the PC superhero game) struck a good balance.  If I didn't control my party, they did pretty well.  If I wanted more control, though, they were good at obeying orders.
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« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2007, 06:47:52 PM »

I honestly don't mind having my party members controlled by AI, as long as they can fend for themselves without me having to babysit them throughout the battle. One could argue that having stupid AI party members is just another way of adding challenge to the game, but that's just stupid in my opinion. I should be challenged by my enemies, not my allies.

Unfortunately, a lot of the games with AI in them don't really do it all that well. Whether the party uses too many items (as mentioned previously), spams MP (Star Ocean: SS), or just sucks at battling in general (Shining Force Exa tested my patience here), there's usually something flawed. I think that I liked FFXII as much as I did simply because I was able to fine-tune everything to the way I liked it. The party members may have been controlled by AI, but they performed exactly how I would have, which is why, in my opinion, the battle system ultimately worked.

I do think, however, that AI in anything other than a real-time RPG is stupid. It doesn't make sense to put AI into a turn-based game when the player is perfectly capable of issuing commands himself. I have yet to play Persona 3 or anything, but I'd like to think that the game would be much more enjoyable if you have complete control over everyone.
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« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2007, 09:13:48 PM »

Althought I don´t personally dislike it I also don´t like it either... is more of a trend and also a way to attract more audience since some gamers just play rpgs to watch the story.

In FFXII it was maded so you could focus on one character entirely and see all the actions with his point of view (in this case vaan) and they succeded but not without flaws...

I think AI parties will evolve in the future but sadly it will become an integral part of the game, but hey if it sells it works...
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« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2007, 02:14:44 AM »

I'm no fan of this trend either. As Tooker mentioned, this system worked well in Kingdom Hearts, but generally I can't stand this lack of control. It would be nice, if developers were to offer the player the choice between complete control over the party and AI-controlled party members. Personally, I prefer a traditional approach to RPG battles. Give me a turn-based system, where I have complete control over my characters, and I'm happy with it. One of the reasons why I liked the Xenosaga games so much, was their traditional, rather straight-forward battle system. I never had any major issues with it, not even in the second game.
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« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2007, 02:34:57 AM »

You know what pisses me off about AI-controlled companions?  When AI Buddy #1 is like, "Oh shit, AI Buddy #2 is at 30% HP!  I better use one of the three remaining Hi-Potions I have left in the inventory pool, even though we are right next to a save point where we can recover for free!  I know you were saving them for the boss battle, but he was /dying/!"  I can generally tolerate "not being in control" until the AI starts blowing through my item stash.  That, or casting spells that the enemies absorb/reflect or are strong against.  Otherwise, I don't mind.
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« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2007, 03:01:35 AM »

And then there's Larsa, who thankfully comes with his own unending supply of hi-potions. :D
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« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2007, 09:02:38 AM »

This is one of those situations where it depends on the type of battle system for me. If it's turn-based, there's seriously no reason why the AI should have control even if it's a guest character that'll only be in the party temporarily. Some AI's are very good at what they do but I've never come across a perfect AI and sometimes having player input is crucial to either making it to the next battle or facing a game over.

In real-time battle systems such as SO3, I think it's quite alright as long as the player still has access to take over the AI controlled character at anytime. Can't quite count the amount of times where I had to save the AI from doing something utterly retarded that would've otherwise gotten it killed  in a situation where I know better.
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« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2007, 09:04:16 AM »

Quote from: "Hidoshi"
And then there's Larsa, who thankfully comes with his own unending supply of hi-potions. :D


Is not that I'm not thankfull... But being a prince he was kinda cheap... he should have throw elixirs dammit... =P
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« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2007, 09:08:54 AM »

Quote from: "Shiguma"
I better use one of the three remaining Hi-Potions I have left in the inventory pool, even though we are right next to a save point where we can recover for free!


Exactly!
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« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2007, 11:27:45 AM »

I haven't particularly run into a smart AI.  Persona 3, for the most part, had a pretty smart one, it wouldn't reuse attacks it knew weren't effective.  But yeah, for the most part, I'd rather be in control... besides, I bought the game to be in control, I wouldn't wanna be cheated out of some of that. =(
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« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2007, 04:30:56 AM »

i personally liked the AI in rouge galaxy. my feeling is that as long as i dont feel like i have to babysit my allies then its generally fine with me. i think the problem for someof you might be that games with AI sometimes require a degree of skill. no what pissed me off though? how you never get to control lucia in lunar 2.
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