Randomized Behavior for Non-Aggroed Enemy Mobs and Combat Damage

#1
Hi! I've returned. Been a while.

So, I started playing SKYFORGE again. And I was reminded of what I intensely dislike about the combat-system therein and others like it. I may have talked about this before, but what always bugged me in WoW-like MMOs is the way enemy mobs would just linger near you, but wouldn't turn aggressive unless you came close or attacked. They'd just stand around, in groups, doing nothing, whether they were in a besieged village, forest or around a lake. Which simply looks weird, boring and dumb.

So, I was thinking...

How difficult would it be to program enemy spawns with randomized group behaviors, when still in a non-aggressive state? For example, you could see beast-like enemies having an "argument", engaging another of their kin in a friendly or not-so-friendly spar, while others would linger and watch, roaring/cheering them on. Other more sentient mobs, their handlers, would stand guard, perhaps patrolling around the perimeter, without getting involved in the potentially hazardous tussle. We could have actual patrols of more sentient, more humanoid or even mechanized enemies guarding areas, while predator-type beasts could be actively hunting other fauna and they could either switch their sights on the player or not, if they'd bother them by staying too close for too long.

Such things could make the world feel more...dynamic and it would make it feel less like mobs were just waiting to be antagonized by the players (or other NPCs and AI-controlled fauna could see their fair share of excitement for the day).

The other problem I rediscovered with SKYFORGE was how damage is applied to the player character. There are evasive maneuvers and damage-blocking, damage-reducing abilities, but taking damage is guaranteed, no matter how well you move around. The attacks, ranged or melee, that mobs throw at you home in and you cannot actually rely on your reflexes and the managing of your stamina to evade. It has almost no significance. You could potentially whittle down even a stronger opponent, if you keep avoiding their attacks, especially if they exclusively melee-types, but in e.g.: SKYFORGE, the combat is designed so that skill matters only very little. If you're even just 1-3 levels below the mob you're facing, you're almost guaranteed to fail. If their level is any higher, you're situation is hopeless. I know there won't be levels, and we're planning a more horizontal, rather than vertical progression system. I can barely remember the terms that were used. So, that'll eliminate some of the problems. But, there is still the matter of how damage could be applied by mobs. Should absolutely all attacks (all types of attacks) be avoidable (either by evading or negating through shields and skills and such) or should there be attacks, maybe control-effects that could always be applied regardless of what we do and their duration and severity could only be mitigated (by resistance stats and such)?
 

Pandagnome

Kaiju Slayer
Happy Kaiju
Jul 27, 2016
4,974
6,430
113
Island of Tofu
#2
welcome back i dont know much about that only that i can imagine.

Mobs with their different behavior i like to see that because it could also mean you could sneak too or tackle the situation differently.

With countering attacks i guess its a mix we might not be able to completely be safe from their damage but with moving, perks and depends on the frame type etc i am guessing this helps to improve our survival chances.
 

Omnires

Forerunner
Aug 14, 2016
695
1,099
93
#3
I remember back in the early days of FireFall there was the ecosystem and A.I. controler in the game. The ecosystem is just what it sounds like. Every mob in the game had its own list of things to do and take note of. For example predators would always focus on hunting prey unless the players got in there way. Prey animals would always try to avoid predators if possible or group up and try to fight back as group. I remember in that game at times I would just stand on top of a rock or someone and watch the animals interact with each other. No only that but animals would also attack the Chosen back then because they was viewed as threat even to the animals. Also different NPC factions would fight each other even if the players are not around. Because of this I use to be able to clear missions without even needing to fight just by letting them fight each other while I run past them to hack the terminal or whatever. As long as devs remember that all living things are connected by nature and put some thought into their relationships it should be easy to come up with list of behaviors.

Also just like in Left 4 Dead, early FireFall use to have an A.I. director that controlled random events and NPCs around the players. If the director through that things was going to easy for you it would start spawning in harder and harder things around you to give you a good challenge. But if you kept dying a lot it would slow things down and scale back things a little bit. This was really fun and made for some truly epic moments in the game. For example, I still remember the time that I and three other top level players was farming in the same area for bit. The game seen this and went crazy because it didn't like the idea of to many powerful players being in the same area close together. So within like 5 mins 4 tornadoes spawned, 3 death squids, and a Warbringer all happened at the same time in the place all to try and kill us or force us to spread out. It was one of the most chaotic 15 mins in a MMO i've had and loved it. Even though none of us died and we destroyed everything the game throw at us. We did kind of spread out after that before the director scale up timer kicked in and it sent in like 20 tornadoes after us, lol.

After all, even in real life just because something is a top predator in the ecosystem doesn't mean it'll go out of its way to attack things that it doesn't see as food or as a threat. In truth most predators often avoid fighting if at all possible out of fear of getting hurt. Because if they get hurt it makes it all the much harder to make a kill the next time they need to eat. Humans have known this for thousands of years and is why that if you know what to do you can steal food from predators without a fight.

As for damage in the game. One of the things I hate in most games is that they only let you block damage or dodge damage. And for most untrained people that is all they know how do in in a fight. But some of us never block an attack if we can counter it. Turning your enemies own power and/or attack against them is one of the cornerstones many close range fighting styles. And in sci-fi with all the energy weapons and stuff, people who know how energy really works can often find ways to counter even them. For example, using your shields to absorb the energy from a beam weapon to overcharge your own energy weapon to fire back at the enemy. This is why I love games that have a good counterattack system and abilities in them. It means that if I do things right I'm always doing damage even if I that a hit or two. Like I sometimes tell people when I'm teaching them how to fight, "Only block when you have no other choice but to. Because blocking is a thing meaning you failed to dodge the attack and you failed to find a counter for it. You should always be worried when I or any other train person leaves an opening to let you hit them. Because the attack you use can come back at with with twice the force."

P.s.
Like I said before a few times. My fighting style in real life and in games can be called a fire style. Blocking is not a thing we do as it is the farthest thing from our minds. We ether avoid taking damage or find ways to turn the attack against the enemy. Even if you take a hit it is for the reason of doing more damage to the enemy letter. Let taking a hit to the side just so you can trap their arms and legs at the same times. Because of this mindset one of my friends said that if I was anime character that this would be one of my abilities.
 
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Thorp

Omni Ace
Jul 27, 2016
111
290
63
California, CA
#4
I too have been disappointed by "open world games" where critters and enemies (mobs) just stand around lifelessly. SWTOR and LOTRO, in my opinion, truly suffer from this however I also understand why (though I give far less slack to SWTOR since it's a modern game and would have greatly been more immersive). I would have to say that likely the biggest reason why the "mobs" stand around is due to limitations and concessions.

For every action an mob makes the server needs to declare movement to all the clients who would need to know that information. In a world as large as World of Warcraft the 5-15 mobs the players can see need to be declared to the 1-10+ players who are able to see them. Expand that count across the other zone servers and you've got a huge amount of data and computing cost. The high data traffic is a cost on the server hardware, game software, and also pushes the limitations on the client computers. The servers need to be able to handle the game's code AND it's actually really surprising how many clients have potato computers. Games are built with the potato computers in mind so that a wider audience is not totally unable to buy/play the game.

But for discussion, let's just get rid of the limitations. Let's say the servers are fully capable and the player computers are super powerful. Now it becomes a question of why the dev team chooses not to script the mobs to interact with the world. It could be design choice in that the gameplay is a lot easier when the mobs don't move. Having the mobs stand still or roam very short distances drastically reduces stress on the player. Alternatively for fast paced action mmos the lack of scripting for mobs can become a logical reason. When the players are able to eradicate mobs quickly, there is little reason to script life into them.

Firefall had little reason to script life into mobs. Most mobs were designed to be eradicated on sight and could be defeated quickly. Additionally terrain obstructed vision so players did not have vision of the mobs for extended periods of time. When mobs are able to be defeated quickly and the gameplay promotes quickly removing mobs it is then a waste of development time and resources to script lifestyles into mobs that will only be on screen on average for less than 30 seconds.

While I agree that I'd like to see npcs and mobs having interactions within their worlds, I understand that there are limitations, design choices, gameplay reasons, and costs. For me personally I picked up a hobby of building video games in the Unreal Engine roughly 3 years ago. I do plan on scripting my current game's npcs and mobs to interact with bushes, trees, rocks, eachother but it won't be added until super late in development. The pacing in my current project is fast and enemies aren't expected to be on screen for more than 15 seconds. So unless the player is roleplaying a safari adventure there is little value to gain by spending the time and cost to script, 3D model, animate, texture, sound, art design. The reason I plan on putting it in is for fun and to improve the randomness of how the player encounters the mobs; it provides a little more variety as to what animation the mob is playing and where they are located before being eradicated.

I too hope that npcs/mobs do more than just stand around and patrol in Em8er.
 
#5
I remember back in the early days of FireFall there was the ecosystem and A.I. controler in the game. The ecosystem is just what it sounds like. Every mob in the game had its own list of things to do and take note of. For example predators would always focus on hunting prey unless the players got in there way. Prey animals would always try to avoid predators if possible or group up and try to fight back as group. I remember in that game at times I would just stand on top of a rock or someone and watch the animals interact with each other. No only that but animals would also attack the Chosen back then because they was viewed as threat even to the animals. Also different NPC factions would fight each other even if the players are not around. Because of this I use to be able to clear missions without even needing to fight just by letting them fight each other while I run past them to hack the terminal or whatever. As long as devs remember that all living things are connected by nature and put some thought into their relationships it should be easy to come up with list of behaviors.

Also just like in Left 4 Dead, early FireFall use to have an A.I. director that controlled random events and NPCs around the players. If the director through that things was going to easy for you it would start spawning in harder and harder things around you to give you a good challenge. But if you kept dying a lot it would slow things down and scale back things a little bit. This was really fun and made for some truly epic moments in the game. For example, I still remember the time that I and three other top level players was farming in the same area for bit. The game seen this and went crazy because it didn't like the idea of to many powerful players being in the same area close together. So within like 5 mins 4 tornadoes spawned, 3 death squids, and a Warbringer all happened at the same time in the place all to try and kill us or force us to spread out. It was one of the most chaotic 15 mins in a MMO i've had and loved it. Even though none of us died and we destroyed everything the game throw at us. We did kind of spread out after that before the director scale up timer kicked in and it sent in like 20 tornadoes after us, lol.

After all, even in real life just because something is a top predator in the ecosystem doesn't mean it'll go out of its way to attack things that it doesn't see as food or as a threat. In truth most predators often avoid fighting if at all possible out of fear of getting hurt. Because if they get hurt it makes it all the much harder to make a kill the next time they need to eat. Humans have known this for thousands of years and is why that if you know what to do you can steal food from predators without a fight.

As for damage in the game. One of the things I hate in most games is that they only let you block damage or dodge damage. And for most untrained people that is all they know how do in in a fight. But some of us never block an attack if we can counter it. Turning your enemies own power and/or attack against them is one of the cornerstones many close range fighting styles. And in sci-fi with all the energy weapons and stuff, people who know how energy really works can often find ways to counter even them. For example, using your shields to absorb the energy from a beam weapon to overcharge your own energy weapon to fire back at the enemy. This is why I love games that have a good counterattack system and abilities in them. It means that if I do things right I'm always doing damage even if I that a hit or two. Like I sometimes tell people when I'm teaching them how to fight, "Only block when you have no other choice but to. Because blocking is a thing meaning you failed to dodge the attack and you failed to find a counter for it. You should always be worried when I or any other train person leaves an opening to let you hit them. Because the attack you use can come back at with with twice the force."

P.s.
Like I said before a few times. My fighting style in real life and in games can be called a fire style. Blocking is not a thing we do as it is the farthest thing from our minds. We ether avoid taking damage or find ways to turn the attack against the enemy. Even if you take a hit it is for the reason of doing more damage to the enemy letter. Let taking a hit to the side just so you can trap their arms and legs at the same times. Because of this mindset one of my friends said that if I was anime character that this would be one of my abilities.
Woah, it's really impressive that Firefall used to have a system like that, but that just means that if it could be done way back THEN, there shouldn't be any difficulties implementing something even more in-depth and expansive.

As for taking damage and using/redirecting attacks, I HATE using shield, in any game, because it's, like, the easiest thing anyone can do and it's so cheap. Big freaking thing swings its sword at me, whoops no, I haz small shield, haha, no damage. I do like counter-system, but I'm also of two minds when it comes, say, counters that can only be initiate after a perfectly timed block, since I'm a filthy casual and cannot be bothered to hone my reflexes. But, since this is sci-fi, we could have a variety of skills that would differ from one another based on, maybe, the type of frame and weapon we'd be using that would allow us to use the enemy kinetic (and other) energy against them, either through absorption, redirection, reflection, dispersion...etc.
 

Dam13n

Active Member
Mar 4, 2019
75
166
33
#6
Especially on the PTS where the server wasn't being stressed as much this effect was insane. The world was almost indifferent towards the players. It sucks that this isn't more common in games. Even if you look at Skyrim, for most people their more memorable experiences are the non scripted events that just emerged from these systems and are pretty much different every time and it's not like this was a niche game.

It was a major hook for me in Firefall, every time you logged in you never REALLY knew what was going to happen. I never understood why this didn't catch on more in gaming, especially online games. Once you've experienced it, it is hard to go back to "grazing mobs in the field".

PSO2 and Dauntless are going to add more open world "free roam" zones soon, i hope they do it right and that this becomes a trend.
 
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#7
Especially on the PTS where the server wasn't being stressed as much this effect was insane. The world was almost indifferent towards the players. It sucks that this isn't more common in games. Even if you look at Skyrim, for most people their more memorable experiences are the non scripted events that just emerged from these systems and are pretty much different every time and it's not like this was a niche game.

It was a major hook for me in Firefall, every time you logged in you never REALLY knew what was going to happen. I never understood why this didn't catch on more in gaming, especially online games. Once you've experienced it, it is hard to go back to "grazing mobs in the field".

PSO2 and Dauntless are going to add more open world "free roam" zones soon, i hope they do it right and that this becomes a trend.
grazing mobs in the field"

LOL...that gave me a good laugh. :D

I think I've heard it referred to it like that, before, with that same expression. I might've been you, like, months ago, whenever i was more active here. Pretty sure we've discussed this topic, but I figured I'd just throw it out there, again, as it is worth repeating as a suggestion for the game's development.