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Something’s Missing: AI Allies (Criticism)

by Ragashingo ⌂ @, Official DBO Cryptarch, Monday, January 29, 2018, 18:08 (476 days ago)

One of the great joys in a Bungie game from Marathon to Halo was finding some way to keep most or all of your AI Allies alive.

In Myth, this often meant making sure your Archers weren’t shooting the rest of your guys in the back and that your Dwarves and their molotov grenades were kept well well clear of everyone and everything... especially themselves!

In Oni, it felt awesome to make your way up floor after floor of the besieged TCTF Headquarters singlehandedly saving scientists and officers from Strikers, Tankers, and Furies. I can still picture a base level Striker going for a “Striker slam!” at one of the large TCTF Elites only to skillfully maneuver Konoko into the correct position to deliver a devastating back breaker attack just in the nick of time. Not only did you save the day, you also often got things like health regenerating hypo sprays out of the deal.

Then, of course, there was Halo. Your UNSC Marine allies in the various Halo games tended to be somewhat ineffective on their own. I’m sure all of us classic Halo:CE players will remember freezing in terror whenever we heard a Marine call: “Frag out!” But when grouped up, or handed the correct weapon, or coerced into a vehicle, they could become very helpful. A passenger Hog with Rocket and Fuel Rod Gun Marines riding in back was one of the most powerful forces in all of Halo.

Going beyond their combat usefulness, Marines in Halo provided some pretty powerful in-game confirmation that, yes, you as the Master Chief were a badass. From the earliest battles on the Pillar of Autumn, Marine-yelled phrases like “Look! A Mark V” and “I knew there was one on board.” served to help define your place in Halo’s sci-fi world. I can still very nearly recite Sargent Johnson’s “It’s a mess sir...” speech he greets you with when you find his group hiding among the structures early on in the level Halo. And the Marines of Crow’s Nest perking up when they see the Master Chief is pretty classic.

Marines were also very often useful for showing the player just how bad things were getting. From Marines getting swarmed by the Flood to Pelicans getting shot down, Marines were a great way to see the enemy’s power without having to find a way to barely keep the player alive. Of course, Marines could also serve as warnings of imminent doom. Remember Truth and Reconciliation’s Belly of the Beast?

What, there's no Covenant here? I think maybe nobody's home.

Immediately afterwards the screams of dying marines horrible deaths were the first indication that a new player had to the fact that cloaked Elites with plasma swords had slipped into the room!

So, what about Destiny and Destiny 2? The amount of in-game AI Allies amounts to pretty much zip, zilch, and nada. Admittedly, it would be somewhat harder to include friendly AIs when battling against things like Minatours and Wizards, but back in Halo: CE many of us managed to escort Sargent Johnson and his team safely across Assault on the Control Room on foot past tanks and banshees with little more than an Assault Rifle and a couple of grenades.

In Destiny 2, there is a partially surfaced theme of Guardians keeping non-light-bearing Humans, Exos, and Awoken away from the front lines because of their inability to come back after death. But in Destiny’s lore there’s groups like Takanome’s Rangers who were out there fighting before many Guardians showed up and people like Suraya Hawthorne who became vital after the Red Legion cut off the Traveler’s Light.

From serving as distractions or reinforcements to being wiped out by a powerful enemy to show how dangerous a situation is to providing unscripted confirmations of our Guardian’s place in the world, it feels like Destiny could use a few AI Allies. Besides, nearby friendlies provided one other critical function that sometimes feels pretty lacking in Destiny 2: Fresh supplies of ammo!

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Something’s Missing: AI Allies

by Harmanimus, Monday, January 29, 2018, 23:10 (475 days ago) @ Ragashingo

I know this isn't a new complaint. But some of your specific examples actually rang out as very interesting notions of how Destiny falls short and where opportunities arise for the inclusion of friendly AI. So, this might get obtuse quickly, so bear with me.

I will use Halo as the jumping point as contextually it is the easiest. I think within Halo there are four main circumstances that AI friendlies interact with the player. Those are accompaniment, stationary encounter, vehicle, and fleeing. The first is most cases where you have a team with you or you are escorting one potentially foolish Officer. The second befits the events over the course of "Halo" with its defensive encounters, there is not travel. Vehicles are a mixed bag in the context of Destiny so I'll gloss over that for the most part. Last are the AI trying to get out of dodge, your New Alexandria civilians or fleeing crew members.

I'm sure you can be more or less granular, but I think those distinctions lead to the easiest consideration: two-and-a-half of those can reasonably be fit into Destiny. And other than Devrim actually taking a shot or two these wouldn't be things I would suggest to include all the time.

Framing your approach
The easiest option to fit into missions is the inclusion of frames. Some of the most memorable AI supported encounters in the Halo campaigns are those where you are joining a battle in progress. With Destiny? You're the straw to break the Cabal's back. Easily flexible to give more life to the world without making you fear (as much) for their safety or any other expectations, a small detachment of combat Frames would be a good way to bring some more Friendly AI into a situation. They can be generally stationary, easing up their integration into a story mission or adventure. Or maybe even holding the entry way to a Lost Sector or recovering in the middle of a transitional lane between map sections.

I think this would be the most obvious integration. Throw in periodic drop ships picking up damaged frames and dropping off fresh ones and for the times you're near them you can have some support. So long as they are actually able to deal some damage and takeout some of the AI they're contesting. Also let the drop ships have gunners who suppresses nearby enemies for some flash and verticality.

A day at the beach
Take ODSTs crashing in a Pelican, mix in a dash of Warsat. Bam. A new Public event with friendly AI. This continues to play on the stationary AI use for defending a zone of encroaching enemies, but gives you something more than a circle to protect. Make sure it's actual humans who are able to handle themselves reasonably on their own but not to the point where they don't get overrun w/o Guardian support. Drop in some frames as well for perimeter defense and a few gun hands you don't have to worry about protecting. Also, making them smart enough that they don't just shoot the inside of the Ward of Dawn a Sentinel is bound to drop on them. Or grenade in it.

Having non-Guardian humanity out and about mostly means it would play most to Earth. However, given that Dead Orbit and the other factions do act outside the walls of The City (but especially DO) their ships getting shot down during retrieval of Golden Age tech on Nessus or on a platform on Titan wouldn't be too far-fetched.

Convoys
This is a more complex suggestion, but moves off from the stationary encounters and drops full into a combination of fleeing and vehicle support. We know humanity has tracked loading vehicles. Some converted to tanks. And the general desire to protect those within The Last Safe City has shifted toward even protecting those in the wilds. Don't you think supply convoys or refugee convoys would be something we could encounter? Obviously this is more suited to Earth settings than anywhere else. But you treat it like a roaming band of pikes, or the Enemy Moving Against Each other. Drop in frames, have a few tracks with trailers and turrets up top. You could even make them like public events with specific rewards if you wanted to.

This could also be done where they come in from a lane that leads to another sector already being harassed and they are trying to get to a clearer zone for dust off and/or transmat. If you wanted to go really crazy let players encounter them as they're passing between zones.

Squad Tactics
I don't think friendly AI traveling with Guardians fits the tone of Destiny. We already have to babysit Ghost. And team vehicles aren't really a thing, either. They could be but as it stands they aren't. So some stationary friendly mission encounters or public events and some roaming friendlies in vehicles trying to GTFO, I feel, stylistically fits Destiny very well and I think it would be something nice to see in the future if it is possible.

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Specific Scenarios

by breitzen @, Kansas, Tuesday, January 30, 2018, 06:00 (475 days ago) @ Ragashingo

Agreed. I think overall AI Allies just don't fit into the style/gameplay of Destiny. :sadface: Thinking back through Destiny 2, I can recall a moment where Amanda blasts some enemies as you're going through a Cabal hanger, that was pretty cool (and works for her!), but ultimately falls short. The only other time I can think of is in Curse of Osiris when Osiris shows up and helps you with the boss but again, can we really count that?

That said, I do think there are opportunities to do this in specific missions or even strikes to have friendly AI companions. Here are some examples of scenarios where I think it would be cool to interact with friendly NPC's with real boots on the ground:

  • A strike, where the middle section is escorting city survivors across a section of the EDZ as they make they're way to the farm.
  • A mission defending a section of the tower with Shax's frames.
  • Savathun's Song, but we actually start the strike with Taeko's fireteam. After the first 1/3 of the strike, the fireteams split up and then it continues as normal.
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Something’s Missing: AI Allies

by Kermit @, Raleigh, NC, Tuesday, January 30, 2018, 06:36 (475 days ago) @ Ragashingo

One of the great joys in a Bungie game from Marathon to Halo was finding some way to keep most or all of your AI Allies alive.

In Myth, this often meant making sure your Archers weren’t shooting the rest of your guys in the back and that your Dwarves and their molotov grenades were kept well well clear of everyone and everything... especially themselves!

In Oni, it felt awesome to make your way up floor after floor of the besieged TCTF Headquarters singlehandedly saving scientists and officers from Strikers, Tankers, and Furies. I can still picture a base level Striker going for a “Striker slam!” at one of the large TCTF Elites only to skillfully maneuver Konoko into the correct position to deliver a devastating back breaker attack just in the nick of time. Not only did you save the day, you also often got things like health regenerating hypo sprays out of the deal.

Then, of course, there was Halo. Your UNSC Marine allies in the various Halo games tended to be somewhat ineffective on their own. I’m sure all of us classic Halo:CE players will remember freezing in terror whenever we heard a Marine call: “Frag out!” But when grouped up, or handed the correct weapon, or coerced into a vehicle, they could become very helpful. A passenger Hog with Rocket and Fuel Rod Gun Marines riding in back was one of the most powerful forces in all of Halo.

Going beyond their combat usefulness, Marines in Halo provided some pretty powerful in-game confirmation that, yes, you as the Master Chief were a badass. From the earliest battles on the Pillar of Autumn, Marine-yelled phrases like “Look! A Mark V” and “I knew there was one on board.” served to help define your place in Halo’s sci-fi world. I can still very nearly recite Sargent Johnson’s “It’s a mess sir...” speech he greets you with when you find his group hiding among the structures early on in the level Halo. And the Marines of Crow’s Nest perking up when they see the Master Chief is pretty classic.

Marines were also very often useful for showing the player just how bad things were getting. From Marines getting swarmed by the Flood to Pelicans getting shot down, Marines were a great way to see the enemy’s power without having to find a way to barely keep the player alive. Of course, Marines could also serve as warnings of imminent doom. Remember Truth and Reconciliation’s Belly of the Beast?

What, there's no Covenant here? I think maybe nobody's home.

Immediately afterwards the screams of dying marines horrible deaths were the first indication that a new player had to the fact that cloaked Elites with plasma swords had slipped into the room!

So, what about Destiny and Destiny 2? The amount of in-game AI Allies amounts to pretty much zip, zilch, and nada. Admittedly, it would be somewhat harder to include friendly AIs when battling against things like Minatours and Wizards, but back in Halo: CE many of us managed to escort Sargent Johnson and his team safely across Assault on the Control Room on foot past tanks and banshees with little more than an Assault Rifle and a couple of grenades.

In Destiny 2, there is a partially surfaced theme of Guardians keeping non-light-bearing Humans, Exos, and Awoken away from the front lines because of their inability to come back after death. But in Destiny’s lore there’s groups like Takanome’s Rangers who were out there fighting before many Guardians showed up and people like Suraya Hawthorne who became vital after the Red Legion cut off the Traveler’s Light.

From serving as distractions or reinforcements to being wiped out by a powerful enemy to show how dangerous a situation is to providing unscripted confirmations of our Guardian’s place in the world, it feels like Destiny could use a few AI Allies. Besides, nearby friendlies provided one other critical function that sometimes feels pretty lacking in Destiny 2: Fresh supplies of ammo!

I said something similar in a previous response. I'd like not only allies who fight but allies to protect. I agree with everything you said. One of the things I found so exciting about the first mission in D2 was that you got to fight alongside characters. I thought it would continue, but it didn't, sadly. One of a few "secret sauces" in Halo was that the grunts on both sides of the conflict had personality (and humor). This contributed immeasurably to immersion. These weren't just death animations happening around you--that's the marine dying who made you laugh a minute ago. Yeah, the game didn't have 4K HDR, but psychologically it was more consistently immersive than D2.

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No sir, I don't like it.

by ManKitten ⌂, The Stugotz is strong in me., Tuesday, January 30, 2018, 12:42 (475 days ago) @ Kermit

Then, of course, there was Halo. Your UNSC Marine allies in the various Halo games tended to be somewhat ineffective on their own. I’m sure all of us classic Halo:CE players will remember freezing in terror whenever we heard a Marine call: “Frag out!” But when grouped up, or handed the correct weapon, or coerced into a vehicle, they could become very helpful. A passenger Hog with Rocket and Fuel Rod Gun Marines riding in back was one of the most powerful forces in all of Halo.

[Edit: this was meant to be a response to Ragashingo.]

I can't help but disagree with pretty much everything you've said, especially the comment above. The Halo AI Marines were the dumbest creatures ever. The passenger rocket would constantly blow me up. Having to protect Captain Keyes on Legendary was a pain. The characters in Pillar of Autumn did nothing but clog up doors and hallways.

If I'm controlling a character that is a walking tank that can go where no normal man can go, don't saddle me with a dumb dumb meatbag.

One of the BEST things about Destiny is the lack of "cooperative" AI characters.

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No sir, I don't like it.

by Kermit @, Raleigh, NC, Tuesday, January 30, 2018, 13:15 (475 days ago) @ ManKitten

Then, of course, there was Halo. Your UNSC Marine allies in the various Halo games tended to be somewhat ineffective on their own. I’m sure all of us classic Halo:CE players will remember freezing in terror whenever we heard a Marine call: “Frag out!” But when grouped up, or handed the correct weapon, or coerced into a vehicle, they could become very helpful. A passenger Hog with Rocket and Fuel Rod Gun Marines riding in back was one of the most powerful forces in all of Halo.


[Edit: this was meant to be a response to Ragashingo.]

I can't help but disagree with pretty much everything you've said, especially the comment above. The Halo AI Marines were the dumbest creatures ever. The passenger rocket would constantly blow me up. Having to protect Captain Keyes on Legendary was a pain. The characters in Pillar of Autumn did nothing but clog up doors and hallways.

If I'm controlling a character that is a walking tank that can go where no normal man can go, don't saddle me with a dumb dumb meatbag.

One of the BEST things about Destiny is the lack of "cooperative" AI characters.

I totally agree that there were problems with the implementation, but I'd never experienced anything like it at that point. Escorting Keyes could be frustrating, but otherwise marines (and grunts) were little more than cannon fodder. That cannon fodder added a lot of personality to the game, though. I have this memory of me and Prof Ozy playing through T&R one of the first times and laughing at the marines' exuberance. This was before the Belly of the Beast section of course. For the most part, the marines were an amusing addition. On difficulty settings where it really mattered, they were often dead too soon to have much of an effect on gameplay.

No sir, I don't like it.

by marmot 1333 @, Tuesday, January 30, 2018, 14:49 (475 days ago) @ Kermit

On difficulty settings where it really mattered, they were often dead too soon to have much of an effect on gameplay.

I think that worked with the theme of a harder setting, though: the stakes were higher, and these NPCs just didn't have what it takes to make it in the world. A grim feeling emerged in the absence of their carefree commentary.

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+1

by CruelLEGACEY @, Toronto, Thursday, February 08, 2018, 09:48 (466 days ago) @ marmot 1333

- No text -

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Please no

by Up North 65 @, Thursday, February 08, 2018, 11:53 (466 days ago) @ Ragashingo

All this is going to do is make Chickens want to save everyone at the expense of time and my sanity. And then when I kill one to get his ammo I’m now the bad guy.

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Please no

by Robot Chickens, Friday, February 09, 2018, 00:09 (465 days ago) @ Up North 65

All this is going to do is make Chickens want to save everyone at the expense of time and my sanity. And then when I kill one to get his ammo I’m now the bad guy.

Hah, everything you’ve said is true

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