How the Wild West was robotized. Also releasing a server patch.
Posted by R_Yell on Apr 21st, 2012
Our new bots are meant to replace the rather basic deathmatch NPCs we used since beta 2.5. New AI is a big improvement where it matters: much better navigation and aiming follows something we could call 'human logic'. Another big plus is they can play team based loot capture modes. Apart from their basic combat duties, dropped loot is picked up and hold or taken to a capture zone, they also support other loot carriers if they have a chance to. Watch them doing their stuff in this video, note that I'm the only human player there:
This couldn't be possible without Source's built-in pathfinding functions and navigation mesh support, of course. The rest is 100% custom code, bots can use ladders and jump from high places in same way than human players do. There's also a ‘direct' navigation mode when bot and target are close each other and there aren't obstacles in between. For instance, in large and complex maps it's a good idea to follow them because they know what the shortest path to objective is, shortest isn't best sometimes though ^^
There exist several difficulty settings, hoping to suit a wide range of players. By default servers use a ‘mixed' setting, each bot has random attributes not too far from average values. Their skill depends on 3 basic aspects: rotation speed, aiming trailing and response time after enemy sighting. Trailing is actually what makes them relatively human like since they aren't just instructed to aim player but just shoot at a location where player was known to be (some sort of natural lag let's say).
Therefore, a good footwork will increase victim's survival chances a lot. Standing still in front of them equals to death, so human player must take into account when bot is ready to shoot again and the right position to be when attack happens. It's not far from human vs human combat in the end, you try to fool the opponent's aiming scheme.
Give them a try and of course, feedback is appreciated! I'll try to improve them over the time if I feel like the community considers them useful. Since this is a server side feature which can be updated without breaking client compatibility, there's no problem to release smaller updates. The fact is here's our first server-side update, improving bots along some fixes and changes.
Other than that, I'm pretty happy with version 3.7 since those of you who played it are happy as well. It's a more balanced, polished and deeper Fistful of Frags than we probably ever imagined. And with bots. Thank you everyone involved, and don't forget this: don't be a fool for a smile or a kiss or you bullet may miss, keep your eye on your goal!