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Greetings, companions of the Edain!
We've spent a lot of time over the last few months trying to figure out how to get the Misty Mountains AI to operate at a satisfying level. Unlike other races, the AI quickly reaches its limits here because it cannot be taught the building system so easily: After all, apart from the orc realm of Moria, no build plots are used here, but a semi-free build system. So today we want to offer you a peek behind the curtain and talk a little bit about the problems we were confronted with and how we were able to solve them.
Why don't we just take the Gundabad buildings and put them somewhere else?
Our first problem was not of technical nature, but a matter of personell: our AI whisperer Reshef retired from active modding over the course of the last year. He had managed to create the basic framework of the race for the AI, which made our work much easier, but he was unfortunately no longer active when we were finalizing the new Gundabad and Goblin-Town expansions. The latter in particular, however, was extremely tricky and required a lot of work that can best be described as "trying around until it works". Getting us up to speed on how the AI worked required some time before the new build systems could even be tackled. Once that was done, however, we were able to activate the Spellbook for the AI fairly quickly, take care of recruiting all the different units and heroes, and then tackle the expansions. On our way there, minor setbacks could no longer stop us:
"How did you manage to build a Ransacked Mine within the citadel?" "Veeery carefully!"
The next problem was that the Orkstadt AI loved to build Goblin-Town tunnels... and nothing else. Neither did it try to build a Gundabad outpost, nor did it build more buildings from the completed Goblin-Town citadels. This led to extremely unsatisfactory, albeit somewhat hilarious, attempts, where the AI got addicted to building one and the same building as enthusiastically as if it were the finest pipeweed in the South Farthing.
The first step of our solution then involved giving the AI two different builders, each of whom could only dig tunnels to either Gundabad or to Goblin-Town. The AI alternates in recruiting them, ensuring that it actually has access to all three orc realms. After a few minor hiccups where Gundabad tunnels would just vanish into thin air and the builders would reappear out of said nothingness and immediately start digging tunnels to Goblin-Town again, the AI was able to handle Gundabad just fine. Radagast the Musical had also created new, suitable models for the build plots of the stone Gundabad citadel, raising their own Gundabad banner.
That left only Goblin-Town. Here we had to get creative, and FG15 was finally able to come up with a solution that included invisible nature mages. Yes, you read that right.
The initial idea for our solution
The problem was this: From a technical standpoint, the Goblin-Town expansion in 4.6 consists of a series of walls and wall hubs. This allowed us to incorporate the Orc City's winding but connected suspension bridges into the game and allow each player to construct their own individual expansion. However, the AI can't handle this - which is why we had to reach deep into our bag of tricks. The invisible nature mages we invented for the AI are spawned in a circle around the Goblin-Town tunnels and have only one task: they transform into the scaffolds, at the end of which slave holes, loot hoards and barracks are then created. Depending on how much space is available, this will ensure the creation of always unique new camps - theoretically, more than a million different AI Goblin-Towns are possible. This way we could ensure that the AI can do something with both Goblin-Town's scaffolding and the buildings at the end. The result is something we are quite proud of:
We hope you enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look at some of the lesser-known parts of the development process. As always, we welcome feedback and are happy to answer your questions!
Your Edain Team
Presenting Part III of our graphics update for the War-of-the-Ring-mode in the upcoming update.
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