A few months ago we posted an article about how the AI in our game worked. Today I want to delve into that a little bit deeper by explaining our AI Editor. Since our March post about AI, a lot has changed. We've learned a lot and developed some new tools to get the job done. One of these tools was the AI Editor.
At the beginning of the summer, Vince and I were doing a huge pass on our AI code to get some more interesting behavior out of our enemies. As we started creating more levels, adding the necessary AI navigation graph was becoming a chore. Even with the optimizations we explained in our last post, which allowed a node to cover an entire platform, we still had to create many connections by hand. Every jump, fall and ladder had to be labeled for the AI to use, and placing these connections in our
level editor meant iterations were slow. We had to export the map and build the game to test each change to the AI graph, and many connections had to be fine-tuned. If we wanted any hope of fun AI, we had to fix this problem.
Our solution was an in-game AI Editor. We were inspired by a Postmortem we saw at the Independent Game Summit in March. It demonstrated a live AI Editor for Scrap Metal and showed us how this type of tool could be used to give very quick feedback. It took us about a week to construct it, and here it is. I've made a quick video to show it off.
This really paid off for us. Adding the AI Navigation Graph to our levels was now a far more enjoyable experienced and we were able to test out our new AI much more quickly. I believe that if you have the right tools, creating a video game can be a really enjoyable experience. Without the right tools, it becomes an impossible task. For us, this one week investment in creating a fun and usable tool saved us countless hours of hassle.