Now that we’ve had a fair while with the demo, are your opinions on it changing much?
Have you gone from negative to positive, or vice versa?
I’m playing at Top Player level to get a good feel for the game. I’m finding the AI very good at this level. I’ve had plenty of games where I’ve managed to comfortably beat the opposition, and but then once in a while getting tonked properly too.
This week I want to discuss gaming AI in PES. One of the major elements of the game is the AI system.
Programming AI for football games is probably the most challenging tasks in gaming. If you consider FPS games, there is no more intelligence in them. Most single player campaigns are completely on rails, and enemies are just cannon fodder. Occasionally you will get a game that exhibits some form of AI with enemies, but by and large, you’re on your own.
Multiplayer gaming for FPS games means quite simply that AI isn’t even required. It’s all player versus player action.
Football games on the other hand live or die around their AI. Let’s just think about what the AI has to do for a football game. There are two key areas I want to focus on:
1) team-mate AI: The movement and style of your team-mates.
We want to have the ability to not only use standard formations, but to also customise them. Within that, we expect players to overlap positions, make runs ahead of the ball, and generally cause mayhem in the opposition’s half.
2) opposition AI: The CPU controlled opposition react to your game.
We also want the CPU controlled opposition team to counter our team’s CPU controlled movements realistically but not to totally nullify our team’s players. And we also want all this done dynamically, and to not be predictable so that every single game is the same.
Can you guys even begin to imagine how the hell you nail such a concept? We complain when we see the CPU controlled team go through the motions of a counter-attack against you and score. We see it coming and are helpless because it’s “programmed” to score. We even complain that the AI controlled teams rarely pass the ball backwards, or defuse pressure. That they’re a relentless machine that we have to counter.
The big question is – how the hell do you create a system which can do all of this, and then add in the complexity of not only individual players, but teams too? You will notice that certain teams have a noticeable style of play. The fact that there are many levels of AI control routines to implement is incredible in my opinion. Name me another gaming genre that has a greater challenge.
Even with multiplayer games, since we only ever control one player, there’s so much more work to be done to give us a complete experience. When was the last time a cod game ever exhibited intelligence??
So now with that bit of background on AI, how do you feel the PES2013 demo shapes up? We expect the AI to give us a challenging game, but we must remember that playability must remain the core ethos, otherwise no-one will play the game! The game has to appeal to both newcomers as well as veterans of the series.
If you ask me, it’s a phenomenal challenge to take on, and there is so much more work to be done in the football gaming arena to reach the pinnacle of it’s genre. Both FIFA and PES are getting there in these terms. They both excell and have deficiencies in areas. The cynics amongst us will say that they do their best to drag it out over the years. The reality is that there are so many challenges to overcome.
For argument’s sake – if a truly manual passing system was introduced and it was unplayably hard, but realistic – how many people would ditch the game? So compromises are made to try to reach a middle ground. I can see how Konami must be walking a tightrope with many of these key issues. You’ve got people like me who want more manual control over play to get a more authentic experience. But just how many more people would enjoy the itricacies of having to measure every single pass, and expertly cushion every single ball when receiving it? Admittedly I think a good few people would like this sort of hardcore experience. But there are plenty more who don’t want to have to go that far.
It could be argued that the more accurate simulation could be deemed to be just plain boring, compared to a more action-oriented equivalent. Who’d rather play the ARMA shooter series over a COD-fest? These are the challenges which must be addressed by Konami. You have the hardcore element forever asking for the boundaries to be pushed out. Yet accessibility must remain, otherwise you alienate.
Take the passing assistance meter for example. In theory you can have fully assisted passing where plenty of correction takes place to intended passes. The problem here is when you have passes which are not going where you intended. Then you have the more allegedly accurate manual passing (which for me doesn’t go far enough) which is unpredictable in my books. Add to that there not being much to be gained from going manual – it’s almost worth asking – what’s the point? Why not just refine a single passing mechanism and rely on your skill with them? After all we have the whole issue of settings when in online games which causes arguments between players. In many players eyes, if you’re not passing manually then you’re not a proper player.
Where do you guys stand on the passing issue? Views and opinions welcome as usual.
Thanks for reading.