The Ark: Relaunch – Opponents & AI

Feature Announcements: Ambient Graphics | Opponents & AI

Three weeks after our first feature announcement for The Ark: Relaunch, it’s time to deviate a little from Procedural Generation to talk about the second feature from our upcoming game. The feature we’re going to talk about in today’s article is Opponents and Artificial Intelligence (AI). There were a number of problems with our prototype – opponents didn’t try and dodge bullets, were set on just one course and didn’t move, and had no intelligence at all.

But what do we define as opponents? Well, opponents can either be intelligent beings (for example enemy spacecraft) or inanimate (meteors/space debris). The first type we’re going to talk about are inanimate objects. These ‘opponents’ are on a course of their own, and can’t change direction or attack the player – they have no intelligence. However, upon collision with the player spacecraft… well you know what comes next ;)

The second type are intelligent space craft. With ‘The Ark: Relaunch’ we plan on fixing all of the aforementioned problems with these kind of enemies. Apart from introducing a number of new types of enemies with different abilities and attributes, we also plan on a number of other features which should make this game stand out in its genre.

One of these features is Artificial Intelligence. To those unfamiliar with this term, Artificial Intelligence is usually a set of logical rules which give the computer entities a mind of their own. This has a number of uses, mainly:

  1. Dodging – if the spacecrafts have intelligent entities in them, it wouldn’t make sense that they don’t move and let the player destroy them, would it? So yes, enemy movement is definitely on our agenda!
  2. Formations – and what if enemy spacecraft could arrange themselves strategically to beat the player? Well, it’s in our plans too. Different formations could prove more difficult to break down than others, and your opponents realize that!
  3. Intelligent species doesn’t mean that they’re perfect. The system in place in The Ark calculated the exact position of the player when the bullet collided with him. This meant that if the player wasn’t always on the move, he’d die out in a few minutes’ time because almost all of the bullets wold hit him. Therefore one of the most important features in The Ark: Relaunch will be the margin of error given to the enemy.

However, these features don’t come without their problems. But that doesn’t dishearten us. In fact, we plan on using these problems to our advantage. For example; what happens when one spacecraft moves to the right to dodge a bullet and collides with another spacecraft? Well, that’s what we call killing two birds with one bullet.

So what’s the bottom line? Giving the enemy Artificial Intelligence will not benefit just the players’ opponents. Nor will it just enrich the gameplay experience. It means that a new dimension will be introduced to ‘The Ark: Relaunch’ – a tactical dimension. In the upcoming months, we will be talking more and expanding about these features, so stay tuned. Until then, we will continue working on Procedural Generation – but more about that in our next article!

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