Opponents

This is a thought, I had been thinking since I’d recently seen an early football game on TV; I’ve never played a football sim. I think it had to be early version since more recent ones have too many graphical bells and whistles and feel less like a game – to me somebody who has never played one – to provoke the clarity of thought. It came up to me again when thinking of my Netball game, the hardest part of which will almost surely be enemy AI.

I suppose the best example I could give when considering the issue is Pong. If a game can be solved purely by reflex, although made easier perhaps by strategic moves in advance, and the AI has capabilities symmetrical to the player: is the AI supposed to be programmed in the possibility of ‘mistakes’?

I suppose one has to. Still it feels wrong to me. Perhaps the issue is simply not putting enough weight on choices. After all games like Civ 2 run into the opposite problem of having to have their AIs cheat to play by a different rule. Football (and netball) is more strategic and tacticfied than Pong. However, even if the rest of the game is fine, if a computer-reflexed can always save the goal then we have a problem.

Perhaps, the solution is to make it so that super reflexes can never solve all goals. However, could that always work while keeping the game fun and the controls responsive. Not necessarily, so it might not be worth it to avoid these programmed in mistakes. Perhaps make it so the goalie cannot save goals from certain angles, but that’s just as much as a fudge and feels equally as fake. It could annoy the player and if not symmetrical is actually simply the first disliked solution.

I suppose what could work is a symmetrical enforced mistakes. Shots from certain angles always have the possibility of going through the goalie’s hands. Is this fair? Would players respond well to it? Would those who except humans making these mistakes react poorly to solid geometric squares engaging in them. Having played somer sport sims could have come in useful on this journey. Couldn’t it?

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