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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 12:13 pm 
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Well... Since several weeks I'm in trouble to progress in the design of my game. In the case of you haven't hear it before, it will be an Action / Adventure game.
I have to design enemies, and that is their attacks/AI that comes with them. I just have no ideas. I have a few vague ideas for enemies, but no for their actual look nor for their attack / projectiles they throws / weapons they use, etc...

I have a big table where all data is supposed to be found for all enemies (color, tiles used for each animatio frame, AI, strenght, damage recevied by each weapon, etc...)
My game engine have one portion that setup ennemies sprites from their direction and frame number, that are set in two different ennemies variables.
Then, it checks for collision between players and ennemies, if the player is attacking and the player faces the ennemy, the ennemy get damage, else the player get damage. I also check player/items and player/projectile here (the projectile part isn't done yet, I need ennemy that uses projectiles). I may also made player projectiles, impliying the collision ennemy/projectile should also be done.
Finally, the code exectute the "AI" of each monster. That is supposed to move him in fuction of random parameters or the position of the player, or other ennemies, etc... The calculation of damage and check if the ennemy is dead is also made here, so the monster really destroy himself. So my engine can allow monster that summons other before dying, or monster that cannot be killed under some condition, etc...
So, each kind of ennemy can have a different AI programm implemented that move it and triggers its attacks.

Since my game is an Action RPG, where the player get hit just by touching an ennemy (Zelda, Final Fantasy Adventure), and not a Adventure RPG, where the player get hit only if attacked (Secret of Mana, Tales of Phantasia), I think most common enemies can just randomly move and do nothing special.
A couple of ghost ennemies could also follow the player, that would get really anoying for him (if monsterHPos<playerHPos, increase monster H Pos, else decrease monster H pos and the same vertically, you got the favlour).
But I still need bosses and more advanced ennemies that have more interesting attacks and add strategy to the game.

I noted Mega Man games are especially brillant when it comes to ennemy design. You got different enemies in almost all stages, and they act differently. The "mans" are looking so cool, and a lot of strategy is needed to defeat them.
Secret of Mana and sequels also have good enemy design, allowing greatly inspired monsters and cool moves.

But, now, as a game designer myself, this overload of freedom just make me sick. I can design ennemies as crazy as I want, but they still need to look a but serious. And even if I get a few ideas I juge myself as poor compared to the average video games, I cannot make up the algorithm that comes in their "custom programm". I'm totally lost. It would be so stupid to totally stop the developpement of my game just for that.

So, finally this is NOT a question. I'm just calling for help from anyone that sucessfully designed ennemies. Doesn't anyone have any advice about what to do in a such situation ?

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PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2006 7:02 am 
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I'm running into the same problems as you. I haven't coded the enemy AI yet. My characters can go right, left, jump or fall so far. I can see how you could use "randomizing" to decide on direction or to initiate an allowed jump. Still it seems that a pattern of movement, say "move left" should persist for a certain length of time (maybe a time period picked at random?) before changing to say "move right". Also the change in the movement pattern could be due to interaction with the background (collisions) or other sprites. The AI (personality or behaviour) of each character would be a collection of code that:
-initiates a change based on the environment: background or sprite collisions or hitting screen borders
-simulates some intelligence by allowing movement patterns to persist for a certain time period (random or fixed) or change according to random code possibly based on the past (experience)
I'm just sort of talking out loud here, I'm very much in the planning stage of how to give my enemies some life. I'm always impressed how games like Zelda have enemies that seem alive. In a way, the enemy movements in some of the games remind me of the "Life Game" where a pixel persists, disappears or appears based on simple turn based rules according to the number of surrounding pixels. This post probably won't help too much. :(


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PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2006 7:43 am 
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Something you may want to keep in mind, is that you don't always have to have the best AI to add challenge to your game. You can have pretty weak AI and still have such a challenging game that it's considered very hard. Remember Ninja GaiDen? Most of the enemies on that game either stay in place, or just plain-ol' move in the direction opposite of the character. Placement of the enemies seemed to be what made that game difficult. I think the most AI was put in the birds that everyone found so frustrating.


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PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2006 9:05 am 
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I know that AI shouldn't be very advanced in an action-based game, but there MUST be some AI. Monster can just randomly walk in a direction for some time, stop, pick another direction, etc.... that's what I implemented so far with the only monster I made.
However, not ALL monster can do this, especially bosses. Well, they can, but I want my game to have some level of quality, so fighting bosses that just walks would suck. The main problem is the design of the monster themselves, that comes with their AI. I just have no ideas for monsters. I don't ask ideas, but how to get some. Looking in games doesn't give me any ideas, I just notice how good they are made and how unable to do this I am (yet). I'd want to fix that problem, but I dont know how.
Doccuments can cover over and over how to draw sprites, how to render background, how to play music, but that is actually the easiest stuff when it comes to game design. Actually design ennemies is much harder and independant of the hardware itself. No doccuent will ever able to explain how to do this, since there is no method or something, it is just art.
I had no trouble to design background graphics and levels. I also have a little experience writing music. I think a video games is a very interesting for of art, where different artworks "work" together to make a giant piece of art (that is for good games, of course). I just lack of ideas for enemies, and the worse is that I cannot help myself... I just need some source of inspiration or something.

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PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2006 9:06 am 
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Roth wrote:
Placement of the enemies seemed to be what made that game difficult.


And no fun.

I would've liked the game if there wasn't a swarm of previously unseen enemies waiting after almost every pit. You make the jump only to get knocked back into the pit by an enemy that seemed to come out of nowhere.

*shudders*


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PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2006 9:22 am 
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Oh, yeah, I agree with Dish for Ninja Gaiden. The stupid enemies appears, and re-appears. There is so much glitches, often two or three enemies are loaded, that is horrible. They are just here to put you in a hole.
If that is called challenge, I hate challenging games. I prefer fun games where you need kind of strategy that help you to make through stages and defeat bosses using proper weapon, like MegaMan games.

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PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2006 12:08 pm 
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Just an idea... Ninja GaiDen is my favorite game, so that just popped into my head.


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PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2006 1:00 pm 
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I have fond memories of ninja gaiden, but a challenging boss would be dracula in castlevania. Actually that game was just all around dificult after you got passed the first couple of levels, though it has been years.

I thought the enemies in Zelda 2 were annoying, especially the iron knuckles, though i really didn't like that game very much anyways.


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PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2006 12:11 am 
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Roth wrote:
Just an idea... Ninja GaiDen is my favorite game, so that just popped into my head.


Ninja gaiden is really frustrating game, it's really annoying to start whole level from beginning each time :(


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PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2006 8:45 am 
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I think I'm able to do myself the difference between what is anoyingly challenging and what is funny challenging. I have some experience playing games, and while I prefer play roleplaying based games where the existant challenge is a bit different - it is rather based on patience and stategy than fast reflexes to avoid enemy attacks - I think that I can make the difference between that is hard but still enjoyable and what is anoying in action-based games.
I will probably not have too much problems with the difficutly level thing. I think is would be interestingly hard if the ennemies looks intelligent, just like Mega Man games. If the ennemies are stupid and boring, but for some reasong you always loses to them, then the player will get anoyed and won't like the game. Since it will be my first complete game, I really have to hold some quality to make self-publicity for further comming games.

I think I just have to try my best to design monster, even if they are just cliched classic or whatever, or on the other side totally crazy and ridiculous. I won't care, and I'll design some random attack / AI to them. Then, I'll have to figure what could be improved and do my best to impove it, in order to get better monsters and better AI to them. I think it is the only way. It will take a bit longer, but anyways I have to take experience designing monsters.

I ask myself if a monster is harder to design in a roleplay based game or in an action based game. In some sense, monsters just need to attack and sometimes cast magic in roleplay based games, while they have to totally base their attacks on moving in aciton-based games. However, the quantity of action based games is much higher than roleplay based games, making me believe that action based games are easier to design. Is that right ?
I think a roleplaying game still need complex monster design to be good (Final Fantasy, Dragon Warrior), while uninteresting ennemies can make the game so plain (Destiny of an emperor for example, just have bandits as ennemies). In another way, the same apply to action based games. Megaman have so complex monster design and that is really why I like Mega Man games. Many action games with stupid monster doesn't get my attention. Contra is a big exeption, however, because you only fight the same set of humans during the whole game, and some aliens in the last stage. However, I still love playing that game (while I like its sequels much less). I think this is because the ennemies are improving themselves acting differently in later stage, adding chellenge.
This is also kind of personnal taste. Some people will find that graphics are the most important thing in games, and myself I think that is ennemies. That may be why I worry so much about them. Maybe I just shouldn't ?

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PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2006 6:21 pm 
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I just want to say hello!!! This site rocks!!! Keep working in your NES games. I think NES is the greatest game console of all times.


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PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2006 5:54 am 
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Unfortunately playing games does not suddenly evolve one in to a game designer, creating games from scratch takes lots of creativity.

Have you noticed how crashman and metalman works in MM2? crashman just runs around until player shoots, and metalman just stands still and shoots when player does, flashman jumps when gets hit. Obviously, reacting to player moves is a good approach?

Maybe you should just put something together and see how it turns out?
-sepi


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PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2006 12:20 pm 
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Sure, playing and desining are two completely different things. I like designing better, because you just cannot dislike what you made, but for other games, I'll think "that is nearly perfect, if only this...." even for some small background tiles or small things in a map.
I just got lots of ideas for story, maps and all, but I have much less ideas for ennemies. I'm just going ahead, in the hope to fix what is wrong later. This should work.

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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2006 12:37 pm 
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sepi wrote:
Have you noticed how crashman and metalman works in MM2? crashman just runs around until player shoots, and metalman just stands still and shoots when player does, flashman jumps when gets hit. Obviously, reacting to player moves is a good approach?

React to the player is definitely a good thing. Bosses in Mega Man 2 seems to start attaking just when the player does. Since I always imediatley shoot when begining a fight in Mega Man, I didn't notice that the bosses doesn't attack if you don't. Crashman seems to jump everytime you shot (unless he already is jumping), then thows bombs. That's a good pattern. Maybe a bit too simple, but good. Bosses in Mega Man games definitely are the ultimate reference for 2D shooter AI.

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