Weekly Penguin
December 27th, 2007

Would you kindly

Back in early 2004, when I started working on the AI structure of TAGAP, I had this feature I used to call 'Artificial Stupidity'. In a nutshell, it was a step back in time, to Doom and Quake era. You might remember that in those games, you were able to lure enemies to fight each other, adding certain tactical element to it. If you played things in the smart way, you could have a Cyberdemon doing the dirty work for you and save a lot of ammo. The Artificial Stupidity was just that; if zombie penguin was hit by a fellow penguin or droid's gunfire, it would blindly attack that instead of player. Artificially manifested stupidity, you see.

However, It soon became clear that this wasn't practical or fun in 2D side-scrolling world with zombie penguin armies TAGAP had. Player never actually needed to fight when the zombies turned it all into a skirmish mayhem of their own, eventually leading to removal of Artificial Stupidity. It was a sweet idea, but didn't work in 2D environment.

Now, some time later, I got my hands on BioShock, this year's perhaps the most praised game. One of BioShock's most hailed aspects was its Artificial Intelligence, which is based heavily on working relationships between the various enemy types. The funny thing is, however, that this praised Artificial Intelligence is almost identical to TAGAP's original Artificial Stupidity. The only difference is that in BioShock it's exploited in every possible way, creating hundreds of different strategies to try out, making the player forget the simplicity behind it all.

I'm not saying that it's bad in BioShock, on a contrary, it's brilliant. This just is one of those moments I'm not sure should I be proud of myself for independently coming up with AI system similar to one in Ken Levine's masterpiece – or should I bang my head against the wall for dropping it later on.

Until next time,

Jouni Lahtinen, the head penguin