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Should Beamdog improve AI in BG:EE and BG2:EE up to SoD's level?

It seems to me that all original Beamdog content uses "SCS-lite" scripts for its enemies. This is most obvious in Siege of Dragonspear, hovewer any new content in BG:EE and BG2:EE - mostly the personal quest stuff for Neera, Rasaad and Dorn - will also utilize it.

Not only that, but if the creatures used in those encounters(or SoD) also spawn elsewhere, they will inherit this "smart" behaviour.

To those unsure what am I talking about, let me give a few examples. In the initial fight with Ekandor in Beregost, the Thay Mage will try to move away from your characters when he's not casting spells. The Tasloi, even ones randomly spawning in the game, will now try to use the superior reach of their spears when fighting. Bandits, also randomly spawned, will wander around even when out of sight, and when you attack one of them, others in vicinity will come running. I was running through the Mutamin's Garden the other day with Protection from Petrification on and after one round of fruitlessly trying to petrify my character, the Basilisks and Greater Basilisks moved into melee, "realizing" that their gaze is not working.

None of this is vanilla behaviour. But that isn't the problem. These kinds of AI improvements are really more of a "common sense" change and welcome, at least in my opinion. As long as Beamdog sticks to AI improvements, and not for example giving every NPC a small fortune worth of potions(*coughSCScough*) I'm cool with it.

The problem here is that this creates a seriously uneven gameplay throuought the saga. You start in Baldur's Gate, where most AI is "dumb", except for some beforementioned creatures and EE NPC quest encounters. Then you move on to Siege of Dragonspear, where all encounters use the "SCS-lite" scripts. Once you get used to the new, "smart" AI in SoD... you are kicked back to "dumb" AI in BG2:EE, again - except for some specific creatures and EE NPC specific encounters. Then finally you move on the ToB, where AI isn't exactly smart, it just doesn't matter because everything is a Mage with Time Stop.

So the question is - what should be done about it? Should Beamdog improve the AI in BG:EE and BG2:EE across the board, up to SoD's level, for the sake of consistency?

Should Beamdog improve AI in BG:EE and BG2:EE up to SoD's level? 63 votes

Aye
66%
AntonAndreaColomboGalactygonmlneveseDanathiongnaumiecHuskarl2006StefanOthe_sexteinbob_vengNoonsterkelmFinneousPJThacoBellGallowglassSertoriusLord_TansheronAntipatikoArdulDiddiriddi 42 votes
Nay
23%
lefreutDeciusDoubledimasDJKajurusmady3CrevsDaakargent77lroumenkjeronRavenslightArk_ToleiUnderstandMouseMagicJCDentonWesboiPaulaMigrate 15 votes
Ultimately, we are all Neutral Evil
9%
SethDavisKamigoroshisubtledoctorSmilingSwordArunsunSomeSort 6 votes
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Comments

  • semiticgodsemiticgod Posts: 5,661
    Aye
    Easier difficulties should have weaker AI, since SoD's AI is pretty darn smart, but one of the best things about SoD's gameplay is the improved AI. It doesn't just make things more difficult; it makes things much more interesting and varied.
    ArctoduslolienAerakarLuke93
  • subtledoctorsubtledoctor Posts: 6,731
    Ultimately, we are all Neutral Evil
    Question being whether it's worth the effort, when we have SCS. Given that, I'd like to see something like this added to IWDEE, before BGEE/BG2EE.
    semiticgodArctodusAerakarArdul
  • KilivitzKilivitz Posts: 1,320
    Beamdog content should be made to fit the original games, not the other way around.
    Ravenslight
  • Nay
    I trust SCS to play fair, that's one of the things that the creator emphasises.

    Not so sure I trust Beamdog as much.
    SmilingSword
  • ArctodusArctodus Posts: 294
    edited May 20
    Aye

    Not so sure I trust Beamdog as much.

    Well, as far as we can see with SoD, I'd say that they could do a real nice job improving AI. To me, the gameplay is by far what shines the most in SoD. To have that kind of quality AI in a vanilla game is what makes me like it in the first place. Without it, SoD would nowhere be as fun to play.

    Imagine the Coalition Camp attack with original vanilla BG AI... The mages assault would consist in them casting Mirror Image, throwing rocks at you with their sling and sometimes casting a Magic Missile toward you. Yay. :/

    However, I would totally understand that people wouldn't want to have that kind of AI in the EEs, because not everyone likes to play with SCS. I know that the SCS-lite version seen in SoD is actually what was dislike by some people, which is an entirely valid position.
  • Ludwig_IILudwig_II Posts: 6
    Aye
    Maybe improved AI could be an option to switch on then. Or something that is only enabled when you use harder difficulty settings. I agree with subtledoctor though, I'm playing Icewind Dale EE now and I realized I didn't remember AI being this dumb. So it would be awesome if the AI could be implemented for BGEE, BG2EE and IWEE.

    Can someone from Beamdog please advice if this is something feasible? Like is there a chance that this might be implemented for the existing EE games in the future? Thanks
    lolien
  • ArdanisArdanis Posts: 783
    It's certainly doable, albeit like with all good things it takes 10% of time to make and 90% to balance, polish and pass through QA.
    Whether it's going to be done or not, is above my pay grade to say, though.
    tbone1JuliusBorisov
  • Nay
    I voted no, fair enough, but interested in the comments.

    I'm surprised that people have noticed improved AI so much in SOD.
    Where specifically is it most noticeable?

    If I was to give a quick discription of SOD combat, it would be "large mobs rushing towards you.....pretty much all the time".
    Where is the improved AI?

    sarevok57
  • SomeSortSomeSort Posts: 587
    Ultimately, we are all Neutral Evil
    I'd like to see it on the harder difficulties. I do think BG1 already makes for a really rough introduction to anyone new to the series, and I'd be wary of anything that will make that initial learning curve even steeper.
    lolien
  • I considered the new player aspect, but come on - it's been 19 years since the original game release, and 5 years since the Enhanced Edition. I don't think we have to worry much about new players at this point, at least not the kind that quits after getting killed by a random Wolf.
  • CrevsDaakCrevsDaak Posts: 7,049
    Nay
    No. They should kinda stop changing so much stuff and leave that to mods.

    I previously criticised people who were in my current position in the past, but after the latest patch I haven't been comfortable at all playing the vanilla EEs, which leaves me with two options: playing the original BG, or using and or developing mods to make the game like vanilla.

    Also the potions component of SCS is completely optional. Just sayin'.
    KilivitzRavenslight
  • HarpagornisHarpagornis Posts: 749
    Aye
    You can see the difference of SoD scripts even in the very first fight against the Followers of Sarevok:

    - Archers constantly running away to get safe position for shooting when you try hunting them (really annoying)
    - Blackguards using their Absorb Life ability (which hurts for 64 damage on LoB!)
    - Assassins who sneak behind your lines and use poison weapons to cut down the Mages

    And the best (or worst): Once Enemies have seen you they will constantly follow and search even when you go invisible again. I love this. Others hate it. ;)

    About Mages @semiticgod already gave some decent informations. Prebuffing is great! And their spell selection is - like described - better even though far from optimal as they for instance still try to CC you even when protected from Magic (One exception are the Demons in Avernus: They will somehow recognize your MR and stop their CC abilities until the protection expires).

    Call for help could be upgraded too but with SCS in the background it works. For instance: Without SCS you can fight the spiders in the Troll Wood Cave one group after another. With SCS it works much better as the nearby group(s) will join the party trying to cut down your retreat.

    Anyway: BG:EE and BG2:EE with SoD scripts would be nice! ;)
    JuliusBorisov
  • TarlugnTarlugn Posts: 193
    Aye
    Aye, ya should do that.

    Extra request: add magic-users to BG1 "nemey parties", so shall we have a renewed experience,
    like shamans for kobold and orc groups, wizards fr hobgoblins, mages for ogres, you catch my drift?
  • O_BruceO_Bruce Posts: 2,245
    Given how limited Beamdog were in terms of making changes for original BG content, the quesiton is - is their contract with WoTC enalbes them to make that kind of changes? Because if not, the question whether they should do that, or whether the effort would be worth it is utterly meaningless.

    That being said, I wouldn't mind had they did at all. It's not no 1 priority for me, but that would be nice.
  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Posts: 3,815
    Aye
    Well, they also added LoB mode, and this is really very much in the same vein. I suspect their contract limitations extend only to things like story, core mechanics, etc. Rules/AI tweaks are likely totally a-okay.

    Me personally, I'm always for improvements; then again I also never play without SCS so these particular ones are unlikely to touch me.
    FinneousPJsemiticgod
  • AasimAasim Posts: 326
    Aye
    1) incredible enough, not everyone plays with SCS
    2) one of the best things with SoD is that insane difficulty adds more enemies, and these enemies are cool. You don't get this in SCS, and I'd love to see it in BG1/BG2. Imagine Firkraag's wife or brother spawning next to him on insane difficulty, or entire Draug Fea's grade school buddies coming to help him! I think this would be a breathe of fresh air in BG2.
    3) you can enjoy ad.2) in SoD w/o the silly double-damage enemies, which is great.
    ArctodusArdul
  • lroumenlroumen Posts: 913
    Nay
    Not by default. Hidden behind an option, sure why not.

    To be honest I do not like scs or improved AI mods for every playthrough. More often I like to play leisurely for the role play, the story and the progression. Only one in every ten games is with a mod that kills me at every corner. Having that every game will be a chore and will take the fun out of the game.
    Ravenslightsarevok57
  • the_sexteinthe_sextein Posts: 368
    edited May 21
    Aye
    I know this probably isn't possible but I would love to have an SCS tick box in the gameplay menu that you can simply enable. I think SCS is a master class mod that is shockingly balanced and fun. One of the draws of the EE version is that you don't need mods. It's so nice to not have to deal with tutu and the fix packs, widescreen mod and all of that. SCS is really the only thing I add to my games when I play.

    I had hoped that LOB mode was going to be Beamdog's version of SCS but it wasn't. I did have a good time with it but the HP increase really hurts the game balance to the point where a thief can no longer backstab an enemy spellcaster into obvlion at the start of a fight and that is oh so satisfiying. I don't like that amror class means even less because of the boosted enemy thaco. I don't like that the enemy saving throws are so high that many spells are next to useless and some are useless because they are dependent on enemy hit die which is boosted through the roof. Tactics get narrowed down instead of expanded and some classes become less useful. SCS managed to deepen the casting strategy, ambush tactics, spell use, and throw in increased enemy groupings without breaking the game balance.

    It's not a problem for me to keep installing SCS but it wasn't updated and we have had to use subtledoctors quick fix to get it working. It would sure be nice to have an option that is already installed with the game and fully supported for those of us that want it. Heck, they have Gaider on the team, might want to ask him if it's ok to include an optional Ascension ending in the game options as well. Waiting for the beta to come out was painful and many of us can hardly stand to play the game without it. I don't expect anything though, they are mods and I get that. That doesn't mean it wouldn't be freaken cool though. They could label them as mod options in the game menu, this would allow users to easily select them without having to find them and quick fix them and install them over and over again. It certainly isn't expected but it would be a great thing for fans of the game to have the options available for some of the major mods like that.
    Grond0
  • WatchForWolvesWatchForWolves Posts: 54
    edited May 21
    SomeSort said:

    You're right that it's been 19 years since the original game release. Why are we still getting new content and patches and mods for a game that was released 19 years ago? Because it has a vibrant and engaged player base!

    Which by definition cannot be new players, so you're proving my point.

    I also don't know why you're treating BG/EE games like some sort of MMORPG that needs to keep a playerbase up for revenue. Industry data shows that most of game sales happen in the first two weeks after release, for a refubrished classic title like EE the dynamic would probably be different, but certainly not constant over 5-10-15 years.

    In short, everyone who wanted EE already bought it(and most of them were people who already owned BG, BG2 and ToB). All new revenue from that title will come from players who never played BG before, and that's an extremely niche market that will likely be only purchasing it heavily discounted/in a bundle anyway. So even if we assume that 100% of players new to the BG:EE will absolutely hate the AI changes(which is absurd in itself, not only because of the 100% ratio but because since they never played the games beforehand they will not even realize any changes were done), that would have a negligible effect on Beamdog's revenue which will mostly come from new games they make/enhance, not five year old titles.

    Besides, most of the time they wouldn't be able to get a refund anyway. So it doesn't matter what do they think about the game after they already bought it, heheh.
  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Posts: 3,815
    Aye
    @the_sextein I get where you're coming from, and I am definitely also 100% in the camp of SCS all day every day. HOWEVER adding it as an inbuilt is not something I would like to see. SCS simply comes with too many options of its own, and I am definitely one to use setups different from what most people would probably consider "default" (e.g. maximum spawns including Liches, full caster HLAs on everyone, etc.). Any compromise regarding those many options would leave someone dissatisfied, and I think it's the biggest strength of mods that they can be configured so well to suit the tastes of a very wide variety of people. Taking that away just for an easier installation is not a trade-off I'd like to make.

    Ascension is a bit different. While it still has options, most of those could fairly easily be brought to some default consensus without annoying too many people. Since the bosses are also not ALL that difficult without SCS, it shouldn't be that big of a problem in that respect either (and frankly ToB always was a bit too easy in the default state imo). HOWEVER the big problem here is that Ascension very likely is a direct violation of the contractual limitations put on content changes. While it does supposedly represent the "true" ending as it was intended by some people at some point, that still doesn't change the contractual obligations. Even a toggle option would probably not work to satisfy those obligations, which leaves us with modding as the only alternative.
    the_sexteinArctodussemiticgod
  • the_sexteinthe_sextein Posts: 368
    edited May 21
    Aye
    I'm suggesting that they simply add built in support for major mods. It would be an option rather than changing the game or forcing the mod on anyone. I get what you are saying about SCS though. Maybe they could stagger the options based on difficulty. Like core rules would have the basic middle of the road SCS options and insane would have the boosted lich's and pre-casting for mages. It is true that the overall scope of the options would not be as controllable though so I can see where you are coming from. Personally, I would like to be able to put it on insane and have a full install of SCS automatically installed but that is me being selfish. Due to the contractual issues I am sure it's not possible to include a finished business mod option in the game itself. It's just me dreaming.
    semiticgod
  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Posts: 3,815
    Aye
    It sounds like what you really want is better modding functionality, so you don't have to go through installers and wait an hour each time you change SCS. Totally on board with that notion, however it's probably too difficult and/or time-consuming to modify the engine enough to make that easier at this point.
    semiticgod
  • the_sexteinthe_sextein Posts: 368
    edited May 21
    Aye
    Yeah you are probably correct. I am still hoping that they will make a BG2 expansion pack that is large enough to turn TOB into a full fledged BG3. It would be great to have the original ending, the ascension ending and maybe another ending we have never scene before all included in an expansion pack. The ending you get plays out depending on the choices you make during TOB and the new expansion content. That would be truly great. Add in a new difficulty mode that is more like SCS that applies to the entire trilogy and I would be in heaven and completely content with the state of Baldur's gate forever. I wouldn't even feel the need to mod it anymore.
  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Posts: 3,815
    Aye
    That would mount up to a remake rather than a remaster (which is what the EE essentially is), a project of the same scope as an entirely new game. And at that point you have to wonder if an entirely new game is not a better use of time and resources :P But I understand the dream....
  • the_sexteinthe_sextein Posts: 368
    edited May 21
    Aye
    I disagree, it would be an expansion pack that uses the same rules and game engine. It wouldn't change TOB it would simply add more areas to it and the original TOB ending would be one of multiple endings you could experience based on your choices. This would give purists the original ending, Ascension fans the ending they enjoy, and people who want a whole new ending something to see.

    Most importantly, it would allow them to essentially make BG3 without having to make a game that takes place after TOB. TOB ends it so I think the only reasonable thing to do is to expand it until it is BG3. One of the great things about Baldur's Gate is the continuity between the games. I would hate to see BG3 take place after TOB or with a new set of characters and a new story. It might as well be called something other than Baldur's Gate at that point. Especially if it uses a new rule system and graphic engine like a remake would have.

    As for difficulty, I am suggesting that they make a new difficulty like they did with LOB mode in SOD but make it more in line with SCS. Then, instead of us discussing if they should improve the rest of the game's AI to SOD standard, we would be begging them to improve the rest of the game's AI to BG3 standards.
  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Posts: 3,815
    Aye
    What you are proposing doesn't work simply because of the already mentioned contractual limitations, which come with the licensing rights to the original BG content. They can't just take all the existing assets and change them around as they please simply because they are calling it an 'expansion' - that is literally what the contractual limitations are there to prevent. For something to not be subject to the limitations it would have to be entirely new (except of course for the general IP and how it ties in with it), like for example SoD.
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