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Any chance the henchmen AI will get an upgrade?

I might've missed this and maybe it got addressed already, but since I've started playing the EE, I'm reminded how bad the henchmen AI is. Considering direct control over them is not an option, are there any plans to fix up the AI? I know there are mods for this, but seems like something an Enhanced Edition would have. I also haven't wanted to play around with mods, since it could produce some false bugs with the head start.

For example, in the OC I've had Tomi with me, he'll run way off ahead of my warrior to attack something not even on the screen. When in a big melee, he'll be engaged with an enemy, then decide to attack some random enemy on the other end of the battlefield and provoke an attack of opportunity from everyone. Then the next turn he decides he wants to attack the original target and runs back and gives everyone another chance to hit him.

Casters are a complete liability on core rules. In SOU I've had Deekin tagging along, and he regularly casts burst of wind and confusion, hitting my rogue with them. Even weirder, both him and Xanos will start casting a spell, and then just stop before completing it, then do it again the next round. Sometimes this goes on for the whole fight. Frequently they run right up behind me while I'm engaged in melee with the mobs, just to be close enough so all their spells and ranged attacks provoke attacks of opportunity.

There's also the the pathfinding and them getting stuck around doors and corners. The pathfinding in the game is a whole other story, though.

JarrakulRAM021fetito666Mirandel1130210ThorssondemoixNicoenOrlonKronsteenRifleLeroyNeverwinterWights
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Comments

  • JarrakulJarrakul Member Posts: 2,029
    Yeah, I'd vote for improved follower AI. It's really remarkably terrible right now, which affects both single player (primarily through henchmen) multiplayer (pets/summons) games.

    RAM021PracticalKat
  • myshaqmyshaq Member Posts: 18
    Why are you saying that direct control over henchmen is not an option in EE?

  • DrHappyAngryDrHappyAngry Member Posts: 1,577
    myshaq said:

    Why are you saying that direct control over henchmen is not an option in EE?

    Not that I'd mind, but let's keep the expectations realistic. It would be a lot of work, and a pretty big redesign of the henchmen system, and beamdog has limited resources. The other risk is that it could unbalance the game. The OC and expansions weren't created with direct control in mind, so you could steam roll through a lot of encounters in the games, especially if you get control of their levelling and ability choices at level up. It also kind of goes against the spirit of NWN. By that I mean, the game was meant to be more of the playing an individual character side of D&D. Sure, you adventure with others, but you don't play as the other characters.

    Now before anyone says that enhanced AI would unbalance things, I think it reflects the original intention of the designers. I doubt they wanted caster henchmen to kill you or just get stuck in a loop half casting the same spell over and over. Or for mages and ranged users to run right into the melee and provoke attacks of opportunity.

    JarrakulArtona
  • myshaqmyshaq Member Posts: 18
    What do you mean by redesinging? Nothing besides controling henchmen during battles would change. And if balancing main campaigns is a issue, this option could be turned off by default on a module level.

    About 'spirit of NWN' - it shoud be module creator's decision how to play that module, not Bioware's/Beamdog's. There are plenty single player modules which are closer in spirit to Baldur's Gate than to NWN's main campaign. And there are players, myself included, who are interested in those kind of modules, not multiplayer.

    And, let's face it, even with best henchmen AI, having spellcaster henchman is really annoying. Wasting good spells on easy targets, not healing when needed, etc. Not saying that any custom spells would require to write custom AI to use them correctly.

    NWN2 did it right, NWN EE should just do it same way.




    demoix
  • JarrakulJarrakul Member Posts: 2,029
    I don't really buy the balance argument, but I *do* buy the feasibility argument. Adding direct control of henchmen sounds like an awful lot of work to me, and given my personal experience with NWN2, I feel like I can safely say that it doesn't really solve the problem unless you also have much more control over the AI (unless you add a full-on BG-style control scheme, but that's even less feasible). Since you'd need the AI improvements and direct control, and since AI improvements would already go pretty far towards solving the problem, I would just focus on AI improvements and then see what resources are left over afterwards.

    Consider, also, that henchman AI improvements could also be used to improve monster AI (including builder options for monster AI) in a way that direct control couldn't.

    Thorsson
  • myshaqmyshaq Member Posts: 18
    I don't understand why it should be a lot of work. Almost everything is already there, just instead of AI let player make decisions.

    Monster/opponents AI is quite different then henchmen AI. Monster AI doesn't have any kind of resource management, it ususally uses everything it has, scrolls, potions, etc. I don't want this kind of behaviour on my henchmen. I don't want my cleric to use turn undead on every skeleton I'm fighting with. And creating 'resource aware' AI is much harder then 'use every move I can' AI.

  • cherryzerocherryzero Member Posts: 129
    Jarrakul said:

    I don't really buy the balance argument, but I *do* buy the feasibility argument. Adding direct control of henchmen sounds like an awful lot of work to me, and given my personal experience with NWN2, I feel like I can safely say that it doesn't really solve the problem unless you also have much more control over the AI (unless you add a full-on BG-style control scheme, but that's even less feasible). Since you'd need the AI improvements and direct control, and since AI improvements would already go pretty far towards solving the problem, I would just focus on AI improvements and then see what resources are left over afterwards.

    Consider, also, that henchman AI improvements could also be used to improve monster AI (including builder options for monster AI) in a way that direct control couldn't.

    How was henchman control in NWN2 less than in the BG series? IIRC you had full control in both games.

    On a different note, judging from the last podcast, it doesn’t seem like party control is something Trent Oster is interested in.

    Personally I prefer it because I play more single player games than not... but if that’s not the direction they want to go I imagine that’s not the direction they will go.

  • DrHappyAngryDrHappyAngry Member Posts: 1,577
    myshaq said:

    What do you mean by redesinging? Nothing besides controling henchmen during battles would change. And if balancing main campaigns is a issue, this option could be turned off by default on a module level.

    About 'spirit of NWN' - it shoud be module creator's decision how to play that module, not Bioware's/Beamdog's. There are plenty single player modules which are closer in spirit to Baldur's Gate than to NWN's main campaign. And there are players, myself included, who are interested in those kind of modules, not multiplayer.

    And, let's face it, even with best henchmen AI, having spellcaster henchman is really annoying. Wasting good spells on easy targets, not healing when needed, etc. Not saying that any custom spells would require to write custom AI to use them correctly.

    NWN2 did it right, NWN EE should just do it same way.

    I don't disagree that NWN2 did it better, and it would be cool to have direct control as an option so modules could use it as a way to keep balance in the OC and expansions, but it just doesn't sound feasible. The first NWN had no character switching built in, at all. So to implement that, you'd have to make a core function optional and add in character switching for direct control, and then they'd be expected to add in having the AI take control of the main character while you're switched. That's not just a lot of work to implement, but a lot just to test it and make sure it doesn't break other stuff. Maybe if they had unit tests for everything it would be possible, but writing unit tests for everything the game does would be a massive undertaking in of itself.

    Also I don't know how you guys play the Baldur's Gate games, but when I've got direct control over the party, I can dominate the battle field in ways that just aren't possible in the built in NWN campaigns. It would make more of a difference in HOTU where you get more than 1 henchmen, than in the OC and SoU, though.

  • cherryzerocherryzero Member Posts: 129

    myshaq said:

    What do you mean by redesinging? Nothing besides controling henchmen during battles would change. And if balancing main campaigns is a issue, this option could be turned off by default on a module level.

    About 'spirit of NWN' - it shoud be module creator's decision how to play that module, not Bioware's/Beamdog's. There are plenty single player modules which are closer in spirit to Baldur's Gate than to NWN's main campaign. And there are players, myself included, who are interested in those kind of modules, not multiplayer.

    And, let's face it, even with best henchmen AI, having spellcaster henchman is really annoying. Wasting good spells on easy targets, not healing when needed, etc. Not saying that any custom spells would require to write custom AI to use them correctly.

    NWN2 did it right, NWN EE should just do it same way.

    I don't disagree that NWN2 did it better, and it would be cool to have direct control as an option so modules could use it as a way to keep balance in the OC and expansions, but it just doesn't sound feasible. The first NWN had no character switching built in, at all. So to implement that, you'd have to make a core function optional and add in character switching for direct control, and then they'd be expected to add in having the AI take control of the main character while you're switched. That's not just a lot of work to implement, but a lot just to test it and make sure it doesn't break other stuff. Maybe if they had unit tests for everything it would be possible, but writing unit tests for everything the game does would be a massive undertaking in of itself.

    Also I don't know how you guys play the Baldur's Gate games, but when I've got direct control over the party, I can dominate the battle field in ways that just aren't possible in the built in NWN campaigns. It would make more of a difference in HOTU where you get more than 1 henchmen, than in the OC and SoU, though.
    I agree with you about the complexity of implementation. Though since they did exactly that in the BG series I imagine they have a leg up on how to do it.

    I also agree about that tactical advantage of having full party control. But at the heart of it, D&D has always been something of a tactical game.

    I can say I absolutely remember struggling with some of the battles in the BG series- and finding tactical ways to win them- while I honestly can’t remember a single fight from any of the NWN campaigns.

    Plus with the BG series, once you had mastered them, tactics mods made them that much more difficult again.

  • myshaqmyshaq Member Posts: 18

    Jarrakul said:

    I don't really buy the balance argument, but I *do* buy the feasibility argument. Adding direct control of henchmen sounds like an awful lot of work to me, and given my personal experience with NWN2, I feel like I can safely say that it doesn't really solve the problem unless you also have much more control over the AI (unless you add a full-on BG-style control scheme, but that's even less feasible). Since you'd need the AI improvements and direct control, and since AI improvements would already go pretty far towards solving the problem, I would just focus on AI improvements and then see what resources are left over afterwards.

    Consider, also, that henchman AI improvements could also be used to improve monster AI (including builder options for monster AI) in a way that direct control couldn't.

    How was henchman control in NWN2 less than in the BG series? IIRC you had full control in both games.

    On a different note, judging from the last podcast, it doesn’t seem like party control is something Trent Oster is interested in.

    Personally I prefer it because I play more single player games than not... but if that’s not the direction they want to go I imagine that’s not the direction they will go.
    True, but Trent also said that he wants to let community make decisions about features they want. Beamdog could just say how costly is this feature and let people decide.

    myshaq said:

    What do you mean by redesinging? Nothing besides controling henchmen during battles would change. And if balancing main campaigns is a issue, this option could be turned off by default on a module level.

    About 'spirit of NWN' - it shoud be module creator's decision how to play that module, not Bioware's/Beamdog's. There are plenty single player modules which are closer in spirit to Baldur's Gate than to NWN's main campaign. And there are players, myself included, who are interested in those kind of modules, not multiplayer.

    And, let's face it, even with best henchmen AI, having spellcaster henchman is really annoying. Wasting good spells on easy targets, not healing when needed, etc. Not saying that any custom spells would require to write custom AI to use them correctly.

    NWN2 did it right, NWN EE should just do it same way.

    I don't disagree that NWN2 did it better, and it would be cool to have direct control as an option so modules could use it as a way to keep balance in the OC and expansions, but it just doesn't sound feasible. The first NWN had no character switching built in, at all. So to implement that, you'd have to make a core function optional and add in character switching for direct control, and then they'd be expected to add in having the AI take control of the main character while you're switched. That's not just a lot of work to implement, but a lot just to test it and make sure it doesn't break other stuff. Maybe if they had unit tests for everything it would be possible, but writing unit tests for everything the game does would be a massive undertaking in of itself.

    Also I don't know how you guys play the Baldur's Gate games, but when I've got direct control over the party, I can dominate the battle field in ways that just aren't possible in the built in NWN campaigns. It would make more of a difference in HOTU where you get more than 1 henchmen, than in the OC and SoU, though.
    AI taking control of main character isn't different then henchman AI. And about testing, NWN EE has (almost) public beta, so there are plenty of people who play and test new features.

  • DrHappyAngryDrHappyAngry Member Posts: 1,577
    myshaq said:



    AI taking control of main character isn't different then henchman AI. And about testing, NWN EE has (almost) public beta, so there are plenty of people who play and test new features.

    It is, the game's not setup to do it or deal with character switching. But this goes back to the original point of improved AI. You'd want that regardless of whether or not you have direct control, so that when you're switched the improved AI could be used on your character. So like @Jarrakul said, even if adding direct control is an option and is feasible, you'd still want the the improved AI.

    I'm not sure how beamdog does their testing, but I doubt they just put code out and send it right to the community testers without it undergoing any internal testing beforehand. I would assume like most development studios that they have a QA department that gets a say in what goes out.

  • myshaqmyshaq Member Posts: 18

    myshaq said:



    AI taking control of main character isn't different then henchman AI. And about testing, NWN EE has (almost) public beta, so there are plenty of people who play and test new features.

    It is, the game's not setup to do it or deal with character switching. But this goes back to the original point of improved AI. You'd want that regardless of whether or not you have direct control, so that when you're switched the improved AI could be used on your character. So like @Jarrakul said, even if adding direct control is an option and is feasible, you'd still want the the improved AI.

    I'm not sure how beamdog does their testing, but I doubt they just put code out and send it right to the community testers without it undergoing any internal testing beforehand. I would assume like most development studios that they have a QA department that gets a say in what goes out.
    What does it mean 'not setup'? Character switching is just missing feature and I don't think it's a very costly to implement. Henchmen aren't very different then main characters. They have stats/skills and inventory already in the game.

    When I switch selected character from main to henchman I expect henchmen AI to take control of my main character. The same AI which controls other henchmen. And if I have direct control over my characters I don't need any kind of AI to help me with this.

  • BelleSorciereBelleSorciere Member Posts: 2,125
    It means that code to support switching control from one character to another isn't present in the game, and may be more work than you think.

  • myshaqmyshaq Member Posts: 18

    It means that code to support switching control from one character to another isn't present in the game, and may be more work than you think.

    Or it would be extremely easy. We would know only if Beamdog gives use some estimate.

    I'm rather worried that Trent said on stream that they won't be implementing this without asking community how they feel about it, cause I think it's really important feature to have.

  • BelleSorciereBelleSorciere Member Posts: 2,125
    It could be extremely easy, but we don't know. It's a feature not already built into the game, after all.

  • 11302101130210 Member Posts: 381
    Okay, first off, the AI needs to be fixed in this game. Period. I've beaten NWN, the original campaign, 5 times. And I'm on my third playthrough of the expansions.

    Dorna Trapspringer STILL doesn't disarm traps 3/4ths of the game for Shadows of Undrentide.

    Companions in HotU will cling to doors in front of them if they detect traps behind said door that is already trapped and locked. Commanding Tomi, "No Tomi! Pick the lock of the DOOR! HOKEY DOKEY HOKEY DOKEY! SHUT UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" <- You try going through a 200 hour game. I'm pretty sure the 50th attempt is going to annoy you.

    Companions *still* won't heal themselves if injured when out of battle. Dorna was so bad in SoU, she had like 10 critical heal potions on her and all these healing spells, and she still couldn't take the initiative to heal herself.

    I mean, c'mon... This was BROKEN. Ty so much JAHEIRA (I before e, except in Jaheira's name! :)); you actually healed yourself out of combat!

    BelleSorciere
  • BelleSorciereBelleSorciere Member Posts: 2,125
    Fixing the AI is probably significantly easier than making henchmen directly controllable.

    1130210
  • JarrakulJarrakul Member Posts: 2,029
    I mean, if making henchmen directly controllable turns out to be easy, I'm all for it. But revamping the AI is absolutely necessary.

    To the point about resource awareness, I agree that followers need to be more resource aware than enemies, but if resource awareness was the only improvement implemented, I would be sorely disappointed. I mean, good lord, I see enemies cast Darkness and then stand around like "wait, where'd they go?" as though they couldn't comprehend what just happened (with henchmen similarly baffled). So yes, not every follower AI improvement could be used to help monsters, but there's a lot they could both use.

    All that said, there is code to take direct control of familiars. I wonder if that code could be used for direct follower control, NWN2/Kotor-style? Even if that works (and it might not), it'd still require some additional UI elements, and the AI would need to take over the player characters, which I don't know if there's code to do. And BG-style simultaneous control of all party members remains totally infeasible.

    BelleSorciere
  • britishjbritishj Member Posts: 44
    I would love an update to the henchman and monster ai, we already know they can easily improve the ai as it has been done by the comunity in overide patches. the comunity enabled monsters to use potions cast buffs and a whole bunch of things, you could access a henchmans inventory and change their items. Think of what would be possible having access to the source code :)

  • FardragonFardragon Member Posts: 4,511
    If it was easy it would have been done already.

  • SeigarSeigar Member Posts: 9
    Full Henchmen/Party control would be a selling point for me. When I played NWN for the first time I always wanted to have a party in this UI/Controls/Gameplay.

  • JuliusBorisovJuliusBorisov Member, Administrator, Moderator, Developer Posts: 22,069
    - Companion AI in NWN leaves a lot to be desired, even when the game is modded with Tony K's Henchman Inventory & Battle AI. Is there a chance of employing full party control and marquee selection of party members in the future, à la the Infinity Engine games, or at least the ability to mod it in? This could improve single-player game-play immensely and make Aurora more attractive to your Infinity player-base, too.

    Trent Oster - Neverwinter Nights was never intended to be a Baldur’s Gate game. Baldur’s Gate poses the question of “what if you were the sole hero of a D&D adventure and you met interesting companion NPCs along the way”. Neverwinter was much more intended to be a collaborative, multiplayer experience. Neverwinter is “what will you do with your character on a D&D Adventure?” The rest of the party was imagined as players thinking the same thing and running their characters on the same adventure. We added companions into NWN to address playing the game as a single class character and needing access to other skillsets to fully enjoy the game. NWN companions can be improved, but we currently have no plans for a BG-style control scheme for companions.

    + http://blog.beamdog.com/2017/12/december-8-livestream-recap.html

    Neverwinter Nights is not Baldur’s Gate. Baldur’s Gate is a novel about a single character with companions who join her. Neverwinter Nights is a journey for you and your friends. The concept from the very start was, and still is, that you play Neverwinter Nights in multiplayer with your friends. Neverwinter Nights is core multiplayer, bottom to top, you build your content and share it with other players.

    The last thing we want to do is to make Neverwinter Nights into Baldur’s Gate.

    DrHappyAngryOrlonKronsteen
  • cherryzerocherryzero Member Posts: 129
    I watched that podcast and though not entirely surprised I was slightly disappointed and here is why...

    (Disclaimer, I’m going to bring up the much reviled, worthless and undeserving game NWN2, which is clearly inferior in all ways except maybe the quick cast bar, so please I beg forgiveness).

    I noticed in another part of the forum someone asked if there was a BG or IWD campaign for NWN. As far as I know there is not, though they have been done quite well for NWN2.

    One of the reasons, I think, is because of the party mechanic.

    In NWN mods are more or less designed to be single player, where it can be completed using a henchman or two, or party based which requires it to be multiplayer.

    In NWN2 you can build something that requires a balanced party of 4 to 6 and people can choose to play it single player by running the entire party a la infinity engine games, or multi if they have the time.

    Giving people the ability to control party members a la Baldur’s Gate (let’s not mention that most undeserving and unworthy NWN sequel) allows for more latitude in module construction.

    And this also brings up a point that I disagree with Trent. The point he made was that the BG series was more like a novel and NWN was more open environment suitable for multi player...

    But the vast majority of NWN modules, and particularly the most popular ones, are single player. And due to the fact that they need to be balanced so that any class plus a henchman can complete them, I would argue they tend to be much more novel-like in format.

    I think, ultimately, builders have more latitude if they can assume a balanced party for playthrough no matter how someone decides to play it.

    britishj
  • superfly2000superfly2000 Member Posts: 76
    But they can still try to fix it somehow. AI for henchmen and especially companions is so buggy in the module I use. Not sure if it has something to do with scripts though....(?).

  • britishjbritishj Member Posts: 44
    As somone who mostly plays nwn as a single player experience I think the ai should be a very vocal point of development. Improving the ai would make the existing and any future campaighns so much more enjoyable and replayable. Not just for companions but also enemy characters and monsters.

    Jarrakul
  • SeigarSeigar Member Posts: 9
    Shame really. This feature alone would have made me pre-order the NWN:EE. Atleast now we have answer.

    Back to NWN2 I guess.

    demoix
  • Drewbert_ahoyDrewbert_ahoy Member Posts: 83
    It's not the best AI but I can live with it, knowing how versatile builds can be and how you can deal with pretty much any situation if you do research and pool resources. Like the demi-lich in HoTu... I wore away most of it's health tossing vials of holy water. Fallout 1 had pretty bad AI as well, but again the story wasn't about your companions. It was about you the vault dweller.

  • fetito666fetito666 Member, Mobile Tester Posts: 203
    Does a better AI break backward compatibility?

  • 11302101130210 Member Posts: 381

    - Companion AI in NWN leaves a lot to be desired, even when the game is modded with Tony K's Henchman Inventory & Battle AI. Is there a chance of employing full party control and marquee selection of party members in the future, à la the Infinity Engine games, or at least the ability to mod it in? This could improve single-player game-play immensely and make Aurora more attractive to your Infinity player-base, too.

    Trent Oster - Neverwinter Nights was never intended to be a Baldur’s Gate game. Baldur’s Gate poses the question of “what if you were the sole hero of a D&D adventure and you met interesting companion NPCs along the way”. Neverwinter was much more intended to be a collaborative, multiplayer experience. Neverwinter is “what will you do with your character on a D&D Adventure?” The rest of the party was imagined as players thinking the same thing and running their characters on the same adventure. We added companions into NWN to address playing the game as a single class character and needing access to other skillsets to fully enjoy the game. NWN companions can be improved, but we currently have no plans for a BG-style control scheme for companions.

    + http://blog.beamdog.com/2017/12/december-8-livestream-recap.html

    Neverwinter Nights is not Baldur’s Gate. Baldur’s Gate is a novel about a single character with companions who join her. Neverwinter Nights is a journey for you and your friends. The concept from the very start was, and still is, that you play Neverwinter Nights in multiplayer with your friends. Neverwinter Nights is core multiplayer, bottom to top, you build your content and share it with other players.

    The last thing we want to do is to make Neverwinter Nights into Baldur’s Gate.

    No, please don't make it Baldur's Gate. That's a terrible idea! I'm with your mode of thinking, though. If you guys could just focus on tweaking some of the AI, that would be great because I think then people would end up taking the campaigns a little more seriously in terms of the NPCs.

    If you update the AI, you'll get people who like Dragon Age - those sorts of games - not shaking their heads when they buy the game. So, in a sense, it's a very lucrative decision although I'm not a Beamdog designer, and I don't know how much it would cost.

    Those are just my two cents because I already find the game nearly flawless, but I do remember Trent on the streams saying, "Identify which features didn't work so well, and what we can improve on."

    Jarrakul
  • britishjbritishj Member Posts: 44
    fetito666 said:

    Does a better AI break backward compatibility?

    Highly doubt it, make some new ai scripts avaliable for the module creation tools and update the campaighn with them, would give creators more power and players one more improved feature.

    fetito666
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