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Game AI should evolve through gameplay to better serve players, says Blizzard dev

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Video game AI, whether it be NPCs or enemies, should be "smarter" and evolve to better serve players as they progress through the game, according to Blizzard senior AI and gameplay engineer Brian Schwab.

Speaking during a panel at the 2013 Game Developers Conference today, Schwab said that AI has "very little I." In-game characters and stores should remember what you do as you play. Stores should have your favorite potion ready for you when you enter, or stock items you've been looking for or might need based on your activities.

"Stores should have the dagger you are looking for or your favorite potion," he said. "Scripted AIs just mostly suck."

Schwab said that AI entities should start to recognize us on a deeper level. Companion AIs that follow players around are "not our friends," aren't necessarily helpful and don't contribute to our personal experience. Furthermore, tutorial NPCs should notice what we're doing as we are taught the game's mechanics, and should tweak their approach or help players with areas they are struggling with.

"Imagine a Tamogatchi game where I'm the thing the game is trying to make better," he said.

Additionally, Schwab said that the in-game villain should also tailor itself to players to create a more intimate experience.

"I want a nemesis who knows me so well, he knows the buttons to push that make me angry," he said, noting that enemy AI should evolve according to player growth and actions. "I want a guy who has personally wronged me in a really nasty way, and I get to come after him in a revenge setting."

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