Star Citizen: AI Roundtable

Each week, Star Citizen Live hosts one or more developers to talk live about their work in progress. This Friday, the AI ​​team is in the spotlight with no less than five developers on set. The AI ​​work is ahead of the other teams, in the sense that most of the technologies are already present and simply need to be adapted to a particular gameplay, or even include certain specific animations. However, there is still work and steps to be taken. Here is what we picked up.

Assignments

Star Citizen’s NPC AI works by assignment. An entity (the server, the player, etc) defines the work to be done before the AI ​​runs. There are situations where the AI ​​will enter an infinite loop of assignments on a single container (object, panel, wall, etc. This is a container of interaction entities like an electrical panel containing a fuse). This loop is intended to populate the universe and make it alive, the AI ​​then has access to all the actions available on this panel and will execute them one by one to avoid too much redundancy. The AI ​​will be able to interact with each of the fuses for example. Moreover, the AI ​​is aware of the material it carries, she can then make use of a flashlight, a tablet, or any object that is useful in the given situation.

NPC Crew Operation

Recruitment itself is a matter of gameplay and therefore not suitable for this team. The developers, on the other hand, talk about the inner workings of AI crews:

  • AI will turn a dialogue into an assignment
  • The tasks given may be extremely specific, or on the contrary, be generic depending on the job.
  • When assigning, the player must respect the profession of the AI ​​under penalty of penalty. A pilot will eventually be able to repair a ship, but with less efficiency than an engineer. If an engineer is assigned to the household, his morale may be affected, etc.

As mentioned in the introduction, the technology is ready. Using the game database is therefore trivial for AI developers, but if the gameplay is missing for the player, it is also missing for the NPCs. The problems to be overcome are at the level of the missions or animations to be used in the event of an error, the “fallback” chain must be precise and functional.

AI is environment dependent: the animation must constantly adapt to the metric, it must be able to target and use the tools available within range, or else know where to find them. The animations are therefore varied and numerous, which takes time to record and implement.

Dynamic Navmesh Planes for Planets

The team has finished developing dynamic navmeshes for planets. This means that the possible paths are constantly calculated around the NPCs, and that we will therefore be able to find many more outside the outposts for example in the future. It will therefore be technically possible to transport an NPC from one place to another in his ship, without it getting completely lost, or remaining frozen.

The dynamic navmeshes have already been passed to the design teams to start working with.

AI Reinforcements

With the arrival of navigation links and dynamic navmeshes, it will also become likely to see AI reinforcement ships landing on outposts. For now it’s just the characters, but they are working on the reinforcements of vehicles disembarked from a ship. Navigation links are not currently for ladders or elevators, only ramps.

When a hostile AI arrives on site, it is already in combat mode, there will be no waiting phase or searching for the enemy. She will also be situationally aware (the NPC, will not try to shoot down a ship with a gun), but will have different reactions depending on the “personality” of the NPC in the same situation (some will be very aggressive, others completely beginners and not experienced in handling a weapon, etc.).

Healing by AIs

They are working on the ability of AIs to heal friendly units (player or NPC). The care also concerns the awakening of an unconscious character, or the release of a prisoner.

Loot by AIs

AI is currently omniscient. She is therefore able to search a body for more ammunition. The AI ​​resource management system is already present, so it is not a level to cross, this behavior is linked to the rest of the system. However, the developers want to create the illusion of AI searching for hardware.

Performance

In the persistent universe, the AI ​​is completely tied to the server, so it’s not uncommon to see their performance drop. If the server-meshing will bring a non-negligible gain at this level, they must still think about solutions to improve performance among:

  • Reduced entity density across locations (the more AI entities in a location, the worse the performance)
  • Fallback contextual social animations in case of too long server response time.
  • Limit the number of calculations (raycast, queries, etc) per image.

Various

  • They want to make the universe alive, so NPCs will have moods. For example, we can see an NPC expressing his frustration at having missed his metro.
  • They work on AI animals.
  • The Blades are working, but the gameplay is not ready.

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Star Citizen: AI Roundtable


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