Dragon Age: Inquisition is setting up to be the biggest and best installment in the franchise yet, and BioWare has been very meticulous with things like the game's AI. In a vast, expansive world like Dragon Age: Inquisition, having a fluid, smooth AI system is going to be important.
That aspect of a game can always be a very dicey thing if it isn't coded correctly, and BioWare spoke at great length about the game's AI. Cameron Lee, who is a producer on Dragon Age: Inquisition, spoke about the things they needed to ask themselves when creating AI throughout the world.
"It’s actually really important. It’s amazingly important, because what you’re doing is creating a fantasy world, right. From the ground up, you build this thing. That’s building the characters, that’s building the factions and the cultures and the environments that they live in.
"So when you look at animal life; how would animals behave? How would foxes react to wolves, then how would wolves react to men? And then there are demons and behemoths and giants and dragons and all these things, so they all have different types of predator and prey behaviors against each other. And then, human AI, in terms of pure combat, that’s actually really important, as well, because you want something that’s believable and reactionary," Lee said.
Some AI in a game can be unbelievable when it should be more realistic, so it's important for BioWare to understand what realistic line they are drawing and for which AI deserves certain actions and traits. Lee talked about an enemy like an archer and how that specific character would more than likely result to cover-based tactics so it can stay alive and fire arrow after arrow at the player.
When creating AI, it's not always the easiest and smoothest of processes, as any game developer will tell you. Sometimes when you code AI to do one thing, their resulting actions can become a bit buggy, and Lee shared an example of this happening.
"We had these really interesting bugs where the archers would always try and back up behind cover, but in a massive open-world game, cover is miles away, right. So you’d be chasing these archers all over the place, and so this is why we spend a lot of time on AI, to get it feeling right and balanced and believable, yet still have it be controllable enough to be entertaining.
"So when you run up against, say, you’ve seen some wolves that have attached some archers, everyone’s behaving realistically, and then you become a third aspect to that combat encounter, everyone doing what they need to be doing," Lee said.
Dragon Age: Inquisition will be launching on Nov. 18 and is the third iteration in the series. It will be available on the PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC.