Blizzard is revamping the way AI works in Heroes of the Storm. In a blog post released today, the MOBAs developers explained what makes good AI, and outlined the many ways in which they hoped to improve on the game’s current systems.
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According to Blizzard, good AI is hard to get right, and requires developers to balance a lot of different criteria. One, is that AI sort of has to do what you expect it to - it’s no good if your automated allies start doing something human players couldn’t achieve. They also have to stay safe, but make sure to engage in teamfights at the right time. To help improve the experience for players, AI should also make sure it looks after its human allies more than its AI allies.
The changes to Heroes of the Storm’s AI involve a gradual change in the way the heroes are controlled. The change from scripts to a collection of new systems isn’t intended to change the AI very much, but brings the possibility of adding far more detail than before. According to the developers that should mean you’ll “notice AI Heroes being more responsive, more accurate, and executing more dynamic strategies” than before.
The changes are being divided into three major sections. The first of those is speed, which means the AI operate faster, improving their reactions, as well as their ability to chain multiple abilities together. The second is tactics, which offers better targeting and positioning options. This can be used offensively, but also means that AI should try to stay out of danger, and can stutter-step, attacking enemies while moving to their new positions. The third is strategy, and means the new AI will calculate how likely it is that fulfilling a particular objective will improve their team’s odds of winning.
The post also delves into the AI’s development, documenting the way in which AI is customised for each hero, as well as the behaviour tree, a branching system which contains every decision an AI can make. Valla, for example, can make 400 different decisions.
Some of the new AI is already live, and Blizzard say that all heroes released since Garrosh use the new system. Meanwhile, more heroes will be converted to the new AI with every update.