League of Legends players asked Riot for “more human” bots – and rather than ask the necessary questions about AI or read some alarmist fiction about the nature of sentience, the developers just went ahead and built a fleet of them.
Nobody talks about League of Legends bots on the internet – it’s all mano-a-mano if you believe the summoners on the official forums. But Riot say bot matches form a “decent chunk” of games – even among level 30 players.
The developers therefore considered it a worthwhile place to invest some time. They’ve been building bots to be less predictable and to “focus on the same game elements that players do” – namely last-hitting and firing off combos.
That should make them feel “more human” in the lanes – the key request from players. Interestingly enough, far fewer players requested “tougher” bots – though Riot note the changes they’ve made will only help make harder bots’ behaviour more varied down the line.
“Players also said that they thought bots didn’t seem to think about strength and danger the same way most players do,” say Riot. “As it turns out, they were right.”
League of Legends bots used to evaluate threat according to the level of damage a player is causing them – a common AI technique used in FPS games. But as Riot point out, if an opponent has unloaded all of their spells on you, it’s no time to run – it’s the time to stick the knife in.
Their thoughts on bot reaction times are also worth reading. Beginner bots now scan at roughly one third the frequency they did pre-update.
“A good opportunity for making bots both more efficient and more human-like was to contextually slow down how often they scan the environment and react,” say Riot. “They aren’t quite as fast as they used to be, which helps take a bit of the edge off those unrealistic super-human reactions.”
There’s one caveat: bots still don’t do jungling or wall-jumping.
“This boils down to one simple fact,” explain Riot. “Bots don’t know where walls are or even what they are (really sucks to be a bot right?).”
Indeed. Do you think you’ll play with the machines in a flame-free environment a little more frequently now?