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The problematic things with the Infinity Engine games


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The only two things i can remember of being iffy with our beloved games were:

 

1)Fog of War - Line of Sight : How many times did we all cast Cloudkill and Stinking Cloud to unsuspecting enemies

and they still just stood there taking the damage?It may have saved us from some very

tough battles but it was clearly an exploit.

 

2)Pathfinding : ''You must gather your party before venturing forth'' ''You must gather your party before venturing forth''

''You must gather your party before venturing forth''

Oh,Minsc what are you doing behind those barrels ? Are you looking for Boo?

 

Need i say more?

 

 

I don't know how big of a problem these issues are going to be with today's technology and Obsidian's experience but i

just had to address them.

Are there other issues i can't remember?What are your opinions?

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The AI problem with FoW is quite fixable; pathfinding is more difficult. You still see problems with the latter even in modern game releases. I don't know what the fix is; maybe in-game objects need soft and hard collision boundaries? Shrug.

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The big thing I can think of is that, even in the best designed isometric games, sometimes things will be behind other things. An important item dropped behind an open door; a lootable corpse fallen behind a barrel. BG was really good at pulling out walls and offering ways to highlight interactable objects, but still wasn't perfect.

 

Anyone remember Little Big Adventure, where you could rotate the scene by 90 degrees in any direction? Or even the Sims. Neat solution. Probably won't work with pre=painted backgrounds.

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The big thing I can think of is that, even in the best designed isometric games, sometimes things will be behind other things. An important item dropped behind an open door; a lootable corpse fallen behind a barrel. BG was really good at pulling out walls and offering ways to highlight interactable objects, but still wasn't perfect.

A feature in the IE series that I found particularly frustrating was when doors were placed on the back sides of the buildings, where you can't see them. It felt like a mini-game of "Where's Waldo?".

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The AI problem with FoW is quite fixable; pathfinding is more difficult. You still see problems with the latter even in modern game releases. I don't know what the fix is; maybe in-game objects need soft and hard collision boundaries? Shrug.

 

I have not seen the pathfinding problem fixed in any game to date. In NWN 2, summoned creatures were almost unusable because they kept blocking doors and hallways, In Dragon Age, I wanted to smack the archers, always stopping their move and beginning to fire right in the doorway, In Skyrim, followers keep losing their way, it keeps to be annoying in Diablo 3 and in Torchlight 2...

 

IMHO, the fix here would be for the devs to simply admit the fact: Nope. We can't. Good pathfinding AI is still a few years in coming, hell, a decent pathfinding common sense has never been done. Lets just cut the losses and make a few workarounds. Like, make is possible to move *through* friendly NPCs (realism be damned!) or have a "instant party collect" button. Not sexy solutions, but I'm not holding my breath until someone finally comes up with a pathfinding AI that works :unsure:

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IMHO, the fix here would be for the devs to simply admit the fact: Nope. We can't. Good pathfinding AI is still a few years in coming, hell, a decent pathfinding common sense has never been done. Lets just cut the losses and make a few workarounds. Like, make is possible to move *through* friendly NPCs (realism be damned!) or have a "instant party collect" button. Not sexy solutions, but I'm not holding my breath until someone finally comes up with a pathfinding AI that works :unsure:

Moving through friendly NPCs is allowed under the 3e D&D rules. It's not pretty to watch but it does help.

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There is really no excuse for pathfinding issues given the ability of modern computers. The first algorithms for such were created decades ago, and ones from even 2 decades have at worst a computational time proportional to the number of vortexes, with some considerably less.

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If I remember correctly in PS:T you didn't have to gather your party before venturing forth.

 

Yeah it was the only IE game that allowed that. You could also ran in PST. There is one problem with this though, because it allowed you to cheat and just ran away from enemies. Not that is a bad thing, but it affects game's balance.

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Not to mention:

 

Summoned monsters not transition through area changes.

 

No actual geometry besides distance, E.G. a I fling a fireball onto a platform "above" me party and it still hits my party, because things are only screen distance and not actually 3d.

 

Etc.

 

I'd have preferred a game that's just in modern 3d environment and not pre-rendered. But that decision seems to have flown already.

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There is really no excuse for pathfinding issues given the ability of modern computers. The first algorithms for such were created decades ago, and ones from even 2 decades have at worst a computational time proportional to the number of vortexes, with some considerably less.

 

Yeah, the actual pathfinding itself is basically a solved problem; I did a lot of research around six or seven years ago and the state of the art as of then is easily good enough to navigate a maze in a microsecond on hardware that can fit in a wristwatch. The difficulty is the AI for multiple entities which have to work together.

 

There's really no reason why all of the problems mentioned in this thread couldn't be pretty easily fixed though - I suspect it's never been a high priority, especially given that party-based games haven't been too common of late.

 

For example, archers blocking doorways is obviously a low-hanging-fruit type of problem - you could have the combat AI when equipped with a ranged weapon try to keep at least a minimum distance from the target and move to the relevant part of the arc which offers LoS, as opposed to the traditional method of just going towards the target until you get to LoS.

 

(To elaborate on that: say Alice is ordered to attack Bob with a weapon that has range 20. Draw a circle with radius 20 around Bob. Colour in the sections of that circle that have LoS on Bob. Is Alice in that coloured area? If yes, you're done. If no, then it's been reduced to a straightforward pathfinding problem - find the shortest path that takes Alice into the coloured area; bonus points for weighting it to keep the distance from the target as high as possible. I have more specific ideas on how exactly to do that, but this has gone on long enough :p.

Baldur's Gate on the other hand just does: do you have LoS? If not, move in the direction of the target until you do. The point where you do is generally the doorway.)

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