Friday, July 29, 2022

Let's Have Better A.I. in Racing Games

Quite a few racing game nowadays seems to have A.I. that not only follows a straight path but also slows down near the end of the last lap. These patterns can become quite noticeable the more familiar you get the game. Some A.I. also has access to different laws than the player needs to abide to. The below are some of the most popular racing games with their, what I consider to be, problems:
  • Forza Horizon 3/4/5, Forza Motorsport 5/6/7 - The A.I. slows down on the last lap, for most difficulty settings, and follows a straight path.
  • Need For Speed Heat - The cops aren't as aggressive on A.I.
  • Project Cars - A.I. has access to different laws of physics than the player. If the player goes through the same "water puddles" as the A.I. he'll crash and they won't.
Out of the most popular racing game companies, Codemasters (Dirt/GRID) and BugBear(Flatout/Wreckfest) seems to understand this problem the most and have created some of the most engaging A.I. as a result.
While the difficulty settings does affect the maximum speed of the A.I., in Wreckfest, they don't slow down on the last lap nor do they follow different handling mechanics than the player. Similar strategies have been applied for Dirt/GRID games.

This is the philosophies that I hope will be considered for future racing games:
  • The A.I. shouldn't have different handling mechanics than the player regardless of the difficulty.
  • Move away from straight paths. It's true that in real racing you'll see people follow each other but they typically will pass each other every once in a while and mistakes will happen. In video games, you shouldn't have A.I. start at "8th" place and remain there the entire time. They should be hungry to reach 1st place.
  • No more slow downs on the last lap. I understand the need to make people feel like their winners but nobody likes cheap wins in the long run.
  • More unpredictability in the races. Forza Horizon series is notorious for this as every single races will have 2-3 cars way ahead of everyone else up until the finish line where they seem to slow down. 
Of course, you'll find none of these problems online as racing with other players is as unpredictable as it can get. Have you noticed these problems with the A.I. in racing games?

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