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Soldiers: Arena

29/06/2018 13:30 Unread message

DevDiaries #64: May The Bot Be With You28 JUIN - PASTORAZZI

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Hi, friends.

Today we will talk about AI in Soldiers: Arena. In one of the diaries there was some info about work on the behavior of bots. A lot of things have been done since then, and we decided to tell in detail how the bot is struggling to make the PVE fun, the battle competitive, and itself to look like a real person. You probably know that making a decent AI for strategic games is not an easy feat. The point is not in the reaction and the number of clicks unattainable for a person and not in analytical possibilities. The key to success is in creating interesting game situations. After all, this is a game and it should give pleasure: Including and especially so after a defeat. We are not talking about creating a super-brain with the possibility of self-learning and making its own name. At this stage, our plans are not so ambitious, but also not so resource-intensive. We are talking about creating a set of behavioral instructions, following which AI could call plays which are interesting and unpredictable.

A good bot should be able to:
  • Create different game situations using the same set of tools. For example, a moving tank can be stopped by anti-tank mines, another tank, self-propelled guns, artillery, grenade launchers (and simpler tanks even with AT-rifles), an assault of paratroopers dropped on the turret, anti-tank hedgehogs and so on. So, the bot should not only be able to do it all, but also be able to choose the best of options.
  • Use complex and situational mechanics such as digging trenches, capturing buildings, camouflaging positions, reconnaissance, retreat.
  • To be a part of metagame systems and game mode, which means that its decks should be as logical and diverse as the player’s.
  • Correctly act within a certain game mode and respond to player actions: eliminate breakouts, capture points of interest, cooperate with other bots (or players), and so on.
  • Have flexible customization on the level of complexity and sometimes make mistakes, like a living person.
  • Do not try to win by cheating and use only resources and units with the same limitations as the player. When AI sees through the fog of war, has more units and in general it's armor-piercing weapons are rather more armor-piercing than yours, it causes sadness, which eventually gives way to righteous anger. Yes, and fortune should be equally supportive for both the player and the bot. Who among us did not spin the roulette in the naive hope of hitting the target with an insane 95% hit chance?

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A good bot allows to:
  • Create tutorial and training missions in which the player could hone their skills and master even the most complex of game mechanics.
  • Create interesting single and cooperative doctrines and make them as replayable as possible. Since, from the unpredictability of AI’s actions, it will directly depend on whether you want to replay the mission.
  • To play against those who are interested in the game, but not PVP.
  • Replace the player in a multiplayer session after the disconnection or when you just need a +1, and there is no will to wait more. Now the bot is doing quite well at the level of the average player, and the work is far from complete.
  • Configure comfortable difficulty and combat conditions. To justify the bot existence, it does not necessarily have to win. The main thing is for the bot to fight like a lion, driven into a corner, which is crushed by unemployment, a generic curse, a mortgage, the loss of kittens in a plane crash and the affair of his lioness with a tigress.

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How we tune up the bot.

The tuning work can be divided into three levels: creatures, commander and army. At the creature level the characteristics of the unit and its behavior are tuned, so that each of them improves its combat functions in their own way, starting with the detection of the target and ending with its neutralization. Between these two points there are many other processes: the transfer of information about the target to the allies, the selection of the right weapon for its destruction, the decision to move, the choice of route, etc. At the same level, scripts and functions are configured that allow bots to make specific decisions, such as switching to hand-to-hand combat or throwing a smoke grenade.

At the bot-commander level, the systems of managing the deck are being tuned. AI must select units with the same restrictions as the player, but with certain conditions. For example, be balanced for playing in a team and reflect the specifics of the chosen commander. Seems obvious, a heavy tank regiment, spamming machine guns, and light tanks, looks strange. At the same level, we also configure how the bot uses its troops and tracks their number in the session. Here a lot depends on the difficulty level. On a low, for example, the bot can "forget" or be "short of time" to use the entire available limit of units.

At the army level, the bots learn how to interact with each other and to make things right within the game mode. Watch that the enemy does not greatly exceed them in firepower and the presence of a certain kind of troops on the battlefield. Conduct joint operations. For example, bots can arrange a local blitzkrieg, and the infantryman-bot will try to support them by at least a few soldiers to seize the territory.

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We want the bot to be as much like a living person, despite its scripted essence. Not surprisingly, sometimes this creates funny precedents. Once our game designer needed to attach the text to a certain entity. Hints like "Grab this hill" and "Win bad guys" for training missions became more informative. But along the way, he decided that it would be more convenient for the work to display information about the triggering of the condition not in the console, but directly over the unit. The work was on, the bots were learning, nothing was foreshadowing the troubles ... Until one day, in the game, you came across a cheerful but slightly creepy situation where a bot was driving to crush a cannon and a smiley appeared over the tank … The sad artilleryman in a tankmen’s world crying for his life :(

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Friends, what settings would you like to see when creating a game, except for the obvious like a game nation, commander, aggressiveness? In the future, we want the choice of the bot to not only be limited to the basic settings and your wishes will be very helpful. Wish you all the best.

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29/06/2018 13:33 Unread message

DevDiaries #63: Suicide Mobile14 JUIN - PASTORAZZI

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Hi, friends.

Today, we'll talk about the underprivileged, undervalued, complex-in-use and often "single-use” units - cars and motorcycles. You often compare Soldiers: Arena with other games of the series (sometimes even with those we did not make), talking about useful and not so useful units. This is the wrong way to do it, since Soldiers: Arena is very different from GEM games: the organization of combat, the system of managing and spawning units, the constant fight for territory, and so on. Why, for example, take the Kübelwagen VW82, if clearly, an armored car would be a sharper tool in the shed, and more so any light tank of some description? A car has no armor, a weak gun, and will get pummeled from rifle caliber rounds... Sounds like a rather useless piece of equipment.

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He is not skinny, but slim.

From the point of destroying the enemy units, the things said above make sense, but the battle in Soldiers: Arena is not limited to destroying enemy units. The priority task in the game is capturing the territory and ensuring the bridgehead, and in this sense: speed, maneuverability, good line of sight and a low price can be much more important than armor and a large caliber. When you need to capture and begin to strengthen the buildings before the enemy, a Kübelwagen or BMW R75 is preferable to any other unit. While enemy tanks and infantry will be approaching, you will already have placed the machine-gun nests and brew tea, waiting for reinforcements and providing a bonus on the territory and improved visibility from the captured building.

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The cheapness of jeeps and motorcycles allows them to be used as a one-way ticket for the aforementioned maneuvers without a large expense on your pocket. And it makes them a less attractive target for fraghunters, after all, they give a very little amount of points when killed. Often the enemy won’t see something too menacing in a racing Willys and will continue on with the chit-chat. And that could be one’s famous last words: A Willys MB with a machine gun may well crush the infantry in the field, regardless of its elitism, and a Willys AT with two bazookas will very quickly reduce both the distance between itself and the tank and between the tank and Valhalla. A Pz. IV will not be able to traverse the turret in time - and the Valkyrie warrior wielding panzegrau will now acquire a dark tone of carbonated metal a hue of burning flesh.

Improved view ranges and a bonus to the detection of stealth units make motorcycles especially useful for reconnaissance and spotting the enemy. If the loss of a M72 will make it possible to destroy enemy howitzers or snipers who are feasting on your allies’ blood - who will not rate that as worthy? A good viewport in combination with excellent mobility not only is a great asset for the capture of territory - but also to defend one's own. If the enemy infantry in large strengths run to seize the land and burn the cornfields - surprise them with a sudden appearance of GAZ 67B and their plans will swiftly be no more.

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The separation into battalions with their specialties implies some limitations. A pair of cheap jeeps will perfectly complement your infantry deck with mobility. And the artillerymen will be given an excellent budget protection from an airborne landing force. The economic aspect of war has not been canceled, and every exchange of a cheap jeep or motorcycle for an infantry squad or some dashing paratroopers brings you closer to victory.

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Slim with an anti-aircraft gun!

A machine gun mounted on a jeep or a motorcycle cannot be reinforced and sandbagged, but it can escape from dangerous spots or quickly shorten the distance to the enemy. And if a conventional machine gun mounted on a mobile and high-speed chassis has a chance to harm the enemy, then what about a large-caliber machine gun? You, no doubt, paid attention to the triple DShK on the screenshots. This geeser is not just dangerous for infantry, but for aviation, careless artillerymen, & light and medium tanks. A 29K with a 76 mm anti-aircraft gun is his fearsome brother, combining power, rate of fire and mobility. But closing in, comes one of the main disadvantages of artillery - a low movement speed, plus they have a number of other shortcomings. These units can no longer be called cheap and their loss responds with a decent pain down in one’s heart. In addition, to defeat ground targets you need to turn the vehicle, since shooting through the cabin is rather detrimental to the health of the crew. The triple DShK is good basically at close distances, so you will need to shorten the distance, get to the target alive and somehow pull out of the attack run. Due to their rate of fire and high silhouette, they quickly become detected, and unlike light cars, they will be an interesting target for your opponent’s guns. As a consequence, they need to be played very carefully, wait for the right moment, and not shoot constantly in the hope of intimidating the opponent.

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We already wrote in the comments that we are forced to move the release. Now we are focusing on autumn 2018. We realize that it's hard for you to wait and sometimes it seems that the development goes unnecessarily long. At such moments, it is important to remember that we are waiting for a release no less than you, guys, but for us Soldiers: Arena is not just another game which we can simply leave to collect dust in the Steam library. This is more than two years of our team’s work and the quintessence of the GEM multiplayer game. So, and we wrote about this earlier, it will be released only when it is ready and will be able to both to give a new gaming experience (in this sense it has long been ready) and to comply with the standards that dictate the Free to Play games market and be stable and optimized. Best Way is not an accidental name. Doing everything the best way possible is a priority for every day. When it is obvious that an unplanned new functionality or work to optimize the engine is necessary - we make them. Yes, and create something new, and not just use the franchise, adding a couple of new models and a single-campaign - the task is not one that is easy to measure. Postpones are born from the desire to make the game better, so we hope for your patience and your fireproof chairs. And we know, you are the best! By the way, what interesting units on the basis of car chassis you would like to see in the game? See you in the comments.

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