Making the Forts AI Whole

Work continues apace. Nick has been developing the single player campaign and touching up a few of the graphics. Jeff has started on the music but we’ve yet to hear it. We know it will be great!

I’ve had my head buried in optimisation, bug fixing and filling holes in the AI. In Forts you can connect to ‘neutral’ structures and instantly gain control of them. The AI was able to do this, but if the neutral part of the structure was destroyed it couldn’t replace it.

Now it can rebuild even if the whole structure is gone. At the beginning of the match it scans the world for structures it owns as well as neutral ones and builds actions from them for reconstruction. It ignores structures it never intends to connect to. Additional joint creation actions need to be added where the human recorded AI fort pattern connects with the neutral structures in case the destination node is gone.

Sometimes the AI gets stuck on a particular action, unable to execute it. I’ve introduced a frustration system so after several attempts it gives up. Frustration levels of all actions are decayed periodically, so any frustrated actions will be attempted again. Some actions can execute but form unstable structures that soon collapse. I’ve got to detect when this happens and add frustration so the AI tries something else.

Another thing the AI had trouble with was the ropes. They are treated differently to other materials in that when the player (or the AI) creates a rope the game creates a series of linked invisible and unselectable joints along the length of it. Any of these links can break, but the AI had no knowledge of them and so could not replace them. Now the game follows the rope back to the end joints and reports these to the AI script. It is also told about which link actually broke, which allows it to attempt reclaim of the dangling bits of rope.

To help me quickly test this functionality I’ve build specialised maps. The image below shows the AI rope test map. You can see a (dark) neutral structure in the bottom right; ropes don’t claim them. When you attach bracing, armour, etc. to the structure it lights up and you can manipulate it and any weapons on it.

Testing the AI reconstruction of ropes

Press round-up

As you know, since PAX Aus we’ve been busy developing the Forts, making great strides with the networking and the single player campaign. All the while, we’ve been getting a nice trickle of positve press, as the word gets out, through things such as Screenshot Saturday. Check out some recent mentions below.

GameLuv.com

Earlier this year, we submitted Forts to the 18th annual Independent Games Festival. Unfortunately, we didn’t win, but did receive a positive reception from GameLuv.com who selected us as one of the 20 best games in contention. There were more than 700 entries.

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Thumb Throne

This enthusiastic write-up from ThumbThrone.com that really sells what the game is all about, and makes a positive comparison to the classic game Worms, which is a definite inspiration. It’s great seeing people really connect with the concept, like this.

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Indie Game Enthusiast

As you might expect from their name, enthusiasm is again apparent in this article from IndieGameEnthusiast.Blogspot.com. It’s a well researched piece, which not only features the trailer, but also gifs and screenshots. Always welcome!

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Game Watcher

Forts is often compared to World of Goo, and this comparison comes up again in this GameWatcher.com article, which is no bad thing. Less good is when the Forts is mistaken for a ‘tower defence’ game. Nevertheless, the author has listed a lot of the features that makes Forts so unique, which is always welcome.

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