How tough is your AI experience?

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Joined: October 13th, 2017, 5:03 pm

December 20th, 2018, 11:56 am

Experience fighting the AI

AI is, of course, a very important piece of ArmA 3. One might even say the most important piece of the puzzle.
With that comes balancing of AI, which is naturally a complex and difficult subject. So, I'm curious.

What's your experience with the AI on NAK servers? And how, if at all, would you say AI could be improved to be more enjoyable?
Now, before I get into my personal experiences over what has to be a couple hundreds of hours of playing on NAK servers, I want to say that this is by no means meant to be a place to shit on or bitch about AI. Just a level-headed retelling of personal experience and constructive criticism. And perhaps a place to get some clarifications on how AI works on NAK.

Personally, my experience is that AI can be difficult and easy, sometimes they can even feel random in their difficulty.

On behavior
Sometimes you're laying on a hill with your silenced DMR and a fireteam from 500-700 meters away picks you up somehow and pings you like they could be Olympic level marksmen. Other times, you're laying in the grass throwing lead at a squad a few hundred meters away with your iron-sighted AK and suddenly a whole squad walks up on you- but they don't even seem to notice your existence, despite being less than 20 meters away from you at times. At times they even let you gun down their entire squad without returning fire, despite you being within talking distance to them.
But both of these examples are outliers, they've happened to me but they're rare. More often I find their behavior to be fairly reasonable. Usually, they're not FLIR-equipped terminators that will gun you down halfway across the AO, nor a flock of well-armed bats that couldn't see a barn in broad daylight. They will see you if you poke your head up too high, but it is possible to hide from them as well.
It can be a little frustrating at times perhaps, when you just want to sit down with your FAL and take on AI at a reasonable distance, only to find as soon as you start shooting you hear the familiar sound of a T-140's engine spooling up to intercept you. You don't want to play AT, you want to pop infantry. But usually all it takes is a quick call to CAS or perhaps sacrificing a few magazines to pack a few rockets.
That being said, it -is- annoying how firing a rocket is basically a death sentence as every AI within your hemisphere seems to instantly pick up on your exactly location, then start shooting at you as if you just insulted their mothers. Sure, shooting a shoulder-mounted rocket or missile system should alert the AI to your presence, but it feels like they focus on you just a little too much.

On Toughness
Now onto a subject I'm particularly curious about. Perceived toughness of the AI. Specifically their tankiness; their ability to sustain damage and survive. This will be a lengthy one.
Obviously ArmA3 isn't a high-level body simulator that takes arteries and organs into account, so it isn't a super realistic depiction and that's perfectly fine, preferable even. I wouldn't want to have to inject an X-STAT into GSWs and apply quik-clot bandages and ket just to revive someone.

But AI seems strange at times. It may genuinely just be me, but I feel like AI is unusually tanky when it comes to damage. This mostly hits me when, well, -they- hit me. CSAT for the most part use the 6.5mm Katiba, with some of course wielding other weapons like the Navid or their DMRs, but most often you'll find your hexagon-clad adversary to be firing a katiba at you.
I personally like 7.62x51mm NATO rifles like the SCAR-H, G3 and FN FAL variants. Up until recently, I mostly used either standard EPR rounds (the magazines it will give you by default) or tracer rounds. I found however that AI would frequently survive several hits at range, sometimes even up to at least 8 confirmed hits (including grazing hits. I realize ArmA3 -does- seem to take grazing hits into account).
I may not be the greatest marksman, but I'm also fairly certain some of them aren't just a graze, and I often find the AI falling to the ground after getting hit (a feature I quite like). But they're not dead, just stunned, knocked over. So I shoot at them again to try to finish the job now that they can't run off. I make sure to land hits before they can initiate their first-aid animations to regain health.
But I find that, despite being knocked over 4 times, this one guy at ~400-500m wouldn't die to 7.62.
Then, his friend opens fire on me and hits me. My 7.62x51mm NATO EPR/Tracer rounds couldn't finish his friend in a handful of decent hits. He may be all bloodied up, unable to run or aim, but he's alive. However, when I then take the single 6.5mm round in return, I find more often than not that I go down with that single hit.
Sometimes I survive, yes. But I find it much more frequent that I drop from a single round (while wearing armor) than AI does.

Now as said before, maybe it's genuinely just me, but when these situations happen where you see an AI take your several battle-rifle caliber rounds like a champ, only to drop to a single smaller caliber round yourself, it feels as if the AI are not only more numerous than yourself, they're also more damage resistant.
I've talked to an admin about this briefly who assures me that no damage reduction scripts are applied to the enemy, nor armor value buffs for that matter.
What are your experiences with AI toughness? Am I just the crazy one for feeling like AI can tank shots like a boss?
Now, these experiences were by far mostly at range, usually 300m or beyond. But, rifle ballistics haven't been the problem, as I've picked up a Katiba myself and still find them taking these shots and living (even more so than with 7.62). Meanwhile at the same range, I don't tend to live.

I feel like their toughness makes it difficult to choose weaponry of a smaller caliber. 5.56mm NATO can kill them, but not nearly as effectively or quickly as a 7.62 could. I feel discouraged to pick any option below 7.62mm rifles because in a firefight, I just wouldn't win nearly as often with anything below that caliber. Sometimes even with that caliber.
And much less any SMG or bolt-action classic rifle like a K98k.
I like WW2 gear, and sometimes I want to snatch a K98k or an M1 Garand and pretend they're just well-armed Germans, but I find that their effectiveness is so low that it's nearly unfeasible to actually bring a K98k because, despite being a bolt-action rifle set in 7.92mm Mauser, it just will not drop them in anything less than 2-3 shots (often more) unless it's a lucky square-on headshot.
It also feels like their toughness encourages sniping, because if you're at a disadvantage with an assault or battle rifle against them within a range where they can engage you, the logical step would be to take something that hits harder and from afar where you're more certain that you shots -will- be effective and where return fire will be less likely and more inaccurate. Or at least to slap a high-magnification scope onto your FAL/G3 and keep them at range, rather than going with iron sights.

To be more specific, I'm not saying that 5.56mm or iron-sight only rifles aren't possible, but they just aren't as fun to use when using them means your enemy will become that much harder to deal with. Sometimes you want to challenge yourself, and obviously going 9mm side-arm only should be basically impossible. However I feel like the time-to-kill for 5.56mm rifles and similar is so long that the fun factor of using them is significantly reduced. Personally speaking.

Being Constructive
Now, that's nice and all, being able to go on and on about how AI tears you a new one. But where's the constructive part of this?
Well, I'm no game designer so balancing difficulty isn't something I'm awfully familiar with in ArmA 3. That being said.
If I were to toss ideas out there, I'd say perhaps reducing the time to kill for smaller assault-rifle caliber weapons would work wonders, while increasing difficulty on other fronts to compensate. Or, slightly increasing player survivability somehow.
In the end I want it to feel like, in a one on one fight, you feel more on par with the enemy rather than feeling like this single Katiba-wielding CSAT ammo bearer running towards you would, if allowed to shoot, win most of the time.
When I get into these situations where a single enemy has snuck up, and I now find myself in a one-on-one with only one inevitable outcome; someone's death, I feel like they are at the objective advantage. My only advantage is knowing they're coming, thus being able to choose -when- to engage. But if I were to get surprised and both of us drew guns on each other at the same time, I feel like the AI would take my shot, while I would die to theirs. It doesn't feel even.
It feels like.. Like I have to be the one always on the defensive, the one always having to ambush rather than get in a head-on fight. Like the only reason I can beat them is because I keep them at range with high-damage weaponry. But sometimes I want to drop into a town with an SMG or a shotgun or something else fun and unusual, but I can't because it just isn't feasible with how hard they can be to kill. Sometimes I don't want to sit from afar with a high-damage rifle, picking them off like target practice.

Well, what works?
Let's not be -all- negative here. What does work with the AI on NAK?
Well, they're not terminators nor just target practice. They do offer resistance and challenge without it being totally whack.
I like how if you decide to sit and pick them off, they'll send an armored vehicle your way to deal with you. (Even if sometimes they do that after a single shot).
I also like how if you shoot them with a decent caliber, or center mass/in the leg, they will fall to the ground without dying. You get to momentarily stun them, allowing you to pick a gun that won't necessarily kill them in one hit because even if it doesn't, you've immobilized them for long enough to hopefully finish the job.
I also like how they're not stationary. You may drop onto a new AO and sit on a hill in safety, but a few minutes later you'll have a squad making moves towards you. It's varied, less predictable. You have to keep your wits about you.
While not perfect, they are for the most part an enjoyable adversary. After all, if I didn't enjoy playing at NAK, why would I have chosen to spend hundreds of hours on their servers? That too is part of why I'm writing this. Because I enjoy it at NAK, and hopefully I can contribute in some way, or at give some food for thought for a few people.

I know this is a long, poorly structured rant about my personal experiences, so I thank you for taking your time to read through it.
This isn't meant to be a post about throwing smack on the AI on NAK, rather to share my thoughts and experiences with the AI and learn how others feel about the AI so that hopefully NAK will continue to grow and prosper, and if anything it serves to satisfy my curiosity for whether others share my thoughts and feelings on this subject.
What are your experiences with the AI on NAK? What do you think works and what doesn't? And how would you suggest to improve the experience fighting the AI?
Perhaps you could even shed new light on the AI for me, make me see things from a different perspective.
Let me know in the comments belo- wait, this isn't youtube.

Oh and, please remove the sniper on Altis that spawns on top of the stairs on the Kavala hospital with the Special Forces HQ sidemission. He will go prone when you climb the stairs, then poke down through the concrete roof he lays on and shoot you through it with no way for you to return fire. Because he's, y'know, shooting you through the roof. Cheeky bastard :evil:

Edit: Oh and speaking of sniping being incentivized, the numerous HMGs also work towards this. Like the kavala specops HQ, you get what.. 12 HMGs or more spawn? All of which will absolutely shoot you across Kavala if you try to move up.

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December 21st, 2018, 2:36 pm

I don't think my experience with ai could be made better without a new game engine. in my experience, it's situational and unbalanced. AI out in the open are pretty easy but in a house, they are incredibly difficult. weaponry also changes things. AI on various weaponry seems to react differently. An AI on a .50 cal mounted will fire on you from far far off yet a sniper under the same conditions will react slowly if they ever even realize you're there. then you got the ai with the cheapo assault rifles who snap-aim and fire faster and more accurate than any human ever could lol None of this I believe has anything to do with nak and I don't think they could fix it either lol. inconsistent is probably the best word for the AI in arma. Then you got the fact ai can see and shoot through houses trees and weeds. On exile I wish the ai could distinguish between low threat and high threat players. Eg, a Bambi on a bike unarmed shouldn't even warrant a double take while a heavily armed guy in a decent veh should lead to the usual reaction of tracking down and hounding said player till death. Again tho, I'm pretty sure that's just the game, I don't think nak could do anything about it even if they wanted to. Thus far tho that's my experience on AI.
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December 21st, 2018, 6:25 pm

I have experienced most of the situations you describe. For me, the most annoying would probably be that they can peg you through foliage while your vision is totally blocked. It's a scenario that occurs during every session. Still, compared to the AI of titles of 30 years ago, they seem pretty convincing by comparison, I suppose, partly, because of the excellent scripting applied by the Admins. The AI are pretty good opponents much of the time, especially considering they are just non-conscious ones and zeros. Things do improve over time. It's probably easier to see that if, like me, you have been gaming since the days of the Commodore 64. I have more gratitude than disappointment.
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December 23rd, 2018, 6:34 am

I think part of the HMGs being so OP is because I -think- they act as if they have thermals (which the HMG does) but they can look around them too (like if we hold alt), but they have thermals -while- doing that. That and they have thermals period makes them so lethal.
I feel like they do have some form of threat level sometimes, I've seen a few times where I'm prone in the grass next to rocks and the AI choose to shoot at me, meanwhile there's another guy crouched/prone on top of rocks closer to them in clear view but they ignore him, despite him also firing on them.
If that's a thing though, I think it has more to do with how effective the fire is. If you hit them frequently, they will focus you out more.

And yeah, considering there's probably upward of 60+ AI at one time sometimes, it's pretty cool how they can still act so individually and dynamically despite having to calculate for so many AI.

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December 24th, 2018, 11:41 am

I feel Ia really out of balance with us. They often immobilize / kill you in a single shot, and you notice at more than 500 meters, which prevents the melee in favor of long-range shooting, and limits new actions of play. Too often confined to duty fired from afar, rather than attempting a discrete and close approach

To avoid being watered constantly I recommend the use of a muffler that will allow it to take much longer to notice you.

One of the frusting things too is the way in which the ia moves. They are too often used to zigzag, which makes their travel less predictable but especially very ridiculous.

I often have the impression that they have eyes in the back, when you point your weapon at one of them who turns your back on you, there will be a moment when he will feel observed and will turn around directly on you.

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