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AI in race games


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#1 chunder27

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Posted 19 February 2015 - 13:34

Am currently playing a few differnet race games on various systems like PS3, tablet and PC and was fascinated by an article by a guy tlaking about AI in modern games not progressing as much as things like graphics and sound.

 

it is a common theme in race games too isn't it?

 

Let's do a quick reckon up of the main culprits.

 

1)  Rubber banding -  You know the thing, you start a race last in a developers feeble effort to make life hard for you, and you fly thorough to lead the race after a lap of the 3 being asked of you.  Then for the rest of the race the guys behind are less than a second off your tail for the whole race, lap records or not.  Nice touch devs.

 

2) Queueing - Again you know the detail here, packed grid, you start at the back. Why is it every single time you do, everyone stays side by side for an entire lap? Making it impossible for you to pass unless you ram them, cut the track or go round the outside. Especially annoying when you are in a game that penalises cutting.

 

3)  NoS - Picture the scene:  You are at Spa, (starting at the back as usual eh devs)  You get a decent start, but as usual they all get better ones (come to that later) and you pass a few on the brakes into La Source. There is a guy ahead who is slow on the exit, you get alongside and then he suddenly finds some power from somewhere and outdrags you despite you getting a better exit and being alongside with that extra speed. NOS is a bummer eh.

 

4) Holeshot king - Tell me a game anywhere that you have managed to get a holeshot without cheating. How many times do you play a racing game (not talking about sims here but they do it) and the entire grid, naff cars or not, slow cars or not, manage to somehow pull away from you into the first corner?  It's an amazing feat.

 

5) The blocker - So, you've managed to get into about 5th or 6th. All the slow guys are history and it's now time to reign in the leaders. Then you come up against the blocker, no matter which way you go he blocks you, inside, outside, alongside.  This guy has eyes in the back of his head, is a total genius at changing lines while in mid corner just as the AI realises you are about to overtake him in a place he wasnt expecting.

 

6) Tortoise and hare - So, you are in 4th place now, your rival (that you had no choice about picking) is leading, and in front are 2 other guys. you know you have about a second a lap on the leader but then the strangest thing happens, all the guys start driving against you, even your team-mates! This way, so cleverly, the leader managed to pull a bit of a gap as you are engaged in battling with two guys who are more content taking you out than actually running their own race for a good finish.

 

7) Sore loser - Cmon devs, we all know you have to be seen to try, but at least make an effort. If you are racing against the same people all the time and keep beating them all the time, why do they still say the same things "I had a bad start but I'll beat you next time"  After being beaten for the 150th time said Lorenzo Marinelli the imaginary Honda NSX driver.  Jeez. 

 

Seriously devs are so lazy, if they spent more time on what matters, physics and realism, and less time on tinsel these games migth actually start doing something right.

 

There are very few that have to be honest, despite that we all still play them. Weird huh



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#2 DinosaursRoarForHugs

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Posted 19 February 2015 - 16:03

I mean, is there much anyone can actually add to this?

 

Whilst it's true, it hardly invites discussion



#3 Nemo1965

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Posted 19 February 2015 - 18:32

Well, what I can add is that in rFactor, with some skills and good advice you CAN work on the AI. I had very pleasurable races in the 1979 mod at 95 percent, with some stunning battles that gave me tremendous satisfaction, losing or not.

 

I won't get too specific, because the OP does not seem to limit itself to one game, but I can remark: a good racing game should not only have a way to tone down general performance of the AI (so sliders), but also aspects of performance of the AI.

 

For example:

 

1. Braking. For example in general in rFactor the AI-cars brake incredibly late, in my eyes exaggerate the slow-in/fast out style so they either give you brake-tests all the time or just torpedo you from behind. Slider: braking style and minimum-brake distance for corners. Or: if they brake idiotically early: late braking sliders. In rFactor you can edit that manually, by messing with the player-file. Difficult, but do-able.

2. Tyres. By a fluke I discovered that the AI-cars use very different tyres than the player of the game. For instance, I found out that in the historical 1991 F1 mod the AI-cars sometimes used the qualifying tyres for a whole race, without being punished by blow-ups or heavy wear! Solution: delete the softest tyres in the AI-folder (again: rFactor).

3. The old' shoot from the corners like they are shot from a cannon. Especially with good sims (like the above mentioned F1 1991 mod) you, the player tries to butterfly the throttle, the AI either seems to have total traction-control or is able to drive a F1 car around a corner like Sebastian Loeb does a rally-car. I have found no solution for that.



#4 chunder27

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Posted 19 February 2015 - 20:02

I think the point is really that a simulation is ikely to try and not do a lot of things I was talking about, games like Iracing, RF, Assetto etc are far more simulatory!

 

I guess it makes little difference, would really good AI make people play the games more? probably not, but for those up us that play racing games aswell as sims, it's pretty poor. AS in most sims you are playing online, and that is as real as sim gaming is going to get in terms of AI!



#5 TomFitch

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Posted 20 November 2015 - 18:55

You can also calibrate the AI in rFactor.

 

Here is explained how: http://www.tltracks....ai-calibration/

 

It is quiet a task and the result is not always perfect, but I had some good results with it.

 

Then, in rFactor, performance of the AI highly depends on the add on track. Some track modders/makers take a lot of care of the AI on their tracks. Others seem to not bother.

 

Just my 2 cent.

 

Tom



#6 Tenmantaylor

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Posted 23 November 2015 - 10:20

To this day I think the only AI that was anything like as advanced as the rest of the game was in Live for Speed. They drive with the same physics as you unlike most sims. Take GPL for example (back in the day!) where the AI had values like "magic grip" to make up for the lack of processing power required to make them all drive properly without throwing it off the track every corner. Now I'm not saying the LFS AI exhibit much intelligence when it comes to wheel to wheel racing, more that they seem to drive the car a little less artificially.

 

You can even make them drive with undriveable setups and admire the consequences:

 

 

http://<iframe width...creen></iframe>



#7 404KF2

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Posted 24 November 2015 - 02:47

That was hilarious!



#8 Afterburner

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Posted 25 November 2015 - 19:29

Only just saw this. So true. :lol:

 

The other one that (maybe?) isn't mentioned is the 'rules are for humans' character so commonly found in F1 games throughout the years. You know the type--the ones that could make supersofts last for 30 laps around Catalunya while banging out qualifying laps the whole time. I hate 'fake difficulty' like this.

 

The 'rival' is another good one, but only more annoying is the 'driver you're not allowed to beat'. F1 '97 on the N64 loved this one; there was a challenge where you raced as HHF at Imola and had to use lapped cars to keep Schumi behind you. He drove like a normal AI, but if he ever passed you, he apparently activated the secret hyperdrive on the '97 Ferrari and disappeared into the distance (fog) at about 300 MPH, never to be seen again. Other 'blocking' challenges also had an AI like this, most notably the one in which you had to win the Hungarian GP in an Arrows.

 

I also like the 'no foresight' drivers who are unable to react to anything in the way of their racing line. Forza is a huge culprit for this one--creating a roadblock on the Amalfi coast and then watching car after car plow into the ensuing pile-up as if it wasn't there is hilarious. :lol: Sometimes I would deliberately drive like an a#%-hole whose brakes were stuck on just to see how they'd react.

 

Arcade racers (especially Mario Kart and F-Zero) love most of these tropes, too. Mario Kart's 'rival' AI is awful, to the extent that you'd think you were racing against a team of eleven other drivers. At least in F-Zero you could hip-check them off into the lava and not have to worry about them finishing the race, lol.

 

To this end, though, I also suggest the 'Green Shell Marksman' in Mario Kart 8, whose accuracy with these f#$kers is enough to warrant him a place on Seal Team 6. I have seen bank-shots from the AI on this game so ridiculous they make aimbots in shooters look rudimentary in comparison. Ricochet a shell off a bumper to get around the banana peel you're dragging, from 100 feet back? No problem! Jump a shell over a ramp to bypass several environmental hazards and hit a blind target you can't see as it sways to the side to set up for the next corner? No problem! Bounce a shell off a post to jump it over the abyss separating the track and kill you? No problem! Launch a shell over a ramp and into the ceiling so that it drops right in your face and kills you? No problem! Double-ricochet a shell backwards through a banked chicane, avoiding everyone in it, to send it streaming straight to the apex of the preceding blind corner and screw you out of any possibility of a good finish on the final lap? No f@%king problem! The guy who wrote the item tossing algorithm for this game's AI deserves a raise--not only did he understand the concept of driving lines beyond the scope of a single corner (why else would the bananas always end up on the apexes every frickin' time?), but he also had an intimate understanding of projectile motion. The best part? You can watch every ridiculous kill on replay and see that there's no gimmickry involved--they're just that accurate. Cheers, mate--cheers.


Edited by Afterburner, 25 November 2015 - 19:43.


#9 chunder27

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Posted 25 November 2015 - 23:30

I'm glad someone else feels a little of the frustration

 

I just wish I was clever enough to code, maybe this sort of nonsense could eliminated

 

But really by that time the world would be run by computers and we would be using digs to sniff out Terminators!

 

Some games do get it right, usually rally games where you rarely drive against other cars.



#10 UPRC

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Posted 26 November 2015 - 15:22

I can't stand kamikaze AI drivers. I think we've all played a few racing games with them. You'll be driving down a straight when the car behind you, that for whatever reason you haven't been able to shake, gets one of those infamous speed bursts to allow them to catch up (rubberbanding)... but do they use this to pass you? No, they just drive right into the back of you, forcing your car to spin off track while they continue on their merry way. I LOATHE this kind of AI.



#11 Nemo1965

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Posted 26 November 2015 - 21:55

Well, if one is not afraid to tinker a little with the player file in rFactor, one can have some good AI-racing.

 

For example: I managed to adapt the 'idiotic late' braking in rFactor, and I had some fantastic races in the historic 79 mod. The historic 1991 mod the AI is also quite good... a pity only the Ferrari and the Williams are drivable cars...



#12 HP

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Posted 01 December 2015 - 23:22

And to think that real car engineers can make a driver-less car using a remote race at least as fast as the same car driven by a driver. Also there is the self driving car by Google, which according to them never had an accident initiated by the self driving car.

 

So where is the game developers software engineering pride? More of that, less BS, please.



#13 mahelgel

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Posted 06 December 2015 - 15:34

Am currently playing a few differnet race games on various systems like PS3, tablet and PC and was fascinated by an article by a guy tlaking about AI in modern games not progressing as much as things like graphics and sound.

 

 

2) Queueing - Again you know the detail here, packed grid, you start at the back. Why is it every single time you do, everyone stays side by side for an entire lap? Making it impossible for you to pass unless you ram them, cut the track or go round the outside. Especially annoying when you are in a game that penalises cutting.

 

 

 

RaceRoom Racing Experience has pretty good AI overall, and you can sett how fast it should be. However, the start (not for the whole lap though) is pretty much as described....  The ai is slow of the grid, and through the first few turns they pretty much stay side-by-side. 

 



#14 Nemo1965

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Posted 07 December 2015 - 14:56

Well, if one is not afraid to tinker a little with the player file in rFactor, one can have some good AI-racing.

 

For example: I managed to adapt the 'idiotic late' braking in rFactor, and I had some fantastic races in the historic 79 mod. The historic 1991 mod the AI is also quite good... a pity only the Ferrari and the Williams are drivable cars...

 

Correction. I discovered just a week ago that if you disable the auto-clutch, all the cars are pretty driveable. Duh. Just remember to engage the clutch when you spin, otherwise you are stuck on the track.



#15 Imperial

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Posted 18 April 2016 - 17:38

To this day I think the only AI that was anything like as advanced as the rest of the game was in Live for Speed. They drive with the same physics as you unlike most sims. Take GPL for example (back in the day!) where the AI had values like "magic grip" to make up for the lack of processing power required to make them all drive properly without throwing it off the track every corner. Now I'm not saying the LFS AI exhibit much intelligence when it comes to wheel to wheel racing, more that they seem to drive the car a little less artificially.

You can even make them drive with undriveable setups and admire the consequences:

https://www.youtube....h?v=CDDaavXJ9qw

https://www.youtube....ed/CDDaavXJ9qw" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>


I literally was crying by 0:53 !!

#16 DrProzac

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Posted 19 April 2016 - 18:20

To this day I think the only AI that was anything like as advanced as the rest of the game was in Live for Speed. 

 

True. Last time I played the bots were rather slow, though (like often going off throttle or breaking a bit where I was easily flat). But you have to admire the effort of making a proper AI instead of cheating.

 

There were some problems worth fixing, like:

- random, though not very often, ramming the car alongside when trying to overtake another one in front. Maybe it's a feature? Like some sort of Pastor Maldonado or mirror blind-spot implementation? Or "no way someone is fast enough to overtake both me and the guy in front on the outside!" one)

- very slow starts in 4x4 cars (not using the grip, which usually allowed a full throttle start)

- sometimes they actually braked later than me before some slow corners which sometimes resulted in me getting rammed a bit in the rear :) Like the AI wanted to say "hello there, I can do better sometimes!"  (my way was faster, but anyway)

- lifting off too much when being successfully overtaken, which sometimes triggered a chain reaction :D

-etc.

 

I wonder how much of that has been improved. Or would already be fixed by the community if the game was open to modding.

 

 

 

 

So where is the game developers software engineering pride? More of that, less BS, please.

Budget and PMs?



#17 The Kanisteri

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Posted 20 April 2016 - 09:01

My life fades. The vision dims. All that remains are memories. I remember a time of chaos, ruined dreams, this MicroProse Grand Prix 2. But most of all, I remember the 3rd party team editor, the name of application I have long forgotten. To understand what we had we have to go back to the other time, when the World Wide Web was powered with coal burning boilers and ISDN modems. Gone now, swept away, being replaced with broadbands and universal acces to internet.

 

So...the editor was in diskette and I did download some up to date liveries and stuff for current F1 season with neighbours isdn connection. Editor itself had slider bars to adjust AI drivers individually. Already mentioned ghost grip was in there but as other name. If set at maximum, Eddie Ervine was able to go past the most tight corner at Monaco with speed of 300 kph lapping some unbelievable laptimes. Too bad they still had AI default car settings so on straights they didn't go faster than car setup allowed. Replays were fun to watch though.

There was no rubber band in game, but program clearly took some shortcuts when defining AI can go through corners.

 

Fortunately most of real racing games nowadays doesn't have much rubberbanding. (for example. Gran Turismo 6 being last I have experienced the rubberband effect, in Project Cars not)



#18 SirVanhan

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Posted 20 April 2016 - 09:40

Why do human player and the AI use different physics? I never found an explanation of the issues involved.



#19 The Kanisteri

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Posted 20 April 2016 - 09:54

Back in old days, simulating AI driver to human driver was too complex and computers were not quick enough to evaluate and crunch numbers of every aspect.

It was more simplier to make somehow solid track they follow with various speed.

 

What comes on rubberbanding general, I think developers does that just to keep casual players excited: If you suck, you catch them quickly. If you are better than them, they AI tailgate you to keep things exciting.



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#20 R Soul

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Posted 20 April 2016 - 18:56

My life fades. The vision dims. All that remains are memories. I remember a time of chaos, ruined dreams, this MicroProse Grand Prix 2. But most of all, I remember the 3rd party team editor, the name of application I have long forgotten. 

 

It was called Perfect Grand Prix. Each driver had a grip and a consistency number. I made sure my team mate was slower than me. For each team there was qualifying HP and race HP, but the player had his own values, regardless of which team he drove for. We could also set the chance of failure for each team.

 

There were some command line tools too, and I often used to increase the crash sensitivity so only about 6 cars would make it past the first corner. I like races of attrition.


Edited by R Soul, 20 April 2016 - 18:57.


#21 Nonesuch

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Posted 21 April 2016 - 09:22

Why do human player and the AI use different physics? I never found an explanation of the issues involved.

 

Personal computers cannot simulate a car driving to any meaningful degree. It's far too complex to factor in all the different aspects that influence the car, the handling, the weight transfer, downforce, the environment, etc. Consoles aren't even close to a top-end PC, so that's even worse. To make the games work the developers fudge the numbers - but they try to get close to something that feels (not is) somewhat realistic.

 

The better the computer, the more can be calculated rather than fudged. But if you want to do that for all 20 or more cars in the game you're basically putting yourself back at square one. So in order to save resources it's better to prioritize the player's experience and let the AI cars follow a more or less pre-defined path along the track. This also makes it easier to implement different difficulty levels, but the downsides of this are also obvious: not only is the AI predictable, the AI is also often seen (rightly) to be cheating. Weather effects, tyre usage, all these factors are again being made up and that doesn't always give the same results as the player experiences with his or her own car.



#22 Jejking

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Posted 12 May 2016 - 09:12

EA got slashed for the catching up system, no matter how hard you tackled those cars off the track and sprinted like hell, some people proved the cars reached over 400kph to catch up. When they arrived on your tail, everything went back to normal. Necessarily not normal behaviour. Just like Codemasters F1 20xx series, including 2015, when you drive and someone goes out of your FOV, they suddenly started lapping a lot faster and were neigh uncatchable. That's just DISGUSTING.



#23 gilez

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Posted 17 May 2016 - 07:19

I play mostly Assetto Corsa, and it was interesting to follow the progression of the AI as it was improved by the devs.  Totally nuts in the early versions, then they were modified to be well educated, even too much. Finally a couple of versions ago they managed to get them to be both aggressive and aware of the others. The AI cars in AC use the same physics as your car, so I guess it was quite challenging to teach them how to drive and how to race.