Human Contact March 31, 2010 cliffski I spent today mostly working on campaign stuff. One of the features in the campaign game is that player-designed fleet deployments show up as rival fleets in the campaign. So rather than just facing a fleet designed by me, and always the same, in a given battle, it’s a fleet someone else designed. Another GSB player. As I play-test this, I find it really cool. I have no idea what each enemy fleet will look like until they appear, and it seems somehow ‘more exciting’ than the idea that its AI-designed, or a fixed fleet designed by me. Why is this? And is this just me? Playing against other people is often described by PC gamers as way better than playing against the AI. When you ask people why this is, there are a lot of reasonable explanations about humans being better at adaptive strategy, more creative, and with the ability to actually suprise or confuse the player. Certainly this is true of most RTS games and FPS opponents, at least currently. I do wonder though, on how we will feel in five or ten years time when AI is that much better. There is nothing to stop AI analyzing every RTS or FPS players movements, and ‘evolving’ play strategies that mimic real human players much more accurately. In twenty years time do we really think that we will be able to tell if our RTS opponent is AI or Human? Assuming we don’t, will we *still* get an inexplicable buzz of excitement knowing it’s another squishy human rather than some clever AI? I really think we will. There is something very primitivly rewarding about pitting yourself against (or co-operating with) a fellow human. We can’t speculate much about the motives or emotions of some AI, but the thought that there is someone, somewhere who just got their fleet pulverised by ours is just somehow much more rewarding. Blowing up AI pirates in eve is kinda fun, but blowing up other players who then have LOST their ship, is awesome, albeit a bit cruel. What do you think? Do you think it makes a difference if you are directly, or indirectly (think spore) playing against real human beings?