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Default ES4: Oblivion - Retrospective @ Spawn Kill

March 24th, 2010, 05:52
As the fourth anniversary for Oblivion is coming up this weekend, the guys at Spawn Kill made a retrospective about it. Here's a bit about the non-player-characters in Oblivion:
The non-player characters in The Elder Scrolls IV deserve a special mention here. Through proprietary technology Bethesda has dubbed Radiant AI, NPCs of various towns are enabled to make their own decisions about their lives. Many characters the players come upon throughout the course of the game are literally living their own lives - going to church, working for a living, eating, going to bed by 9 PM, and starting all over again the next day. Many NPCs hunt and kill game to be able to eat, others simply steal food from markets or people's homes.
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March 24th, 2010, 05:52
The non-player characters in The Elder Scrolls IV deserve a special mention here. Through proprietary technology Bethesda has dubbed Radiant AI, NPCs of various towns are enabled to make their own decisions about their lives. Many characters the players come upon throughout the course of the game are literally living their own lives – going to church, working for a living, eating, going to bed by 9 PM, and starting all over again the next day. Many NPCs hunt and kill game to be able to eat, others simply steal food from markets or people’s homes. While the weight of the AI characters’ actions may not directly affect the person playing the game, their need to live and ability to react gives Oblivion a very grand scale.
What Oblivion did they play? I only remember NPCs having about 2 or 3 things that they do everyday, all day long. And, I'm pretty certain that they didn't NEED to do anything to live. Sure, they ate, but they never had to hunt for the food.

And ability to react? I slaughtered a dozen citizens of a town and nobody mentioned it… Or how about people milling about in a storm? What did they react to??
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March 24th, 2010, 09:36
That quote is just plain redicilous. Most NPCs in Oblivion do no such thing - they simply walk around talking to each other about completely random things (the conversations rarely makes sense).

The predetirmed schedules in Gothic 1 work a whole lot better than the AI in Oblivion.
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March 24th, 2010, 09:40
I remember a post in official site by the Devs , it was something like :

"A hungry NPC stole an apple , a guard attacked him , a friend of the NPC attacked the guard and after half an hour entire city was dead"
I ate many in game apples watching rangers killing each other .
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March 24th, 2010, 10:23
What a joke of a quote.

I saw NPCs getting into spontaneous fights, but that was usually a result of friendly fire. The AI was very "good" at getting into the line of fire of NPCs and PC alike…. Escort missions where the f-tard I was supposed to escort deliberately ran in between my sword an the enemy contributed to my hatred of the game.
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March 24th, 2010, 13:58
I don't think whoever wrote that actually played the game, they just quoted what was promised by Bethesda before release.

I'll see their ridiculous quote and raise them an Oblivion Dinner Party!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KN7cKO8-P0

I've never heard of spawnkill.com before but this article alone adds them to my "gamespot list"
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March 24th, 2010, 14:17
Did any of you guys play Oblivion? The NPCs certainly followed a schedule where they got up, went to work, stopped after work for supper, and then went to their homes. Many wandered around to their favorite haunts in the evenings. Comparing the thousands of NPCs with schedules to the few dozen of Gothic isn't really fair. Of course Gothic could have a small handful of folks have a deeper schedule than the masses of Oblivion. By the way, if someone followed me around, they'd find out that most days I follow the exact same schedule. I get up, eat breakfast, go to work, put in my time, drive home, make and eat supper, and then retire to my computer/book for the evening. It varies some nights, but not all that often.

Not saying the AI was perfect. As someone mentioned, the conversations were mostly inane. Some were repeated every single night until a trigger would happen. I could watch the merchant from the Copious Coinpurse talk to the Nord bad-guy forever if I didn't get close enough to trigger the script to move on.

The rampant jealousy of Oblivion really gets me tickled. Some of you foam at the mouth every time there is a post about the game. Are your lives that dull? Get over it!

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March 24th, 2010, 14:26
Originally Posted by crpgnut View Post
Did any of you guys play Oblivion? The NPCs certainly followed a schedule where they got up, went to work, stopped after work for supper, and then went to their homes. Many wandered around to their favorite haunts in the evenings. Comparing the thousands of NPCs with schedules to the few dozen of Gothic isn't really fair. Of course Gothic could have a small handful of folks have a deeper schedule than the masses of Oblivion. By the way, if someone followed me around, they'd find out that most days I follow the exact same schedule. I get up, eat breakfast, go to work, put in my time, drive home, make and eat supper, and then retire to my computer/book for the evening. It varies some nights, but not all that often.

Not saying the AI was perfect. As someone mentioned, the conversations were mostly inane. Some were repeated every single night until a trigger would happen. I could watch the merchant from the Copious Coinpurse talk to the Nord bad-guy forever if I didn't get close enough to trigger the script to move on.

The rampant jealousy of Oblivion really gets me tickled. Some of you foam at the mouth every time there is a post about the game. Are your lives that dull? Get over it!

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I agree my friend. It's almost too similar to the way some Republicans in the US see every single thing the government does as 'evil' and 'socialist'.
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March 24th, 2010, 14:48
Originally Posted by crpgnut View Post
Did any of you guys play Oblivion? The NPCs certainly followed a schedule where they got up, went to work, stopped after work for supper, and then went to their homes. Many wandered around to their favorite haunts in the evenings. Comparing the thousands of NPCs with schedules to the few dozen of Gothic isn't really fair. Of course Gothic could have a small handful of folks have a deeper schedule than the masses of Oblivion. By the way, if someone followed me around, they'd find out that most days I follow the exact same schedule. I get up, eat breakfast, go to work, put in my time, drive home, make and eat supper, and then retire to my computer/book for the evening. It varies some nights, but not all that often.

Not saying the AI was perfect. As someone mentioned, the conversations were mostly inane. Some were repeated every single night until a trigger would happen. I could watch the merchant from the Copious Coinpurse talk to the Nord bad-guy forever if I didn't get close enough to trigger the script to move on.

The rampant jealousy of Oblivion really gets me tickled. Some of you foam at the mouth every time there is a post about the game. Are your lives that dull? Get over it!

Bethesda fanboi checking out
Actually, they don't follow a schedule. That's the whole point. It's an AI that is supposed to react based on the personal needs of the NPC. However, the end result is significantly worse than the simple scheduling system used in Gothic, due to all the things the NPCs do that simply makes no sense (i.e walking in circles, back and forth between two destinations where nothing happens, etc). They'd get a better result by simply programming the NPCs manually to do specific things every day (get up, get breakfest, go to work, go home, eat, go to bed).

Hailing the Radiant AI in Oblivion as revolutionary is a redicilous claim, because Gothic got better results 4,5 years before Oblivion was released.

The underlying mechanism is irrelevant; it's the end result that matters. Hopefully, all the money they invested in making the Radiant AI will give us better NPCs at some point. So far, I still haven't seen anything that surpasses Gothic's simple scheduling system.
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March 24th, 2010, 16:03
Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
Actually, they don't follow a schedule. That's the whole point. It's an AI that is supposed to react based on the personal needs of the NPC. However, the end result is significantly worse than the simple scheduling system used in Gothic, due to all the things the NPCs do that simply makes no sense (i.e walking in circles, back and forth between two destinations where nothing happens, etc). They'd get a better result by simply programming the NPCs manually to do specific things every day (get up, get breakfest, go to work, go home, eat, go to bed).

Hailing the Radiant AI in Oblivion as revolutionary is a redicilous claim, because Gothic got better results 4,5 years before Oblivion was released.

The underlying mechanism is irrelevant; it's the end result that matters. Hopefully, all the money they invested in making the Radiant AI will give us better NPCs at some point. So far, I still haven't seen anything that surpasses Gothic's simple scheduling system.
The way it was finally implemented it actually was more of a streamlined scheduling system than an agent-driven AI system. the only difference to something like Gothic is that the tasks could be assigned in a relatively simple way as AI operated chunks instead of scripting every waypoint and every animation. In principle a good system for a large-scale sandbox game, just neither "radiant" nor "AI". The actual emergent elements in the system were hardly used in the final game, as they obviously led to too many unpredictable consequences, like the apple-to-genocide example above. Still, there were some good aspects of the system - unlike Morrowind, you'd actually meet some people on the roads (until they eventually get killed by animals or bandits) You witness occasional fights of guards and bandits, people move around, etc. It was buggy, but a move in the right direction. They should just never have hyped it as much as they did. The example they showed in that video with the woman and the dog just raised totally unrealistic expectations.
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March 24th, 2010, 17:07
Originally Posted by crpgnut View Post
Did any of you guys play Oblivion? The NPCs certainly followed a schedule where they got up, went to work, stopped after work for supper, and then went to their homes.
Played it, just found that particular Bethsoft title seriously lacking (I loved Morrowind and found Fallout 3 pretty good). The AI behaviour was nowhere near the hype that this journalist reminds me of, and occasionally did incredibly stupid things when left to its own devices.
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March 24th, 2010, 17:43
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
The way it was finally implemented it actually was more of a streamlined scheduling system than an agent-driven AI system. the only difference to something like Gothic is that the tasks could be assigned in a relatively simple way as AI operated chunks instead of scripting every waypoint and every animation. In principle a good system for a large-scale sandbox game, just neither "radiant" nor "AI". The actual emergent elements in the system were hardly used in the final game, as they obviously led to too many unpredictable consequences, like the apple-to-genocide example above. Still, there were some good aspects of the system - unlike Morrowind, you'd actually meet some people on the roads (until they eventually get killed by animals or bandits) You witness occasional fights of guards and bandits, people move around, etc. It was buggy, but a move in the right direction. They should just never have hyped it as much as they did. The example they showed in that video with the woman and the dog just raised totally unrealistic expectations.
Aah, that explains a lot, thank you! Doesn't make the overall experience any better, but it's nice to know what we experienced was not the Radiant AI they were talking so much about.

Also, I believe this is something the author of the article is not aware of (considering the specific mentioning of Radiant AI).
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March 24th, 2010, 18:00
Originally Posted by Zaleukos View Post
…and occasionally did incredibly stupid things when left to its own devices.
Just like real people!! (Sorry!)
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March 24th, 2010, 18:07
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
The way it was finally implemented it actually was more of a streamlined scheduling system than an agent-driven AI system. the only difference to something like Gothic is that the tasks could be assigned in a relatively simple way as AI operated chunks instead of scripting every waypoint and every animation. In principle a good system for a large-scale sandbox game, just neither "radiant" nor "AI". The actual emergent elements in the system were hardly used in the final game, as they obviously led to too many unpredictable consequences, like the apple-to-genocide example above. Still, there were some good aspects of the system - unlike Morrowind, you'd actually meet some people on the roads (until they eventually get killed by animals or bandits) You witness occasional fights of guards and bandits, people move around, etc. It was buggy, but a move in the right direction. They should just never have hyped it as much as they did. The example they showed in that video with the woman and the dog just raised totally unrealistic expectations.
True. In the end however it looks pretty bad… and I personally find it 'impractical' as well - I found it annoying that many NPCs would keep moving around so much that it was way too much of a chore to locate them when I needed them without relying on the compass. I never had any such problem with any other games that featured NPCs with less radiant schedules, but Oblivion was the one game made me wish it had completely static NPCs.

Overall I find that Oblivion aged very badly and very fast.

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March 24th, 2010, 18:10
Originally Posted by holeraw View Post
Overall I find that Oblivion aged very badly and very fast.

I agree.

Morrowind > Oblivion.
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March 24th, 2010, 18:54
Originally Posted by crpgnut View Post
Did any of you guys play Oblivion? The NPCs certainly followed a schedule where they got up, went to work, stopped after work for supper, and then went to their homes. Many wandered around to their favorite haunts in the evenings. Comparing the thousands of NPCs with schedules to the few dozen of Gothic isn't really fair. Of course Gothic could have a small handful of folks have a deeper schedule than the masses of Oblivion. By the way, if someone followed me around, they'd find out that most days I follow the exact same schedule. I get up, eat breakfast, go to work, put in my time, drive home, make and eat supper, and then retire to my computer/book for the evening. It varies some nights, but not all that often.

Not saying the AI was perfect. As someone mentioned, the conversations were mostly inane. Some were repeated every single night until a trigger would happen. I could watch the merchant from the Copious Coinpurse talk to the Nord bad-guy forever if I didn't get close enough to trigger the script to move on.

The rampant jealousy of Oblivion really gets me tickled. Some of you foam at the mouth every time there is a post about the game. Are your lives that dull? Get over it!

Bethesda fanboi checking out
Actually, I quite enjoyed Oblivion. I'm much more tolerant toward game design than the rpg purists but there is no way somebody can tell me the Radiant AI was everything that author said.
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March 24th, 2010, 19:46
Hey everybody, this is K-Tuck of Spawn Kill. I'm excited to see how passionate of a response my words have caused on your community. It's good to see the article has inspired some of you, even though it appears that inspiration is seems to have created a debate.

I have seen it questioned whether or not I have played this game, and yes, I have. My last save was just over 71 hours into the game.

There does seem to be concern about what is actually dubbed "Radiant AI." Whether or not this is truly the technology behind NPC actions in Oblivion is debatable; it was, however, the name given by Bethesda for the system. I have also made no claims about AI behavior that are untrue, most of these actions can easily be verified in-game or online through videos or tutorials. Several members here and across other websites seem to have seen very realistic behavior in the game, while others may perhaps be a bit too pessimistic to have paid much attention.

For the record, the recurring Spawn Kill Favorite articles at SpawnKill.com are not explicitly retrospectives. They are more like recommendations. In this context, it helps to keep that in mind. No SKF article is written without implying that the title is worth the reader's time.
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March 24th, 2010, 20:16
K-Tuck, any post anywhere in the world that sheds Bethesda, especially Oblivion, in a good light will be heavily discussed at the Watch. There are a handful a radical haters of that game here, so every article will be debated. It's almost a "signature" of this website to pan Bethesda. It can get to almost Codex levels here when the topic is Oblivion, though that hasn't happened in this thread…yet.

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March 24th, 2010, 20:34
[QUOTE=K-Tuck;1061004958]Hey everybody, this is K-Tuck of Spawn Kill. I have also made no claims about AI behavior that are untrue, most of these actions can easily be verified in-game or online through videos or tutorials. Several members here and across other websites seem to have seen very realistic behavior in the game, while others may perhaps be a bit too pessimistic to have paid much attention.[QUOTE]

Hello and welcome K-Tuck. And, yes you have made untrue claims.

If you randomly follow NPCs about in Oblivion you will find out that the most common behaviour is walking aimlessly around, only to pause once in a while to watch paint dry for some hours or make a meaningless conversation with another NPC.
For the record: I don't think that the NPC behaviour is tragic or damages the playing experience, it's just not what was advertised. It's the same with Oblivion's grafics. The hyped the sh*t out of them, but then the dynamic shadows were gone - just gone.
The problem most Codexers/Watchers have with Bethesda are not the games, but the fact that they are hyped for their claims and propaganda, not for their real achievements.
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March 24th, 2010, 21:37
The behavior of the Radiant AI is certainly inconsistent, but K-Tuck did not make any untrue claims.
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