First off, I’d like to welcome back all the Monashians for the new semester here in Sunway. As we’re all likely to be very busy with uni-life soon, I thought a less serious and small topic was ideal to start off Season 2 of The HotSeat. It’s a little on the short side, but don’t worry, because I’ve got something HUGE planned for next week. *wink wink*

There’s an interesting dynamic phenomenon that occurs in certain video games. This ‘something’ tends to show up in open-world games quite often, or any game that has competing factions that engage with each other. That “something” is basically, the A.I. characters or (non-playable characters) NPCs duking’ it out. There’s something about how the A.I were programmed that always made this spectacle worth dropping everything else I was doing in the game and just watch. For those of you who have never experienced this gaming miracle, grab a comfy seat and prepare for some A.I. Wars. Let’s get right to the fun A.I. skirmishes!

Exhibit A: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

You gotta’ love just typing some stuff into the console and spawning armies to engage in glorious battle, given that your PC doesn’t melt on you in the process. I mean who cares about the whole Dragonborn, save the world malarkey when you get to experience this! For many of us who have played through Bethesda’s most recent Single-player The Elder Scrolls game on PC, we were mostly having fun with mods for the game. So much fun in fact, that we often completely ignored the game’s ingame console that could basically make the game engine do anything you wanted, and have I ever wanted a big battle so badly…

Exhibit B: X3: Terran Conflict

Sometimes the best battles are the BIGGEST battles! Battles that big emphasise on scale, and space is often times the best backdrop to witness such carnage! Battles so big and with so many explosions happening that you sit there in awe of the destruction… and the frame-rate drops. But of course, the game on display, X3, isn’t always about the battles, in fact the game focuses heavily on trading/economic simulation, so it’s a great game to be a space captain, but when the stars align, Armageddon breaks out in the stars.

Exhibit C: Team Fortress 2

Valve’s hat-toting, competitive class-based shooter has always been about the player interactions, so we hardly ever join a server with bots (A.I. controlled players), which means that we miss out on just how awful they are at the game. Even if you don’t know anything about TF2, it’s hard not to be baffled by the strategic decisions the bots end up making. So I’d like to introduce part 1 of this entertaining “documentary” on the bots of The Badlands of TF2, which should give you a pretty good idea why most players stick to playing online.

So the next time you’re playing a game, and suddenly come across the golden moment when A.I. controlled characters start giving each other the lazy-eye, get to a good vantage point and behold the majesty of this often unappreciated part of video games.

Next week on The HotSeat: “What is Warhammer 40,000?… or Why I’m excited for Dawn of War 3.”

“ArcticLyrae is a 3rd-year Monash University Malaysia undergraduate with great enthusiasm for all things related to gaming and its many forms. He is the Game Master of Monash Gaming Society and writes articles for Radio Monash Malaysia covering various gaming-related discussions in his weekly section, The HotSeat.”

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