Bot Rework - Important!

The times the contents of this post have been brought up are more numerous than rats in skavenblight, but i think with current developments it deserves yet another thread. Please note that this post is not meant to bash the devs, and i apologise if it turns out that way.

Bots are important. I’ve played exclusively with bots ever since VT1, so one could say i have some experience with them. I’ve completed all base maps of the first installment solo on cataclysm, and had there been no option to play with AI teammates i’d most likely dropped the entire franchise the moment my friends did. I’m certain there are many others that feel the same way, and i hope they comment on this thread to bring forth their opinion as well.

With a handful of solo Cata missions passed on VT2 as well, i like to think of myself as an average player with adequate knowledge of the game mechanics. The thing is - with every passing update i become less and less a player and deviate more towards a full-time babysitter. For the bots to be even slightly viable i must spend several minutes optimizing loadouts and team composition, plan my every footstep as not to trigger boss-horde combos, guide them towards healing items a few feet away, ration ammunition and be frontliner-special sniper-dps-bossmelter simultaneously. Most of the time this is perfectly fine, i’m playing with AI afterall, but when rat dung hits the waterwheel oh boy it really does.

Lately the bots have been trying to actively hinder the level progress with their mindless consumption of ammo and health - it’s insane! This has led to the party being constantly on gray HP from as early as the first area with enemies. And should i take the odd hit to the back, the bots are in most cases literally incapable of helping regardless whether there are active enemies present or not.

The most commonplace solutions that are offered usually land on the git gud - play with actual people - use mods -axis. I still think this is a matter that should be addressed by the developer. Don’t forget ,and this applies to all game developers, having mod support/workshop does not equal free content/coding/balancing/testing labor! A dedicated community is a gift, and should be treated as such! Still, I really appreciate that you keep the patches and content updates coming. Absolutely loving the new careers and weapons, the crank gun has been fantastic thing to fire into a thick horde.

Here are some suggestions i feel could boost the Bot Boogaloo experience:

  • Duck: When human player equips a ranged weapon, the bots retreat from the field of view of said player.

  • Smart actions: Give weapons/skills/ults invisble tags so bots know how to act when certain conditions are met. Exempli gratia: Ranger Bardin-Bot’s ultimate has the “panic button” tag. This tag makes him save his ult instead of constantly using it. Whenever the bot senses his teammates are downed and engaged by a horde, he uses his ult to push back enemy units to gain time for revive.

  • Hide n seek: When bots sense an active patrol, they refuse to use AoE and Homing ults.

  • Save supplies: On higher difficulties, bots won’t use healing unless they’re on their last life. Similarly, they will not heal the player if they are above 15% health.

  • Conserve ammo: Bots won’t use sniping weapons unless they see a special enemy approaching.

  • Heightened awareness: Bots can detect specials. With their eyes.

  • Ironman: Bots prioritize saving human players in games with no other humans.

  • Nothing personal: Bots teleport to players when they get stuck. Stuck is defined in code as trying to move without travelling any distance for a certain treshold of seconds.

  • Here they come: During hordes, bots will close the distance with human players and watch their back.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I know some of these suggestions might sound outright overpower, but i trust the judgement of the developers while making decisions like this.

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As an additional clarification: No, i do not wish the bots to be better than human players. I don’t even want them to be on par with human players. I simply wish that every single run would not be terminated because of their tendencies to aggro patrols, run after specials and die at the slightest increase of difficulty with such unerring consistency.

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They also need to have priority when it comes to recusing the player from a special or from being incapped, sometimes they’ll ignore a player right next to them to chase a random special or something.
Unless there’s a pinning special that has targeted them, the in capped player should always be their priority, the closest person to them should take priority as well.

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Uh-huh. Happened today on cata War Camp. Went down to overhead from behind, all bots bolt off to the horizon to catch a single packmaster. Needless to say, i were absolutely gored by the beastman horde.

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I absolutely agree with these suggestions.

Bots don’t have to be godly good, they just have to be decent enough to not be a liability

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There should be a “heal” social tag imo. One for allies, on the same social wheel as “drop grimoire”, that should be “heal this person” and one on the regular social wheel that should be “heal me”.

I agree with all the rest. It’s not about making bots carry you, it’s about making them viable to play with. Now they’re a ball and chain, never parrying, standing in rat fire and eating overhead, gulping on green potions like they’re candy, and running off like 7 year-old me in the Lego aisles of the toy store because of a blightstormer that spawned in Altdorf’s sewers.

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I agree with this, the bots should be competent enough that the player can lead them effectively, somewhat like Star Wars Republic Commando, the player calls the shots, and the AI follows suit.
But the AI has some really bad code that needs to be fixed, such as dropping tomes in random locations, and by the time you realize you can’t double back for it, or walking off edges because of ratling gun fire. Intentionally standing or walking into the gas. (The enemy ai will actively avoid the fire, why can’t this be done for our bots?) They’ll run off randomly chasing some blightstormer on the other side of the map, or not revive you when you’re right next to them. For example, IB Bardin will use his ult next to you, which is the best time to revive you, but all he does is hold block, it’s really dumb behavior that needs to be addressed so the bots aren’t ridiculously frustrating to play with on Cata and Legend.

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The enemy ai will actively avoid the fire, why can’t this be done for our bots?

Personally, this has bugged me since release. How is it that a naked rat with a fist-sized brain understands that fire = danger moreso than a rugged dwarf adventurer?

I’m no programmer, but my best guess mechanics-wise is a volume trigger parented to the fire entities, which enemy AI is instructed to avoid. If the code is even remotely similar, both bot types should be able to follow similar danger cues. That is, unless the playerbots are constantly fed conflicting signals and their action queue is absolutely swamped. The latter is supported by bots becoming gradually worse as special spawns are increased with game difficulty. Enemy AI also has a maximum of four possible targets at any given time.

Might be a far-fetched theory, but maybe in a vaccuum the bots are not bad at all, but become unable to respond within an acceptable timeframe as more external stimuli are introduced?

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I will repeat over and over again.
And again: playing solo with bots is the only way for me in Vermintide. I don’t want anything else!

So I approve of any topic to attract the attention of Developers to bots!

All of the above is true. But there is one thing that needs to be fixed - and immediately.!

Please, undo the change from patch 3.3 that makes the bots pick up ammo!

…or rather:

  • grab the ammo pouches they don’t need when the player (me) has 0!
  • to run to the ammo box after each shot, through half map, trough gas and patrols !
  • Half of the arenas of the final events are dangerous, due to the fact that the bots, trying to reach the inaccessible ammmo box, simply stand still!

I am shocked that it bothers only me! It just ruins the game! It is necessary that bots take ammo ONLY by order of the player and never themselves!

I’m not even saying that I really feel like AI bots are degrading with each update.

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This is actually interesting and sparked a thought in me brain : the enemy AI is actually remarkably good in this game. The enemies behaviour is smart in most cases, so I’m sure FS should be perfectly capable of handling allied AI just as well.

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Yes, I’m in the same boat. My net is very unstable, and while I do enjoy playing with friends, I get knocked out of games all the time. So 99% of my game time is spent playing alone with bots.

I didn’t actually come to Vermintide for the co-op aspect. I came for the great melee combat.

Everything else; as you say, it’s frustrating as hell having to babysit these bots so much.

I think the AI should always pick up ammo from boxes when they’re nearby, but in regards to ammo pouches, as it’s a finite ammo supply, it makes sense that they only pick it up by order of the player, unless the player has max ammo and the ai is low or out.

If I’m playing GK I really don’t want to have to tell the bots to pick up every single finite supply of ammo, and if there’s a RV in the team that would be extremely annoying, so there needs to be some kind of reasonable balance here.

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So before the update, the bots pick up the ammo themselves from the box! And there were no problems! But this did not always happen. So some people (I have no good words for such people) complained that they were bored and tired of giving orders to bots.

And damn it Fatshark did it for them, ruining the whole game!
Damn hell if it is “boring and tiring” to give orders to bots - play with living people, there no one will ever listen to you.

I will repeat once again, the problem is not even that bots are wasting these ammo.

THEY run after them across the half of the map! Between floors! Stuck in ladders! Through fire and gas! Through the patrol!

And if I jumped down and I can’t go back to the ammo box, the bots after the first shot not moves and stand still, as if expecting that the ammo will “teleport” to them. Then they Missing strikes! Standing in the gas! Ignore everything!

What’s the balance? Give an order - less than 5 seconds! The cost of defeat due to the fact that the bots are not moving in the Crypt - 40 minutes of my damn life is lost!

I hope you’ll get a proper answer, people are complaining (me too) since day 1. In the past devs sounded deaf about this matter, I wonder if the issues will ever get fixed.

The truth is that bots are terrible. I give them tomes so they can’t use healing! Bots are good for being special fodder and book donkeys. I don’t trust them, even with specialized builds, to handle horde or armor effectively. They can’t be trusted to avoid taking damage from gas, they run into it to kill the special and back into it to reach me. They can’t be trusted to kill flame rats. They can’t be trusted to path to you if you jump once over an object. They can’t be trusted to avoid friendly fire.

Solutions?

  1. Hard tether of 7~12 meters. If a bot goes too far forward or falls behind they get teleported instantly to the player. Unless in capped. Bot pathing is so horrendous that I usually get one broken bot by every 3rd game.
  2. They ignore being ledged, instantly teleporting to safety, unless a monster dealt the blow. Given how bad they are at this giving them ledge immunity might be the better call.
  3. All allies (bots and players) ignore friendly fire within 1~2 meters. Would be nice given how so much FF is when a shooter stops for a moment to hit something you didn’t notice as quickly. Or they back dodge then fire!
  4. They instantly complete any order given to them, without needing to patch to the object. No need to wait 45 seconds for them to fail picking up a potion on the other side of a fence they could easily walk around.
  5. They take zero or maybe 10% damage from fire and gas. Until the AI is improved, it’s really only fair.
  6. They shouldn’t equip ranged weapons when out of ammo. Given how horrendous their ammo usage is just give them 1 ammo refund on killing trash units. Better yet just give them infinite ammo. It would be funny and hardly abusable :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:
  7. Players/bots get collision hitboxes, so enemies can’t phase into you and then perform a back stab. Would help with bots not being able to protect you from damage from behind/in front.
  8. 25% or so increased jump height and 10% or so increased move speed to help with their abysmal pathing.

Since these don’t require fine tuned tweaks to the AI I’d prefer these changes. It helps bots by cheating for them, saving dev time for new heros, maps, etc. The bots wouldn’t necessarily be stronger, so players would still be just as valuable, but some fixes could make bots more than mules and punching bags that need babysitting in order for a team to win.

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The point blank FF immunity sounds like a good call to me. The bots have a tendency to stand in the same space as player characters, and since hitboxes are usually slightly larger than models they take hits even when there is no-one on your screen. I’m not so sure about straight up damage reductions or condition immunity cheats though, but maybe i’m just a bit traditionalistic.

But as you said, the key word here is trust. Whenever i hear a special sting, horde call, patrol chant or boss roar i’m filled with dread. Not because of the enemy, but because of my teammates. I might as well be playing a true solo mission with an additional reviving minigame. In their current state the bots cannot be trusted with a single ambient group of clanrats, let alone multiple specials. At certain point i become unable to sustain the level of multitasking required to help them all, and the mission fails.

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But I think the reason why FS is hesitant to work on bots is because they are already significantly better than the average player in legend. It’s easier to do a solo mission than a QP mission, and that’s not even accounting for lag. Bots are terrible, but at least consistent. If you give them a time they won’t blow healing as soon as they see it. One player can get ahead and take all the healing, then what? You are forced to kick them for the rest of the team to have a chance? I’ve seen level 15 players in legend. I see level 1 players doing the weekly event all the time. FS may not want to work on bots, but players need help. Locking legend difficulty to a certain power level is pointless when the average player doesn’t know what power level really does. Players need resources, armory mod or similar should be in the base game. More dummies in the keep, CWs, monsters, zerkers, beastmen if WoM, etc. Block, dodge, horde, special, indicator, and monster tutorials. As is the only way to get good is to die repeatedly, way less immersive than a 3 minute illusion mission. The high frustration of barrier to entry of legend is just the beginning; grinding is a pain factor. You need to complete roughly 7 full book runs per 1 random red. And as the new legend player begins to understand and get good, why endanger the run by allowing QP? You can argue that players shouldn’t need reds to be competent and good, but to a fledgling the difference between a one shot and a two shot is 2-4 extra seconds of time, per enemy. 20 such enemies over the course of the game is an extra minute. How much bonus damage and blocking could have been done in that minute? That’s a huge difficulty wall to overcome! There is no reason why reds should be difficult to obtain once playing legend. It would reduce frustration of grinds, and of QP players joining. Imagine:
Peasant: 20% chance per slot for a red
Commoner: 30% chance per slot
Merchant: 40% etc
Soldier: 60%
General: 80%
Emperor: 100%

So even 1 book runs are almost guaranteed to drop a red. And when you do full book runs you get half a red of your choice, or get lucky.

Frustration of players aside, the bonus damage to specific enemies also buffs bots. An extra 1 minute of game time freed up due to breakpoints being hit per bot means less damage taken, more damage dealt, and less need to fix bots.

As always, opposite experience for me for 99% of games

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I play on console, players are more casual to begin with, and a controller makes aiming and dodging much harder than KB&M.

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Good input from the perspective of a lower-level player. And absolutely agree on opening up the more technical aspect of the game for newbies. Superarmor and monster -type dummies would also be a welcome addition.

It’s also true that playing with actual people is always a bit of a gamble. In the end it boils down to preference, and i think that players should be allowed a choice to play with competent bots as well. Here’s a proposal for compromise: Scaling bots. If we can alter the difficulty of packmasters and lifeleeches, why not playerbots as well? In essence, they’d be just smart enough to not ruin your game, but not able to carry if you play poorly either. Yea, maybe a bit tricky to implement, but better than than completely broken AI.

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