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8 most annoying things NPC teammates do

Not everyone can play online with GamesRadar editors. For starters, there’s just no way to get our Gamertags out to everyone. For another reason, we don’t want to play with most of you. It’s because of this (and arguably other necessitating reasons) that the non-player character, or NPC, was created. The goal of these characters is to create, as closely as possible, real people, when there aren’t real people to play with.

But we haven’t met a game that could fool us yet. Though some basic human interactivity can be simulated realistically, such as true love (see image, right). Complex emotions, like the feeling of having a teammate whose fatalistic attitude won’t cause him or her to b-line for the nearest inescapable death, have yet to be artificially recreated.

Will scripting and AI ever replace the experience of playing a game with other people? Yeah, they will. As of right now, however, there’s a huge list of things (eight of them) that your average artificial teammate is more likely to pull than actually “help.” We don’t know why we put “help” in quotes.  Here are the biggest problems, gripes and ethical dilemmas created by having NPCs for teammates.


1. Sometimes they drive.

If a computer could drive a car, we’d all have robot chauffeurs to take us everywhere.



Most vehicles have at least two seats. One of the seats has a gun in it and the other usually has the steering wheel. Technically, you can usually pick whichever seat you’d like, kick your feet up and enjoy the ride like it was your mom’s minivan. The difference is that if you take the lovely woman who raised you out of the driver’s seat and replace her with a marine from Halo, you’ll end up off a cliff, parked on a live grenade or driving up the wrong side of the road, because – as with all NPC drivers – they can’t comprehend the distance of objects in the rear view mirror.




2. They laugh in the face of danger.


We appreciate our artificial buddies’ enthusiasm, but there’s a fine line between bravery and foolhardiness, and for most NPCs, any slenderness in that boundary just makes the line easier to step over.



Fallout 3’s most dangerous creatures often have ways of being dealt with besides running at them behind a protective wave of bullets  – but not if you’re teamed up with an NPC buddy. For example, we unleashed this Super Mutant Behemoth on some unaware raiders and while we were perched on a comfortable vantage point, watching the helpful carnage unfold, we began to wonder what happened to our helpful buddy Fawkes.







Our will to survive is one of our most basic instincts. Therefore, shouldn’t a survival instinct be one of the first lines of code in a character’s artificial routine? Maybe something along these lines:

If (enemy is much bigger than me)
then (don’t run up to him and shoot him in the shin)


See, that’s how (we think) coding is done. Ctrl-c and ctrl-v that stuff into Fallout 4, please.

3. They laugh in the face of moving out of the doorway.

Have you ever been late for work because someone was standing in your hallway and you couldn’t get around them? Do you sometimes go to the grocery store but you can’t get out the sliding door for a similar reason? That’s right, neither of those things ever happen.


Above: Zoey is an unusual NPC, in that she’s always courteous and rarely gets in the way

If you’re the type of person who regularly finds him or herself walking into other people, you’re not doing a good job. If you’ve ever gotten stuck in a grocery store, you’re the only one. Nobody has been stuck in a grocery store because those automatic sliding doors are more intelligent than your average AI companion.


Above: Francis on the other hand… 

4. Sometimes they die, and therefore, you die (of sadness, presumably).

This is only cool in real life. In fact, each editor at GR has a device attached to his or her heart that corresponds to an analogous device secretly planted in a world leader of their choice. Don’t worry, though, they don’t do anything until one of our hearts stop beating.



But what does this have to do with games? For us, nothing. But for other gamers, those who can’t protect NPCs with an unflinching vigilance and 100 percent accuracy rating, sometimes innocent people can die. There’s nothing worse than having an AI controlled character not defend itself well enough and cause a gameover. Like this:



It’d be nice for the developers to include a second option, or better yet, we’d like to play with someone smart enough not to get killed without close adult supervision – either solution is acceptable, though.

 

73 comments

  • FanofSaiyan - December 12, 2009 9:46 p.m.

    Have to admit, this really defines all the problems NPC's cause in games.
  • eee - December 11, 2009 6:08 p.m.

    I agree in Left for dead I wish they had enough brains to run when the entire team besides them are getting gang raped
  • adadadad - August 11, 2009 7 p.m.

    MAY WAS FIRST BUT THENN REFRES TIMED OUT. MADE MAY /CRY. SAD DAYZ. SAD DAYZ.
  • dante1924 - August 11, 2009 2:55 p.m.

    @Sausage Lozenge: You're just pissed that I insulted your favorite president, an incompetent fool who caused the economy crash by pooling all of the nation's money into a war so pointless, it makes adadadad's comment seem like the best comment ever (no offense to you adadadad, but you are NOT first).
  • Chronas - August 11, 2009 8:02 a.m.

    ack, i hate having to keep people supposedly as good as you alive, even though they shouldn't need babysitting. for the record: i hate escort missions. reCAPTCHA: term damsel
  • adadadad - August 10, 2009 11:30 p.m.

    FIRST! GOOD ARTICEL. MAY THINK PS-CRAP NPCS ARE DUMMBER THAN XBOX 360, COS ITS NO AS POWERFUL AS XBOX
  • dweller - August 10, 2009 7:55 p.m.

    Poor Jenkins. reCaptcha: 52 gelatin
  • Sidnapolis - August 9, 2009 8:34 p.m.

    @lovinmyps3: You sound like a commie. @relic: You're exactly right. And here's an example of what that AI code would kinda look like: if (ally->size size || ally->ai ai) ally->action="Run"; else ally->action="Attack";
  • Makk_Mizzy - August 9, 2009 9:02 a.m.

    LOL! DANG! WHY MY BOY OBAMA GOTTA GET PLAYED LIKE THAT, HIS FACE ALL OVER THIS ARTICLE AS IF ITS GONNA WOOO THE VOTES OF THE REPUBLIC COMMUNITY THRU THE MEDIA AND GAMEWORLD! THAT'S JUST TRIFELING AND WRONG! IMMA DEMOCRATE BY THE WAY, LOL!
  • oryandymackie - August 8, 2009 11:21 a.m.

    Has anyone tried to take Jericho through Evergreen Mills? I eventually gave up and just told Jericho to stay where he was. And I NEVER came back for him. To my knowledge, he's still there.
  • deadslayer97 - August 8, 2009 4:02 a.m.

    i forgot to put i was talkin' about re5.
  • adadadad - August 8, 2009 12:50 a.m.

    for fucks sake, yes this is funny but grow a pair and swear more gr http://www.gamesradar.com/f/games-vs-girls-which-is-best/a-2008073011325861001/p-3 shame on you
  • relics - August 6, 2009 8:18 p.m.

    Spoken like a true, naive child....well done. PS. I'm not defending Hitler, I am saying he had his henchmen do the dirty work, just like obama is now.
  • TheWebSwinger - August 6, 2009 8:12 p.m.

    @Relics: You dumb son of a bitch, that has to be the most ignorant statement I've ever seen. First of all...regardless of whether or not he did it with his own hand, Hitler DID murder millions. Why would you defend that. Second of all, how in the WORLD do the elderly (who are, let's face it, ABOUT TO DIE) deserve health care more than immigrants? They're people just like you or I. Well probably more like I...to say they're like you is an insult to their intelligence.
  • relics - August 6, 2009 7:44 p.m.

    @lovinmyps3 - Actually, Hitler didn't slaughter millions.....he had people do it for him. Fast forward to 2009, Obama's new healthcare plan will ration or eradicate health care to the country's elderly, the people who need it most....meanwhile the same plan will be giving free health insurance to the nation’s estimated 12 million illegal aliens. Gee, what a swell guy he is. Maybe you need an education.
  • lovinmyps3 - August 6, 2009 7 p.m.

    Haha, so true.
  • Glides - August 6, 2009 1 p.m.

    That woman on the top of the first page looks like Michael Jackson. And also everything you've said here is completely correct. NPCs can't drive worth a damn. 44th I guess
  • CreeplyTuna - August 6, 2009 3:17 a.m.

    they should have included how in almost every game(with the exception on about...2), you have to heal all of your downed teammates, but they never heal you back.
  • JizzyB - August 6, 2009 3:08 a.m.

    Funny article, too true. I liked Fawkes' gung-ho attitude though, especially when he killed all nearby civilians as well as enemies.
  • devildog18 - August 6, 2009 3:05 a.m.

    i hate that my NPC teamates always die, but i still feel guilty that i can't save them

Showing 1-20 of 73 comments

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