If the AI is better at this game than I am, why don’t I just let the AI play on my team? Oh, right, because it’s supposed to be “fun” to do this myself. The thing is, I’d love to delegate stuff to the computer. Maybe not everything, but, well, here are some examples.
Minecraft: All about mining and crafting right? Okay, so I know the computer can do pathfinding (the mobs do it) so why can’t I just tell my character to “go home”? I know the computer can do combat too, so I should be able to tell my character to “go fight”. This is super easy stuff, why doesn’t the game help me out? The AI exists, all I want is access to it. I want my character to be at least as smart as the zombies. But no, it’s all manual.
Pokemon: Got to catch ’em all! But, what if I already caught this one? What if I’m trying to get somewhere and, oh, it’s a Tentacool. Again. I really should be able to “auto win” battles that are super easy. Or, you know, just not fight them at all. I want to put my Jolteon into “guard mode” and just get a little pop-up saying “Jolteon defeated Tentacool in a single shot!” every time I get jumped. Not that hard. Stop wasting my time.
RPG: For that matter, what about RPG grinding in general? If I can get experience for killing boars, why isn’t there a “Kill boars until I’m level Jillion” button? This is more of a mechanical problem on the RPG side, for rewarding this kind of silly behavior, but as long as its rewarded, why can’t I make use of the in-game AI to fight battles? This idea was toyed with in FF XIV, but hasn’t really been embraced.
Dwarf Fort: Loosing is fun! Micromanagement is not fun. This game is so vast it’s hard to know where to begin. Basically, I know the dwarves can do pathfinding, and they know what they need; Why don’t they just do stuff? If there are a bunch of “no stone available” messages, why don’t the miners just start carving out stone? If dwarves are clamoring for more workshops, why don’t the builders just build some? How about mining valuable ore? Can’t the miners just automatically target this stuff? By making the player do all of this work, it robs the world of the feel of a living environment. The dwarves are little robots, with no real will to live or act. Sure it would be annoying when the dwarves broke through the ore vein into the river and drowned everything, but loosing is fun, remember?
Warcraft III: This is the ultimate example for me. I always felt cheated when playing Warcraft III. The enemy heroes are all running around and responding to my attacks and stuff, but my hero just sits there like a big stump with legs. Why doesn’t he use his special moves to buff the troops? Why can’t my armies seem to respond intelligently? The computer AI can build farms when it’s out of farms. Why doesn’t my team do that? I feel like my guys are just trolling me. “Oh, you think you’re in charge huh? Okay, what should I be doing now? Yeah, I know what my job is, but I want you to TELL me!” Yes, I know there are players who are way better than the AI, but I’m not. If the AI is more competent than I am, why can’t I just hire the AI?
Please, game designers, give your players access to the AI which you build into the game. It’s already in place, just put some hooks in it and let us play around! Sure it might do something annoying once in a while, but that sure beats micromanagement. For players who like to be the sole source of motivation, a “manual override” switch will suffice. There’s no reason that we must be at odds with the computer. The game is a tool, and so is the AI. Give us all the tools. Are you afraid of what we might accomplish?
You should be.