Author Topic: Mob aggression and targeting  (Read 3280 times)

WingsOfStardust

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Mob aggression and targeting
« on: January 22, 2019, 03:29:20 AM »
For quite some time now, I have been noticing that the script that handles how mobs prioritize targets can become quite faulty. Namely, if a ranged attack towards it is made (and distance doesn't matter) a mob may disengage from several melee characters around it to chase this single target. The mob may even sustain up to 100+ damage and still be locked onto that single ranged character. Only if you manage to body-block the mob, or if the mob has a chance to engage the ranged character properly in melee do they stop. Though the latter doesn't always work.

I have seen this be a common issue for custom script that handle priority of targets and aggression for mobs. Not just on Ravenloft, but pretty much any server that uses them. ANd I have to point out that the way the current one works could stand to be tweaked a little more. Because what happens is someone from the backline will make that ranged attack against mobs and cue Benny Hill music because that mob isn't going to stop running after them and stop or anything until it is made impossible for them to follow.

I feel that this hurts Archers the most, because especially within high-end dungeons if you have a mob disengage to run straight into everybody else or around you are liable to get everyone killed and it's hardly fair nor logical that the mob would be so tenacious in the chase that they ignore even greater threats just to do that.

TL;DR: Mobs are easily drawn to ranged characters and run through anything to attack them. What I'm pointing out the flaw is how Tenacious they are in doing so. That's where I think the system is faulty. Not in that they DO chase, but in that they don't STOP for anything.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2019, 03:36:16 AM by WingsOfStardust »
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Edward

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Re: Mob aggression and targeting
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2019, 04:59:27 AM »
They attack the archers shooting them because they have lower AC than Melee characters. I don’t know if that’s hard coded or not but I thought it was an all around NWN thing.
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BraveSirRobin

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Re: Mob aggression and targeting
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2019, 05:15:22 AM »
They attack the archers shooting them because they have lower AC than Melee characters. I don’t know if that’s hard coded or not but I thought it was an all around NWN thing.

Can confirm, mobs smell the lowest AC in the party when they attack. This has plagued archers in NWN across many, many servers.

WingsOfStardust

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Re: Mob aggression and targeting
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2019, 06:10:58 AM »
That's not my point that I am suggesting to be changed however. It's not that mobs change targets, it's how tenaciously they pursue the new one despite greater threats cropping up around it.


Let's give an example:
#1 3 Meleers are attacking 5 trolls.
#2 A ranged character (archer, caster, whatever) shoots one that is past his allies, ergo they are bodyblocking.
#3 Troll runs through the vanguard getting multiple attacks of opportunities for the ranged character.
#4 2 meleers disengage to chase the troll, landing multiple blows and getting more attacks of opportunity.
#5 Troll continues to chase the ranged character that is no longer engaging them at all.
#6 Troll only stops when its pathfinding is made impossible or is knocked down (even then they may get up and continued hasing).

I'm pointing out the flaw in #5 and 6, not #3.

This behavior is consistent and the only other way to stop the mob from chasing is if the ranged character engages the troll in melee, THEN disengages. Which makes me believe it has something to do with how the targeting script works. That it hard-locks onto the target they switched to until the requirement of attacking them is made, or it is made entirely impossible for them to pursue their new target.
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Sinful Mystic

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Re: Mob aggression and targeting
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2019, 07:12:15 AM »
I always loved that an evil villain or great beast would kill farmers first and ignore knights charging them.


Mage killer AI is no fun.
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Re: Mob aggression and targeting
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2019, 10:19:18 AM »
Although I am new, I'm trying to quickly learn to play, and I have considered that it is a very static behaviour for the AI enemies to always target the lowest AC. Like chokepoints such as two-tile doors, this leads to repetitive, static gameplay.

I would rather see the AI discern whether or not they can effectively path to all of the enemies they can detect. If not, try some more special abilities. What if they attempted more knockdowns, what if those knockdowns disabled collision for the victim so they could pass if they really wanted to, instead of provoking a ton of Attacks of Opportunity for the honour of chasing someone who already has distance on them? edit: This tactic of disabling the foes controlling them makes a lot more sense, whether we want to go down the "hunt the mage" route or not for enemies.

Hand-to-hand combat is a very mobile thing in real life, especially when it breaks down into a melee. People are running for their lives, trying to get out of sight and re-engage, maneuvering, flanking, and trying every dirty trick in the book to survive. But when the gameplay is basically, "get enough people to block the door with a magic character's unstoppable buffs," I think the enemy needs some more alternatives, otherwise it's a staring contest until one side runs out of health points. They could run away sooner and bait players into the open, no? Throw weapons and grenadelikes, place traps after detecting intruders?

Another point on knockdowns: The shock value of seeing people get bowled over frequently for attempting to completely block an enemy's advance off would cause pandemonium as people are not always going to immediately be sure whether or not that player was just incapacitated. This confusion can be a good thing, and exploiting it to create a more realistic atmosphere in combat can help prevent groups from getting overzealous and greedy against enemies that are, from time to time, fatalistically unresponsive.

I have no idea what it would take to properly script all of this, but I would love to see combat become a bit more unpredictable and dynamic. Some of my favourite enemies on the server, ironically enough for a fantasy setting, are the bandits. They make extensive use of ranged weapons, switching when able, and try to get angles to shoot you oftentimes. They spam disarms to try and turn the tables on you. There are also a couple different types with different moves it seems, and that's great too. That kobold hut right out of spawn with the chieftain, his shaman, thugs and whatnot, has an excellent variety of enemies, but they're all packed into a newb-trap closet, and even more unsatisfyingly, it seems a lot of the dungeon areas around Barovia lack the same variety...

Compared to werewolves, who just have a bunch of health, seem to attack really quickly sometimes, but don't actually run faster than you, can't knock you down despite pouncing being a very typical predator-monster tactic... I think the only really big one I've noticed is they stealth, and that's only sometimes. That's more likely to kill a confused new player than it is to present a challenge to properly equipped adventurers who need to be reminded of the danger of an intelligent, incredibly agile, monstrously strong hulk of a wolf on two legs.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2019, 10:35:05 AM by SardineTheAncestor »
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Re: Mob aggression and targeting
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2019, 11:46:23 AM »
Having played a high level archer that has gone through all of the high level content,
I can confirm this behavior is crippling, I usually end up switching back and forth between my melee weapons and my bow as enemies charge me down, even with a melee to get in between us.
I really wish I knew how the script worked, but I don't and won't pretend to, if it is at all possible to change I would implore you to do so, even if it's just so much as they get bored of chasing after a few minutes.

Currently the strategy I employ for dealing with things chasing me as an archer without drawing my melee weapon, is dipping around a piece of terrain or a corner and hitting stealth, which causes the enemies to run at the next closest person they can see, sometimes. This isn't enjoyable, and makes archers feel mostly worthless in an area where the enemies can't be bottlenecked.

WingsOfStardust

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Re: Mob aggression and targeting
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2019, 12:55:14 PM »
Having played a high level archer that has gone through all of the high level content,
I can confirm this behavior is crippling, I usually end up switching back and forth between my melee weapons and my bow as enemies charge me down, even with a melee to get in between us.
I really wish I knew how the script worked, but I don't and won't pretend to, if it is at all possible to change I would implore you to do so, even if it's just so much as they get bored of chasing after a few minutes.

Currently the strategy I employ for dealing with things chasing me as an archer without drawing my melee weapon, is dipping around a piece of terrain or a corner and hitting stealth, which causes the enemies to run at the next closest person they can see, sometimes. This isn't enjoyable, and makes archers feel mostly worthless in an area where the enemies can't be bottlenecked.

This is exactly what I'm talking about. Personally I never allow archers to use bows in high-level dungeons like Sithicus. It is just liable to get everyone killed.
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Re: Mob aggression and targeting
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2019, 03:30:34 AM »
It's NWN AI to go for lower AC characters, yes. However, it's a custom script specifically on PotM regarding how high that aggression gets. This is the only server I've played on where a mob will go complete Terminator and whatever archer is designates as John Conner and not stop until it, or the archer is dead.

Standard NWN, initial aggro is gauged by the AC. It is then shifted depending on who or what is doing the most damage. I have had my bard arch. I stopped quickly. I recall one instance I was being completely ignored, and the melee had fully engaged. I fired a single arrow at a spawn, and not only did everything we were fighting disengage the melee to charge me, the spawns in adjacent rooms that had not been pulled yet came running to kill me.

There is a serious problem somewhere in the script.


goldenelvensorceress

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Re: Mob aggression and targeting
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2019, 12:26:48 PM »
I have seen this with EE on multiple servers.

Mobs go completely MENTAL over an Archer and will chase them down ignoring anything else.

Compare this to the guns in the game. You can shoot a gun at something and they are like Meh whatevah. They might come at you but they usually stay locked on whatever they are fighting with.

Ever a firebrand from a sorceress will not always cause them to re-target, yeah sometimes they will, but sometimes not. Even if they are fighting that dagger spawn, it usually takes a couple spells to get them to chase the mage. The missile storms the mages are fairly safe using, the low damage per hit usually just means the mobs ignore the caster.

Curse song from a bard? The mobs ignore it mostly.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2019, 12:47:28 PM by goldenelvensorceress »

zDark Shadowz

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Re: Mob aggression and targeting
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2019, 05:52:04 PM »
Not really a way to fix this, it'd be great if NWN had that Sentinel feat to drop movement speed of creatures to 0 temporarily when an attack of opportunity is landed but the combat stuff is all hardcoded, no way to tie that into anything.

Anyone here read the default AI combat scripts to see what the triggers are for them shifting attention?
« Last Edit: January 23, 2019, 05:53:42 PM by zDark Shadowz »
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WingsOfStardust

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Re: Mob aggression and targeting
« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2019, 01:21:38 PM »
I'd be nice if a Dev could comment on the thing. I'm not letting this thread just die.
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MAB77

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Re: Mob aggression and targeting
« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2019, 01:36:04 PM »
The Thing is an incredible comic book character

As to AI behavior, we still can't change what is hard coded.
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WingsOfStardust

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Re: Mob aggression and targeting
« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2019, 01:41:48 PM »
The Thing is an incredible comic book character

As to AI behavior, we still can't change what is hard coded.

However, this has been resolved on other servers on both 1.69 and EE. I am 99% sure that PotM doesn't use vanilla AI at that.
I think it'd be nicer if it was just a honest; we don't want to do this. Rather than saying it can't be done.
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BadStrref

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Re: Mob aggression and targeting
« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2019, 02:08:07 PM »
Going to echo the complaints made here about ranged combat.

 I remember we had a small group fighting the bebilith in ghastria and our Archer (Daewyn played by EmptyAnima) was well and far away down the long corridor shooting into the main room. We had two PCs body blocking the only exit and the giantic demon spider teleport behind, through the doorway, two shotted Daewyn, before teleporting back in front of those in melee to resume the fight. This mightvbe an anecdote, it it's a common one many players share.

If we can't change AI behavior could we look into someways to improve the AC of ranged PCs? Something to make them a value to a group as opposed to an ooc mechanical liability.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2019, 02:11:43 PM by Philos »

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Re: Mob aggression and targeting
« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2019, 03:12:56 PM »
Maybe there could be some tweaks to the archery feats like you could take rapid reload and point blank shot a step further and have it so that characters with the improved feat could defend themselves when rushed at by a melee combatant a % of the time? An extra attack per turn for when enemies are close to you could possibly make being a ranged combatant less stinky.

If that’s too imbalanced maybe it would work okay as a combat mode if there is also a tradeoff? For names I was thinking something like “suppressive fire”.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2019, 04:40:16 PM by Silas Rotleaf »

MAB77

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Re: Mob aggression and targeting
« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2019, 03:27:02 PM »
Or you could also learn to factor this behavior of the AI into your strategies? The mechanical liability you speak of works both way. Not all your opponents can teleport, more often than not you get your allies to have attacks of opportunites on the foe breaking the engagement to seek you out.

Even if the hard-coding on the battle system was removed and that we could change the AI, (something way beyond my meager skills anyway), I suspect a degree of complexity that would only trade one flawed behavior for another that would have its own pros and cons.

I am not saying the AI is good. I wholeheartedly agree it would be good if it could be improved. But deep down I don't see it as a bad thing that a creature seeks out the guy that tries to safely kill it from afar either.

As for the AC on ranged PCs it is quite possible to reach a decent AC rating with multiple range builts. Though of course a character can't just have it all, choices must be made and assumed.
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Re: Mob aggression and targeting
« Reply #17 on: January 25, 2019, 03:44:03 PM »
When he said teleport, he didn’t mean in a way that was clearly intentional. He meant that the enemy glitched through the people in front, killed my character, then glitched back. That’s not something you can ‘strategise’ for. They’d already blocked the entrance to the room so that my pc wasn’t in line of sight.

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Re: Mob aggression and targeting
« Reply #18 on: January 25, 2019, 04:10:39 PM »
There are ways to modify the creature AI fairly in depth, they've existed since pre-EE.  I also don't think the intention here is to trash-talk potm's methods but simply to call attention to the fact that it could be improved.  Whether or not that's something the development team actually wants to look in to is their prerogative but the behavior that's being addressed here is fairly telling and I genuinely can't think of any other servers I've played on recently that have the same issue.

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Re: Mob aggression and targeting
« Reply #19 on: January 25, 2019, 04:20:41 PM »
There are ways to modify the creature AI fairly in depth, they've existed since pre-EE.  I also don't think the intention here is to trash-talk potm's methods but simply to call attention to the fact that it could be improved.  Whether or not that's something the development team actually wants to look in to is their prerogative but the behavior that's being addressed here is fairly telling and I genuinely can't think of any other servers I've played on recently that have the same issue.

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Re: Mob aggression and targeting
« Reply #20 on: January 25, 2019, 05:14:21 PM »
 Oh, man.. making archers viable for more people would be great. An experienced player can -mostly- compensate with proper AC wards like anyone else, and some quick fingers to switch away from their bow. I don't notice MOBs chase archers 100% of the time.. but sometimes.. it feels like 100% of the time! If their AI could be tweaked to make their chasing still possible, but less likely, more the exception then the grim reality- archers could make a resurgence! (Which is a GOOD thing, as it lets you feel accomplishment and a part of the team without becoming a liability in dangerous areas. I regularly see people demand there be no archers and such in certain locations. And more, I understand why, and even agree depending on the skill and preparation of the individual at hand.)




 I know good archers exist, and walk the planes- but they are rare, and definitely have a learning curve.

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Re: Mob aggression and targeting
« Reply #21 on: January 25, 2019, 06:01:54 PM »
Or you could also learn to factor this behavior of the AI into your strategies? The mechanical liability you speak of works both way. Not all your opponents can teleport, more often than not you get your allies to have attacks of opportunities on the foe breaking the engagement to seek you out.

Or you could also learn the basic abilities that creatures have and realize when something is not functioning as intended. What enemy on this server "teleports"? How about one that becomes inexplicably insubstantial and able to pass through characters, creatures alike with the mere introduction of a ranged attack? This behavior is not normal.
 
More often than not you get your allies to have attacks of opportunities on the foe breaking the engagement to seek you out.

Attacks of opportunities are not beneficial. They force your to change targets increasing time to kill and wasting other attacks in the round. You're far better off focusing on one target than spreading attacks around.

I am not saying the AI is good. I wholeheartedly agree it would be good if it could be improved. But deep down I don't see it as a bad thing that a creature seeks out the guy that tries to safely kill it from afar either.


It is a bad thing when this aberrant behavior excludes entire character archetypes. Its unfun for the ranged character who can't utilize his weapon of choice but once before fighting face to face and unfun for the rest of the party who's melee fighters are scrambling to save the suddenly attacked party member, drawing the entire encounter onto the party.

As for the AC on ranged PCs it is quite possible to reach a decent AC rating with multiple range builts. Though of course a character can't just have it all, choices must be made and assumed.

With respect MAB, I think if you do a little exploring you'll find otherwise. Make a couple of builds and post them here. I'm curious what you think decent ac for a ranged character is and how it compares to their melee counter parts.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2019, 07:14:18 PM by Philos »

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Re: Mob aggression and targeting
« Reply #22 on: January 25, 2019, 06:20:04 PM »
I've died to this spider aswell, due to it's glitching, namely through doors- Although that isn't relevant I think it gives a point that the game came out many years ago and the AI isn't exactly perfect.
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Re: Mob aggression and targeting
« Reply #23 on: January 25, 2019, 06:33:55 PM »
Even with EE, most of the functioning of this game is still old, and what can be done with it seems to require some wizardry. It at least requires Devs willing to devote time both learning and programming an archaic toolset. For no monetary reward.

I argue with them a lot and have my own strong opinions about many Dev decisions, but I don't doubt they would rather the AI be more sophisticated than it is. I don't doubt they would like for the game to be more challenging and clever in its behavior, but given the constraints of what they have to work with--and all the demands on their time--I hope players are also mindful that (as with DMs) being too demanding and unappreciative of Devs can be counter-productive by destroying any incentive they have to respond to our requests.

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Re: Mob aggression and targeting
« Reply #24 on: January 26, 2019, 12:55:26 PM »

As for the AC on ranged PCs it is quite possible to reach a decent AC rating with multiple range builts. Though of course a character can't just have it all, choices must be made and assumed.

With respect MAB, I think if you do a little exploring you'll find otherwise. Make a couple of builds and post them here. I'm curious what you think decent ac for a ranged character is and how it compares to their melee counter parts.

I've played an archer tank in the 11-12 range without enchanted gear and reliably hit the 40-44AC mark with buffs, which is good enough for everything within the character's level range and slightly higher. I tanked every dungeon with the character shy of Ghastria and Sithicus content.

It does seem a little overzealous in parts, but I think target-priority on low AC, high damage targets is no different than how an intelligent being would respond. Archery can be the highest/most reliable damage on the server.
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