View Full Version : Arcade and bot 'difficulty'

11-07-2018, 12:19 AM
So this has been a thought of mine for a while but it has been more to the fore with the way this came out in the Weekly Arcade but there are good ways of increasing difficulty and there are not so good ways and honestly the first Weekly Arcade and the level three bots as a whole do not display good ways of increasing difficulty. So let's take the Arcade, I will confess that I wasn't doing much more than trying to survive when in with someone in my group so I didn't notice a lot. Last night though I listened in on discord as two very good players were playing the last level and honestly some of the things there come across as BS. At the very least, two things I heard broke the core rules of the game, Shaman being able to go into Predator's Mercy without making either of them bleed and them being guardbroken out of attacks. This is a problem.

I get that legendary tier and weekly quests are supposed to be hard mode but there is a real problem when characters break basic rules of the game in an effort to increase the difficulty, it cheats the player. People talk about Dark Souls for hard fighting games, I have never played it so I can't compare, but going slightly outside of the genre, Monster Hunter has different variations of the monsters as you go through the levels. Part of the difficulty increase is these things hit like trucks (though you also have more armour) but it also comes in them having slightly less recovery, high impact moves coming closer together or being a little bit faster, the thing is they don't break the core rules of the game, if I have armour that has poison negate, I don't suddenly get poisoned in the effort of making the game harder. I don't know what you can do in weekly arcade outside of adding new moves, making attacks faster or messing with the recovery and tracking but the enemies should not be breaking established game rules.

With the level three bots we get worse, the bots are acknowledged to essentially cheat us in that they read our inputs, there is no reaction time to attacks, they just know what is coming period and this is a very cheap way of raising the difficulty, worse, it won't teach a player how to beat a good opponent, only to somehow cheese a perfect reaction bot who neither reads you nor makes an effort not to be read. So how would I do this? First of all we need to look at the core ingredients in how a player plays. First you have reaction time, then there is reading a mixup and then there is the matter of the player attacking and the choices they make. Starting with the latter I can go into another out of genre example, Firepro Wrestling. In the character creator you have a section that enables you to select the likelihood of certain moves being used, simpler and low impact moves will have a high percentage when opponent damage is low while signatures and finishers have a zero percent chance, riskier moves have a higher percentage as the match advances. This is something that could be done with mixups with level three bots favouring highly the mixups that bring max punishes and safer damage.

Going into reaction, to an extent the game will always cheat you, it knows what you are doing, but I believe it should have a range of 200-500ms reaction time after the indicator flashes and there should also be a percentage of when a bot reacts to a potential mixup that could change the attack (such as Kensei top heavy unblockable to side) with the higher level bots being more likely to wait until an opponent is committed before making their reaction. The other thing this would allow someone to add is an illusion of reading the opponent, that 200-500ms reaction? If an opponent throws the same mixup over and over again that might be 200-300ms, if someone tries something they haven't done it might be 400-500ms. With the help of top players and even the data the devs have, this would be a way of increasing difficulty that is also a learning experience that would enable players to improve over time.

So putting all this together what I would try to do is something like this.

Level one bot

Finds it difficult (but not impossible) to parry and will throw a lot of attacks from neutral that are unsafe or without trying to mixup first, so heavies in general, Kensei's top heavy unblockable. Won't try mixups in general or feint and does not benefit from quicker reactions when dealing with the same mixup.

Level two

More likely to parry than level one and if an opponent tries the same mixup three times in a row they will have a shorter range in reaction times thereafter. They might have one favoured mixup that 'just works for them' (you already have mixups, simple and complex, in hero tactics) where others only rarely get thrown if that stops working. This could lead to some variance between two bots of the same level where they have different favoured mixups.

Level three

If an opponent tries the same mixup more than twice in a row their reaction to that mixup will be 150-300ms. Their reaction time by default will be 150-350ms. They will never try the same mixup twice in a row and will never throw heavies from neutral. You will see a lot more max punishes from them and while parries are not going to be 100% guaranteed, they will get a lot more and will wait until the point in a mixup that an opponent is committed. Again this can also lead to devs being able to vary the general behaviour of, say, two raiders, across that level,

Just food for thought.

11-07-2018, 12:30 AM
I like the idea of giving higher level bots shorter reaction times because by and large, that's something that is common among higher level players too, generally speaking. I think the bots should also make mistakes, like bad reads, or just "fall asleep on the sticks" for a second as this is also something that's common among humans. Top players are top players, but nobody is perfect.

Adding some other human like characteristics would be a good move too. For example, some people will, when under pressure, play much better than when they're not. So, when somebody gets low on health they can suddenly become really effective in defence, or they might go to pieces and make stupid mistakes in a panic, or they might just continue playing the same way but situations affect performance and giving the bots variations of this would make them feel different and feel less robotic and a little more like real opponents.

There's a lot they could do to improve the AI. It's not in a particularly good place at any level to be fair.

11-07-2018, 04:07 AM
The bots do make mistakes. I have beaten the weekly quest with Raider about 7 times now. The biggest issue with the 3 shamans is that when they decide to parry is random so they all take random damage and it becomes ridiculously hard to kill them all at the same time. I have been getting quite frustrated by this horrible mode and I expect my posts to get deleted but the mod might consider that the people getting the most angry are those that are the most passionate about what this game could be. Not what it is.

11-07-2018, 06:52 AM
Actually a lot of the "difficulty" with the new bots is artificial. Go into your UI settings and turn on your damage numbers and then go into training arena to get an idea for what your hero's normal numbers should be. Then go into the weekly quest and see if you can spot the difference. Here's an example of my findings.

Conqueror Unblockable side heavy: 33
Conqueror Unblockable Side heavy weekly/legendary arcade: 18
Shaman Bite: 50
Shaman Bite weekly'legendary arcade: 72