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    PlanetQuake | Features | Articles | Bring on the Bots!
   

Bring On the Bots!
"You wan' a piece o' me?!" A look at the incredible bot action of the new Q3:A demo.
  — by
Pappy-R

With the introduction of the Quake III: Arena Bots coming to us all in the recent Q3DemoTEST, I thought I'd take a look at them and give my impressions. Let me first explain to the newest of newbies what a "bot" is. It's an automated opponent that the program supplies for you to play against, and uses a set code routine for it's artificial intelligence (AI). Now don't get all worried that the world is in danger from the advanced AI in Quake 3. Although these bad boys (and nasty girls) can rail you from across the map, they really have no interest in removing us as a species. They just don't like us in their Arenas.

Our first task in Quake 3 is to get the bots into the game with us, and this couldn't be easier since the "single player" portion of the game is you against bots, in specified arenas with a certain number of these critters. To advance in the single player game (Tiers), you don't get to decide on how many bots you take on per map, but you can choose how lethal the bots are. So far we have 5 settings that range from "I Can Win" to "Nightmare". Let me tell you that the "nightmare" skill level is just that, a bad dream where you're the only caring, feeling, piece of meat in the game. For the bots to play in a multiplayer game, you must include them in the settings before you begin or add them after, assuming you have left slots for them to join. This is all done in a very easy-to-use interface in the "multiplayer" setup and can be taken care of by clicking the available slots.

"You and that toy are really getting on my nerves, Sarge."

Now that you are in the game, be it single player or multiplayer, we'll assume you have some bots to contend with. The Quake 3 bots are some of the smartest players I've seen and can even work as a real team in "teamplay" mode. I've seen these "walking talking pieces of fun" try to take an area from me and discover they needed backup. The next thing I know, the son of a *%@$# had placed the call and his buddies showed up to show me just how bad my Rail wasn't. Thanks for the lesson, boyz. As another example of tactics, that sweetheart known as "Major", that will be your foe in the first level of the single player action, will try each way in turn, to get you out of the outdoor area and away from what she believes is HER Rocket Launcher. If she gets one, you'll soon learn why she likes it. Yup, dat's my head!

The Quake III: Arena bots all have different likes and dislikes built in. The larger targets like Stripe and Grunt don't hop around too much, but the fems, Major and Damia will hop skip and jump you to death in a battle. Nice jump animations on the ladies, I might add. A prime example of the weapons choice specifics, I think would be Sarge in his defence of the Q3Tourney2 map in the single player game. If you've played this guy in his map, I'm willing to bet that the urge to shove that Shotgun somewhere in his bot anatomy has crossed your mind more than once. He does you some serious hurt without making it obvious he's computer controlled. He's just damn good with that gun and has the overwhelming urge to pepper your parts with pellets.

"Of course I'll wait for you to finish that insult...NOT!"

Overall, and I realize this is a DemoTEST, these bots are awesome opponents and teammates. You can order them around in a team game or even let them call the shots by making them "team leader". To get all the commands, just refer to the included "Bots Commands.doc" in Q3. If a bot is your leader you may be wise to listen up, since they can keep track of how the team as a whole is doing, while we as mere humans have to actually read all the info in the new teamplay HUD. Yes, bots "chat" and they even insult or praise you in matches. Here's a little piece of advice for you on the new "manners" in Quake 3 with the arrival of the "typing" and "disconnect" icons that appear over the head of an affected player. Bots also have the "typing" icon appear when chatting, and while it's considered rude to get a typing kill on a human, I'll nail a chatting bot in a second. Hell, nail two if ya can.

The few failings that I've noticed with the bots during play are far from major issues. I have however seen bots ignore Quad that has immerged from a fragged body. Thay have no problems going for quad in it's designated spot, but when it's been dropped they can seem to not want to touch it. Dropped weapons are the same as the bots seem to ignore these, too. This is great if you really need that RL but it takes away from the goal of trying to make the bots play like people. A human player of the lowest caliber wouldn't ignore a power up or gun that was easily in reach. Any other low points I could mention would be nit-picking at this point, so I'll let it go.

Let's just leave this piece on the idea that Quake III: Arena and it's computer-controlled buttheads rule! Okay, the ones on my team aren't buttheads, but that Sarge goof on nightmare skill level really bugs me. Bot meat, anyone?

  — by Pappy-R


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