GameStar: In Shogun 2 I have seen enemies that are not protecting there cities while sending all their armies to the frontlines. So I could sneak around with one of my armies to conquer the cities.
Scott: Well, I am actually the lead battle programmer, so I know a lot more about the battle AI. But this is kind of similar to what I have said before. I went to one of the campaign AI programmers, after I was playing the game just for fun. I had made a trade agreement with the AI and I had paid some money for it and was really happy. The next turn the AI just broke off on me. So I had a closer look at the AI. What actually happened was, I lost a region somewhere else and due to the resources I had lost by loosing that certain region, I was no longer a good person to trade with, because I did not have the stuff he needed. So the AI dropped me. And that is the point. It is very difficult to look at a specific issue like that and give you an answer why exactly that happened.
GameStar: Ok. Well, this was an example that happened quite often, that is why I picked it. Another thing that happened quite often is the battlefield AI charging with single units and or even one of their generals – without any chance of success. How can something like this happen?
Scott: The AI is constantly looking where all of the opponent units are. And it is considering all possibilities: ›I could outflank the unit or I could attack the unit or I could shoot at the unit.‹ Then it tries to balance that and sometimes that goes wrong for whatever reason. Either it is a bug or it is just not working very well. It is because of the very complex bouncing system, that sometimes the AI will make a wrong decision.
GameStar: What would you say are the most important improvements you have made compared to Napoleon?
Scott: I think there is a number of improvements. For example the siege battles generally: For Shogun 2 the AI knows on man level, how do I defend a wall, how do I shoot a wall, how do I climb, all those kinds of things. So the AI has been completely redesigned, because the game was so different in that aspect. The land battles and naval are more kind of an evolution. Because of the complexity of the system we do not like to completely throw things away, we like to learn from them and take the best and make it as good as it can be.
GameStar: Would you say there obviously can not be a perfect AI and the player will always have to live with smaller bugs or problems?
Scott: Yes, it is realistic to say that just like humans the AI is going to have flaws. I do not really know what the perfect AI is. I think we are constantly striving to make an AI that is challenging and fun at the end of the day. We are improving it all the time and we are learning all the time. We have been doing it for a long time and we are still learning because it is a massive problem. I think we make this problem for ourselves, because we made the most deep and massive strategy game that I know off. So have to make an AI that can play it and give you a good challenge. We are to blame.
GameStar: Ok, that was a beautiful finish. Scott, thank you very much.