Debate Club: What Is the Worst Trend/Mechanic/Etc… In Gaming Right Now?

I love video games, but there are a lot of things in gaming that bug me.  Certain things, talent trees for example, have been around for so many years and implemented in so many different games that they just feel played out.  Other things, like long lobby times in multiplayer games are more a personal annoyance.  I want to get into a multiplayer and actually play, I don’t care about hearing your baby cry in the background during the 15 minutes we have to hang out in a lobby in between 10 minute matches.  There is one thing though, that I think is the absolute worst problem in gaming…crappy AI.

There are so many reasons why bad AI is such a plague on gaming.  First off, it’s everywhere.  Even in good games, even in great games, enemies are pretty stupid.  It’s so much the norm that no one even seems to notice it anymore.  It’s so game breaking at times though, that it completely ruins the immersion factor in games.  Games with stealth mechanics specifically feel completely off when enemies who have detected you go back to their patrols after you’ve lost them.  Enemies feel so out of place, acting in ways that even the most ill trained guard wouldn’t.

What really gets to me about bad AI is that it’s a problem that no one seems to be paying attention to, meanwhile the graphics race rages on, pushing polygon counts higher and higher while gameplay mechanics are suffering.  I realize that graphics are pretty and all, but things like bad AI can be so egregiously bad that the game is terrible, regardless of how nice the wet pavement effects look.

If some of the resources that were spent pushing forward other aspects of game creation were poured into AI, games would be pushing in some incredible new directions.  Imagine the gameplay of Skyrim or Fallout if the enemies did more than basically run straight for you.  There are so many cool skills in those games that are made almost useless by the fact that the most direct approach to defeating an enemy is almost always the best that it becomes hard to justify them even being in the game.

On Thursday, Chris will debate that there is something out there that’s more ridiculous than the terrible AI that we all have suffer through in the vast majority of games we play.  I feel like he’s got his hands full this week, as the garbage AI that plagues the games we love seems so rampant and so in your face that it’s impossible to ignore.