A crappy AI companion is just the worst. And it seems developer Irrational Games completely understands that.
After deciding upon an AI buddy for the upcoming Bioshock Infinite , Ken Levine and Co. knew they had to create a realistic, believable – and likable – character who "reacted to the world around her and to the player's actions."
In speaking to Eurogamer about the process of developing a solid, reliable AI character, Levine spoke in detail about what they wanted to do:
"One thing AIs generally don't do is react to what's around them. They don't observe what's around them. They have no interest in what's around them. So we spent a lot of time making Elizabeth notice the world and react to the world and engage with the world. That was heightened by the fact she's been locked up. But even so, people are always looking at stuff. When you walk down the street you don't walk down the street like a robot, which is generally what companion AIs do."
Elizabeth will frequently interact with the player, hand out health and ammo, and can even draw supplies to her with her special "tear" power. Heck, she even has the capability of resurrecting the player if need be. But in addition to her functional roles, she will also issue commentary on the engrossing environment, and her facial expressions will accurately reflect her emotional state. Added Levine:
"So we had to seed the world with things she was interested in and things she could interact with. We had to seed her with various emotional states that are primarily an overlay on the animation she does. And she has sounds to go along with all of those things. Making her present in the world was one of the most difficult things and one of the most important things."
It's tough to do AI just right and in fact, we haven't seen too many examples of fantastic AI allies over the years. Personally, I thought Elika in Prince of Persia was the best…the kind of ally you don't have to worry about; she was more of a tool than anything else. Of course, she didn't have anywhere near the personality Irrational has infused into Elizabeth.
Related Game(s): Bioshock Infinite