Don't Miss: How enemy AI works in Dicey Dungeons

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Hi there all! For the previous month or so, I have been tackling some of the largest technical issues in my new sport, Dicey Dungeons – making improvements to the enemy AI sufficient for the general liberate of the sport. It is been beautiful attention-grabbing, and a variety of it used to be new to me, so I believed I would write a little bit bit about it. 

First up, a form of disclaimer: I am not a pc scientist – I am simply a kind of individuals who realized sufficient about programming to make video video games, after which stopped finding out anything else I did not have to be informed. I will be able to in most cases litter thru, however an actual programmer most certainly would not have approached all this the best way I did.

I attempted to put in writing all this in a somewhat prime stage method in thoughts, in order that with a bit of luck the elemental concepts all make sense to different non-programmers. However I am needless to say no skilled on all these things, and if I have gotten any of the main points unsuitable in explaining the speculation, let me know within the feedback – glad to make corrections!

Let’s get started by way of explaining the issue!

The issue

In the event you’ve no longer performed Dicey Dungeons, here is a crash direction: it is a deckbuilding RPG, the place every enemy has a choice of apparatus playing cards that do various things. Additionally, they roll cube! They then position the ones cube at the apparatus to do injury, or purpose quite a lot of standing results, or heal, or defend themselves from injury, or a variety of different issues. Here is a easy instance of a tiny frog the use of a large sword and a little bit defend:

A extra sophisticated instance: this Handyman has a spanner, which permits it so as to add two cube in combination (so three + 2 would come up with a unmarried five, and a four + five would come up with a 6 and a three). It additionally has a Hammer, which “shocks” the participant in the event that they use a six on it, and a Pea Shooter, which does not do a lot injury, however which has a “countdown” which persists throughout turns.

Yet another essential complication: there are standing results which exchange what you’ll be able to do. An important of those are “Surprise”, which disables apparatus at random till you unshock it by way of the use of an additional cube on it, or “Burn”, which units your cube on fireplace. When your cube are on fireplace, you’ll be able to nonetheless use them – however it is going to price you 2 well being issues. Here is what a artful Handyman does once I surprise and burn all his apparatus and cube:

There is extra to it than that, after all, however that is mainly the gist of it!

So, the issue: how do you are making an AI that may determine the most productive factor to do on it is flip? How does it know which burning cube to extinguish, which cube to make use of for unshocking and which cube to avoid wasting for essential apparatus?

What it used to do

For a very long time, my AI in Dicey Dungeons simply had one rule: It checked out the entire apparatus from left to proper, discovered the most productive cube to make use of on it, and used it. This labored nice, till it did not. So, I added extra regulations.

As an example, I handled surprising by way of taking a look on the unshocked apparatus, and deciding what cube I’d wish to use on it when it used to be unshocked, then marking that cube as “reserved” for later. I handled burning cube by way of simply checking if I had sufficient well being to extinguish them, and opting for whether or not or to not do it by way of random probability.

Rule after rule after rule to take care of the entirety I may recall to mind, and ended up with an AI that sorta kinda labored! If truth be told, it is superb how smartly this hodge-podge of regulations held in combination – the AI in Dicey Dungeons may no longer have at all times performed the precise factor, nevertheless it used to be no doubt satisfactory. A minimum of, for a sport that is nonetheless a piece in development.

However over the years, the program of including increasingly more regulations to the AI actually began to wreck on the seams. Other people came upon constant exploits to get the AI to do silly issues. With the precise setup, some of the bosses may well be tricked into by no means in reality attacking you, for instance. The extra regulations I added to check out to make things better, the extra bizarre issues would occur, as regulations began to battle with different regulations, and edge circumstances began to crop up.

In fact, one approach to repair this used to be to simply practice extra regulations – paintings thru every drawback separately, and upload a brand new if commentary to catch it. However I feel that might have simply been kicking the issue additional down the street. The limitation the program had used to be that it used to be handiest ever fascinated with this query: “What’s my subsequent transfer?”. It will by no means glance forward, and determine what may occur from a specific artful mixture.

So, I determined to start out over.

The vintage resolution

Glance up AI stuff for video games, and most likely the primary resolution you’ll be able to come throughout is a vintage resolution making set of rules referred to as Minimax. Here is a video that explains how it is carried out to designing a Chess AI:


Enforcing Minimax works like this:

First, you create a light-weight, summary model of your sport, which has the entire related data for a specific second in time of the sport. We will name this the Board. For Chess, this will be the present place of the entire items. For Dicey Dungeons, it is a record of cube, apparatus, and standing results.

Subsequent, you get a hold of a price serve as – a approach to measure how smartly the sport goes for a specific configuration of the sport – i.e. for a specific board. For Chess, perhaps a board the place the entire items are of their preliminary positions is value zero issues. A board the place you may have captured an enemy Pawn is perhaps value 1 level – and perhaps a board the place you may have misplaced one among your personal Pawns is value -1 issues. A board the place you may have your opponent in checkmate is value infinity issues. Or one thing like that!

Then, from this summary board. you simulate taking part in the entire conceivable strikes you’ll be able to make, which will give you a brand new summary board. Then, you simulate taking part in the entire conceivable strikes from the ones forums, and so forth, for as many steps as you need. This is a very good representation of that from

What we are doing is making a graph of the entire conceivable strikes each gamers could make, and the use of our price serve as to measure how the sport goes.

This is the place Dicey Dungeons splits from Minimax: Minimax comes from mathematical sport idea, and it is designed to determine the most productive sequence of strikes in a global the place your opponent is attempting to maximize their rating. It is so named as a result of it is about looking to minimise your loss when your opponent performs with the intention to as to maximize their acquire.

However for Dicey Dungeons? I in reality do not care what my opponent is doing. For the sport to be amusing, you simply need the AI do make strikes that make sense – to determine the easiest way to play their cube on their apparatus to make it a good struggle. In different phrases, all I care about is the Max, no longer the Min.

Which means that: for the Dicey Dungeons AI to make a smart move, all I wish to do is create this graph of conceivable strikes, and search for the board which has the most productive rating – then make the strikes that result in that time.

A easy enemy flip

Good enough, examples! Let’s take a look at this frog once more! How does it make a decision what to do? How does it know that it is selected motion is the most productive one?

It mainly simply has has two choices. Position the 1 at the broadsword and the three at the defend, or do it the opposite direction round. It clearly comes to a decision that it is hanging that three at the sword than the 1. However why? Neatly, as it checked out the entire results:

Position the 1 at the sword and you find yourself with a rating of 438. Position the three on it, and you find yourself with a rating of 558. Nice, adequate! Then, I am getting a greater rating by way of putting the three at the Sword, performed.

The place’s that rating coming from? Neatly, the Dicey Dungeons scoring gadget these days considers:

  • Injury: An important case – 100 issues for each level of wear dealt.
  • Poison: A very powerful standing impact that the AI considers virtually as essential as injury – 90 issues for every poison.
  • Causing different Standing results: Like Surprise, Burn, Weaken, and so forth. Each and every this sort of is value 50 issues.
  • Bonus standing results: Causing your self with sure standing results like Protect, and so forth, is value 40 issues every.
  • The use of apparatus: The use of any piece of apparatus is value 10 issues – as a result of if all else fails, the AI must simply attempt to use the entirety.
  • Lowering countdowns: Some apparatus (just like the Pea Shooter) simply wishes a complete price of cube to turn on. So, the AI will get 10 issues for each countdown level it reduces.
  • Cube Pips: The AI will get five issues for each unused Cube Pip – so a 1 is value five, and a 6 is value 30. That is supposed to make the AI want to not use cube it does not wish to use, and does so much to make its strikes glance extra human like.
  • Period: The AI loses 1 level in line with transfer, making it in order that lengthy strikes have very fairly decrease ratings than quick ones. That is in order that if there are two strikes that might differently have the similar rating, the AI will pick out the shorter one.
  • Therapeutic: Price simply 1 level in line with well being level healed, as a result of whilst I need the AI to imagine it in a tie wreck, I are not looking for it to be preoccupied with it. Different issues are at all times extra essential!
  • Bonus rating: Bonus rating may also be carried out to any transfer, to trick the AI into doing one thing they may not differently make a decision to do. Used very sparingly.

In spite of everything, there is additionally two particular circumstances – if the objective of the assault is out of well being, that is value 1,000,000 issues. If the AI is out of well being, that is value minus 1,000,000 issues. Those imply that the AI won’t ever by accident kill themselves (by way of extinguishing a cube when they’ve very low well being, say), or by no means go up a transfer that might kill the participant.

Those numbers are not absolute best, needless to say – take, for instance, those these days open problems: #640, #642, #649 – nevertheless it in reality does not topic that a lot. Even more or less correct numbers are sufficient to incentivise the AI to roughly do the precise factor.

Tougher enemy turns

The frog case is discreet sufficient that even my shoddy code can determine each unmarried chance in zero.017 seconds. However, then issues get just a little extra sophisticated. Let’s take a look at that Handyman once more.

It is resolution tree is, uh, a little bit extra sophisticated:

Sadly, even reasonably easy circumstances explode in complexity beautiful temporarily. On this case, we finally end up with 2,670 nodes on our resolution graph to discover, which takes fairly just a little longer to determine than the frog did – perhaps up to a 2nd or two.

A large number of that is combinatorial complexity – for instance, it isn’t important which of the 2s we use to unshock the apparatus to start with, this set of rules considers them as two separate selections, and creates a complete tree of branching selections for each. This finally ends up with a department that is a wholly pointless replica. The are identical mixture issues of deciding which cube to extinguish, which apparatus to unshock, what cube to make use of in what order.

However even recognizing pointless branches like this and optimising them (which I have been doing to some degree), there’s at all times going to be some extent the place the complexity of the conceivable diversifications of choices results in large, sluggish resolution timber that take ceaselessly to determine. So, that is one significant issue with this method. This is every other:

This essential piece of apparatus (and issues adore it) purpose an issue for the AI, as a result of they’ve an unsure consequence. If I put a six on this, perhaps I will get a 5 and a one, or I may get a 4 and two, or perhaps I will get two threes. I may not know till I do it, so it is actually onerous to make a plan that takes this under consideration.

Fortunately, there’s a just right method to either one of those issues that Dicey Dungeons makes use of!

The fashionable resolution

Monte Carlo Tree Seek (or MCTS, for brief) is a probabilistic resolution making set of rules. Here’s a, uh, fairly extraordinary video which nonetheless explains the theory at the back of Monte Carlo based totally resolution making actually smartly:


Principally, as a substitute of graphing out each unmarried conceivable transfer we will be able to make, MCTS works by way of testing sequences of random strikes, after which maintaining a tally of those that went the most productive. It will probably magically make a decision which branches of our resolution tree are the “maximum promising” because of a system referred to as the Higher Self assurance Certain set of rules:

That system, by way of the best way, is from this very useful article on Monte Carlo Tree Searches. Do not question me the way it works!

The beauty of MCTS is that it may possibly in most cases in finding the most productive resolution with no need to brute pressure the entirety, and you’ll be able to use it on the similar summary board/transfer simulation gadget as minimax. So, you’ll be able to kinda do each. Which is what I have ended up doing for Dicey Dungeons. First, it tries to do an exhaustive growth of the verdict tree, which in most cases does not take very lengthy and results in the most productive consequence – but when that is taking a look too giant, it falls again to the use of MCTS.

MCTS has two actually cool houses that make it nice for Dicey Dungeons:

One – it is nice at coping with uncertainty. As a result of it is operating time and again, aggregating knowledge from every run, I simply let it simulate unsure strikes like the use of a lockpick naturally, and over repeated runs, it is going to get a hold of an attractive just right vary of ratings of ways smartly that transfer will determine.

Two – it can provide me a partial resolution. You’ll mainly do as many simulations as you prefer with MCTS. If truth be told, in idea, if you happen to let it run ceaselessly, it must converge on precisely the similar outcome as Minimax. Extra to the purpose for me, although – I will be able to use MCTS to usually get a just right resolution out of a restricted quantity of pondering time. The extra searches you do, the simpler the “resolution” you’ll be able to in finding – however for Dicey Dungeons, it is ceaselessly just right sufficient to simply do a couple of hundred searches, which handiest takes a fragment of a 2nd.

Some cool tangents

So, that is how the enemies in Dicey Dungeons make a decision the best way to kill you! I look ahead to introducing this within the upcoming model v0.15 of the sport!

Listed here are some tangential ideas that I do not actually know the place to position:

The ones graphs I have been appearing gifs of? Together with this one on twitter:

Positive, the neighbours appear to be actually playing their celebration, however the REAL amusing is happening right here: spent the night hacking in combination a GraphML exporter for Dicey Dungeons’ new AI! Now I will be able to discover enemy strikes and in reality see what is going on step by step! #screenshotsaturday

— Terry (@terrycavanagh) November 25, 2018

I created those by way of writing an exporter for GraphML, which is an open supply graph report layout that may be learn with many alternative gear. (I have been the use of yEd, which is superb and which I will be able to counsel so much.)

Additionally! A part of making this all paintings used to be working out the best way to let the AI simulate strikes, which used to be a large puzzle in and of itself. So, I stopped up imposing an motion scripting gadget. Now, whilst you use a work of apparatus, it runs those tiny little scripts that seem like this:

Those little scripts are achieved by way of hscript, a haxe based totally expression parser and interpreter. This used to be no doubt more or less a ache to enforce, however the payoff is superb: it makes the sport tremendous, tremendous modable. I hope that after this sport in spite of everything comes out, other folks will be capable to use the program to design their very own apparatus that may do mainly any cool factor they are able to assume up. And, even higher, for the reason that AI is sensible sufficient to judge any motion you give it, enemies will be capable to determine the best way to do no matter bizarre modded apparatus you give it!

Thank you for studying! Glad to reply to any questions or to explain any of this within the feedback beneath!

(And, in spite of everything, in case you are curious about taking part in Dicey Dungeons, you’ll be able to get alpha get admission to on at the moment, or if you happen to want, wishlist us on steam, which can ship you a little bit reminder when the sport comes out.)

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