OBEY at Arisia + updates

Had a great show at Arisia this Sunday! OBEY was featured on Hardcoregamer.com On the dev side - December and January have been big months, with more big things out of the way. The terrain setup is pretty much complete, with void integration added that makes the game feel a lot more polished and finished in my opinion:

Void integration

The addition of laser sentries: and the addition of death cam!  (finally!)
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AI is READY!

Hi Everyone! THE LAST BIG HURDLE BEFORE RELEASE HAS BEEN CROSSED! After 3 months of intense coding... I am happy to announce that the first version of OBEY with shippable AI is now in place! 😀 AI can use the robot, and a huge amount AI bugs have been fixed. There is still more to do, but (unless serious bugs are found) I will now be moving on to issues directly related to getting more players into OBEY. A special thanks to all of you who have helped me test the AI thus far ^_^ In this video I talk a little bit about the AI and how it works (sorry for poor stream quality): Here's me messing with the AI with JackBootedThug: The great news is that there are no more tasks as difficult as the one just completed! It will be mostly polish and features to be added from now until full release (which I am speculating will be around March).
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Dan Dez on “Essential” Voice Chat and Psychology Based Multiplayer in his game OBEY.

[Note: This blog entry was written by a volunteer within our community to help get the word out about OBEY! Currently Avaliable Through Steam Early Access. http://store.steampowered.com/app/346970/] It only took me a couple minutes of playing OBEY before I realized it was something totally different to anything I had played before. Here I was, a helpless bunny being held at gunpoint by a giant robot with an itchy trigger finger. As a new player, I had no choice to do what I was told. Following directions in a video game is nothing new, but these directions were being given to me by voice from another player. He was speaking in very stern tones. It made me feel a little like he was actually pointing a gun at me and needed me to put all my valuables in the bag, It was intense.

The view from "Robosaru"

Obey Developer Dan Dez answered some questions for me on the origins of the game's unique emphasis on voice chat. Q: I really enjoy the Voice Chat in OBEY. How important do you think it is to the game?
A: Well in my opinion it’s essential because of my own strategy in the game. Everyone brings their own personality to the game. Some talk more than others, but voice is the easiest way for the player in the Robot to let the other players know what they want, and how not to get killed.  
Q: Would you go as far as to say that voice chat is basically required to play OBEY?
A: I wouldn't say that, but it is definitely recommended. Some players even use silence as a strategy. I personally think that for the best experience, voice is required, but the game is totally playable without it.
  Q: At what point in development did you realize voice communication would play such a big role is the game?
 A: Very early. We would play and talk on Skype from the very beginning. That’s how the OBEY Skype group formed It was the way I would play with the core group of players that were around at the time, but after I integrated voip into the game, Skype became obsolete and playing with strangers became much more convenient.
  Q:  To me, OBEY feels like a digital version of the kind of game we would play on the playground in school. Was that the goal?
A: Oh Yeah! Definitely! To me that is the future of multiplayer games. There has to be a psychological element, or it will get boring. What is the other player's thinking?  How can I anticipate and prevent their strategy? How many steps ahead can I go? Without that, the game would get stale quickly. The psychological aspect is a big wildcard. Maybe another good player has me in a real bind, but if I can convince the others to work with me or trick them somehow. I can really turn the game around.
OBEY is available as an early access title on Steam and has "Very Positive" user reviews. Support The Game and play today! http://store.steampowered.com/app/346970/
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Incoming features in OBEY!

The main thing I have been working on (and have been mostly quiet about) is ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE BUNNIES. Sometimes players ask me how AI for OBEY would work? OBEY is a psychological game above all, and cpu players probably wouldn't be very... um.. psychological. Well, the goal with OBEY AI is not to make the cpu bunnies as good as real players but simply to make the AI player-like enough so that players can convincingly pretend to be AI and hide among them. As the more experienced players know, an important strategy is to try to conceal yourself among losing players if you are a winning player. The AI's, in theory, will serve a similar purpose in providing cover - most impotantly in low player games of 4 and below. How is this being done? The first step in making our AI convincing is to make it move like it's not AI (at least as much as possible). I have done this by making a recording room that records my player movements (the same system will be expanded later to allow recording of matches). The recordings of my bunny's movements are saved to a file, and when the AI needs to do something, it chooses an appropriate animation to turn or walk or beg, etc. The movements are mostly indistinguishable from a real player since they are my own movements (with some slight biasing to account for a given target angle). This way, the AI stitches my own recorded animations together to do whatever it needs to and look like a real player moving around. So far it seems to be working pretty well. The other thing That has mostly been done is pathfinding. AI bunnies can find their way around obstacles on the map. They know they can climb hills, should turn away from walls, hop out of steep areas, and get around mostly sanely although there is still some work to do here. The main things I want to avoid with pathfinding are 1) dumb ai walking straight into a wall to give itself away. 2) having to add custom nodes or areas on maps to make the AI work properly (although I haven't ruled this out yet, I will continue to try to avoid it and leave the AI completely dynamic). bunny pathfinding Here you can see an AI casting rays to determine waypoints to get around an obstacle. Right now I am working on letting the AI know what good places to hide are in a given map: which bushes are suitable for bunnies, which places can stash items, etc. This data will be used with the pathfinding to build simple maneuvers like 'take x thing to box' 'try to subvert while hiding' which will themselves form building blocks for "strategies" which will be high level logic like how to 'OBEY' and 'disOBEY' and later on, into how to play as robo. Don't expect AI to take the win very often.. if ever. But my plan is to make them highly configurable to suit a server admin's preferences in number and behavior. Oh! and the next version will include HOPPING! bunny hopping! Which has already been implemented, and will be pushed out along with the rest. Looking forward to hopping along with you 🙂
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