Left 4 Dead 2

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A Thought on Bots: An Open Letter to Modders, Programmers, and Valve Employees
( Steam kept giving me errors when trying to publish the whole thing, so instead I've posted the bulk of my original post to a blog I had created for some reason. Apologies. )

Over the last week I've played with both vanilla bots and bots with better behavior provided by the Improved Bots (Advanced) mod created by Ziggy. The obvious question would be why I only played with bots. The simple answer is shuddup, fool my internet is bad and the best that can be hoped for is MMOs. While I truely understand that programming is a difficult thing to do, they're far from being proper partners. That said, this is a game meant to be played with a group of friends so Bots shouldn't really be the focus of the game.

Knowing that tinkering with Bot programming on a game that came out in 2009 probably isn't high on a to-do list, I got bored and decided to conceptualize behavior that would make an A.I. controlled team able to get through a game by themselves and do it well. Maybe even on Advanced.

I suppose the whole point of this would be to get the impressions of Modders, Programmers, Valve Employees, and even the common man, and ask just how much of the below A.I. Behavior would be possible to program or change. And if possible, the difficulty that such a behavior would present.

*WARNING: This is amatuer work created by a man bored out of his skull in between waiting for custom campaigns to download from the workshop. Said man is in no way a Programmer and any advice on Programming should likely be taken behind a woodshed and shot. The following should not be taken as yet another complaint about Bots and instead should be seen as an exercise in theoritical A.I. behavior programming or whatever that means. Much love to Valve for letting people get the game for free in the Christmas of 2013 and allowing poor fools like me to play a wonderful game and then subsequently get thrown off a roof by a Tank.*

( Read the rest of my post, which is just technical stuff that will probably bore most people to tears, by following the link to the blog I mentioned at the top. Once again, apologies. )

Last edited by Rickshaw_Watcher; Feb 4, 2014 @ 5:24am
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Showing 1-4 of 4 comments
✓Seen Feb 4, 2014 @ 3:31am 
Alright... I'm not sure how much of this is changeable; the default settings are fairly limited in scope and value, so you might not be able to change most of it. For a start you could look at the scripts inside the Advanced Bot mods and see what they've done, so you can tweak it or just get inspiration.

A few of the things you've mentioned are actually already available; there are SM server mods that have the bots carry grenades for you and will hand over health packs and defibs, and who won't heal you unless you're under x health and who won't take pills or use medpacks on themselves uless they're under y health.

If you're actually serious and committed to making this happen, please let me know, I'd be very interested in following a project like this.
Rickshaw_Watcher Feb 4, 2014 @ 5:22am 
I likely should have mentioned that I am in no way a Modder, Programmer, or Valve Employee. Even 'common man' is debatable. I neither have the tools nor the talent to make this vision a reality, but I wholeheartedly support anyone who wants to take the ball and run with it. Both the original post and the blog post will be amended to reflect this. This was merely for diversion and to get a few people to exercise their brains if they wished.

In reply to sophia, I was aware that the current system is somewhat limited in what it can do. As I am not a Programmer by Job or Hobby (unless you count messing with RPGMaker as Programming) I'm not sure of the tools to use to even look in a vpk file properly, though that should be remedied easily with a quick google search.

I will look into the SM server mods as well, but I was not aware that you could give people grenades. Must be part of the modification, correct? If it is, I'll find out soon enough. The other options about health packs and defibs sounds interesting, but the specifics are a little hazy. The details on that, too, should reveal themselves after a quick trip to a search engine.

As much as I'd love to turn this into an actual project, I have to reiterate that my skill with programming is lacking. Learning as I go isn't something I'm adverse to, but having greater minds than I put to the task would likely result in better code and, as a result, better bots. Then again, it's an old game and not many people would put in time just to muck around in an area that subverts the point of the four-player co-op. Though there's probably some college students who would love to have a crack at it, I wouldn't wonder.
trash Feb 4, 2014 @ 6:04am 
A couple of things you should know. You can get gold on all the survival maps with 3 bots and yourself and can also finish all the valve maps on expert with the bots. All you need to learn is what they do cause the dont change their play style, its the same in all modes.
✓Seen Feb 4, 2014 @ 6:50am 
I believe the bot improvement has been worked on quite a bit, both in the SM mods and better bot mods like Ziggy's, so there's definitely quite some interest. Map creators also have been developing this through their maps, by doing things like tweaking the nav to make bots more useful, and even something like vocal triggers will have them helping you by giving hints to what to do.

And yes, the SourceMod server mod includes grenade switching- it's customizable, actually, but it can have the bots give you grenades and you can swap with them or have them give you it when your slot is empty, and same with health packs, defibs, and ammo packs. It's the same principle; if you reduce the trigger for bots healing you/themselves to low enough (or you can have them not heal themselves at all), then they will just carry it for you and you can swap with them.

As far as the settings themselves go, you can see the cvars inside the SM server mod if you manage to get a hold of it- I'm not sure if it's vpk or just other files- and the Improved/Advanced Bot mods can be unpacked with gcfscape (recommended) or vpk.exe.

You don't have to be a programmer to adjust settings, it's something that you can tweak and experiment with based off personal preference and what others have done. There is definitely still a very strong modding community in L4D2, and adjustments like this are probably still being worked with on and off by various people.
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Date Posted: Feb 3, 2014 @ 11:33pm
Posts: 4