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How Evolve learned from Left 4 Dead's AI director

Evolve studio heads Chris Ashton and Phil Robb explain how they're using a system similar to Left 4 Dead's AI director to make sure matches don't end after one clash.


Turtle Rock's upcoming next-gen game Evolve is all about the hunt, pitting four humanoid characters against one powerful monster player. But even though everything is driving toward a confrontation, that won't be the end of the match. In an interview, studio heads Chris Ashton and Phil Robb explained how lessons learned from Left 4 Dead will keep the pacing on-track.

"If you played co-op [in Left 4 Dead], it very specifically had a very roller coaster ride to it, where things would slow down, things would get quiet, and then things would go batshit crazy," Ashton told Game Informer. "That system was dynamic, that was the AI director. We're doing similar things in the game [Evolve] to control the pacing. There's underlying systems in play and what happens is the game works out so that you're tracking the monster—trying to find him, trying to find him. He's trying to eat. And you're all in this kind of slow moment but eventually you come together and you fight."

"But the game is designed so it doesn't end there, he's going to get away. So the question is how much damage did you do? Did you get the upper-hand? Did he get the upper hand? What's going to happen next? So you separate again, and the pace slows down again, and then you find each other again. Most games you have four or five confrontations."

Robb added that it's possible for one side to win in the first encounter, but it's not ideal. For that reason, Ashton says, they've set up "systems under the hood" to facilitate escape, so whichever side is losing can regroup and plan its next move. Maintaining that sense of slow build-up is important to the team.

"You need to have those peaks and valleys, right?" Robb said. "It's about contrast. You can't appreciate the action unless you have some inaction."

From The Chatty
  • reply
    January 23, 2014 12:55 PM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, How Evolve learned from Left 4 Dead's AI director.

    Evolve studio heads Chris Ashton and Phil Robb explain how they're using a system similar to Left 4 Dead's AI director to make sure matches don't end after one clash.

    • reply
      January 23, 2014 1:33 PM

      Looking forward to it! Asymmetric gameplay has a lot of exciting possibility

    • reply
      January 23, 2014 1:37 PM

      I just got my new Game Informer, which features Evolve as the cover story. The game sounds incredible, and I'm not normally one for multiplayer-only games, or multiplayer at all. I'll definitely pick this one up.

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      January 23, 2014 3:54 PM

      does this game have any kind of release date yet?

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      January 24, 2014 2:17 AM

      Hmm why do I get the feeling it's gonna end up like the Tank in l4d? If a noob plays the tank, half decent players just gun it down before it can do anything as it charges out into the open.

      If a pro plays the tank, they just hide and throw rocks and stuff, combined with knowing when to attack and when to hide. I can see good players just crushing noobs regardless of how they intend the game to be played.

      Like the loading text that says 'When you're the tank, you should charge at your opponents and get close' which is the exact opposite of what you should actually do.

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        January 24, 2014 2:37 AM

        it was hard as hell in l4d with a shitty team. if there are no mobs or boomers to help, the tank can be ripped to shreds even in enclosed spaces.

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