In this ‘Let’s Play’ session, we take a brief look at the design principles behind the Non-Player Character (NPC) AI found within the Call of Duty series. It may come as a bit of a surprise given that Call of Duty is synonymous with multiplayer, but there is a tremendous amount of effort put into ensuring that NPC characters govern gameplay.
It’s important to appreciate that assisting NPCs in Call of Duty are there to ensure you get from A to B in the map. This can be achieved either by shepherding you through the map (to make sure you go the right way), to providing basic support to help make life a little bit easier for you. As noted in the video, this AI is seldom that expressive or carry that broad a sense of agency. As such, they do not have a tremendous amount of free will unlike many other games.
Similarly, the enemy NPCs do not carry that great a level of agency and the newly minted ‘threat grenades’ show this in almost horrific fashion, given you can see what these characters are doing in real-time.
Overall, this video is about how Call of Duty does need AI to achieve what it wants, but that it is evident that it is not intrinsic to what they want their game to achieve.