I’ve been a huge proponent of Bots in games ever since Perfect Dark just like the article writer. However what I’ve found as I’ve spent the years lobbying in game forums on the subject is that people tend to get offended when I would ask the developers to include a Bot option. I think devs realize this and therefore try to find ways to put Bots in a game but without calling them Bots.Commenter PAD242 on Why I Still Love Bots in Games article.
So, here we are again. You may wonder why my next article is about yet another game that is not Battlefield 2. Well, as I’ve found out, Day of Infamy epitomises the problems surrounding bad game design decisions post Battlefield 2. But it’s not all the game developers fault. We were overcome by legions of fun hating internet trolls ! Paroxysms of hate and rage about games almost clogged the channels to choking point (the famous Hitler rage video about Infinity Ward cancelling dedicated servers comes to mind).
In a (brilliant really if you think about it) move to out manoeuvre these tantrum ridden trolls, games began to drop the terms “bot“, “AI“, “SP” (and/or “Single Player“). No wonder solo players have not been able to find these games. Even their Steam pages do not list the fact that they have a de facto single player mode.
Rising Storm 2/Rising Storm does not mention anywhere on it’s page that the game can be played entirely with bots, alone, complete with bot commands and other features. Similarly Day of Infamy does not mention that it’s possible to play as a solo player entirely against and with bots in a way that basically emulates a single player campaign (but without any cut scenes). I know, I just played about 4 maps in succession. They were long games with highly talented bots who pause at corners of buildings to take cover, flank you and generally act like you’d expect a trained enemy soldier to act. “Commando” mode is much more difficult, emulating, I can only surmise, how online play is with human players with fast reactions (I don’t play online so can only guess).
But in the places you would check first, such the Day of Infamy Steam page, no where is this mentioned. “Coop” is, but that does not specify if you can play solo, as many games often force you to wait for at least one more player.
So what are we to make of this mysterious situation ? Well Tripwire removed the dreaded bot support in the their latest release Rising Storm 2: Vietnam, I suspect because of the same raging insanity aimed at any mention of the dreaded term “bot” (for example see here, and here). Meanwhile New World Interactive have produced their extremely focused product Day of Infamy. The dreaded words “bots“, “sp” and “ai” have been changed to “Practice Mode” with bots clearly coded to actually teach people to play better online with human players.
Meanwhile over in EA/DICE land, the developers have been fighting a losing battle trying to shoe horn single player campaigns (yes, the dread term) into Battlefield 3 then 4. The campaigns were widely hated by the same ignorant raging insanity that has been sweeping round the internet. There was room for improvement, but the 3 and 4 campaigns were very good. So EA/DICE then cave (rather then getting SMART like New World Interactive have) and start paring down the campaign into “War Stories” (there’s a hint here that they have picked up that the naming of these things is the problem). Each War Story is a pitifully short tech demo (basically) that once you get into them are over far too quickly. While in Day of Infamy I was playing for hours in Practice Mode with only me in the local server … and a lot of the dreaded, much feared, bots of course.
So what’s going to happen ? Well considering the ratings for New World Interactive games on Steam (all with, AFAIK a fully fledged Practice Mode) EA/DICE would be fools not to see the writing on the wall. All they need to do is out smart the haters and just rename a few things (believe me trolls are really this stupid and only attack words that are triggers to them). That way us folk who like a good solo game, for one reason or another, get what we want. The online and coop players get what they want, and EA/DICE get what they want as well, high ratings and sales. Everything will return to normality again and everyone will live happily ever after (well, you know). I for one need my games to keep me sane and I don’t need a mass of internet insanity spoiling it for everyone, solo players and online players.