Why Oblivion Sucks

Part 6 - Radiant AI 

One of the most hyped features of Oblivion was to be it's new Radiant AI System.  NPCs were supposed to have a set of needs and automatically go about filling them.  NPCs were supposed to act like one would expect someone in real-life to, going about their daily business and having life-like realism.  Radiant AI was supposed to revolutionize the way artifical intelligence in games work.  However, when Oblivion was released, people who were expecting Radiant AI instead found out that the system should have been called Fraudulent AI. 

1.Much of the interactivity that was demonstrated during shows such as E3 is not present in the final version of Oblivion.  NPCs don't have pets, they don't train up their skills, they don't interact with their environment.  Instead, the only thing that NPCs do have is a set of schedules.  Bethesda claims that this is because NPCs were killing each other in order to satisfy their needs.  

But the truth is, the reason the AI is so watered down from what was promised was due to a rushed game.  In order for an NPC to kill another NPC to satisfy it's needs, it has to be programmed to know that killing is an option.  Simply giving NPCs a set of needs alone is not enough to have them start killing each other because there is no code that tells the NPCs the methods in which they can satisfy their needs.   So saying that Radiant AI was watered down because NPCs were killing each other is a lie.  How hard is it to remove the code that instructs NPCs on how to kill each other as a way to satisfy their needs.  Or to implement some safeguard that prevents most NPCs (aside from criminals and beggars and others will a special flag) from killing each other for needs.

2.Conversations are disjointed and immersion breaking.  The voice overs were recorded to be generic because Bethesda wasted money on big-name celebrities when they could have hired good voice actors for much less.  So when NPCs engage in conversations, the conversations sound artifical and spliced due to the lack of emotion or tone in the conversations.  Furthermore, there are so few topics that NPCs can discuss that it starts to sound like a broken record.  How many times can someone possibly talk about how they saw a mudcrab the other day?

3.Pathfinding still sucks.  NPCs still walk into walls and into each other without a care in the world.  The problem isn't as bad as it was in Morrowind, but it's still present.

4.In combat, the AI seems to be replaced with Artificial Stupidity.  Very frequently, when fighting alongside a friendly NPC, said NPC will run in front of your character as you are trying to attack the enemy with a weapon.  Should you end up killing the NPC as a result, you run the chance of being reported which means a big fine to pay or jail time.  This is not something that only occurs occasionally, if you are fighting alongside a friendly NPC, they will, WITHOUT FAIL, run in front of your character at least once.

5.In furtherance to the theory that Oblivion is bundled with artifical stupidity, it is not uncommon for a friendly NPC to chase an enemy right into the lava.  I've had many occasions where a scamp or some other Oblivion monster fell into the lava and the friendly NPC went into the lava after it and ended up dying as a result.

6.Because the Artificial "Intelligence" is so bad, it is not uncommon for all out brawls to start in a city because one guard ran in front of another and got hit when both were going after a hostile enemy.   

7.Combat AI for enemies is repetitive and boring.  The enemy AI uses no variation in tatics whatsoever.  Scamps will sit and throw fireballs at your character.  Dremora will either summon a scamp or whack you with their sword depending on the type.