My favourite joke format at the moment is this: “It’s only X if it comes from the X region of France, otherwise it’s just sparkling Y.” In this case, “it’s only artificial intelligence if it’s from the AI region of France, otherwise it’s just sparkling if statements”. I can dunk on AI hype, you see, because I’m programming AI for my game again.
I’ve done quite a bit of AI programming already. The bots have fairly well-developed situational awareness — if they see an item they want they’ll move to pick it up; if they see an enemy they will attack; and if they are fighting they’ll use their abilities.
What they lack, however, is strategic awareness. Seeing as the Arena will have bonus objectives, and the same logic will power boss fights and full characters in the campaign, bots are going to need to that extra layer of intelligence.
So, a few months ago, I paused work on Exon’s main campaign to focus on building the Arena. This approach came with some risks but I decided to swallow them because this felt like it would be the fastest route to something genuinely playable.
I was right, because that was about three months ago and for the last few weeks I’ve had it out at local game dev events and being played by real human beings. It is by no means a finished game, but it is a fully-functioning, self-contained scenario that stresses the breadth of the game’s core combat mechanics. A vertical slice. Objective complete!
It’s funny because my mechs’ primary attacks are vertical slices.
It once felt like my love of Godzilla disappeared along with my childhood, but in truth it merely retreated underground and lay dormant, waiting for the moment it would emerge from the darkness to wreak havoc once more.
With Hollywood taking on the mantle of the Big G over the last few hears, that time has come. Since Toho have still refused to release everything in the UK, I had to turn to crime to work through every single kaiju film Toho ever made.
Why is this relevant? Because Godzilla: King of the Monsters bears a superficial resemblance to Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster, the very first time our favourite world-destroying space dragon appeared on screen, and a film that I never saw as a child. Crucially, in this outing King Ghidorah was only stoppable by the combined forces of Godzilla, Rodan and Mothra — the same four mon-stars appearing in King of the Monsters. As a firm fan of 2014’s Godzilla and its pseudo-prequel Kong: Skull Island, I was mightily intrigued to see how Legendary would approach that classic four-way rumble with the more grounded fiction of their modern franchise.
It was… quite something. I had to see it twice at the cinema before I could make up my mind. Needless to say, there is only one answer to such conflicted thoughts: Chris McPhail and I had to sit down and do a Close, But No Biscuit podcast about it.