Stronghold: Warlords Dev Diary Details Improved AI

Firefly Studios details advances in enemy behavior including procedural castles, warlord control, deeper castle management, and improved combat

Firefly Studios’ Designer Stephen Richards and series creator Simon Bradbury have revealed four major improvements to AI behavior found in their upcoming ‘castle sim’ sequel Stronghold: Warlords. This new entry in the historical real-time strategy series will usher in major improvements and refinements in how computer-controlled opponents interact with the player, each other, and any warlords present on the map.

“Suffice to say, the AI no longer cheats. It no longer needs a helping hand to provide the fun gameplay that a Stronghold game must provide, allowing you to disrupt their economy and pin them down. We know we’ve done our job properly when a warlord coordinates a pincer movement and players sit back thinking ‘That’s what I would have done!’”

Simon Bradbury, Lead Designer at Firefly Studios.

AI behaviours related to castle management, skirmish combat, and city building have been completely revamped for Stronghold: Warlords, in addition to being able to work with the new warlords’ system. Much like the archetypes of the warlords themselves – such as the Ox, Tiger, and Crane – each enemy AI will adhere to a distinct style of play over a set of predetermined behaviours. The decisions made by computer opponents will now be made according to map layout, tactical positioning of warlords, available resources, current army composition, and their priorities at different stages of gameplay.

In practical terms this means less hardcoded, predictable behaviours and more flexibility in how AI opponents can outmanoeuvre the player, but also how it deals with the evolving situation within its own castle. Independent of the player, AI will build, sell resources and train their army according to changing priorities over the course of a skirmish match. Just like a human player, the AI will adjust its focus between city-building and RTS combat, while also battling it out with the player for control over each map’s selection of warlords. Just remember… While major advances in AI can be scary human players can always just hit the power button. Take that evil robot’s future!

AI is another example of community-requested improvements coming to Firefly’s next entry in the Stronghold series and one that players can continue to provide feedback on by joining the game’s official Discord server.

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