Highway to the Moon Postmortem – What Went Right: The AI System

The versatility and usability of the AI system that I implemented for Highway to the Moon was a key component for the creation of the game. The structure itself is trigger based, and somewhat reminiscent of the map trigger system that Blizzard implemented for StarCraft 1’s map editor. It is effectively a scripting language of sorts, but is edited entirely with a graphical user interface (GUI).

Triggers in the Trigger Editor.

Example of triggers in the Trigger Editor portion of the Enemy Editor.

Effectively, to make a complete trigger, you select the condition and the action. When the condition is satisfied (generally, when it is true, though it can be selected for it to be satisfied when false instead if desired), then the action or actions it specifies are performed. This then leads to the fortunate implementation I had chosen for this system, as it ended up being readily expandable with new conditions and new actions. The power of the system grew substantially as the project moved forward and more conditions and actions were added.

While at this point I see vast room for improvement in the system implemented, it has proven to be an effective overall model to use. It is easily expanded and easy to work with. Perhaps most importantly, it is relatively accessible as well, as this model doesn’t require programming skills or knowledge to use, removing such technical complexities and letting the user focus on logic instead.

If you have any questions about the implementation, or if the image above raises any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below.

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