Starfield director Todd Howard

Image source: Bethesda

Surely not.

In a recent episode of The AIAS Game Maker’s Notebook Podcast, Bethesda’s Todd Howard provided a glimpse into the development of their highly-anticipated game, Starfield. However, it was Howard’s revelation about the deliberate design choice of creating “stupid” combat AI that has generated significant buzz among gamers and industry enthusiasts alike.

Bethesda Made Starfield AI Dumb For Fun

Howard began the discussion by highlighting the complexities of designing space combat, drawing inspiration from renowned titles like Faster Than Light and MechWarrior. He commended Faster Than Light’s power allocation mechanics and the deliberate, methodical pace of combat in older MechWarrior titles.

The primary goal was to forge a space combat system that would be intuitive, eliminating the need for players to pause the game just to grasp complex power allocations and system mechanics. “That part all worked out quite well, but then you have to mix it in with the AI, ” said Howard.

It was at this juncture that the team encountered a significant challenge. Overly intelligent enemy AI led to protracted battles, with both players and AI engaged in intense positional skirmishes. In response to this dilemma, the decision was made to design the AI as “really stupid,” thereby affording players more opportunities to engage in combat.

“It’s very easy to make the enemies really, really smart or end up in the situation where you’re forever just jousting. It turns out you have to make the AI really stupid… they should fly, and then they need to turn, basically like, ‘Hey player, why don’t you just shoot me for a while.”

Starfield‘s space combat has not been without its criticisms, with players and streamers, including the prominent streamer Dr. Disrespect, voicing their discontent with the control scheme and overall experience. Dr Disrespect even went so far as to describe it as the “absolute worst control scheme and control experience of a flight simulator I’ve ever experienced in my life,” a sentiment so strong that he temporarily closed his chat in sheer frustration.


Bethesda’s Starfield Forecasts: Nearly $1 Billion in Earnings

Todd Howard’s interview offers a deeper understanding of some of the intriguing design choices behind Starfield, particularly the challenge of balancing strategic combat with overall player enjoyment. It appears that the deliberate decision to make the AI “stupid” was aimed at ensuring that players can immerse themselves in the game’s space combat without becoming mired in excessively drawn-out battles, ultimately enhancing the overall gaming experience.

As anticipation continues to build for the release of Starfield, gamers are eager to see how this unique approach to combat AI will affect their interstellar adventures in the upcoming game.