is the author of the Omicron bot for Quake and the author of the
Gladiator Quake II bot. At the time of writing Gladiator's page is not
Cube: MrE, firstly I
have to ask where have you been the past months, between the time of
finishing the Omicron and releasing the Gladiator demo/going public on
the Gladiator development?
MrE: I've been
studying mainly. Even the final Omicron version was delayed because of my
study. I had some nice ideas since December last year but I never really
had the time to do something with them. However this summer I finally
found some time to work on a new bot.
Cube: During this break
did you take a look at the other Q2 bots out there, just to see what was
happening and what innovations there were?
MrE: At that time I
heard of some bots but never played with any of them. Only recently I've
tried a few of the bots.
Cube: Were there
features that you wanted to appear in the Omicron but couldn't (for
whatever reasons) add them in, that you want to incorporate into
Gladiator or did you want to start from the beginning again and design a
completely new bot?
MrE: Originally the
Omicron bot was also meant to be a learning course to make some cool bots
in the future. QuakeC is quite limited and implementing some
sophisticated AI in QuakeC can be pretty hard. For instance you're almost
forced to use something like a waypoint system for navigation purposes
and implementing some insteresting learning capabilities to a bot can be
pretty annoying without proper structurized memory management. However
it's possible to do some nice things in QuakeC and I certainly learned
more about AI. In the Omicron bot I used several techniques and while
working with them I discovered and analysed their disadvantages. When the
Omicron bot was pretty much finished I tried to look at the bot from a
'distance' and develop some new technology to overcome the problems with
the techniques I used. Back in December last year I've been discussing
several issues with Allan (Strider) Kivlin and I pretty much designed a
whole new bot. This summer I finally had the time to work out most of the
Cube: Do you have any
qualms about releasing the Gladiator so long after Quake2 and just as the
new 3d games appear (Half-Life, SiN etc.), with people flocking to play
the 'Next Big Thing'?
MrE: The release of
the Gladiator bot is pretty late. However the technology used in this bot
is up to date and certainly usefull for other games and future
development. Actually it shouldn't be very difficult to add the Gladiator
bot to those new games since the bot lives in a seperate dynamic link
library (dll). The Gladiator has also been designed to be easy modifiable
for different games.
Cube: You're not alone
in developing the Gladiator, who helps you and more to the point what do
they help with?
MrE: I've been working
with Squatt on the Gladiator bot just like we worked on the Omicron bot.
We discuss and design how we want things to appear. I'm doing pretty much
all the programming and technical stuff. Squatt is mostly doing the bot
characters and graphics but we also discuss technical issues. Squatt
doesn't know that much about programming. That often results in some
interesting conversations and discussions. Sometimes it's hard to talk
about things but it has certain advantages. I'm forced to explain things
in plain english without using real programming or technology related
words. It helps me to better understand certain problems and to look at
them from different points of view. It's certainly a good thing to look
at a project from different angles. Besides I won't get carried away with
technology or programming related issues that easily. Recently Mr Freeze
joined us. As for now he's doing the web page of the Gladiator bot but
he'll certainly be working on other grounds.
Cube: You've ditched
waypoints completely for the Gladiator. Any particular reasons?
MrE: Waypoints have
several disadvantages. For instance there seems to be this struggle
between having the fewest number of waypoints and having a good mapping
of a level. It's pretty much impossible to have a 100% mapping of a level
with waypoints. However it's possible to fill in the missing pieces with
environment sampling but that's CPU intensive. Placing waypoints at the
right spots in a level is often a difficult and time-consuming job.
Waypoints also give little information about the actual environment and
when they do, the information is related to a point in space. It works
better to have a description of the world using areas instead of points. The
Gladiator bot implements a new system that works much more satisfactory.
It's also quite easy to compute the data used by this system. For the
Gladiator bot I've created a tool which computes this data without any
human intervention. With the new system it's possible to give the bot a
much higher and accurate awareness of its surroundings.
Cube: Is there a mod
that you would really like Gladiator to play or is mod support not one of
MrE: Mod support
certainly is important but I've no intentions to support all the mods
myself. The Gladiator bot was designed to support different mods more
easily and even to have other people add the bot to their own mod without
having to struggle with annoying technology.
Cube: The Gladiator's
highest level of AI is stored seperately, so do you envisage people
creating their own AI to plug into a 'standard' Gladiator?
MrE: The highest layer
of the AI is still inside the bot dll. However the highest layer is using
an internal interface to the lower layers and it's easy to seperate it
into another dll. This should enable other people to create their own AI
and plug it into the bot dll.
Cube: Ah, ok. Following
on from the question above, will there be a full source release at some
point, or just the necessary code to create AI plugins?
MrE: There probably
won't be a full source release. The game dll source will be released
however. The interface for the highest layer of the AI should also be
released to give mod authors the oppertunity to customize a bot for their
Cube: What's the
chances of a Gladiator or Gladiator derivative (or hybrid if you want)
appearing for Half-Life or another of these new 3d games?
MrE: I'll certainly
investigate the possibilities. When time permits chances are there I'll support
one or more of the new games.
Cube: Finally, looking
to the future and past the current crop of 3d games what are your
opinions of Quake 3: Arena and is there a chance of a bot from yourself
for this game or is it too early for you to tell?
MrE: Well, I've only
seen some screenshot of Quake 3. I really don't know if I'll be doing a
Q3 bot. I'd certainly like to, but I don't know if there'll be any time
to actually do it.