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Interview with MrElusive

MrElusive 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 public.

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 ideas.

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 your priorities?

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 own mod.

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.

Cube:Thanks MrElusive.





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