Preview of Mr. Elusive's omicron
Version: omicron beta
A few months ago, I volunteered to be part of an exclusive beta-testing team for a project spearheaded by one Roscoe "Legion" Sincero. The purpose of this project was, in a nutshell, to build a better reaperbot. Roscoe did this, giving birth to what is now known to us as the elima-reaper --a psychopathically lethal bot. Unfortunately, the project lost most of its steam after Steven Polge made it clear, in a very public manner, that he would never allow anyone else to release a modified version of his copywritten code. Needless to say this put a damper on Roscoe's hope of ever being able to actually make the bot available. Supposedly the project is still on, but as of this writing I've not heard anything on the subject for quite awhile.
Nevertheless, my participation in the project has proven an asset to me personally, for I've had the opportunity to meet and correspond with several intelligent individuals who share with me a common interest in AI, an experience that has proven entertaining as well as educational. Among those that I've met though, there is one that stands out among the rest: Mr. Elusive. He, like me, was part of Roscoe's beta-testing team. Unlike myself, however, Mr. Elusive had a very strong grasp of QuakeC, and thus was not only able to find and report bugs, but was also able to give exact details of the problems he'd discovered. Reading his reports I recall thinking to myself "Surely with all that this man knows about bots, he has to have written something incredible." My instincts didn't fail me.
While still beta-testing the elima-reaper, Mr. Elusive and I began a correspondence. At that time, Mr. Elusive revealed to me the nature of the project upon which he was working. Basically, his agenda wasn't all that different from Roscoe's: He wanted to produce a bot that was better than the reaper. His approach, however, was altogether different. Where Roscoe wanted to create a better bot by continuing the development of the reaper, Mr. Elusive, wanted to build a completely new bot from scratch. When he first told me of his plan, I was a bit skeptical. Besting the reaper was a very tall order indeed. Nevertheless, I wanted to see it happen, and thus I requested to join Mr. Elusive's small beta-testing team.
Any remaining doubts that I possessed were dispelled on the day that I received my first copy of the Omicron beta. I was completely blown away. These bots had all the sting of a reaper and weren't nearly as stupid. Their movement was fluid, they traversed broken ground with ease, and yet, they were still perfectly capable of avoiding lava. They could even be knocked around with impact momentum, just like a real player. As if all this weren't cool enough, they also had the most incredible bot-cam I've ever seen. When engaged, it allowed you to see combat through the eyes of a bot, just as smoothly as you'd see it as a player. Wicked! From that day on, the omicron became my bot of choice, all others playing second fiddle.
Week after week went by. I'd play with the bots, mail Mr. Elusive my bug reports, and he'd debug it faster than humanly possible. Very seldom did I ever see him get stumped for very long. Usually when I mentioned a glitch, he knew right away what the problem was and had it fixed before the day was out. So quickly were we moving along that we went through several versions in just a few weeks time. All the while, the omicron was getting better and better. With each new beta I found myself falling in love all over again. The further along we went, the more certain I became that what we had here was to be the final incarnation of the qcbot. At last, the reaper would be beaten.
As the bot currently stands today, it is easily the most advanced automated deathmatch opponent available. As of this writing, here are just a few of the features that it boasts:
*Dynamic level learning: The omicron can quickly learn any level, and remembers where things are as it plays... once the bot has "learned" a level, you can easily take that knowledge and hard-code it into the BSP itself. From then on, the bot won't have to relearn that level; it will know it by heart.
*Advanced routing: Not only does it remember where things are, but it also can plot the shortest route to them, taking into account existing teleporters. It can find enemies in a similar fashion; if it knows where you are, odds are good it can find a way to get to you.
*Hearing: The omicron can actually hear and understand some of the sounds around it. If the omicron hears you pick something up, for instance, it might figure out where you are. If it does, it might very well decide to come over and say hello.
*Pursuit AI: Using its advanced routing, the omicron can be a hard tail to shake. Not only can it chase you down, but it can sometimes use existing map features to actually cut you off at the pass. Don't be surprised if your omicron pursuer suddenly appears in front of you!
*Fuzzy logic: The omicron is the only bot, other than the reaper, to use a fuzzy logic AI. This allows it a significant amount of flexibility when making decisions and allows those decisions to be much more intelligent.
*Team Support: Not only does the omicron support teamplay, it actually supports teamplay with multiple teams!
*Individualized characters: There are 24 different omicron characters each with its own respective skin and bot-chats. You can either choose to load up a random character, or if you have a favorite, you can ask for it by name.
*Bot-Cam: The omicron provides a sort of observer mode that allows you to see through the eyes of a bot of your choice. As I've said, the view is very much like that of a player. To my knowledge, this is the most advanced bot cam available.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the features available. There are quite a few that I haven't mentioned. You'll just have to wait for the release. Trust me, however, when I say that you're going to love what you see!
No doubt the question you're now asking yourself is "Okay, when is going to be released?" The answer is "very soon". In the meantime, Mr. Elusive has released a pair of demos demonstrating the lethality of his creation. It is from those demos that I got the above screenshots. Obots2.dem is recorded from Mr. Elusive's perspective and Obots1.dem is recorded from the omicron's bot-cam perspective. You may notice a third player listed in the rankings --don't worry, he's not playing, he's just providing a client to view the botcam on. The demos are available below. Get 'em!