Game Making Tips

Cowboy on Fence

Some suggestions for making characters appear ‘intelligent’.

The best game making involves the process of ‘fooling’ a player into thinking the characters that he / she is interacting with ‘know what they are doing’. To have a character in your game that seems self-aware and alive, all you need is movement and appropriate changes in that movement from time to time. It fools most users!

For example, something as simple as walking left 3 seconds, then right 3 seconds (then repeat) mimics a type of ‘patrol’ state, for a character such as a guard or a soldier. Or, if you have a character move their head from side to side when a player scores badly in a game, and add a sound file that suits…doh!… and immediately your character appears to be more alive, as if it is responding to the player.

You can extend these ideas to give the character the appearance of ‘intelligence’ by creating apparently random ‘occasional’ behaviour. For example, add a condition to your program so that your character responds to the number ‘1’ when a random number between 1 and 10 is generated every second, perhaps by stopping to look around, and then returning to their patrol. Now your character is not only patrolling, but also no longer seems ‘mechanical’.


Responding to other characters is a vital part of any game. Imagine your ‘guard’ is patrolling, and another character moves in front of it. What should your guard do? You need to conceptualise these issues because these questions will need to be answered by the programming you develop. How can you make it seem that the character knows when an alien has landed behind him? How do you ensure each character is even looking in the right direction?

There are some techniques, which handle this. The process involves creating some invisible objects. If you have designed your game so that the guard has to patrol a certain area, then that area is given three extra objects, all invisible to the user. They are visible however, in the Klik and Play Level Editor, so that the game maker is able to alter and move the objects to suit the game design. The first object could be placed on the far left of the patrol area. If the alien collides with it, it is forced by your programming to turn right. The second object works in reverse. It forces the alien to turn left. These two objects would make your alien appear to be aware, by keeping the alien turned in the direction of the guard. The third object can be made as a long line, stretched between the other two objects. If the alien crosses this long line, your guard could look in the direction of the alien and attack.

These are suggestions only. Combine invisible objects, collisions, timers and randomly generated events and you have the recipe ingredients for an apparently ‘intelligent’ character.

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