Sep 022014
 

New AI command panel
New AI Command Panel

As both of you who regularly read this column know, there has been fairly frequent mention of the failings and frustrations of DDO’s hireling logic. Just last week it was noted how important hirelings are, how they enable us to solo or short-man quests that would otherwise be unattainable, and yet at the same time are often more likely to charge up your frustration levels than to restore your hit points.

And so they are. A blessing and a curse. Boon and bane. All wrapped up in a variety of form-fitting custom armor kits, just awaiting your command. Although not so they can follow your command, no, they just want to know what your command is so they can be ignoring it on purpose rather than by accident.

But no longer?

Hirelings are (finally!) getting an improvement pass in Update 23! The changes are coming in two flavors:

  • Player control over which features the hireling will attempt
  • Reworked AI logic

Let’s start with the control idea. It will now be possible to open up a list of actions that the hireling can choose to take and disable those that annoy you. You cannot add actions, not even spells that you are certain the hireling “ought” to have. But you can turn things off.

Check out the image at the top of this post. These seven items are apparently the things that Albus can decide to do. No thought is needed at all to immediately turn of the Wand of Nimbus of Light because … well  … Wand of Nimbus of Light? Why was that even an option for Albus in the first place? But I digress. Now I am in control and the Wand of Nimbus of Light is an option no longer. You could in theory turn off everything except Heal and probably be pretty sure that your hireling will actually Heal you.

Sweet.

Mawry and AlbusTurning something off does not remove it from the hireling control bar. For instance, in the image to the right, I have disabled Deathward and Greater Restoration. Albus will no longer choose to cast those spells. But I can still order him to do so, I just have to specifically click the spell on the control bar.

Again, sweet.

The second big news, hireling-wise, is a series of changes to the behind-the-scenes logic that powers our little NPC dudes. One cannot see AI so there is no image; a list of changes will have to do. From the latest Lamannia release notes:

 

  • Stand Your Ground will now make a hireling only perform ranged attacks (if the hireling has a ranged attack.)
  • Hirelings will now follow their masters better after combat ends.
  • Luna is now less likely to run towards enemies instead of healing.
  • Hirelings (and class pets) stand still for a few seconds if their master gets hit by a trap and is not in combat, so they no longer follow their master into the trap.
  • Hirelings and pets will attempt to use nearby rest shrines if not in combat, not passive, and low on either health of spell points.
  • Hirelings and pets are now willing to go further from their master when ordered to become active (aggressive.)
  • Hirelings will no longer engage enemies at all if ordered to stay and be passive.
  • Hirelings will the ability to heal themselves should no longer ask to be healed when low on health.
  • Hirelings (and class pets) should respond better to party members being attacked.
  • A Hireling and class pet’s “Come to Me” button now teleports the hireling or pet to your character.

 

Sweet indeed.

There are a lot of changes coming in Update 23. A lot. More changes than content. But none are more important than fixing the hirelings.

Let’s hope the changes work out as well as they sound, because they sound awesome!

I mean, sweet!

🙂 😀 🙂

p.s. A tip of the DDOGamer hat to ComicRelief for pointing me towards these changes in comments he made last week.

  10 Responses to “Update 23 Preview – Hireling Rework”

Comments (10)
  1. I can’t wait. Fingers crossed.

  2. tears up with joy.

  3. I sure hope so, but didn’t we have another Hireling AI pass a few years back…honestly can’t remember. I really wonder what breaks their AI, because sometimes they work perfectly, and then BAM! they just stand there and die.

    Last night, I was soloing WGU HE (going for the True Elite Saga completion) on my 23 Wraithbuckler, and got handled by the Orc Priests once outside. After trying to Death Ward/Burst my way through the damage (yeah, right) I decided to pop out of Wraith form and get a hireling. I grabbed Brec and set him to defend me. He performed admirably until we got up top. Being that I was safe from Divine Punishment, I popped back into Wraith form and sat uncomfortably while Brec’s HP’s quickly dwindled. Of course, no healing was on his hotbar, so I couldn’t even make him heal himself. Perhaps it was because I set him to defend, but I was no longer able to accept positive healing?

    So yeah, I am eager to see what happens when this makes it to live. I’ve also read that these changes area also for pets as well; is this true?

  4. I’m still wondering if having a selection of hirelings (Gold Seal, etc.) hanging around at the start of the dungeon (or wherever you last told them to stand their ground), just waiting to be teleported to you to fulfil whichever whim you desired to be fulfilled, only to wait until the next time such a whim reveals its desire … where was I going with this… ?

    Maybe I feel if I have to go through the whole dungeon, dodge (face plant) past all the traps, so should my hireling, yes?

    It’s not like I won’t use this feature, it’s more reliable than their previous “Will I teleport or run a marathon to the boss?” system 😀

    I must remember to attend my Hypocrites-Anonymous meetings…

  5. Just so long as they give hirelings quicken spell too…

  6. Maybe they can give some of them their old outfits back, too?

  7. Last time they revamped hireling AI, they became the steaming piles of sh.. Um… Poop, that they are now. So I won’t be excited about it until I feel like they’re actually slightly better.

  8. I’m just hoping the hirelings and pets, with this new AI system, will have better interactions with traps. I know that they will supposedly stop when a trap goes off but I doubt that will be enough. Playing around with hirelings is a mini-game within itself.

  9. If I reassign my loot to a healer on a regular basis will he drink the elixirs BEFORE we go into the next battle rather than AFTER he teleports into the mobs? Would be nice if she came clean on exactly how many elixirs she has as well. Definitely think reassigning loot should encourage them to find those elixirs I know they have hidden somewhere….. Think of it as my offer to renegotiate a contract in THEIR favor. I’m a sucker for mini-games 😉

  10. I just hope these changes apply to the cat and bears as well.

What do you think?

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