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.
Turning 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.
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.
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!
🙂 😀 🙂