As happens with many games, we’ve seen the general skill level of our players grow significantly over the last 3 years. While PUBG veterans continue to hone their skills and improve, we’re seeing more often that many newer players are being eliminated early with no kills – and oftentimes with no damage dealt. You’ve been telling us for a while that the widening skill gap is creating a more and more challenging environment for some of our players and we’re now ready to talk about our plan to help this.
In an effort to provide more ways for players to hone their skills and be able to fully enjoy what PUBG has to offer, we’ve decided to introduce bots with Update 7.1. Bots can have both positive or negative effects on a game depending on how well it is programmed, so let’s go over some of the things we’ve been considering when programming these artificial aggressors.
In a normal PUBG match, players often traverse a variety of terrain, including open fields, rivers, cities, and even mountains. Without getting too complicated, movement of our bots is governed by what are called navigation meshes. Think of navigation meshes as boundaries in which the bots can move within. For each of our maps, big or small, much attention had to be put in to carefully lay out these navigation meshes on every corner of our maps in a way that prevents bots from throwing themselves off of a cliff or something else that, while hilarious, doesn’t line up with its intended functions. With these navigation meshes in place, the bots constantly look out for environmental hazards and works towards finding the shortest route to its next destination.
PUBG players engage in firefights across all sorts of distances – from clearing out buildings to those sweet long-range Kar98k headshots. Whatever the distance is, a crucial factor that makes shooting in PUBG so fun is the bullet physics, and we wanted to incorporate that into the bots’ shooting as well. So instead of letting the bots hit its enemies based on rather simple probability, PUBG’s bots were designed to consider bullet physics when shooting. What this means is that players will be able to dodge the bots’ bullets if they use the same evasive maneuvers as they would in any other firefight. But of course, a computer would still be better at calculating bullet trajectory, so systems were put in to make sure that the bots’ accuracy differs based on range. All of this was carefully balanced through countless iterations of balancing so that our bots provide just enough challenge and provides more ways for players to improve their skills.
Having the right tools can mean life or death for most players. With bots, we’re expecting a general increase in the amount of kills – and therefore the amount of items potentially looted. If our bots have too much loot, it might negatively impact the balance of our matches. If our bots have too little loot, or loot that wouldn’t be appropriate for the phase in a match, it would look unrealistic. Our analysts and game designers went through lots of data from our live servers to not only see what players generally loot, but to see what types of items players usually carry into each phase of a match. With this data, we’ve set loot targets for our bots, so that they loot and have the appropriate items for each phase. For example, you’ll see bots run into close-quarter battles with an SMG early on, while engaging in more long-range SR/DMR firefights later in the match.
While there were many other factors that went into programming PUBG’s bots, these were the three we felt carried the most potential impact on a match. We hope that introducing bots will help players get more shooting practice and kills, a higher average survival time, and maybe even that first exciting chicken dinner. Basically, the full battle royale experience. As for our more experienced players, you are less likely to engage bots the higher your MMR is. In addition to that, there will also be the next evolution of competitive PUBG in our new Ranked system due out next month, which will not have any bots.
One last note, this is just the first iteration of bots. In the coming months, we’ll be implementing machine-learning techniques to continue monitoring how humans play, so we can apply improvements to make our bots behave more and more realistically. Of course, no amount of machine learning beats direct community feedback, so please let us know your experiences with the bots and how else we can improve.
As always, thanks for your continued support, and see you on the Battlegrounds!
Joon H. Choi, Lead Project Manager
PUBG Console Team