Yesterday, I got to play the new "Puzzle Quest" title "Galactrix" at demo in a New York City hotel.
I wasn't doing too badly, but in the end the AI bested me in the "Hexic"-like role-playing/puzzle hybrid. Maybe I was having an off morning... or maybe the AI was cheating. That was a claim many people made about the first "Puzzle Quest" game "Challenge of the Warlords."
Here's what "Puzzle Quest: Galactrix" producer Marcus Savino told me about the AI system.
"What I can say about the AI more than anything else is that, for sure, it doesn't cheat -- guaranteed," he said. "One of the cool things about the way this game works is it there is a sort of randomness. The way the puzzles pieces come on the board at the beginning of the battle is random -- it's like a roulette wheel or something like that. The logic of how the pieces come together doesn't always favor the enemy or the player; sometimes it favors you and sometimes it favors the AI."
"I think that the problem is that people don't always remember when they get something good..."
He thought that part of the issue was simply in how the players viewed the AI. "I think that the problem is that people don't always remember when they get something good, which I'm guilty of myself!" Savino said, laughing. "Some people think that anything that's random is actually rigged, but the computer player is just trying to make the best match possible. It's exactly the same break you have. Sometimes the computer makes good matches and sometimes the computer makes matches that you wouldn't have made."
Although he hadn't worked on the previous game, he knew without a doubt that the AI system never had an advantage to begin with. "I didn't program the AI system but what I can say is that every system in 'Galactrix' has been refined since 'Challenge of the Warlords,' so I'm sure optimizations were done. But [the AI system] was never cheating in the first place so we didn't have to fix it to make it not cheat!"
"Puzzle Quest: Galactrix" and its non-cheating AI will be available early next year for XBLA, PC and DS.