Expert Mode [mobs, difficulty, AI]under review
Introduction: More and more the players are being spoonfed resources without the "forced progression" string of events being expanded. Due to this, the game is getting easier. Over time, I've started accumulating ideas related to difficulty that I'd like to see in Minecraft to combat this - the "Hard" difficulty didn't feel as hard for me as well no more, as it's basically an upscaled "Normal" difficulty. For a bigger impact there must be drastic changes, which is why some of these ideas would feel a bit absurd if they were implemented in Vanilla's base difficulties. Here are some of the ideas about a hypothetical Expert Mode that I came up with over the last few weeks. Note that by "Expert Mode" I mean a separate toggle in the world creation screen, different from the difficulty options that exist in the pause menu.
As these ideas are related to mobs, listing this suggestion under "Mobs, Animals, and non-Humanoids".
Suggestion 1: Overall AI/pathfinding improvements.
Allow pathfinding to account for gaps that the mob can jump over, have them able to traverse other terrain that only players currently can (such as, say, jumping on a horizontal line of blocks that have a 2-block-high line of fences/fence gates/iron bars/etc. on top) and, perhaps, a sprinting ability. Additionally, mobs should all know how to use ladders, water streams (including bubble columns) and open openable doors/trapdoors to their advantage. Another point is that they should see through blocks that players can see through - iron bars, glass, etc. - as if they were air. If said mob wants to pursue a target, but they burn in daylight and it's daytime, they will attempt to reach their target via a safer route without sunlight in it. Mobs also act strangely in regards to slabs, so that should be tweaked as well.
Suggestion 2: New target pursuing algorithm.
Currently, mobs magically know the exact location of their targets if they have targeted them and if said target is still in their radius. Sounds quite illogical, doesn't it? Let's change it.
When idle, hostile mobs check for targets every 2 ticks. I'd suggest a base value of 64 meters of sight radius for melee mobs, 80 for ranged mobs. If there is an available target that's twice closer to the hostile mob than their current target, they target the closer one instead. Once the hostile mob has acquired a target, they check for a line of sight between them and their target every 2 ticks, updating the target's last seen location if the line of sight isn't broken. Instead of calculating a path towards the target's current location that the hostile mob magically knows, they calculate a path towards the target's last seen location. If the hostile mob reaches their target's last seen location without finding any other available targets/restoring line of sight with their current target, they lose their target and turn idle again.
And yes, that'll allow players to lose, say, hordes of zombies if they know how to hide.
Suggestion 3: Unique mob abilities.
Due to this being an Expert Mode, we are assuming the player knows how most/all mobs work. Playing for a long time with the same dull mobs that all work similarly may be quite boring, however. How about we give said mobs a facelift, then?
Hostile mobs could have unique abilities that'd differentiate them from each other and spice up combat in general. Here are some of them:
- Creepers "light their fuse" and sprint at the target once they find one. They could also jump right before exploding for a comedic effect. In this mode, the explosion only happens when the Creeper physically collides with the player. The fuze is only an indication of the distance between the Creeper and it's target, as well as the fact that the Creeper targeted something in the first place. The closer the Creeper is to their target, the less maximum HP they have. The smallest their maximum HP can get due to this proximity-based degeneration is 0.5 hearts of health which would reward those with fast reflexes.
- Skeletons and other ranged bipedal mobs would use different blocks and perhaps even mobs as cover.
- Zombies with no weapons in their hands can tackle/grab the player. Shaking your mouse horizontally will free the player from this grip.
- Endermen would dodge more using their teleports. Also, if the player is hiding in a 2-block-high tunnel, the Endermen pursuing said player would attempt to quickly pick up and throw away (in item form) the ceiling blocks of the tunnel, turning it into a 3-block-high tunnel through which they can get to the player.
- Elder Guardians would periodically charge up and shoot out big continuous beams that follow the player at a slow rotation speed for a few seconds. Using the new swimming mechanic is advised to dodge said beam. The beam's length ends upon collision with any solid block in it's way. This gets updated dynamically. If there are no solid blocks in the way, the beam's advised maximum length is 16 meters.
- Zombie Pigmen would be a hivemind, allowing them to spread the last known location of their targets from the above-mentioned new target pursuing algorithm to any other nearby Zombie Pigmen with the same target or with no current target.
- Phantoms would turn temporarily invisible prior to dashing at the player, leaving only their eyes visible, glowing in the dark. Their speed is also increased during the invisibility phase.
- Spiders, Cave Spiders and Silverfish would be able to walk on walls and ceilings with appropriately-adjusted pathfinding.
- Drowned would attempt to drown the player if they are close enough to grab the player's legs. Note that some things that wouldn't fit in Vanilla's base difficulties can fit in Expert Mode.
- Beasts would be able to break certain weak blocks such as wooden planks, cobblestone or stone with their current head-extending animation. However, this would only be used if there is no available path for the beast to their target without breaking any breakable blocks.
- Slimes and Magma Cubes would knock back players when hitting them. Don't pick a fight with them near a cliff, especially if it's with the latter in the Nether.
- Illusioners would participate in higher-level Raids. Additionally, they'll cast their illusion spell on a random ally at a time. An illusionary stampede of Beasts would definitely scare away some players.
Conclusion: An update which would introduce an "Expert Mode" of sorts would greatly revitalize the game overall. Minecraft has a great potential for having a difficult gamemode, which is exactly why I suggested the ideas listed above.
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