“Auto-Explore” is a feature that is common to many major (or complete?) roguelikes. It is not required, but it is often desired. But why? Isn’t exploration one of the key components of the game? Discovery! But sometimes players become indifferent, or impatient, and just want something exciting to happen.
That’s where auto-explore comes in. Press a key, and your avatar will move somewhere new until it finds something. It might be a monster, treasure, trap, door, puzzle, or something else. But it’s interesting.
I have used the auto explore in Brogue, and find it fairly useful on the first levels. It’s not overly dangerous. I have also written several auto-explore features for games of mine, including Random Realms and Destiny of Heroes. I made the D.o.H. bot so detailed that it was able to identify potions and scrolls by trial and error, and once, it even won the game! (DoH was a 7drl entry that I continued to develop.)
I love writing bots! I love trying to quantify the decisions that I would make; design systems to carry out actions necessary for survival, and even victory. So when I decided to write the auto-explore for Approaching Infinity, I was very excited.
I started to think of all the things I wanted it to do. Then I went back and decided I better get the basics down, like moving, stopping, and shooting. The AI Bot is designed with settings like fear, aggression, and greed that determine what you, the player, want the bot to do. Should it stop whenever it sees an enemy? Or only upon taking damage? Or never! Should it fire on hostiles, or ignore them?
I had the auto-explore to the point where it would explore space, land on planets, collect items, kill hostile enemies, dock with stations, sell cargo, buy supplies, and head to the warp point when the sector was cleared! But I’ve removed some of those features, because I think they’re a bit intrusive to normal play.
I even have plans to make it do more, like hiring officers, buying new components intelligently, trying to complete quests, almost anything the human player can do! I will probably do it too, but it will be after the main release. There’s just too much that needs to be done, regardless of what I want to do.
I can go into a lot more detail, but I’ll wait a bit 😉 For now, I’ll leave you with a shot of the new “info item pickup”, and the sad death of the officer that I found on the planet in the last image.