Archived Discussion

This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

From You Know That Thing Where:

Nevrmore: I thought this trope had already been here, but I can't find it: It's a sub-set of Fake Difficulty, I think, where, when you are doing well against the computer in a videogame, it seems to set off some variable and causes the computer to ramp up in skill - this is most prevalent in sports games. Like, if you're playing a soccer game, and suddenly the AI-controlled goalie is blocking every single shot and the other players are suddenly faster than you and kick harder. I believe a name for it is Rubber Band A.I.

Paul A: I thought it had already been done, too, but the example I remember seeing turns out to be the one on the Fake Difficulty page.

Andrew Leprich: Heh, speak of the devil, I was just thinking about this myself. Yeah, Rubber Band A.I. is the correct term, and it can also work conversely (the AI gets easier when you're losing to give you a chance). I'd say hit it. This and The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard should probably mention each other, since they're along the same lines and both forms of Fake Difficulty.

Andrew Leprich: Changed the football example, hope no one minds, but the old one didn't make sense: any team would simply take a knee and run out the clock in that situation.

Nevrmore: Heh, I guess this is why I don't play sports games.

Keenath: I changed the explanation of the rubber band metaphor a little. The point of rubber band AI is not "the further you stretch it, the more it hurts when you let go", but rather, "the further you stretch it, the harder it pulls". In a game, the further ahead you are, the quicker, stronger, and better the enemy gets — it 'pulls harder' in an effort to catch up.

Darmok: Man, I hate it when Mario Kart does this!


Ununnilium: Took out "Or caves full of elite Goblin Berzerkers or Ogre Cavebosses." because it didn't give context as to why it was absurd.
Andrew Leprich: IMHO, examples where enemies level up with you don't really fit here. That's Level Scaling. Rubber Band A.I. is Fake Difficulty when the computer inexplicably and spontaneously gets better or worse to provide a fair challenge to the player, whereas Level Scaling makes sense and is quite fair: if you can grow stronger over time, there's no reason why your enemies can't either.

Shire Nomad: Moved this to The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard.
  • Dragon Ball-based games have this during story missions. For instance, some characters in later stages are programmed to automatically dodge most combo attacks (like throwing your enemy in the air and teleporting to hit them up there, more than one energy attack, etc.). This becomes a problem in levels where you can get a Ring Out. Because the enemy will doubtless be able to break your guard and counterattack whenever he feels like, you'll be knocked out the ring by him easy, while he can simply decide not to be hurt by your attacks.

gs68: For the sake of self-esteem, is there a trope about trailing human players getting rubberbanded, rather than AI ones?
Seven Seals: Took out this:
  • This Troper would like to note that the name of this trope is a poor use of the term AI. AI refers to artificial intelligence, the algorithms that govern what a computer player CHOOSES to do, not what it CAN do. If the mechanics of a game were modified to give a human player an advantage, you wouldn't claim that the game was improving the player's intelligence. It would be more prudent to refer to this trope as something like Rubber Band Opponent. An ACTUAL Rubber Band A.I. would play more intelligently the more desperate its situation, employing more elaborate strategies and showing greater insight into the player's intentions. This is rarely (read: never) done because creating an AI with those properties is difficult, and many (read: all) game developers are lazy when it comes to AI. Instead, the AI is left untouched, but the rules of the game are modified to give the computer player an unfair advantage.
Persnickety Natter. Go through YKTTW if you think a retitle is in order.