Created By: Durazno on June 30, 2009
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Spiteful AI

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(My attempt to aid in the effort to clean up The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard).

Often, AI characters don't seem to care if they win so long as you lose. AI racers will ruin their standing just to screw with you, Mascot Fighter combatants will ignore weakened enemies and zero in on the you and RTS opponents will hit you with everything they have even if your AI ally running rampant in their base.

While Spiteful AIs are more obvious in free-for-all situations, you'll see them in other places, too. It could be as simple as that annoying enemy in a Platform Game who leaps to its doom to interrupt your crucial leap over a Bottomless Pit. Perhaps, in an FPS, those terrified guards become reckless, suicidal berserkers as soon as the cutscene ends. In a Tactical RPG, enemy units might insist on certain death meandering around in the poison swamp instead of giving themselves a chance against your men, just to deny you the experience.

In short, this trope applies whenever it looks like the AI puts thwarting (or challenging) the player ahead of its own "well-being," whether in terms of the NP Cs' survival or the objectives of the game. This is often the case.

Note that whatever it may feel like, the AI doesn't actually have it in for you. Right?

Notes:

  • This can be a supertrope of Gang Up on the Human, but examples that fit there shouldn't be put here. We'll link it.
  • Same deal for video game examples of Super-Persistent Predator. Why would a T-Rex bother with a morsel like you? Because the AI wants to kill you!
  • Enemy mooks that were trained, born or built to blow up on you don't count, but when otherwise normal enemies do suicidal things to screw you over, it might. Especially when you're supposed to capture said mook alive.
    • This should probably also be the rule for the idiots who stay to fight you in a Collapsing Lair, with the additional caveat that you could reasonably expect animals not to know to flee as well.
  • What do you say about AI allies being Too Dumb to Live? Should that count?

Examples:

  • In the Pokmon game, wild pokemon such as Geodude and Voltorb will often blow up on you for no good reason. Why sacrifice their life--I mean, consciousness just to damage you? Aren't these wild animals? How bizarre.
    • This comes up in other JRP Gs as well.
  • Darth Bob, from Star Wars: Rogue Squadron 2, a Tie Fighter that kills you by crashing his ship into you. It is generally accepted that this wasn't what the programmers intended, and that it's a flaw in the programming the AI taking things into its own hands to kill you.
  • Enemies in Disgaea will sometimes kill their allies with area attacks, depriving you of experience and items.
    • This rarely happens in Final Fantasy Tactics, but given that you don't get EXP for killing blows, it's less of an inconvenience. Now, when your allies do it...
  • The AI in Civilization IV sometimes do this, sending all of their armies to pillage your country while they themselves are being crippled. This can sometimes be explained with the 'personalities' of the civilization rulers, and other times it's just the AI taking leave of its senses.
  • The pirates will fight you to the bitter end in Metroid, even by attacking you as you flee after killing the Load-Bearing Boss. They might have an excuse, though, since it's often a whole freaking planet that's exploding. Where would they escape to?
Community Feedback Replies: 22
  • June 23, 2009
    Durazno
    • Pokémon has Geodude, Graveler, Golom, Voltorb and Electrode blow up on you for no good reason. It knocks themselves out, but it deals a ton of damage to you too.
  • June 23, 2009
    Sir Lemming
    For a second there, I was wondering who Al is and why he's so spiteful.
  • June 23, 2009
    Durazno
    He's just a dick.
  • June 23, 2009
    RobinZimm
    I believe Project Gotham Racing 4 (or was it 3?) did this in the eight-car "Street Races" - if you were playing on the hardest difficulty and needed to win first place, second place and back would gladly sacrifice time to stop you.
  • June 24, 2009
    AvatarofRage
    Possibly related is in Tactical RPG s, where enemies will gladly use an area attack that kills their allies, often depriving you of experience and items
  • June 24, 2009
    Andyzero
    Darth Bob, from Star Wars: Rogue Squadron 2, a Tie Fighter that kills you by crashing his ship into you. It is generally accepted that this wasn't what the programmers intended, and that it's a flaw in the programming the AI taking things into its own hands to kill you.
  • June 24, 2009
    VampireBuddha
    This overlaps somewhat with Gang Up On The Human, so it should be reserved for examples that don't fit in that trope.
  • June 24, 2009
    Nimbostratus
    Do kamikaze monsters count? Ones whose only method of attack is blowing up in your face? If so...

    • Diablo II's expansion features "suicide minions," bloated demons whose sole purpose is to run up to you and explode violently.
  • June 24, 2009
    Durazno
    I agree, Vampire Buddha.

    Kamikaze monsters shouldn't count, because that's what they were born/made/trained to do. It's when ordinary enemies start acting suicidally in ways that cause you trouble that the Spiteful AI comes into play.
  • June 24, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    I'd say the key distinction from Gang Up On The Human is that in GUOTH at least one AI entity does end up benefitting.
  • June 26, 2009
    Durazno
    Bump.
  • June 27, 2009
    Blunderbuss
    • The AI in Civilization IV sometimes do this, sending all of their armies to pillage your country while they themselves are being crippled. This can sometimes be explained with the 'personalities' of the civilization rulers, and other times it's just the AI taking leave of its senses.
  • June 27, 2009
    Ryusui
  • June 28, 2009
    Durazno
    On the other hand, The Player Must Die is a healthy attitude for the AI, and Human Players Must Die would just be Gang Up On The Human. Oh, and, bump.
  • June 29, 2009
    Medinoc
    "suicide minions" can be justified if they have a boss, or a common cause to send them. A wild pokemon blowing up on you can't, unless it's protecting its nest.
  • June 29, 2009
    Durazno
    Adding examples and editing the article.
  • June 29, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    I notice that Allied A Is tend to kamikaze Enemy A Is as their own bases are being destroyed. Could this trope be simply how games define 'help'?
  • June 29, 2009
    berr
    This trope is so well written it has to be launched.
  • June 29, 2009
    Stormtroper
    The AI Hates Your Guts? It's potentially confusing but...

    Also, do Mooks who stay to fight at the Collapsing Lair count?

    Also to clarify, you don't get experience or items for killing enemies in Final Fantasy Tactics, but for successfully performing actions. It's still pretty annoying, specially when one of your guys gets killed near the beginning, you can't revive him and the battle takes long enough for him/her to crystalize.

    Also, one of the some of the AI settings for bots in Perfect Dark would result result in bots disregarding their own health if that means killing others.
  • June 29, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    I've played Final Fantasy Tactics for years and I've never seen enemy AI ally kill. The Disgaea example is inaccurate for other reasons, namely because the AI is really that stupid (even ally AI ally kills).
  • June 29, 2009
    Stormtroper
    I don't know, I've seen enemies getting killed by other enemies with area attacks targeting my guys, without me doing anything. To clarify, they're perfectly reasonable actions if the AI doesn't mind having his unit potentially crystalized (and as far as I can tell, it never does).
  • June 30, 2009
    Durazno
    Duly noted. I like the name The AI Hates Your Guts, but most of the cheating bastard examples follow a "_____ AI" format, and I wanted to keep that up.
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