Volume is the forthcoming stealth-'em-up heading to the PlayStation 4 and Vita from Mike Bithell, the man behind minimalist indie beauty Thomas Was Alone. The game depicts a modern day adaptation of Robin Hood, wherein petty thief protagonist Robert Locksley stumbles upon Volume – a training simulator for military personnel. Alongside the computer's AI – played by the brilliant Danny Wallace – the hero decides to broadcast his simulated thievery to the world.
As far as stealth-based games are concerned, artificial intelligence is an area of design which has vastly improved with each generation – but this isn't always a good thing. "What clever means usually is fixed," said Bithell in a recent interview with Digital Spy. "If an AI is clever, truly clever – as with a human being – it's very hard to tell what they're going to do next. In a stealth game, if you don't know what the enemy is going to do next, it's very hard to form a plan."
Bithell found that play-testers were put off by overly 'realistic' AI shifts. He continued: "The simplest wrinkle in the AI just to make them feel a bit more natural p***es everyone off. Players said, 'I don't know when that guy's going to turn, I can't plan for where he's going to be, I can't predict what the outcome is.' Every decision that we've made that's more complex, and harder to read, and smarter, has actually resulted in a more frustrating game. When they see you, they behave in a way that you can predict. It makes sense. It seems to work for us."
Although expected to release sometime in 2014, Bithell suggested that Volume may not be ready until 2015. "[2014 is] the plan," he said. "But honestly, I'm feeling it might well slip now into the start of next year. I won't release it until it's ready, and I don't need to either, which is nice."