Alien Swarm To Get AI Director

You might recollect that our recent verdict on Valve’s mini co-op shooter Alien Swarm concluded that the game would have been improved somewhat if it utilised the same kind of AI director routines that make the Left 4 Dead games so interesting to play. Well, soon it will do so. Steam News reports: “…we’ve added “Onslaught” mode, which introduces an AI Director that dynamically generates swarms of aliens based on several factors, such as the squad’s stress level. Onslaught works with any difficulty setting and ensures no mission plays the same way twice.”

So hurrah for that.


  1. Choca says:

    I liked this game but the horrible lobby got me bored.

    • subedii says:

      What was wrong with the lobby?

    • lePooch says:

      The first time I accidentally became leader of a game, i realized the true horror that was this games lobby. Changing difficulty required a screen change. Changing leaders required a screen change. Muting/unmuting needed a screen change. Inviting friends is slightly annoying.

      Not to mention changing weapons also required a change of screens(but that one is forgivable).

      That did not stop me from playing every map half a dozen time and generally loving this game. WIth the inclusion of a director, I can definitely see this game becoming a regular go-to game for me, for those times when every other game seems to need an update or a fix.

      I have a feeling it is not the fault of the game, but rather the fault of the Source engine showing its age. I mean, the same server browser I have in Half Life has persisted all the way till today with Alien Swarm. There have got to be some limitations to it, regardless of how much more improved it is with regards to filtering/tagging etc.

    • subedii says:

      Still not sure what the issue is. Personally, I would’ve liked it if everyone’s ping was displayed up front next to their name, but aside from that it works fine. You can access whatever you want to change and initiate votes, it moves to a different screen but I don’t see why that’s a problem. It even helpfully shows other players that you’re messing around with your equipment / character still, which I thought was a nice touch.

    • hosndosn says:

      No, these are good points. The game just follows a horrible trend of locking you out from easy access of the main menu in the lobby. Dare I say that’s a trend coming from consoles? Not everything can be consoles’ fault, though, can it?

      I hate having to change screens or even *quit* a lobby just to change my keybinds. Or look them up, when I’m new to the game.

    • Latro says:

      The ping thing is not “I prefer” is “This is driving me nuts”.

      Of course I’m in Backwardistan, network wise, but damnit, thats precisely the point – spare me connecting to 20 games at > 150 ping , even if that means “there seems to be not a game I could play”, instead of finding out after being connected.

  2. Baka says:

    Played a lot with the AI director activated through console, kept us doing some runthroughs more. Basically you have a LOT more to shoot at, luckily not spawning at the pre-defined ducts and railings but rather randomized.
    Smart move to release those functionalities time-delayed, probably keeps the interest high. Next step probably a campaign with the queen at the end?
    Because the only thing we need now are new maps. A lot of them. And no more “Survival Arenas”, thank you very much.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      I was playing a custom map and I liked how my guy automatically started shouting profanities upon seeing the queen.

      She needs a bit of polish but her abilities are neat, they just don’t do enough damage.

    • televizor says:

      Whaat? What queen?

  3. Fringe says:

    It’s more than just “hurrah for that”! I think it’s a massive improvement and quite enjoyed playing alongside some randomers last night.

  4. Alexander Norris says:

    Isn’t this in already? There was a patch last night.

  5. Tusque d'Ivoire says:


    i had gotten a little tired of the game, but saw that steam had updated it yesterday, and was positively surprised that they implemented some new achievements and lots of new and crazy difficulty settings. there’s now one whole new difficulty level beyond “insane”, which is brutal ^^

  6. Lobotomist says:

    Valve has been redeemed in my eyes , no more boycott :D

  7. Oozo says:

    As a citizen of a certain mountainous country, I feel no small amount of thread and terror oozing from that picture.

  8. Sigma Draconis says:

    One question about the AI Director in Onslaught mode. Will it balance out with the amount of overall ammo your team currently has? That is, will less aliens be spawned if your team has low ammo and vice-versa?

  9. JuJuCam says:

    Fantastic! Repetitiveness killed that game for me, especially when running with less experienced players and having to repeat the same sections over and over again…

    • Zombat says:

      Heh, like residential on Insane?

      Think it took over 8 hours and lots of profantity before I finally found a team that didn’t enjoy being faceraped by parasites.

    • Metalfish says:

      My problem is surface bridge; the experienced player(s) run off and leave the unsure guy to get raped in the dark all too often. You can’t speedrun everything if the tech needs a little bit of support to get into the game. But no, everyone runs off, spamming flamethrowers and pretending that it’s left 4 dead. Which, I guess it’s a lot closer too now.

    • Bret says:


      Huh. Haven’t tried insane, but it isn’t too bad solo on hard, in my experience, if you’re properly paranoid and flamer happy.

  10. EaterOfCheese says:

    Really enjoyed the new update, intense and fun.

    • itsallcrap says:

      Ah, perhaps this answers my question below. So the director is in there now?

  11. itsallcrap says:

    If they’re adding another difficulty setting, I’d have preferred one in between Hard and Insane.

    Also, the headline here says “Alien Swarm To Get AI Director”, but the Valve quote says “we’ve added “Onslaught” mode.” Notice the different tenses. Has it happened yet or not?

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      It happened last night after 22:00 BST. Updated my server already. Start Steam & it’ll automagically update your client for you.

  12. markcocjin says:

    Not having the AI director activated at the start did have a benefit if not intentional. Alien Swarm gave us examples of how to produce scripted sequences when monsters came out in different ways.

    You can see those examples on the SDK. Having the AI Director spawn stuff required less input from mod developers.

    Maybe it’s all in the making of a great RPG mod that’s coming up for it… *crickets*

    That or maybe we’re just seeing bits of the upcoming DotA

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Or they just finished off some stuff which just needed tweaking to work properly since it already mostly existed in the engine.

  13. Andytizer says:

    I know it would make it much easier and a completely different beast of a game, but I would like to have some features from L4D in this game to make it easier to play.

    1) AI director
    2) revive companions
    3) no classes, maybe just have ‘loadouts’
    4) more ammo

    It’s just quite frustrating to play with my wife and with friends who aren’t skilled at the game, and we have issues like Tech dying really early or running out of ammo too quickly.

    • Andytizer says:

      Also baked in bot support would be great, as they have it in L4D.

  14. The Dark One says:

    The full-on friendly fire option is particularly brutal.

  15. bleeters says:

    Finally, to reward the most dedicated players, we’ve added 3 new IAF Promotion Ranks: Platinum Star, Osmium Star, and the coveted Iridium Medallion.

    Ah, hell. There goes my weekend.

  16. cruize says:

    I feel sorry for the desperate folks at Team17 who have just realised that there is no way anyone will pay for Alien Breed now.

    Still, at least their Worms cash cow will keep things raking in.

    • TheTingler says:

      I do too. Even if they’d done a really good job with Alien Breed and had the same level of co-op brilliance, the fact that Alien Swarm is Valve, great, polished AND FREE would’ve sealed their fate anyway.

      Worms Reloaded is great, but too f***ing expensive in the UK.

    • Stephen says:

      A similar thing happened with developers who made mp3 players on Mac computers when Apple came out with iTunes.