Friday, 24 May 2024

AI Sliders: Enhancing Gaming Experience with Customization

Have you ever wondered about the AI sliders in sports games? These toggles in the options menu that supposedly allow you to customize the computer AI so that players act as dumb or smart as you want. In this article, we’ll dive into the world of AI sliders and explore their effectiveness in enhancing the gaming experience.

The Past and Present of AI Sliders

In a conversation with a sports developer, he shared an interesting anecdote about his time at an unnamable EA Sports studio. He revealed that some AI sliders didn’t actually work, despite being present in the game’s options menu. While this happened in the past and not necessarily recently, it made me question the effectiveness of AI sliders, not just in EA Sports games but in any game.

To get a better understanding, I reached out to both EA Sports and 2K Sports to inquire about their AI sliders. Both companies assured me that their sliders are functional and not just for show. However, controlling a game’s AI is not as simple as twisting a few knobs, as I soon discovered.

The Complexity of AI Slider Control

Erick Boenisch, lead feature designer for the NBA 2K series, expressed his curiosity about the effectiveness of AI sliders. He shared that while he has played sports games his whole life, he doesn’t have definitive evidence of AI sliders not working as intended. It seems that the perception of their effectiveness can vary from player to player.

Steve Chiang, the senior vice president & group GM for EA Sports, added that the problem lies partly in perception. Sometimes, the desired effect of moving a slider may not manifest itself clearly. This ambiguity can be attributed to the complexity of the game’s AI systems and how they interact with each other.

For example, a slider may be tied to a player’s attributes and how they react in specific game situations. The effectiveness of a slider may depend on the player’s smart decision-making, which can override the slider’s effect. Similarly, different sliders have different impacts on the gameplay, with adjustments potentially representing small or drastic changes depending on the in-game calculations they modify.

Developers can also face challenges when dealing with legacy AI sliders from past games. These sliders may be connected to features that have been dropped from later iterations, causing confusion among players. Moreover, the design of sliders must be carefully crafted to avoid conflicts between different sliders, ensuring that they each have a specific purpose without overlapping.

Looking Ahead

Is questionable AI the fault of game developers, or does it reflect the complexity of replicating human behavior using computers? While the answer remains uncertain, developers are continuously striving to bring real-life experiences into our living rooms.


Q: Do AI sliders work in all sports games?

A: AI sliders are intended to enhance the gaming experience, but their effectiveness may vary depending on the game and its AI systems. It’s important to note that moving a slider may not always produce a clear cause-and-effect experience.

Q: Can AI sliders from previous games still affect the gameplay?

A: Legacy AI sliders can have unintended consequences when used in newer games, especially if they are tied to features that have been changed or removed. Developers need to consider the compatibility and relevance of sliders when designing game AI.

Q: Are AI sliders the only way to customize AI behavior in sports games?

A: While AI sliders provide a convenient option for customization, they are not the only means of adjusting AI behavior. Games may offer alternative methods, such as difficulty settings or specific gameplay options, to further tailor the AI experience.


AI sliders in sports games offer players the opportunity to customize the AI behavior and create a more personalized gaming experience. While their effectiveness may vary and their impact can be influenced by various factors, developers are continuously working to improve and refine these features. So, next time you dive into a sports game, don’t hesitate to experiment with the AI sliders and find the perfect balance for your gaming enjoyment.