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Unity Deer AI Tutorial

0 Comments - Jun 6, 2019
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In game development, adding Artificial Intelligence (AI) means writing a code that will control the game entity without any external input.

Animal AI in games is a branch of AI that aims to translate animal behavior into the game's digital environment to create a realistic experience.

In this tutorial, I will be showing how to make a simple animal (Deer) AI in Unity that will have two states, idle and flee.

Step 1: Prepare the Scene and the Deer Model

We will need a level and a deer model.

For the level I will use a simple Terrain with some grass and trees:

For the Deer model I simply combined some Cubes (but you can get a fully animated deer model from here):

Now let's move to the coding part.

Step 2: Set up Player Controller

We begin by setting up a Player Controller so we can walk around and test the AI:

  • Create a new script, name it SC_CharacterController and paste the code below inside it:

SC_CharacterController.cs

using UnityEngine;

[RequireComponent(typeof(CharacterController))]

public class SC_CharacterController : MonoBehaviour
{
    public float speed = 7.5f;
    public float jumpSpeed = 8.0f;
    public float gravity = 20.0f;
    public Camera playerCamera;
    public float lookSpeed = 2.0f;
    public float lookXLimit = 45.0f;

    CharacterController characterController;
    Vector3 moveDirection = Vector3.zero;
    Vector2 rotation = Vector2.zero;

    [HideInInspector]
    public bool canMove = true;

    void Start()
    {
        characterController = GetComponent<CharacterController>();
        rotation.y = transform.eulerAngles.y;
    }

    void Update()
    {
        if (characterController.isGrounded)
        {
            // We are grounded, so recalculate move direction based on axes
            Vector3 forward = transform.TransformDirection(Vector3.forward);
            Vector3 right = transform.TransformDirection(Vector3.right);
            float curSpeedX = speed * Input.GetAxis("Vertical");
            float curSpeedY = speed * Input.GetAxis("Horizontal");
            moveDirection = (forward * curSpeedX) + (right * curSpeedY);

            if (Input.GetButton("Jump"))
            {
                moveDirection.y = jumpSpeed;
            }
        }

        // Apply gravity. Gravity is multiplied by deltaTime twice (once here, and once below
        // when the moveDirection is multiplied by deltaTime). This is because gravity should be applied
        // as an acceleration (ms^-2)
        moveDirection.y -= gravity * Time.deltaTime;

        // Move the controller
        characterController.Move(moveDirection * Time.deltaTime);

        // Player and Camera rotation
        if (canMove)
        {
            rotation.y += Input.GetAxis("Mouse X") * lookSpeed;
            rotation.x += -Input.GetAxis("Mouse Y") * lookSpeed;
            rotation.x = Mathf.Clamp(rotation.x, -lookXLimit, lookXLimit);
            playerCamera.transform.localRotation = Quaternion.Euler(rotation.x, 0, 0);
            transform.eulerAngles = new Vector2(0, rotation.y);
        }
    }
}

  • Create a new GameObject and name it "Player" also change its tag to "Player"
  • Create a new Capsule (GameObject -> 3D Object -> Capsule), then make it a child object of "Player" Object, change its position to (0, 1, 0) and remove its CapsuleCollider component.
  • Move the Main Camera inside "Player" Object and change its position to (0, 1.64, 0)
  • Attach SC_CharacterController script to a "Player" Object (You will notice it will also add another component called Character Controller, change its center value to (0, 1, 0))
  • Assign the Main Camera to "Player Camera" variable at SC_CharacterController then Save the Scene

The Player Controller is now ready.

Step 3: Program Deer AI

Now let's move to the part where we program a Deer AI:

  • Create a new script and name it SC_DeerAI (this script will control the AI movement):

Open SC_DeerAI and continue the steps below:

At the start of the script we make sure that all the necessary classes are included (specifically UnityEngine.AI):

using UnityEngine;
using UnityEngine.AI;
using System.Collections.Generic;

public class SC_DeerAI : MonoBehaviour
{

Now let's add all the variables:

    public enum AIState { Idle, Walking, Eating, Running }
    public AIState currentState = AIState.Idle;
    public int awarenessArea = 15; //How far the deer should detect the enemy
    public float walkingSpeed = 3.5f;
    public float runningSpeed = 7f;
    public Animator animator;

    //Trigger collider that represents the awareness area
    SphereCollider c; 
    //NavMesh Agent
    NavMeshAgent agent;

    bool switchAction = false;
    float actionTimer = 0; //Timer duration till the next action
    Transform enemy;
    float range = 20; //How far the Deer have to run to resume the usual activities
    float multiplier = 1;
    bool reverseFlee = false; //In case the AI is stuck, send it to one of the original Idle points

    //Detect NavMesh edges to detect whether the AI is stuck
    Vector3 closestEdge;
    float distanceToEdge;
    float distance; //Squared distance to the enemy
    //How long the AI has been near the edge of NavMesh, if too long, send it to one of the random previousIdlePoints
    float timeStuck = 0;
    //Store previous idle points for reference
    List<Vector3> previousIdlePoints = new List<Vector3>(); 

Then we initialize everything in the void Start():

    // Start is called before the first frame update
    void Start()
    {
        agent = GetComponent<NavMeshAgent>();
        agent.stoppingDistance = 0;
        agent.autoBraking = true;

        c = gameObject.AddComponent<SphereCollider>();
        c.isTrigger = true;
        c.radius = awarenessArea;

        //Initialize the AI state
        currentState = AIState.Idle;
        actionTimer = Random.Range(0.1f, 2.0f);
        SwitchAnimationState(currentState);
    }

(As you can see we add a Sphere Collider which is marked as Trigger. This collider will act as an awareness area when the enemy enters it).

The actual AI logic is done in the void Update() with some helper functions:

    // Update is called once per frame
    void Update()
    {
        //Wait for the next course of action
        if (actionTimer > 0)
        {
            actionTimer -= Time.deltaTime;
        }
        else
        {
            switchAction = true;
        }

        if (currentState == AIState.Idle)
        {
            if(switchAction)
            {
                if (enemy)
                {
                    //Run away
                    agent.SetDestination(RandomNavSphere(transform.position, Random.Range(1, 2.4f)));
                    currentState = AIState.Running;
                    SwitchAnimationState(currentState);
                }
                else
                {
                    //No enemies nearby, start eating
                    actionTimer = Random.Range(14, 22);

                    currentState = AIState.Eating;
                    SwitchAnimationState(currentState);

                    //Keep last 5 Idle positions for future reference
                    previousIdlePoints.Add(transform.position);
                    if (previousIdlePoints.Count > 5)
                    {
                        previousIdlePoints.RemoveAt(0);
                    }
                }
            }
        }
        else if (currentState == AIState.Walking)
        {
            //Set NavMesh Agent Speed
            agent.speed = walkingSpeed;

            // Check if we've reached the destination
            if (DoneReachingDestination())
            {
                currentState = AIState.Idle;
            }
        }
        else if (currentState == AIState.Eating)
        {
            if (switchAction)
            {
                //Wait for current animation to finish playing
                if(!animator || animator.GetCurrentAnimatorStateInfo(0).normalizedTime - Mathf.Floor(animator.GetCurrentAnimatorStateInfo(0).normalizedTime) > 0.99f)
                {
                    //Walk to another random destination
                    agent.destination = RandomNavSphere(transform.position, Random.Range(3, 7));
                    currentState = AIState.Walking;
                    SwitchAnimationState(currentState);
                }
            }
        }
        else if (currentState == AIState.Running)
        {
            //Set NavMesh Agent Speed
            agent.speed = runningSpeed;

            //Run away
            if (enemy)
            {
                if (reverseFlee)
                {
                    if (DoneReachingDestination() && timeStuck < 0)
                    {
                        reverseFlee = false;
                    }
                    else
                    {
                        timeStuck -= Time.deltaTime;
                    }
                }
                else
                {
                    Vector3 runTo = transform.position + ((transform.position - enemy.position) * multiplier);
                    distance = (transform.position - enemy.position).sqrMagnitude;

                    //Find the closest NavMesh edge
                    NavMeshHit hit;
                    if (NavMesh.FindClosestEdge(transform.position, out hit, NavMesh.AllAreas))
                    {
                        closestEdge = hit.position;
                        distanceToEdge = hit.distance;
                        //Debug.DrawLine(transform.position, closestEdge, Color.red);
                    }

                    if (distanceToEdge < 1f)
                    {
                        if(timeStuck > 1.5f)
                        {
                            if(previousIdlePoints.Count > 0)
                            {
                                runTo = previousIdlePoints[Random.Range(0, previousIdlePoints.Count - 1)];
                                reverseFlee = true;
                            } 
                        }
                        else
                        {
                            timeStuck += Time.deltaTime;
                        }
                    }

                    if (distance < range * range)
                    {
                        agent.SetDestination(runTo);
                    }
                    else
                    {
                        enemy = null;
                    }
                }
                
                //Temporarily switch to Idle if the Agent stopped
                if(agent.velocity.sqrMagnitude < 0.1f * 0.1f)
                {
                    SwitchAnimationState(AIState.Idle);
                }
                else
                {
                    SwitchAnimationState(AIState.Running);
                }
            }
            else
            {
                //Check if we've reached the destination then stop running
                if (DoneReachingDestination())
                {
                    actionTimer = Random.Range(1.4f, 3.4f);
                    currentState = AIState.Eating;
                    SwitchAnimationState(AIState.Idle);
                }
            }
        }

        switchAction = false;
    }

    bool DoneReachingDestination()
    {
        if (!agent.pathPending)
        {
            if (agent.remainingDistance <= agent.stoppingDistance)
            {
                if (!agent.hasPath || agent.velocity.sqrMagnitude == 0f)
                {
                    //Done reaching the Destination
                    return true;
                }
            }
        }

        return false;
    }

    void SwitchAnimationState(AIState state)
    {
        //Animation control
        if (animator)
        {
            animator.SetBool("isEating", state == AIState.Eating);
            animator.SetBool("isRunning", state == AIState.Running);
            animator.SetBool("isWalking", state == AIState.Walking);
        }
    }

    Vector3 RandomNavSphere(Vector3 origin, float distance)
    {
        Vector3 randomDirection = Random.insideUnitSphere * distance;

        randomDirection += origin;

        NavMeshHit navHit;

        NavMesh.SamplePosition(randomDirection, out navHit, distance, NavMesh.AllAreas);

        return navHit.position;
    }

(Each State initializes the values and the NavMesh Agent target for the next state. For example, the Idle state has 2 possible outcomes, it either initializes the Running state if the enemy present or the Eating state if no Enemy crossed the awareness area.

A walking state is used in-between the Eating states to move to the new destination.

Running state calculates the direction relative to the enemy position, to run directly from it.

If stuck in the corner, the AI retracts to one of the previously saved Idle positions. The enemy is lost after the AI is far enough from the enemy).

And lastly, we add a OnTriggerEnter event which will monitor the Sphere Collider (a.k.a. Awareness Area) and will initialize the Running state once the enemy gets too close:

    void OnTriggerEnter(Collider other)
    {
        //Make sure the Player instance has a tag "Player"
        if (!other.CompareTag("Player"))
            return;

        enemy = other.transform;

        actionTimer = Random.Range(0.24f, 0.8f);
        currentState = AIState.Idle;
        SwitchAnimationState(currentState);
    }

As soon as the player enters the trigger, the enemy variable is assigned and the Idle state is initialized, after that the Running state is initialized.

Here is the final SC_DeerAI.cs

//You are free to use this script in Free or Commercial projects
//sharpcoderblog.com @2019

using UnityEngine;
using UnityEngine.AI;
using System.Collections.Generic;

public class SC_DeerAI : MonoBehaviour
{
    public enum AIState { Idle, Walking, Eating, Running }
    public AIState currentState = AIState.Idle;
    public int awarenessArea = 15; //How far the deer should detect the enemy
    public float walkingSpeed = 3.5f;
    public float runningSpeed = 7f;
    public Animator animator;

    //Trigger collider that represents the awareness area
    SphereCollider c; 
    //NavMesh Agent
    NavMeshAgent agent;

    bool switchAction = false;
    float actionTimer = 0; //Timer duration till the next action
    Transform enemy;
    float range = 20; //How far the Deer have to run to resume the usual activities
    float multiplier = 1;
    bool reverseFlee = false; //In case the AI is stuck, send it to one of the original Idle points

    //Detect NavMesh edges to detect whether the AI is stuck
    Vector3 closestEdge;
    float distanceToEdge;
    float distance; //Squared distance to the enemy
    //How long the AI has been near the edge of NavMesh, if too long, send it to one of the random previousIdlePoints
    float timeStuck = 0;
    //Store previous idle points for reference
    List<Vector3> previousIdlePoints = new List<Vector3>(); 

    // Start is called before the first frame update
    void Start()
    {
        agent = GetComponent<NavMeshAgent>();
        agent.stoppingDistance = 0;
        agent.autoBraking = true;

        c = gameObject.AddComponent<SphereCollider>();
        c.isTrigger = true;
        c.radius = awarenessArea;

        //Initialize the AI state
        currentState = AIState.Idle;
        actionTimer = Random.Range(0.1f, 2.0f);
        SwitchAnimationState(currentState);
    }

    // Update is called once per frame
    void Update()
    {
        //Wait for the next course of action
        if (actionTimer > 0)
        {
            actionTimer -= Time.deltaTime;
        }
        else
        {
            switchAction = true;
        }

        if (currentState == AIState.Idle)
        {
            if(switchAction)
            {
                if (enemy)
                {
                    //Run away
                    agent.SetDestination(RandomNavSphere(transform.position, Random.Range(1, 2.4f)));
                    currentState = AIState.Running;
                    SwitchAnimationState(currentState);
                }
                else
                {
                    //No enemies nearby, start eating
                    actionTimer = Random.Range(14, 22);

                    currentState = AIState.Eating;
                    SwitchAnimationState(currentState);

                    //Keep last 5 Idle positions for future reference
                    previousIdlePoints.Add(transform.position);
                    if (previousIdlePoints.Count > 5)
                    {
                        previousIdlePoints.RemoveAt(0);
                    }
                }
            }
        }
        else if (currentState == AIState.Walking)
        {
            //Set NavMesh Agent Speed
            agent.speed = walkingSpeed;

            // Check if we've reached the destination
            if (DoneReachingDestination())
            {
                currentState = AIState.Idle;
            }
        }
        else if (currentState == AIState.Eating)
        {
            if (switchAction)
            {
                //Wait for current animation to finish playing
                if(!animator || animator.GetCurrentAnimatorStateInfo(0).normalizedTime - Mathf.Floor(animator.GetCurrentAnimatorStateInfo(0).normalizedTime) > 0.99f)
                {
                    //Walk to another random destination
                    agent.destination = RandomNavSphere(transform.position, Random.Range(3, 7));
                    currentState = AIState.Walking;
                    SwitchAnimationState(currentState);
                }
            }
        }
        else if (currentState == AIState.Running)
        {
            //Set NavMesh Agent Speed
            agent.speed = runningSpeed;

            //Run away
            if (enemy)
            {
                if (reverseFlee)
                {
                    if (DoneReachingDestination() && timeStuck < 0)
                    {
                        reverseFlee = false;
                    }
                    else
                    {
                        timeStuck -= Time.deltaTime;
                    }
                }
                else
                {
                    Vector3 runTo = transform.position + ((transform.position - enemy.position) * multiplier);
                    distance = (transform.position - enemy.position).sqrMagnitude;

                    //Find the closest NavMesh edge
                    NavMeshHit hit;
                    if (NavMesh.FindClosestEdge(transform.position, out hit, NavMesh.AllAreas))
                    {
                        closestEdge = hit.position;
                        distanceToEdge = hit.distance;
                        //Debug.DrawLine(transform.position, closestEdge, Color.red);
                    }

                    if (distanceToEdge < 1f)
                    {
                        if(timeStuck > 1.5f)
                        {
                            if(previousIdlePoints.Count > 0)
                            {
                                runTo = previousIdlePoints[Random.Range(0, previousIdlePoints.Count - 1)];
                                reverseFlee = true;
                            } 
                        }
                        else
                        {
                            timeStuck += Time.deltaTime;
                        }
                    }

                    if (distance < range * range)
                    {
                        agent.SetDestination(runTo);
                    }
                    else
                    {
                        enemy = null;
                    }
                }
                
                //Temporarily switch to Idle if the Agent stopped
                if(agent.velocity.sqrMagnitude < 0.1f * 0.1f)
                {
                    SwitchAnimationState(AIState.Idle);
                }
                else
                {
                    SwitchAnimationState(AIState.Running);
                }
            }
            else
            {
                //Check if we've reached the destination then stop running
                if (DoneReachingDestination())
                {
                    actionTimer = Random.Range(1.4f, 3.4f);
                    currentState = AIState.Eating;
                    SwitchAnimationState(AIState.Idle);
                }
            }
        }

        switchAction = false;
    }

    bool DoneReachingDestination()
    {
        if (!agent.pathPending)
        {
            if (agent.remainingDistance <= agent.stoppingDistance)
            {
                if (!agent.hasPath || agent.velocity.sqrMagnitude == 0f)
                {
                    //Done reaching the Destination
                    return true;
                }
            }
        }

        return false;
    }

    void SwitchAnimationState(AIState state)
    {
        //Animation control
        if (animator)
        {
            animator.SetBool("isEating", state == AIState.Eating);
            animator.SetBool("isRunning", state == AIState.Running);
            animator.SetBool("isWalking", state == AIState.Walking);
        }
    }

    Vector3 RandomNavSphere(Vector3 origin, float distance)
    {
        Vector3 randomDirection = Random.insideUnitSphere * distance;

        randomDirection += origin;

        NavMeshHit navHit;

        NavMesh.SamplePosition(randomDirection, out navHit, distance, NavMesh.AllAreas);

        return navHit.position;
    }

    void OnTriggerEnter(Collider other)
    {
        //Make sure the Player instance has a tag "Player"
        if (!other.CompareTag("Player"))
            return;

        enemy = other.transform;

        actionTimer = Random.Range(0.24f, 0.8f);
        currentState = AIState.Idle;
        SwitchAnimationState(currentState);
    }
}

SC_DeerAI only has one variable that needs to be assigned which is "Animator".

Animator component requires a Controller with 4 animations: Idle Animation, Walking Animation, Eating Animation, Running Animation, and 3 bool parameters: isEating, isRunning, and isWalking:

You can learn how to setup a simple Animator Controller by clicking here

After everything is assigned there is one last thing left to do, which is to bake a NavMesh.

  • Select all the Scene Objects that will be static (Ex. Terrain, Trees, etc.) and Mark them as "Navigation Static":

  • Go to Navigation Window (Window -> AI -> Navigation) and click "Bake" tab then click "Bake" button. After the NavMesh is baked it should look something like this:

After the NavMesh was baked, we can test the AI:

Sharp Coder Video Player

Everything works as expected. The Deer runs away when the enemy is near and resumes its usual activities once the enemy is far enough.

Source
📁 DeerAI.unitypackage 3.36 MB
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