Amiibo Science: Bone and Flesh, the innate structures of amiibo

Get out your degrees, because today the Amiibo Doctor is going to explain an important amiibo concept! We’re going to discuss, using the skeletal structure as a metaphor, how amiibo intelligence is structured, and how that structure allows stimuli to change its behavior.

If you paid attention to my post from yesterday, you’ll remember that amiibo of the same character end up using the same moves over and over again, regardless of their utility. Yoshi’s egg throwing was a useful example of this: if you train Yoshi while playing as Yoshi and NEVER use his egg throw, your amiibo will still eventually use the egg throw and only the egg throw.

Most amiibo have a tendency like this, but it’s not as obvious which move or moves they prefer. It may be obvious that Sheik has an obsession with her jab, but it’s not as obvious that a Mario will end up using his neutral air and his down smash, given enough time. Sometimes you have to really look for these inherent favorites: I trained five individual Mario amiibo before I realized that after a hundred matches, they all ended up doing the same thing.

(If you’re a trainer who wants to prevent their amiibo from using moves, we’ll discuss that in a later post.)

However, amiibo never perform an action 100% of the time, and thus will change over time, even if it is only in slight ways. For example, if you pit your amiibo against an opponent for ten matches, you had better believe that it’s going to come out different than it went in. At the very least it’ll learn a bit better what not to do.


Now let’s say you really pay attention, and you pit your amiibo against an opponent for ten matches ten times, for a total of one hundred matches. You’ll notice something unusual for artificial intelligences: some things about the amiibo change, but some don’t. Perhaps it still wants to use its down smash just like it always has, but now it has switched out using one move for another. If you spot this, know that it is the same situation as Yoshi, but it just isn’t as innate. Your amiibo is not about to use only one move for the rest of its life. Don’t worry. In fact, take note of the moves that it’s using: they are the bone, if you will. They are the structure that everything else is built from.

But a bone is useless by itself. It can’t do anything without flesh on top of it to move the bone. And just as with a bone, an amiibo needs more than just its inherent move preferences to fight well. So we have to put on some flesh.

In the metaphor, the “flesh” are the experiences that the amiibo has obtained since it was first taken out of the box, or more specifically, the changes made to amiibo’s hex data since it was originally formatted for Smash Bros. The bone is always the same: the flesh grows and changes shape to adapt to its environment. Just as lifting weights to make your arm larger will change the muscle patterns in your arm, teaching your amiibo to do a certain thing will change the data of the amiibo.

In summary, it is the experiences, also called the “flesh” that makes each amiibo unique. And the flesh is always built off the same bone.


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