Skyrim AI bug makes pots a thief's best friend

While Bethesda is crowing about the improvements to the artificial intelligence technology found in the latest Elder Scrolls game, Skyrim, gamers have spotted a rather amusing bug: characters ignore cooking pots placed over their heads.

The latest title in the long-running Elder Scrolls series and follow-up to the award-winning Oblivion, Skyrim takes the company's 'Radiant AI' technology to new levels in a completely redesigned game engine. Characters react in believable ways to events, go about their daily lives, and - as you might expect - get more than a little irritated when a player comes along and starts ransacking their house or shop.

While previous titles in the series have implemented a stealth system that allows the users to creep around without being seen, it's never been particularly good: despite some consideration for speed of movement and ambient lighting, whether you're spotted or not is a bit of a hit-and-miss affair.

Bethesda has been keen to point out that Skyrim features an all-new stealth system that takes into account exactly what characters can and can't see by literally looking through their eyes. If you're around a corner, under a bench or across a hill, you won't get spotted.

You also won't get spotted if the character watching out for you has a pot, bucket, crate or other container on its head.

The new stealth system has, it seems, an interesting bug: as with previous games, it's possible to pick up and move almost any object within the game. Picking up a pot or similar item, flipping it over and placing it over a character's head elicits some confused responses - but, crucially, doesn't make them feel like taking the pot off again.

Pots, being opaque, count as an object you can hide behind. The result: walk into a shop, stick a few pots and boxes over guards and the shopkeeper, and start stealing as much equipment as you can carry.

It's an amusing bug, and one that clearly indicates a propensity for gamers to quickly try out bizarre things undreamed of by developers and professional testers.

For an example of the loophole in action, have a peek at this video by YouTube user Vojteek. Just make sure you don't have a pot on your head first.