What is the best way to do 'Abstract' pathfinding with AI?


I’m programming a game using the Unreal engine for a college project, I’m trying to create some AI characters, but I’m a little clueless as to how to achieve the result I want.
Allow me to explain:

In my game, there are NPCs that will roam around the level layouts just minding their own business. However, when the player strays within a certain range of an NPC, the NPC will try to sneak up on the player and scare them. What I want the NPC to do when it does this is to determine which way the player is facing (The player has a flashlight that wards off the NPCs, so Ideally, I’d like them to try and avoid confronting the player from the front) and try to get to either the left, the right or the back of the player before scaring them.

Of course, as you can imagine, I don’t want them to just take a straight direct path to get to these points, if possible I’d like the NPC to take more of a ‘curved’ and rounded path to get to the destination.

I reckon that the way I’d set the points is by getting the forward and right vectors for the player and then create an offset vector from that (Could someone clarify whether that’s the best way to do this?)
However, I’m unsure as to how I’d get the NPC to curve the path - Any Ideas as to how I could do this?

I apologise if this is a noob question, I’m fairly new to the Unreal engine.

Thank you very much in advance :slight_smile: