Currently the ships use a rather simple AI when dealing with hostile ships.
Each hostile ship reacts on its own.
The base AI for Non Player ships is that it detects a hostile ship within range, then it will check how aggressivly it should behave. Go in close, or stay away. Most ships now have a simple random movement positioner that tells it where to position itself close to the enemy or orbit him.
The ship would allways target the closest one and attack him relentlessly. Thats not good.
A ship attacking the player would currenly then move to a position near the player, orbit the player or stay put, but always try to attack him with his weapons.
The turrets on Non Player ships have their own simple AI. They will always seek to target ships hostile to its base ship.
A turret that can't target its current target will seek a new one within its range.
So a Non Player ship can in effect target multiple targets at a given time.
The player turrets had this ability before. But we thought that with automatic targeting, the player would just be an observer rather than a participant in the combat.
Also some ships with repair system would start repairing their vessels if a certain criteria is met.
New Combat game AI
We are now currently updating the Non Player AI.
Each combat will have its battlecommander script to control the actions of the hostile ships.
This new script will control the actions of the group of ships under its command.
It will issue movement orders and attack orders and allow us to create unique attack methods for various factions.
Some factions prefer formations, other small groups, some just break up their grouping and attack randomly.
No longer will the closest ship be attacked first.
The script will prioritize its target list based on how much a threat the hostile ship is to the group.
Threat will be based on numerous factors. Such as size of ship, distance, turrets, and how much damaged it has delt over a given period.
So if we have 3 player ships. A, B, C. A being close and heavily armed. B far away and Heavily armed. And C lightly armed but close.
Ship A will be targeted first because its overall threat level is higher than player ships B and C.
After ship A has lost its primary power plant and all her guns have gone silent the script will lower ship A threat level and Target ship B because it now registers higher on its threat list. Ship C still registers lower even though its closer. The turrets on the ships in the AI group might still target ship C if they can't get a fix on Ship C, but the AI ships will move to attack ship B.
Its a bit of a hassle to program a AI thats not a game breaker. We don't want it to be too intelligent or too aggressive, but at the same time it must be challenging.
I'm not planning on creating an overal complex AI system. I did study AI neural networks in school.. but no.
We will be adding ship hacking to the game.
An AI will be added to the ships, this AI will see to all the base functions of the ships.
With the addition of the AI, ship hacking will be available. This could for example allow the player to damage hostile ships, limit their radar range, access their radar or even take the ships over.
The hostile ships would be able to do the same to the player.
Special external modules would be needed to begin hacking hostile ships.
Internal modules will be added to increase defence against hacking.
We will be allowing the player to change his ships combat stances.
Changing the stance will change the turrets to and from Point Defence mode.
currenly we are working with an idea of aggressive, neutral and defensive.
Aggressive will toggle all turrets to Non point defence.
Neutral will toggle half to point defence.
Defensive will toggle all to point defence.
Neutral stance will select the ones based on the size of the turrets. Larger turrets have slower rotational rate and that makes them less effective as point defence systems.
We've been toying with the idea of allowing the player to control each turret individually, but thats a whole new menu added to the game. It has enough menus. It might be added as a option.
Missiles can in theory work as a point defence system. Proximity explosion to destroy incomming projectile. This could also work for incomming cannon fire.
Work has begun on a new GUI. More accessable and a cleaner look.
This gui will allow the player to control the thrust of his ships directly with a throttle.
The drone section will be updated to accomidate the new attack drones.