AI War:AI Ships

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What Are The General Behaviors That AI Ships Can Have?

Q: Various special AI ships have various behaviors -- I understand that -- but outside of anything specific to an individual ship type, there seem to be multiple "modes" in which the AI can use its ships. Sort of like FRD, attack-move, or normal for the humans, I guess? Except in this case, it's apparently free, special forces, or guard? How exactly does this work?

A: Correct, aside from the special case units (etherjet behavior, for example, or astro trains, or starships, etc), mobile AI ships are all in one of the following modes:

  • Guard
  • Special Forces
  • Free

Ships that are Free can act however they want, traveling between planets, retreating, attacking, and so on. This is the full-blown tactical AI, but is not used for the majority of AI ships at any given time. Free ships that are on non-human planets show up as Threat in the upper right-hand corner of the player's view, while Free ships that are on player planets show up as Attack.

Most AI ships are generally in Guard mode, where they are tied to a radius around a specific guard post. They will act fully intelligently against any player ships that come into that area, but they will not leave that area unless they are chasing player ships out of the area -- then they will sometimes switch to Free mode. These guards also become Free if the guard post is destroyed, or sometimes if the player takes control of the planet on which their guard post resides (there's about a 50% chance in this latter case).

Ships that are in Special Forces mode are mobile, and just travel around the galaxy at random between the Special Forces Guard Posts. They always plot the shortest path through whatever Special Forces Guard Posts might be there. When they would enter player territory, they group together before going over. When they encounter player ships on any planet, they become Free.

Planetary Roamers

The above modes are the primary ones used by most ships, but there is one other major class of behavior that is ingrained in certain specific ship types including:

  • All starships, golems, and other huge AI ships.
  • All melee ships (vampire claws, vorticular cutlasses, zenith viral shredders, etc)
  • A few other specific ships, such as sentinel frigates

Ships of these sorts don't use the normal modes -- they can't be guards or special forces, and they are never considered Free when on AI planets. Here's how they work:

  • On AI planets, they act as if they are Free, except that they cannot ever leave the current planet unless it becomes non-AI-controlled.
  • On non-AI planets, they are always Free. If they later enter another AI planet, they will become a roamer on that planet.

Minor Factions

Please note that none of the above applies to Minor Factions at all. Minor Faction ships have their own AI rules, and act independently of anything going on above. Often minor factions are hostile to the normal AI players as well as the human players.

Non-Combat Ships

Non-combat ships use a variety of behaviors. Examples include engineers and rebuilders. Generally speaking the AI uses these in human-style Free-Roaming Defender Mode (FRD mode) on its own planets, and those ships just go about their business as you would expect if they were controlled by a human player. If the AI loses control of a planet, it will tend to withdraw its non-combat ships to some other planet it does control.

Astro Trains

Astro Trains are another major special case, and act rather similarly to special forces ships in that they roam between the various astro train stations. The major difference is that this is their only mode, they can't switch to all-out combat/free mode or anything like that.

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