Upgrading NPC AI

So far NPC AI is able to select a players ship based on mission settings, mission AI always attack the mission runner and standings. When the AI attack, the attack is pretty start forward. The AI will make a bee-line to ship to get within optimal damage range and will attack a random ship that satisfies the yes / no of the script of the ship being within targeting range.

AI Upgrades would include:

  1. Random ships from an NPC fleet following an NPC ship that has yellow boxed a players ship. Such interaction would even see Invasion ships being followed by NPC belt rats for example. The Trigs warp off to chase down Edencom or to another station and the Belt NPC’s follow.

  2. Manuevering - based on a random roll, an NPC ship could suddenly decide to evade pursuit by orbiting the players ship well out of its own dps range but not targeting range. While evading, the NPC could “pick up” other ships using tactic number 1. The other ships would then follow the evading NPC ship back to within the optimal range of the lead evading ship.

  3. Spread Fire - spread fire would work how it currently does with Triglavian and Incursion ships. After a while the ships simply shift focus. Instead, some of the NPC ships, rolling the die of 1 and 2 would, suddenly take off and orbit other player ships and attack them.

Take for example Zorya fleets. We have all seen them warp in on target and then MJD away in a starburst formation. When the Zorya fleets warps out in such a manner, other Trigs would warp to the new warp point, away from players and Endencom ships in an attempt to draw them away from the safety of their fleets. Based on standings, a Trig fleet could warp to a Kyber ally who is on grid.

Edencom ships would use the script but instead the script would be reversed.

So in theory a fleet of 20 Trigs could suddenly break up into smaller groups and attack mutiple ships at once instead of just one player ship or fly out 250 km away to pull some of the player ships with them. As the current AI is now, the NPC vs Player is too predictable and does not create emergent game play.

Your understanding of current AI behavior is flawed. In missions, for example, the script does not focus on the mission puller - it is the first ship to enter the pocket (if the ships have that trigger), or the first ship/drone to engage a target in a specific group (if that trigger is coded).

After initial aggro, aggro shifts are based on a variety of threat-determination mechanics, including relative ship sizes (small-class NPCs typically prefer to attack small-class targets when possible, for example), damage output, and use of supporting modules (ECM, remote reps, etc).

Could the AI use some improvements? Sure - but that’s the constant struggle with NPCs in video games. Coding a more responsive and intelligent NPC is incredibly difficult. It’s something CCP has continually worked on over the years, with many patches tweaking threat assessment behaviors and adding new abilities. And every time they update the NPCs, players ‘solve’ the content.

Asking CCP to develop cutting-edge AI on a game developer budget is unrealistic- the EVE NPCs will never be able to outthink Watson.

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Sooooo, there seem to be at least 4 major kinds of AI in use, which have been upgraded at different rates to different degrees.

Belt/mission rat AI: The earliest, and least complicated. It’s stupid to the point of laughable most of the time, but the rats using it are mostly intended to be pretty much mooks.
Sansha/Sleeper AI: The next major category, it’s more complicated and begins to make decisions about aggro shifts and so on which are reasonable but based on fairly game-able parameters which have been mostly solved. Works well enough and generally displays reasonable tactics, could use some tuning and tweaking every so often to keep things less than 100% predictable, but it’s not broken. Might be worth turning up missions to this if the hamsters can handle it. Will result in lots of dead blitzing alts if it happened while people were counting on stupid AI to save things.
Diamond rat AI: Pretty good. Hard to game their parameters, not hard to work out most of them. While not brilliant, they’re tactically sound and often better than mid tier players at using what they got.
Invasions AI: Appears to be Diamond AI with added standings checks and some concept of friendly remote assistance. Parameters not yet fully identified, but we’re getting there.

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