No, it's a good point.
In fact, if you have a peek at past 5 or 6 pages, I was commenting there that the AI I first wrote was significantly harder than the one in the original game. To the point that there were basically no dogfights happening. Both rivals would start aiming and hitting each other from weapon max distance and the combat would last less than 2 seconds.
Of course, that "broke" the test mission. The ships were not acting, or at least lasting, as they did in the original. And if that isn't working properly, then the mission balance changes dramatically, making it too hard, too easy, or directly impossible to complete.
So I had to limit the AI to the easier levels of the original game. But that doesn't mean that we could add some kind of Nightmare mode where the AI is harder. Or have full new missions and campaigns that make use of the harder AI ranks.
Interesting. It is difficult to get AI to act like human opponents, that's for sure. In my opinion good AI with human- like traits make the game far more enjoyable and immersive. AI in many games is either too easy or simply on murder bot mode, and it doesn't respond the way a player would, which kind of sucks the fun out of tactical dog fighting.
Just throwing this out there, but an interesting goal might be to give the AI dynamic confidence. So for example, if the AI wing-men are close at hand it is more aggressive, but if the wing-men are being destroyed it has has a probability that it wants to flee or at least go full evasive, rather then aggressive. Similarly, and you might already be doing this, it would be interesting to have the AI lose coordination and confidence if the leader of the squad was killed.
A stretch might be to make AI fight dogfights like actual players, ie using maneuvers involving more then one fighter. For example, it would be very unique if the AI could use a pincer maneuver, or use different styles of attack plans. As an example, one AI might fly evasively to draw a line of fire while the other falls in behind to pick off targets. Even more difficult would be to create a variable list that AI uses to monitor the battle situation then choose a pre-determined attack plan based off of the variable values. For example, the AI reads the variables that there are 10 enemy fighters to it's 4 fighters so it chooses a team strategy based on retreating. These kind of behaviors are very difficult to code and may be simply over the line of what we want to do with the project. From experience, I have a hard time enough getting the AI to do similarly clever things with dynamic way-points in my team's Free-space Open Star Wars mod. Oh dear I think I'm ranting now...lol
All valid suggestions, but again, that seems to be more appropiate for a pure dogfight game, where:
- Dogfighting is all what there is to do. No other goals to track, transports to protect, cargo to inspect, ships to disable, etc.
- The player has some kind of self healing and respawning ability.
In X-Wing versus TIE fighter (or in Battlefront 2), most of the time it was like that in all those melee engagements where players would respawn indefinitely and didn't matter at all what other ships were doing, the player could focus on keeping himself alive.
In X-Wing and TIE Fighter, and the rest of the campaigns in the series, the player doesn't respawn. The whole mission ends if the player is downed once. Also, there is no selfhealing of any kind.
The AI in X-Wing and TIE Fighter is purposedly limited so that the player has a chance to complete the missions.
The player learns enough about keeping himself alive during the Historical Missions training. Then the difficulty goes up again during the Tours of Duty, since they are most of the time about keeping others alive.
That is much harder if the AI isn't under certain limits.
For example, in some mission, a group of TIE Bombers are dispatched to destroy a medical frigate with torpedoes. The player must rush in his X-Wing to intercept them before they are able to release them.
If the AI were actually clever, the TIE Bombers would release a barrage of missiles against the incoming X-Wing, then bomb the frigate at pleasure.
Actually, if the AI was clever, it wouldn't release the squadron of TIE Bombers piecemeal, that is, in waves of 3 ships. Instead, it would release the 12 of them at the same time.
And so on and on.
For good or for ill, X-Wing isn't a pure dogfight arcade game, but more like a puzzle-mission-solving spacesim. Each mission is like a riddle to solve, with all flight groups acting in a particular choreography, and the player needs to figure out which missing piece he has to impersonate so that the mission ends in success.
Look at it like a Rube-Goldberg machine where some gadgets need to be interacted with at the right moments for it to work. That is X-Wing and TIE Fighter.
Of course, we could have a Skirmish mode for those just wishing for instant action. That should be super easy to implement, and then there we could release the beast and give the AI all kind of tricks, feints, maneuvers, and abusing practices.