TACTICAL vs STRATEGIC AIWhen I say this I really kinda mean "immediate reactions" (tactical) vs "overall plan" (strategic).
I think tactical AI ("what") is the easiest to do, through a reaction system - which are already common. Tactical, short term decisions usually has a clear trigger (e.g. when you come into/act within LoS of enemy) and triggers tend to have have commonsense solutions or responses according to the genre being played.
I.e. responses to receiving fire trigger set in WW2 might be to: duck back/move to cover/hit dirt, return fire or a combination of the two, made against/tied to the units training stat. Or perhaps even (Japanese) to banzai charge headlong....
2HW already does tactical AI, and reaction-centric games like Infinity and Ambush Alley could easily be modified to do so.
Strategic AI ("why") is harder to do. This is where 2HW falls down a bit. Once you move into contact (unless you are a "hero") you get locked into a cycle of tactical "AI" reactions. However for the sake of a fully automated AI opponent, it does not answer the question WHY the unit chose to move around that particular corner into LoS.
Strategic AI - vs "bias"
Yet strategic AI is very important as when playing yourself: "bias" towards a particular army tends to be most evident when you plan ahead and execute long-term plans. It's easy enough to put yourself in the shoes of a single soldier in a single moment of time and say "what would I logically do" - but what are his overall objectives? Why did he get himself in the situation in the first place?
It's another reason IGOUGO is bad. The ability to plan flawlessly ahead without interruption tends to emphasize any bias. A turn broken up (and/or unpredictably) means you make short term tactical choices, logically, rather than "I sacrifice x to acheieve y". (...though this is a decision commanders would be called to make at times...) It helps you to "live in the moment" and be in that soldier/unit shoes with less bias.
If you can move everything without interruption, your decision process is different to if you only get to move one unit then your opponent moves. If you don't know when you will "lose" the initiative, your decision making is different again. The further you think ahead, the more bias can creep in. An alternate-move game where players take turns activating units makes you "live in the moment" as it were, compared to IGOUGO. A focus on micro over macro. "What is best for blue x, right now - rather than "how can I make red/blue win overall?"
Yet ignoring the macro doesn't work: after all, having red/blue "win overall" is the purpose of the game....
Strategic AI - the nut to crack
For me anyway, the main problem seems to be (#1) having a good strategic AI; and (#2) how it synergizes with tactical AI. I.e. why are units moving to a particular spot or concentrating on a particular target; and how does this influence their immediate tactical reactions?
Making a decent tactical AI without a strategic element can be done easily enough, often by only slightly modifying the existing game if the game already has inbuilt reaction mechanics. (I know 2HW has PEFs and stuff like that, but it is more unbalanced randomness that adds uncertainty to the game, rather than coherent, strategic AI). That's why bug hunt "alien"-style games are easy to make AI for - cos there is no strategic AI needed besides general guidelines such as "charge towards the nearest guys and eat them." No further "why" is needed. You don't have objectives to secure, acceptable casualties or morale to consider. Neither is there a compelling need to outflank/outmaneuver foes. There's just one overriding imperative: charge at them and gobble em up!
Well, that didn't help...
Sorry this does not offer any great solutions. I just ask the questions!
I'm just trying to define the issues to I can start to look for solutions. That said, I'll try to explore some concrete methods in later posts - but this will be handicapped by my lack of background knowledge in solo boardgames/cardgames.