jfo wrote:I like the idea of just flying one ship in my fleet, while an NPC commands. I would also like to be able to just command, without having to fly a ship at the same time. It should be possible to turn any ship with more than a certain amount of crew over to NPC piloting, and then command the ship as if it were any other in your fleet.
If you can set a route for a Task Force, you could set it for an individual ship too, including your own. Effectively it would be an autopilot. Set the waypoints, hit "go", and sit back. There would clearly need to be some sort of 3D waypoint-setting mechanism.
The difference about your ship is that it would not have AI behaviour (or maybe it should if desired?) so it would not be able to maintain AI-based relationship behaviour e.g. defend a cap. You'd have to choose to do that yourself. However, if your ship is the 'command ship' of a TF, then you could assign other ships to protect you, i.e. behave like wingmen. This would be normal if you're a rear-echelon commander, where you'd want to protect your ownship in case the enemy get through.
There could also be other options in between, such as commanding a fighter wing, and leaving the rest of the fleet to your NPC commander. If an NPC is commanding, you could optionally receive objectives of some sort from them, to help you fit into their tactics.
I think this could be hard to implement. The AI would have to work out what it would like you to do, as well as cope with you choosing not to do it. I think the best you could do is set the AI to control the various TFs in the fleet (using a set route and behaviour policies), and you set your ship to follow a particular one. Maybe each TF could inform you what its current objective is, but you'd have to deliberately pilot your ship so as to assist with that objective. Just turn off autopilot and start flying when the time is right. On the other hand if you are the TF command ship then the others in the TF will behave (AI) to support you. However, you'd need to set the relationships so that they do that.
The alternative is that you DO
set your ship to AI control, so that it flies like any other AI ship you own. You'd just assign it to a particular TF with whatever relationship to the others in that TF, and it would behave like any AI ship in that position. The danger is that you could die easily as you're on board! However, that would be your call.
I think this highlights that although formations would matter, the relationships between ships in a TF would be more important. That relationship defines the beaviour, so that any ship positioning would be dependent on the bahaviour at any one time. Fighters assigned to protect a cap would try to position themselves between the cap and the enemy, rather than have any fixed formation position. I suppose formations are mostly relevant when travelling rather than being in combat. They're part of combat readiness rather than combat itself.