As the title says, we've been working on the AI for Skirmish maps. It does share a lot of things with the AI we use in the Campaign, but the master brain is a bit different. The AI in GW is divided in 2 major brains: the upper brain that commands major actions (attack here, defend here, research this, move there), and the minor brain that controls actions of individual ships (jump here, avoid this ship, shoot that ship).
So, when the AI decides that it's time to attack the player, it searches a fleet that can do that, and if there's no immediate threat, searches a good target for the attack. Once it finds the fleet, it sends each of the ships of that fleet the instructions to jump to a certain asteroid field, and there they go. From that point, the minor brain of the ships takes over.
This is a very basic explanation of how the AI is working. Most of these things already happen in the Campaign AI, but a Campaign scenario is much different from a Skirmish scenario. In a skirmish scenario both factions start from zero, and in campaign scenarios the AI is already established, so the requirements from the point of view of the AI are different.
The following screenshots show the AI working in a test map. The player is the blue faction; we simply built 3 mining stations and 1 military station, and we didn't do anything, we just watched what the AI is doing (you won't be able to see this in the game like we're showing here, because of the fog of war).
The AI starts by expanding to the systems in range, builds 1 military station, and starts building mining stations to get resources, it then continues building an additional military station and research stations. With the research stations, starts researching better engines to get more range, and once it gets it stars expanding further. Defensive turrets are built, defensive shields, better ships, better weapons and armor researched, and it starts pressing on the player.
With our holy coder powers we start deleting their fleets that approach our positions, to give some more time to the AI to expand without eliminating us this soon. We let them get us on the last image. Overall, it's already working pretty good, but still needs some work, balancing and difficulty settings adjusted.
So below, some shots for your enjoyment.
2 Military stations and 4 Mining stations:
It seems the AI already made a fleet for scouting. Here they come near Sigma Field.
3 planets with Military stations and Research stations, 4 Mining stations, several turrets around Sooran Field.
1 Colony founded in Sharru. It's the only earth like planet nearby; the other 2 are gas planets and the AI doesn't have the technology to colonize them yet.
Several more asteroid fields are being explored; most of the map is already in control of the AI.
One of our Mining stations in Wei field is under attack.
We lost Wei Field, and the AI keeps pressing on.
Another of our Mining stations is under attack, and so is our only planet!
Ok, we lost everything except 1 Mining station.
And game over :-D.