BioWare has release it’s second part of the Companion Characters blog article. Senior Game Designer William Wallace talks about the Companion AI and Group roll. One thing he brings up is how the companion can fill a roll in a group if, lets say, one of your party drops out (max 4 people in a group, group leader summons companion, keep playing the flash point instead of stopping/taking time to look for one more player). It is a very interesting read and you also might want to read up on part 1. Both original article links can be found here:
Companion Characters Update – Part 1
Companion Characters Update – Part 2
When it comes to the amount of control over their companion, players have different, often diametrically opposed preferences. Some players do not want to manage their companions any more than they have to, wanting instead for their companions to act autonomously without the need to manually trigger abilities or actions. Others want direct control over their companions, playing them almost as a second character.
Originally, our companions functioned almost entirely on their own, with only a few options for manual control. From both internal feedback and testing, we found that the integral nature of companions to gameplay in The Old Republic™ had many players wishing for more control over their companion’s behavior – they wanted more than what they had experienced in other massively-multiplayer games.
To address this, we’ve taken a page from other BioWare games and added AI toggles to each ability to control whether the companion should decide on their own when to use them, or whether they should be manually activated by the player. Players who are not interested in managing their companion can leave the default toggles on and let them run on autopilot. Skilled players can take complete control of the companion by expanding the companion bar onto their screen and using the abilities directly as though they were player abilities.
Many players will fall somewhere in between the two extremes, and will use the AI toggles occasionally to change the way their companion fights:
- Players may choose to disable some area-of-effect abilities when using crowd control or when fighting tough single enemies.
- Players may activate special modes or stances for their companion, causing them to focus more on damage or tanking, or on a single target versus groups of enemies.
- Players may want to manually activate buffs and powerful special abilities on long cooldowns, as opposed to letting the companion pick when to use their most powerful attacks.