Oh, are we throwing crazy ideas here ? Here is some food for thought …
What about a scripting language (lua?) that we can use to write scripts, and each ship will execute them. It’ll work mainly through callbacks at important moments, when scanning and deciding which target(s) to choose, which distance to try to maintain etc. Also, it can issue level-wide broadcasts which trigger communication callbacks to other ally ships, which can at that point decide whether to head for those coordinates … or away !
For example a cruiser can perform a “scan enemy 360 400” to scan for enemies around (360 degrees) at a range of 400 and the result is a table like this :
[11,0,0], which means :
So it can understand that it’s being fighter-swarmed and broadcast a predefined signal. Example : sending a “anti fighters here” broadcast, or “regroup here”. Current grid coords will also be transmitted.
And let’s say that only ship designs with an “custom A.I.” podule will have this scripting capability.