I have spent many hours on NAK servers, and have been a regular supporter for some time. I must admit that lately I’ve lost some interest, and that is largely due to playing against the AI (referring here mostly to QS Tanoa). They are obviously superior to we “mere Humans”, with their uncanny accuracy, their ability to see through polygons and obstacles, and the ability to remain unseen (or spawn at a spot suddenly). Oftentimes I just feel the AI skills are just set too high for the low numbers of players that most often populate the server. This can be challenging and/or annoying, depending upon various factors at any one time. What I am beginning to be disappointed by though, is the technique of placing AI in various places around the map, and having them be triggered by the presence of a player. For the player, that means the typical experience is to move through and clear an area, only to find AI suddenly spawning behind you, as your focus is on the AI ahead of you.
This method is what makes me feel that, much of the time, the use of strategy, planning, and tactics is pointless, or even impossible. The missions are always a combination of taking the objective ahead of you, while paying constant attention to the inevitable, and at times overwhelming AI surprise spawns from any and all directions. This is where the game becomes arcade-like. I would like to see the AI opposition placed strategically in the AO, visible from the start. This would allow for slower and more realistic experiences, as you must now scout the area, spot the opposition, and develop a successful tactical plan, using whatever limited assets are available at the time. AI spawning should only be implemented to introduce reinforcement units coming in from outside. That would provide anxious moments, as now, the players must adjust plans on-the-go. Wouldn’t that be more fun than having additional opposition constantly spawning out of the brush behind you? I know from experiments in the editor, that the plain vanilla AI, once your presence is detected, are VERY adept at moving great distances around the map to oppose or flank you. Face it. No army is usually scattered broadly about an area like confetti. If you feel the need for surprise pop-ups in the rear areas, why not put them into a visible patrol squad and set a patrol path. Spotting and eliminating patrols could be very engaging.
Obviously, not being an admin, I have no idea what options or restrictions must be dealt with in setting up missions, and there are probably reasons why some of the things I suggest are not possible. I suspect a major one is frame rates, though there must be a balance that could be achieved, limiting AI numbers perhaps, and continually sending in reinforcements as they are reduced. The same numbers of AI that would normally be set up in the AO and triggered to appear by player presence could still be introduced over time as reinforcements (as is done in Defend missions). I would guess one limit might be in not knowing the numbers of players who will be populating at any one session, though, honestly, the numbers of players I see most often on Tanoa would be in the 2-10 range. I have occasionally seen as many as 15, perhaps on week-ends, but the player count lately has been VERY small. I am not trying to sound ungrateful. I appreciate the work you guys put in to keep these servers running. That’s why I continue to support NAK every month that I play. I would just like to see changes that might make playing in this fabulous sandbox require a bit more thinking and planning, and a little less knee-jerk reaction to little men who suddenly manifest out of the trees around you.