How do you automate fleets?
In my last game I did not form my escorts into fleets so they just went willy-nilly where ever they wanted. During this game I noticed that these ships were getting destroyed by everything starting in the mid-game era. So I decided to start a new game (I also updated Distant Worlds to the latest beta patch) and place my escorts into fleets. Well I left ship automation on and after about 30 minute into the game all my escort fleets haven't moved. I looked for a automate fleet toggle but couldn't find one and I do not want to automate fleet formation. It would be really, really nice if there was a little check box where the little blue circular arrow is now in the ship summary that would turn on or off automation. This would be twice as nice if this same check box was in the fleet summary as well. Golly gee whiz that's all I have to ask and say for now.
In the early game, I prefer building destroyers and set them to auto. Ignore frigates and escorts. I also take a few, form a fleet, and go hunting pirates and whatever bugs need to be swatted. Just build destroyers and leave them on auto. Later on, cruisers become my main patrol vessel with a few destroyers thrown in the mix.
I've noticed that you can hit the "A" key, then all the ships in the fleet will then show as automated, wether they automate as a fleet or individually I'm not sure. I only ever use it while I'm controlling another fleet or in peace time so I've never actually followed one.
They don't do anything except sit there waiting for you to give the *fleet* orders. You have to enable fleet automation in options for the fleet to do anything. And if you do that, you may find yourself at war for attacking another race unprovoked.
I've found myself disabling fleet automation, forming one fleet that I use to hunt down pirates and spacebugs, and controlling that manually. If fleet automation could be a bit more granular in it's options, I'd rather use it.