I thought the ai (in Shadows) was supposed to be superior to previous versions. AI run planets
cannot get rid of pirate bases, have fleets orbiting suns instead of defending or attacking pirates,
build huge amounts of freightors or miners and never use them all (huge extras amounts just cruse
around the homeword). AI build ships only build at the home world not where they are needed, The
great resupply ships that seemed to work so well in the orginial DW never deploy under AI control
letting fleets run out of fuel on stupid missions out of their range, uses capital ships and large
carriers to patrol little mining posts and put frigates into fleets instead.
I know the return of "well, you can run it all yourself you know" but thats not the point the game
is presented as having an AI that can handle mundane or important tasks as needed but does not do
them. It seems incapable of running more than 4-5 system empires.
Is the game currently skewed to small ships and pirate battles instead of the huge empire wide
conficts of the early DW?
I know you mentioned Shadows but in Universe there have been a lot of improvements in the AI post release many of which have come from specific suggestions in the forums. I've also released an AI Improvement Mod which makes various changes e.g. there are a lot more large ships.
I really enjoy empire wide conflicts as well. There are a couple of options in set-up: turn Pirates off or turn them way down in numbers and strength. The AI on Extreme difficulty has more resources to handle them but still struggles on Normal difficulties.
I'm all for more AI improvements, for example I have a wishlist in the AI Improvement Mod thread in the OP. But at this stage of the games lifecycle, there is only so much that Matrix will do. The best bet would be suggestions that have a big impact while requiring relatively little coding effort.
As for Distant Worlds 2, I very much hope for a larger team and budget, enabling more resources focused on the AI.