OK, of course that was a lie. Of course there's AI. What I actually mean is that there is no AI by default. But that's the problem! I know what I am supposed to do, i.e., download an AI from the download section, but that's besides the point.
My problem is that the way this is currently implemented is user-unfriendly. There are several problems:
- The lack of a functioning default AI is a major downgrade compared to TTD. This is a direct violation of one of the official goals: “Replicate the original gameplay”
- Computer enemies do not work out of the box. They require additional installation and configuration. This is bad usability, and I don't see why.
- (apparent) lack of quality control. There are a couple of AIs that are just outright broken and crash and completely ruin the game! Yet they appear in the in-game download service.
- Too much trial-and-error: There are a lot of AIs, and many of them are not general-purpose. It will take players a lot of time until you finally find an AI that you can actually use to play against. Many AIs are too specialized, which is fine, but normally you want opponents that at least are capable of using all modes of transportation. Having a default AI would take the burden of “reseach” off the player
- Annoying to get rid of “bad” AIs: If you have downloaded an AI that is bad (crashes, too many bugs), it's annoying to get rid of it again. It seems you must go into the OS's file system for that …
- Of those AIs that are not outright broken, still many are not very good. Some AIs just do silly or annoying things, like placing annoying signs everywhere, or even advertisements, or giving their stations crazy names with long complicated number codes that just feel “unnatural”. Or they place stations in insane places where they just don't make sense. Nothing really game-breaking, but these minor annoyances add up
- I don't know if it's true, but I don't know how many newbies completely fail to realize they are supposed to open the extensions menu to get a functioning AI. I mean, the game doesn't tell them. They will probably just start playing without AI, wondering where the other companies are …
- AI development seems to be completely outsourced to the community. So IMHO most AIs don't seem to be held to high quality standards in general. Correct me if I'm wrong.
Wish list for a default AI:
- Be high-quality overall and be held to the same standards as OpenTTD itself
- Support all 4 modes of transportation (that doesn't mean it always has to use all of them in a game, only that it's capable of)
- Support all vehicles
- Support all industries and goods
- Support all important buildable things
- Connect industries and cities
- Do nothing silly or annoying, like spamming with signs, use crazy station names, etc.
- Never crash
- Be suitable for a classic game of OpenTTD
- Be more or less be like TTD's AI (as long it makes sense; the goal of OpenTTD is being a TTD clone, after all)
- Bonus points for having a difficulty setting
TBH, I am quite surprised that OpenTTD managed it to version 1.9.2 yet that such a core feature is kind of “tricky” to get to work …