In a recent blog post, BioWare has detailed how the artificial intelligence system will govern the actions of Star Wars: The Old Republic.
"When it comes to the amount of control over their companion, players have different, often diametrically opposed preferences. Some players do not want to manage their companions any more than they have to, wanting instead for their companions to act autonomously without the need to manually trigger abilities or actions. Others want direct control over their companions, playing them almost as a second character."
"Originally, our companions functioned almost entirely on their own, with only a few options for manual control. From both internal feedback and testing, we found that the integral nature of companions to gameplay in The Old Republic™ had many players wishing for more control over their companion’s behavior – they wanted more than what they had experienced in other massively-multiplayer games."
"To address this, we’ve taken a page from other BioWare games and added AI toggles to each ability to control whether the companion should decide on their own when to use them, or whether they should be manually activated by the player. Players who are not interested in managing their companion can leave the default toggles on and let them run on autopilot. Skilled players can take complete control of the companion by expanding the companion bar onto their screen and using the abilities directly as though they were player abilities."
The post, written by BioWare's Senior Designer William Wallace, goes on to detail how these companion character will work in a group. Particularly, if one of your party is forced to leave early in the middle of a quest. Should this be the case, the party will have the choice to substitute a companion character for the missing human player. While the AI can't be said to rival that of a human player, BioWare is confident that having the companion in your party will prove a valuable asset. Additionally, players will be able to fine tune the companions actions via the companion bar.