Star Wars: The Old Republic Companion Blog, Part Two

Star Wars: The Old Republic senior game designer William Wallace is back to bring us the second half of his blog update on the game's companion characters. In this latest entry, he discusses the AI toggles they've added to them and their role in a group:
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 Republicâ„¢ 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.

Many players will fall somewhere in between the two extremes, and will use the AI toggles occasionally to change the way their companion fights:

'¢ Players may choose to disable some area-of-effect abilities when using crowd control or when fighting tough single enemies.
'¢ Players may activate special modes or stances for their companion, causing them to focus more on damage or tanking, or on a single target versus groups of enemies.
'¢ Players may want to manually activate buffs and powerful special abilities on long cooldowns, as opposed to letting the companion pick when to use their most powerful attacks.