(Note: the beacon is the silver-grey ‘:’ two squares north of the player’s ‘@’.)
The thumper beacon is now working in Space Mercs. Success at Mercs is heavily dependent upon tactical, cautious play, and players will find that use of strategic tools such as the beacon will be essential to success. In the picture above, you can see how the thumper draws wandering monsters toward its location, allowing you to plan ambushes or buy time for a strategic “advance to the rear” (retreat).
What was difficult was finding the balance of how strongly beacons like the thumper and several others would influence unit AI. I think that the effect is currently well-balanced, but it will take a bit more work before I can say that conclusively.
Enemy AI behavior plug ins–small code blocks that guide NPC behavior and can be ‘swapped’, effectively serving as behavior chips–have been implemented and are working successfully! Here is a picture of a group of pirates beaten into submission, their former aggression replaced with fear of the PC’s melee prowess.
It took a bit of time and quite a bit of consternation, but I finally worked through problems I was having where the “hunt the PC” behavior would work, but the “run from the PC” behavior would send them smashing into walls or stuck bouncing between two points. Now the fleeing monsters will choose the best path to flee from you, but are willing to make a break for it if they are ever cornered.