RE- haravikk's ideas of 'bullet-time' and 'Order-requesting-units'.
I think the devil in those details will be considerably nastier than other AI devils. If ship AI can't carry out missions perfectly, as least it carries them out predictably.
Even the pace of combat might be intelligently controllable by AI.
haravikk seemed to be suggesting that the AI could decide when the player needed to give orders.
Much rests on the interpretation of 'needed to' here I feel.
I would agree that the AI should definitely NOT be relied upon to decide when a player should be ALLOWED to give orders, which would indeed be guaranteed to annoy everyone. I was thinking instead along the lines that players would be able to give orders at whatever time they would otherwise have been allowed (i.e. in the order phases for phased combat, any time for real time), but the AI would flag certain ships/task forces as needing orders. The player would be free to give orders to ships not flagged, and to not give orders to those that were flagged, who would then just do the best they could. The flags would give the AI a way of saying "I'm out of my depth here." rather than just leaving it to do dumb things without the player realising there was a problem.
The point was that I see haravikk's ideas as a way to turn two of the big problems with AI control/assistance of combat into advantages.
1) AI routines tend to be unable to cope when combat get's frenetic, since working out what to do rapidly becomes very complicated and starts to take more time than you have available. Slowing down the rate of time flow here would give the AI more time to 'think', whilst looking like a cool feature rather than just the game lagging.
2) AIs work fine at automating player choices when they know what to do, or the situation is simple, but sometimes start doing stupid things or cycling between actions because they can't see a way to make a clear decision. If we explicitly flag that the AI is uable to cope here, we turn this failing into a gameplay element. We no longer have to write an AI that can cope with everything, the player feels they are making the big decisions, and yet the player doesn't HAVE to handle the trivial details, because those the AI can manage without help.