I don't think it's possible for anyone - NPCs or players - to tell the difference between a ship that's fleeing and firing its rear laser as it flees, and a ship that's still actively engaged in the combat but has just turned round to fire its rear laser to allow its front laser to cool down. I agree that this could lead to situations where the AI misreads the player's intention - but if you're running away, you're dodging and weaving; if you're aiming and shooting back with your rear laser, then you're still very much engaged in the combat.CheeseRedux wrote:My point is that someone running while firing is only a threat as long as the pursuers choose. If they keep coming, it only makes sense to use the laser to try to even the odds; As soon as they break off, the incentive to keep firing is greatly reduced. Yes, the fleeing party could try to realign the sights on the no-longer pursuing craft, but that takes time, at the very least.
If a retreating ship taking potshots is automatically classified as actively hostile, you can have situations where both (or all, if there are more) ships would prefer to break off, but the AI is prevented from doing so since it thinks itself under attack.
If the AI was prepared to interpret a ship firing its rear laser as "fleeing" (or "no longer a threat"), then there would be a good chance that they'd break off combat with a player who was still actively fighting them, and just swapping lasers. Mistakes are possible either way - but arguably it's a more serious mistake to turn away from an actively hostile enemy than it is to sometimes continue to pursue a ship that's just trying to escape.