%%
%% ZeroContextExample entries are not allowed on wiki pages. All such entries have been commented out. Add context to the entries before uncommenting them.
%%
The act of taking a video game's existing interactivity away from the player, or giving the option to relinquish it.

This may seem to run counter to the entire point of video games, but the medium is not just about poking at stuff - it's about poking at fresh and interesting stuff. The player who cheerfully clicks through a lot of controls to found a moonbase will be a lot less enthusiastic about clicking through the same controls 50 times over to resupply and expand it. Once he's progressed to forging the Great Galactic Empire of Really Big Laser Guns, optimizing planetary shuttle schedules will just be a nuisance.

Automation affects the very core of the experience, so it's remarkably easy to screw up. Take away the same player's shuttlecraft once his empire discovers warp travel: he may have appreciated the break from cutthroat scheming against the Star Federation With Lots of Missiles, he may have wanted to savor the feeling of taking care of his little future people, or he may not have cared about the shuttles, yet dislike the feeling of [[{{Railroading}} being railroaded]].

Worst of all, ArtificialStupidity is waiting for a chance to show its ugly face. The player might be winning glorious victories or building wonders to stand the best of time; it's just going to be frustrating if he has to do it by shepherding a computer that should know better. Still, automation is often important in keeping a game fun and challenging.

Isn't game design fun?

See also AntiFrustrationFeatures, where gameplay changes in response to the player's (lack of) skill. If the entire game is like this, it's a ProgrammingGame.
----
!!Examples:

* ''Deuteros'', an Amiga game, was praised for an almost supernatural sense of timing. The player would get to rediscover space travel. Just as he started to have enough of sending more and more stuff into space, the research teams would come up with an automated cargo transport system. Later on, fully automated orbital workshops, and after that, bulk matter transmitters.
* In the simulation game ''VideoGame/{{Afterlife}}'', buildings have to be manually balanced every so often to stay efficient. It's either mindnumbing, since it means moving a single slider and there are lots of buildings, or the player may have the game do it at a serious cost. This is because the designers were dumb.
* ''WorldOfWarcraft's'' scripting and macro system originally allowed "push this button to play your character" mods. Blizzard has gradually restricted functionality to avert this over the years. The game is also rife with illegal hacked clients that completely automate gathering crafting materials from nodes, but that's deliberate cheating.
* In ''[[UFOAfterBlank UFO: Aftermath]]'', the player has a squad of soldiers, an Earth full of aliens and mutants to conquer, and one helicopter to do it with. Expanding one's territory increases the number of trouble spots and sending the chopper careening back and forth becomes an exercise in futility, until the player wins the first major victory by capturing an alien teleporter. Then the chopper always launches from the closest base.
* The 1997 ''VideoGame/BladeRunner'' video game helpfully gives the player a choice in the options menu of whether to automatically choose which dialogue options to explore, or to let the player decide this for him/herself. The dialogues chosen can affect the ending of the game.
* ''ProgressQuest'' takes this to its logical conclusion, eliminating the player from the equation entirely.
* ''Starflight 2: Trade Routes of the Cloud Nebula'' has a mineral probe, which can be deployed from a planetary lander to gather selected types of resources. It's a real timesaver since the player usually lands to look for trade centers and ruins, which are more lucrative, but needs stocks of metals on hand for repairs.
* In ''Warcraft3'' and ''Starcraft2'', worker units can be set to use their repair ability automatically. Very useful. The RealTimeStrategy genre as a whole has been inching towards this. Construction orders became build queues, which have been getting repeat options (''DawnOfWar: Dark Crusade'', ''RiseOfNations''). Some games have units automatically find ways to make themselves useful (''RiseOfNations'', ''Original War'').
* In ''ForzaMotorsport,'' you can hire AI drivers to do the racing for you. The trade-off is that this cuts into the prize money.
* ''GranTurismo 4'' and ''5'' have B-Spec mode, which turns the games into playing a racing crew chief.
* ''VideoGame/MasterOfOrion 3'' was a failed attempt to revolutionize the 4X genre through heavy automation. It was intended to make ruling feel like ruling by having the computer make low-level decisions, freeing the player to focus on the big picture. Unfortunately, the AI was not quite up to the challenge.
* ''KingdomOfLoathing'' has a [[http://kol.coldfront.net/thekolwiki/index.php/Combat_Macros combat macro script language]]. It's quite limited, lacking such things as variables.
** There is also a fan-made program called [=KolMafia=] which will automate damn near everything and has a comprehensive scripting language, among many other things. People have made scripts to play the entire game for you. The devs are fine with it.
* In ''VideoGame/PlantsVsZombies'' you can buy a snail which auto-collects the coins dropped by plants in your Zen Garden. Though you need to manually awaken it for short intervals or feed it chocolate to keep it awake for an hour.
* ''VideoGame/{{Outpost 2}}'', an RTS, has an optional observation satellite that will automatically survey all resource deposits (make them usable) for the rest of the game. It manages to feel great while accomplishing very little: robotic surveyors are cheap and expendable. Yet it eases the crushing multitasking a bit, and is the first concrete benefit of a plotline about escaping the planet.
* Most RealTimeStrategy games (or strategy games in general) will automate workers for gathering resources once you've set them up, or if a worker is very specific, it will do its job once it's created. You can effectively ignore them until they are needed elsewhere. Likewise, your combat units will attack any enemy on sight. In some cases, they'll pursue them for some time. More recent game will also have units react automatically given a situation (supposedly). For example, in ''CompanyOfHeroes'', units that get attacked will find the nearest cover, but they won't move from their spot where you left them at.
* ''{{Godville}}'' follows in the footsteps of ''ProgressQuest'', describing itself as a "ZPG" - "zero-player game." The player's input is limited to the ability to issue simple commands that the hero may or may not actually follow, plus the ability to encourage or [[BoltOfDivineRetribution punish]] the hero (which likewise may or may not accomplish anything much).
* Many computer {{Mahjong}} games have several such features for the player's convenience:
** Auto Win: When you complete a winning hand in Mahjong, you have to declare the win to end the hand and collect the points. (It is in fact allowed to pass up the opportunity, for example if you want to try for an even bigger win. However, 9 times out of 10, doing so would be very silly.) If Auto-Win is turned on, it automatically declares a winning hand at the first opportunity.
** Auto Pass: Ignore all opportunities to call opponents' discards except to win the hand. This is particularly useful because computer games usually try to keep the game moving quickly and won't stall after a discard if none of the opponents can call it. Thus if the game stalls for a couple seconds, you know someone probably has the requisite tiles in their hand to give them the option of calling the most recent discard. If you know you're going to pass every time, this skips the stall so it doesn't tip off your opponents regarding the composition of your hand.
** Auto ''Tsumokiri'': When enabled, every time you draw a tile, it'll automatically discard the tile you just drew (known as ''tsumokiri'' in Japanese) unless you can use it to declare a kong or it completes a winning hand. Useful if you're one tile away from a winning hand and are absolutely sure you won't want to change the composition of your hand no matter what comes up.
* ''Videogame/JadeDynasty'' has a built-in bot that can perform a wide variety of actions for the player, though it may be stymied by unforeseen situations. Use is unlimited up to level 90, after which its energy must be refilled regularly.
* ''GranadoEspada'' has an array of automation options to help players with the unique multi-character gameplay (each character having almost as wide a range of actions as a typical [=MMO=]'s lone hero and synergies must be set up in real time). Players formerly used these functions as an ersatz botting system but the developers have taken steps to progressively limit their usefulness.
* Players of the ''[[VideoGame/{{X}} X-Universe]]'' games have developed an impressive array of techniques to automate virtually every aspect of their trade empires using the default scripts and [[OfficialFanSubmittedContent add-on Bonus Pack]]. These range from using freighters as warehouses to vast automated {{Asteroid Min|ers}}ing networks on up to fleet logistics techniques. And that's before you get into the games' [[GameMod moddability]], which can add scripts to improve fleet control and carrier operations, among other things.
* ''VideoGame/DungeonCrawl'' has the "auto-explore" command, which automatically moves the PC through unexplored territory on the current level, picking up useful items along the way, and returning control to the player when a dangerous monster is seen or something interesting is encountered. What counts as useful, dangerous or interesting is highly configurable by the player.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Minecraft}}'' doesn't have any built-in automation, but it's easy for the player to build their own automatic or one-button devices to collect certain resources, up to and including "mob grinders" that spawn monsters, kill them and collect the loot all by themselves.
** Automation is a frequent feature of many mods; Buildcraft, for example, provides machines to mine resources and pipes to transport those resources to your storage.
* ''Fragile Allegiance'' (a 4X space strategy game also mentioned below in the "Governor" section): The player will often need to move ore between the various asteroid bases they'll be building in the game. At the start of the game, the only way to do this is to send a cargo ship to an asteroid, wait for it to travel there, manually transfer ore from the asteroid to the ship, then send the ship to another asteroid, and so on. Once the player is rich enough, however, they can afford to buy the blueprints for an [[TransportersAndTeleporters ore teleporter]] that, once built, allows for the easy and instant transport of any amount of ore from one asteroid to another, essentially automating away the cargo ship feature. This is important because early in the game, with only a few asteroids to handle, managing ore transport is fun enough; later in the game, when you have twenty or more asteroids mining various ores, it'd be a bit less enjoyable.
* Globulation2 RTS doesn't allow you to manage separate units at all. You set the number of units that should be performing various tasks and the units divide the tasks somehow. Then there is a set of methods to prevent units from doing various stupid things…

!!Auto-battle

A common type of automation is turning the combat section of a larger game over to the computer. This is convenient when revisiting previous areas, LevelGrinding, or when combat on the fine scale has limited tactical depth. Good auto-battle systems have a visible and responsive "manual control" button, allowing the player to act as an overseer and intervene when necessary.

* ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'': %%Games here are sorted in a rough order of first release.
** In the DS version of ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIV'' the player can toggle "Auto-battle" on and off at any time, where all characters will perform a specific action as their turns come up.
** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyTactics'' - you can even set what sort of behavior the auto-controlled characters have. Set Auto Battle on someone who has Math Skill and let TheComputerIsACheatingBastard work in your favor!
** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXII'' uses the "Gambit" system to make party members more autonomous. The player can create simple tactics by constructing "If - then" statements, and listing them in order of priority. Characters can then be controlled directly, or left to follow these orders on their own. However, no branching commands are possible; for instance, the party thief cannot be told that "IF the enemy can be stolen from AND has NOT already been stolen from, THEN steal, ELSE attack." Limitations like this need to be worked around manually.
** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII'' automates all actions for the two party members the player doesn't control, and encourages the use of the Auto-Battle button, which will (usually) line up an optimal sequence of actions to be performed, taking into account almost every variable in play. Unless a specific sequence of attacks is desired, player input is mostly done on a semi-strategic level by either using special, limited-use abilities or by performing a "Paradigm Shift"--changing the current classes of the party.
** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII2'' works much like its predecessor, in that battle is largely automated and player input is semi-strategic, but allows the player to tweak how the AI reacts to groups of enemies for each Paradigm (set of classes active at any one time) between battles.
* In the ''Videogame/MonsterRancher'' series, you generally have the option to give your monster orders during battle, or letting them fight as they will. If your monster has low Loyalty, letting it choose its own moves reduces the chances that it will become confused and stall. [[ArtificialStupidity On the other hand...]]
* The ''VideoGame/DragonQuest'' games have selectable AI for party members, (probably) starting from ''VideoGame/DragonQuestIV''. In the original version of ''VideoGame/DragonQuestIV'', there's no manual control in the final chapter of the game. The hero can never be put on AI. Not a perfect example because the AI can do things that the player cannot, such as healing another character on the same turn they got hurt, something the player wouldn't be able to know in advance due to not knowing which characters the enemy decides to attack that turn.
* In ''VideoGame/TheWorldEndsWithYou'', the battle system allows you to control two characters at once, one on each screen. However, if this gets confusing or if it's a particularly difficult battle, you can allow your partner to go into 'Auto' mode. Manual input can override the AI at any time, which is handy if things get hairy.
* ''Megatraveller 2: Quest for the Ancients'': If you turned on "React" your {{PC}}s would automatically fire back at any enemy shooting at them. Since they could react much faster than you could and move around while doing so, it was usually best to let them fight it out with enemy forces.
* ''SaGa3'' features an "Auto" option, which lets you toggle on/off AI controlling the characters.
* ''VideoGame/PhantasyStarIV'' has a macro system which sets commands for a turn using a single selection. Although the most common set tells all the characters to attack, new macros can be programmed in for using combination spells.
* In ''VideoGame/MasterOfOrion 2'', you can turn this option on in the middle of combat. It does the job quickly and fairly well when you have the upper hand and you can't bother ordering massive numbers of small ships around, but in other scenarios you are better off doing the job yourself.
* ''VideoGame/GrandiaII'' has several options for automation. You can automate all your characters but the main one or have no control over any characters and just watch the computer fight the computer.
* ''VideoGame/LunarDragonSong'' has an option of using the Auto mode in battle to skip the time it takes to have the battle pause to ask you what to do with each character. Auto mode can be switched off when you need to use healing techs.

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Default attack automation ]]


Many [=RPGs=] have an auto-battle option that consists of using the default attack until told otherwise, but leaves the use of special abilities to the player.

* The ''Franchise/ShinMegamiTensei'' games (including ''VideoGame/{{Persona}}'', excluding the Raidou games and ''VideoGame/DevilSurvivor'' for their different combat systems) have the "Rush" command, which speeds the flow of battle by about 50% and forces all party members to stick with physical attacks, overriding their selected tactics.
* ''VideoGame/{{Suikoden}}''.
* The ''Franchise/BreathOfFire'' series.
* ''AlterAILA''
* Status inflictions such as "Beserk" can cause this involuntarily. If all of the player's characters get it, the player may have no control at all.
* ''VideoGame/RadiantHistoria''. It bypasses the combo system, making it useful for finishing enemies off.
* Most {{MMORPG}}s will have the player character auto-attack (and use any skills tied to it) or use pre-selected skills over and over once ordered to hit something.
* ''VideoGame/{{Xenoblade}}'': Characters will use a default attack every few seconds a command isn't issued. For most of them, this also raises their Talent gauges, which must be maxed before using [[SignatureMove Talent Arts]].

!!Auto-resolve

Auto-battle's big brother, this option skips straight to the aftermath. While auto-battle is still the same battle under computer control, auto-resolve is generally calculated using a simpler mathematical model. Particularly in games that normally involve real-time physics, the result can be drastically different if the battle is instead resolved statistically.

* In ''Videogame/AgeOfWonders'', when entering a battle you have the option of either directing your troops manually, or letting the computer instantly decide the outcome of the battle. The computer doesn't use your spells and doesn't take into account strategies and tactics you might have used, so it's best used when victory is all but certain anyway.
* Every game in the ''Videogame/TotalWar'' series. It's useful for chasing stragglers.
* ''King Arthur: The Role-Playing Wargame'': Auto-resolve deals damage in proportion to the strengths of the opposing armies. Graciously, the player can designate units as important, which keeps them alive unless the whole army falls but reduces total army strength.
%%* ''Videogame/SwordOfTheStars''.
* ''[[Videogame/DawnOfWar Dawn of War: DarkCrusade]]'' for defending territories that the player has already captured. You can improve your odds by increasing the amount of troops you start with, and since you start the level with every structure you had built on the last playthrough. However, it is not failsafe, as the computer doesn't understand the concept of [[InstantWinCondition killing the HQ for instant victory.]]
* ''Franchise/StarWars: Rebellion'', a Star Wars themed FourX game, gave you the option to take control of fleet battles yourselves in the form of a 3-D RTS, or let the computer handle it for you.
* ''Franchise/StarWars: Empire at War'' has auto-battle for both space and land battles. Space battles are far faster and more interesting. Fortunately land units are cheap, so the player can throw those at problems and focus on space!
* In ''VideoGame/MasterOfOrion'' 2, you have the option to turn off tactical (detailed) combat, after which the AI designs all ships and resolves all combats automatically.
* ''Videogame/{{Earthbound}}'': PreexistingEncounters that are too weak to pose a challenge will move away from the player characters, and touching one will trigger an automatic victory (with the spoils!).
* Similar to ''Earthbound'', ''VideoGame/PaperMario'' included a few badges that allowed the player to defeat weak enemies on the field, without having to enter battle mode.
* ''VideoGame/TheAncientArtOfWar'' and ''The Ancient Art of War at Sea''. If one of your units and an enemy unit were adjacent to each other, the computer would run the combat between them unless you used "Zoom" to take control of your unit.
** ''The Ancient Art of War in the Skies'': The computer resolved dogfights and bombing runs unless you chose to get involved (which greatly increased the chance of your planes winning).
* In ''Space Battle'' for the UsefulNotes/{{Intellivision}}, when one of your patrols intercepted an incoming enemy squadron, the game would start "playing" the battle automatically, taking out approximately three enemy ships for each of your ships in the squadron. This was important as, when you engaged the combat mode yourself, the rest of the game was still progressing in the background.
* ''Slave Maker'' allows you to decide if you want to automatically win or lose battles. While winning is obviously the preferable option, auto-losing does allow for some different paths to explore without having to let yourself lose.
* The ''VideoGame/MountAndBlade'' series offers this option in some installments or some versions thereof. Not recommended unless you have an overwhelming advantage and even then you may somehow lose if you spam the Resolve button.

!!Autopilot

Turning controls over to the computer. This ranges from simple orientation aids to automatic travel that fast-forwards until something interesting comes up. For travelling without crossing the intervening space, see WarpWhistle.

* In ''VideoGame/UnchartedWatersNewHorizons'', if your Chief Navigator or First Mate has the Celestial Navigation skill, you can order him to auto-sail to any port you've already discovered. However, while it's slightly useful, navigating manually would usually get you there faster. Also, the auto-sail function did not take into account things like food/water supplies, storms, and pirates.
* ''Warhead'' has nine autopilots, which range from "Point the ship in the direction of motion" and "Keep going that-a-way while I sit here and rot" to "TakeTheWheel! I'll man the guns!"
* A minor example in ''Videogame/AceCombat'' -- you can activate the autopilot, which will immediately set you to straight and level flight on whatever heading your nose is currently pointed. The only real use for this is to level yourself out in a dark or cloudy level after you've been dogfighting like mad and are no longer sure which way is up.
* The two easiest difficulty options in ''VideoGame/{{Bayonetta}}'' offer an "Automatic" mode where the game essentially performs all movement for you, essentially turning the game into a series of ActionCommands... meaning you can, ah, play the whole thing [[ADateWithRosiePalms using just one hand]].
* Dynamix's ''Red Baron''. While on a Patrol mission you could activate an autopilot which would fly your plane along your patrol route until you encountered enemy units.
* In the {{Roguelike}} ''Videogame/PokemonMysteryDungeon'', holding the B button causes the player to "sprint", where the game fast-forwards their movement in a straight line until something interesting (fork in the road, hostile Pokemon, etc.) happens. Holding B A at the same time causes the game to fast-forward with the leader standing in place, primarily as a means for regenerating HP.
* The ''Videogame/{{Descent}}'' series: As a means of helping traditional FPS gamers adjust to its zero-gravity nature, ''Descent'' has a control option to automatically align the player's ship at 90-degree angles to nearby floors/walls so that they can maneuver around it without slight tilts getting in the way.
* In ''VideoGame/MarioKart Wii'' the player is allowed to select "Automatic" or "Manual" drifting around corners, with the former intended primarily for first-time players (as only manual drifting features mini-turbo boosts).
** In fact, it was sometimes a lot easier to use a kart or bike with low drift stats if one uses the auto drift options.
* ''VideoGame/JumpRaven'' had various copilot characters of varying aptitudes you could recruit, and responsibilities for various things (hovering, countermeasures, bombs, missiles, guns) could be toggled on or off at will.
* Interplay's old ''Franchise/StarTrek'' adventure games allows you to hand over control of different shipboard systems during [=3D=] battle sequences to the bridge officers.
* The ''VideoGame/{{WipEout}}'' series have an Autopilot power-up that let the computer control your ship for 5 seconds, an useful item when used in tough sections of a track.
* ''VideoGame/MechWarrior'': All mechs come fitted with an autopilot which will guide you through a sequence of pre-plotted navigation points and (fairly) intelligently avoid terrain problems on the way. On some missions this gives the player time for a quick sandwich or toilet break while their mech stomps its way to the first interesting bit.
* Most new {{MMORPG}}s have at least a rudimentary autopilot, where the player character can be directed to run to a distant point of interest without player intervention via the area map or minimap. Different games have different levels of comprehensiveness in their autopilot, to the level of traversing between maps without help or engaging the function from ''quest description windows''.

!!Governor

Games with a strong focus on building a complex infrastructure, such as those of the {{4X}} genre, or complicated RealTimeStrategy games, will often provide the player with the option to hand off certain menial tasks to the AI, such as exploring or building roads. The efficacy of this varies greatly between games and the nature of the task; sometimes, the AI will simply be programmed to perform the task randomly if the player would have been unable to do it much better, and other times the results will depend on the in-game attributes of the "governor" assigned.

%%* ''Videogame/MasterOfMagic'' has the Grand Vizier function. Unfortunately it could only be toggled on and off for the whole empire, not configured or limited to the least interesting spots.
* ''VideoGame/MasterOfOrion II'' has a simple auto-build option. It simply builds according to a prearranged queue set up (in an order that most players don't want) and continues building until it decides it's time to build Trade Goods (essentially "why build ''things'' when you can build ''money''?") , which for some reason is nowhere near the end of the list.
* The ''VideoGame/{{Civilization}}'' series allows town function automation by mayors (such as in Civ II), where you can pick an emphasis for their activities, or automatically selecting what tech to research to get to a specific technology (Civ IV).
** In ''V'', when conquering a city, the player has an option to install a puppet instead of annexing. This removes player control of city production, but does not trigger the costly insurgency of a complete annexation.
* ''Videogame/FreeCiv'' adds build lists that can be applied to new cities so that they automatically construct improvements and troops in the order desired by the player. Cities will also autobuild unless coinage is put in the build queue. You can also tell workers to auto-improve tiles, and even tell soldiers and scouts to auto-explore the area, with varying degrees of effectiveness.
* ''Videogame/SidMeiersAlphaCentauri'' has the Governor function, with five different modes (explore, discover, build, conquer, no priority) and eighteen settings ("governor may produce land combat units", "governor sets new units to 'fully automate', etc.).
* ''Videogame/GalacticCivilizationsII'' has planetary governors that will automatically decide what to do on particular planets for you.
* ''Europa 1400: The Guild'' and ''The Guild 2'', games about medieval dynasties, offer supervisors for the player's shops and manufacturies at steep prices. The idea is that a player would make his own fortune, then find that it's become better to hand over the day-to-day operations to the CPU and concentrate on scheming.
* ''Fragile Allegiance'' has AI governors for hire with varying salaries and capabilities. One cheaper one, for instance, is described as good as long as she isn't given too much to deal with. Black market wares include the governors' background details, and those seem to have actual gameplay use, since the game has both a "fire" button and a "fire, imprison, and put under armed guard" button.
** Governors pushed beyond their "stress limits" will start to make mistakes, sometimes building useless structures or neglecting their colonies' basic life support. Governors described as being prone to anger may even conduct sabotage against colony buildings if you fire them or fail to pay them on time...
* ''Videogame/DungeonKeeper'' has a selection of different assistants that help build your dungeon for you. You can choose it to be defensive or aggressive, set it to dig out the rock, or just lay the tiles out for rooms. Its usefulness, however, is quite limited.
----