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Gameplay Automation

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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 they've 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 being railroaded.

Worst of all, Artificial Stupidity 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 Video Game A.I. that should know better. Still, automation is often important in keeping a game fun and challenging.

Isn't game design fun?

See also Anti-Frustration Features, where gameplay changes in response to the player's (lack of) skill. If the entire game is like this, it's an Idle Game or a Programming Game. In its optional form, it can be considered a supertrope of Mercy Mode. Video Game Delegation Penalty is when automating gameplay function makes them less effective than humans running them. For the application of this trope to economy, see A.I.-Generated Economy.


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    Miscellaneous 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 Afterlife (1996), 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.
  • World of Warcraft: The 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.
  • 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 Blade Runner 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 themself. The dialogues chosen can affect the ending of the game.
  • Progress Quest 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 Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and Starcraft 2, worker units can be set to use their repair ability automatically. Very useful. The Real-Time Strategy genre as a whole has been inching towards this. Construction orders became build queues, which have been getting repeat options (Dawn of War: Dark Crusade, Rise of Nations). Some games have units automatically find ways to make themselves useful (Rise of Nations, Original War).
  • Fallout 4 features the option to establish supply routes between the player's various settlements for those with sufficiently high charisma, who take the required perk. This does absolutely nothing the player can't do themselves - required supplies can be taken from a workbench in one settlement and fast-travelled to another with no real effort - but it relieves the mind-numbing tedium of having to do it all yourself.
  • In Forza Motorsport, you can hire AI drivers to do the racing for you. The trade-off is that this cuts into the prize money, though the AI is basically guaranteed a victory, as it's even better at racing than the resident Badass Driver, M. Rossi.
  • Gran Turismo 4 and 5 have B-Spec mode, which turns the games into playing a racing crew chief.
  • Master of Orion 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.
  • Kingdom of Loathing has a 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 Plants vs. Zombies 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.
  • 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 Real-Time Strategy 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 Company of Heroes, 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 Progress Quest, 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 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.
  • Jade Dynasty 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.
  • Granado Espada 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 X-Universe games have developed an impressive array of techniques to automate virtually every aspect of their trade empires using the default scripts and add-on Bonus Pack. These range from using freighters as warehouses to vast automated Asteroid Mining networks on up to fleet logistics techniques. And that's before you get into the games' moddability, which can add scripts to improve fleet control and carrier operations, among other things. Even the vanilla game has hefty automation, with automatic traders and the Autopilot (better known as the Autopillock), which can dock, fly, explore, and engage in combat with minimal player intervention.
  • Dungeon Crawl 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.
  • Similarly to Dungeon Crawl, Tales of Maj'Eyal features an autoexplore command as well. In addition, it allows automatic use of any talents when certain conditions are met (e.g. when the talent is available or when a creature comes into view).
  • 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 farms that spawn monsters, kill them and collect the loot all by themselves. Improvements to villager AI allow for fully automated crop farms, using farmer villagers to harvest and replant the crops.
    • Automation is an frequently seen feature amongst the many mods for the game, for example:
      • Buildcraft, the grandparent of automation mods, adds pipes for item and liquid transportations, automatic crafting for the first time ever, as well as mining, space-filling (in a few different patterns) and structure-replicating machines.
      • Thaumcraft is an odd apple due to having unorthodox automation: Essentia pipes for transporting Essentia, Vis relays (wireless transfer of vis via crystals) and the well-known golems, used for numerous different types of complex automation like smart item transfer, tree chopping, mob killing and fishing.
      • Many of the functions of Thaumcraft's golems and more things, such as non-domestic mob grinding and crafting automation, are covered by the tech mod MineFactoryReloaded, most of which are extensible with range upgrades, allowing farms to extend 25 blocks in each direction from one harvester and one planter.
      • Botania, which focuses around using Mana from flowers and using it to transmute, conjure and change the world. From mana lenses that can ignite blocks to daffodils that push items to time measurement methods, even by just using Botania and vanilla mechanics it's possible to automate almost everything.
  • 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 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.
  • Globulation 2 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…
  • The 1986 videogame adaptation of The Great Escape has an autopilot feature. If the prisoner is not in a forbidden zone and does not perform any action for a while, the player character will go on with his daily, rule-abiding routine.
  • The factory building game, Factorio, is all about gameplay automation. The player starts with no machinery beyond simple automated mining drills, and must ferry fuel and ore around between refineries to get their factory going. Each successive tier of Automation Research grants more and more advanced assembler machinery that can take assembling items off your hands and automate it. Rail and Logistics networks likewise allow more automation, with rail being great for shipping in raw materials from afar, and logistics being great for ferrying small high-value items between assemblers in a factory without having to route new conveyor belts.
  • A few fighting games such as The King of Fighters have a built-in macro system where you can assign complex commands (provided that you understand how the commands work; they usually will also account for amounts of frames in between commands) into one button, so that by pressing the button your character will do the commands automatically.
  • Dragon Quest Builders 2 has this as a form of Gameplay and Story Integration where townsfolk will begin doing things like harvesting crops or cooking meals without need for the player's input as they awaken their hearts to the joys of building. They'll even build predetermined mega-structures near the end of each chapter and the player can unlock a tool for creating custom blueprints for them to follow (provided they have access to a chest with the necessary materials).


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, Level Grinding, 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. Great auto-battle systems have a "WAIT WAIT WAIT TAKE THAT BACK" button. No great auto-battles are known.

    General examples 
  • Dislyte: After clearing a stage, the Multi-Battle feature is unlocked for it. Your units are AI-controlled and you can play other sections in the game while the auto-battles run. Up to ten battles are done per Multi-Battle but you can also opt-out out of Multi-Battle early. However, if Multi-Battle is running, you can't do it for other battles until that run is finished and for story stages specifically, if you have Multi-Battle running on one, you can't play any story stages at all.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In the DS and PSP versions of Final Fantasy IV 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.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics - you can even set what sort of behavior the auto-controlled characters have. Set Auto Battle on someone who has Math Skill and let The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard work in your favor!
    • Final Fantasy XII 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.
    • Final Fantasy XIII 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.
    • Final Fantasy XIII-2 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.
    • Final Fantasy Brave Exvius has two kinds of these: one of them is the typical auto battle found in other titles, while the other simply reselects your party's last set of actions and executes them.
  • In the Monster Rancher 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. On the other hand...
  • The Dragon Quest games have selectable AI for party members, (probably) starting from Dragon Quest IV.
    • In the original version of Dragon Quest IV, 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.
    • Dragon Quest VI allows you to take all 8 party members with you in a dungeon, and the hero can be put in the back while setting the 4 frontliners to AI control. This makes grinding a lot less tedious, as the AI applies The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard in your favor, like knowing which enemies have the least health or not bothering with status spells they know won't hit/using status spells with a high chance of success, all of which are invisible to the player.
  • In The World Ends with You, 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 PCs 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.
  • Final Fantasy Legend III features an "Auto" option, which lets you toggle on/off AI controlling the characters.
  • Phantasy Star IV 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 Master of Orion 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.
  • Grandia II 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.
  • Lunar: Dragon Song 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.
  • EarthBound (1994) allows one to enable Auto-Play for a particular battle. Unfortunately, it can not be switched off until the battle is over.
  • Games in the Tales Series, such as Tales of Symphonia, allow you to set your characters to Auto, so you can watch your AI party members battle AI opponents. Usually, this is not sufficient against bosses, unless the party is severely overlevelled, but can work against normal or low-level enemies.
  • Miitopia allows you to let the AI control the playable character during battles (the rest of the party is always AI-controlled). It can be switched to player-control anytime, and the player still can use the Sprinkes or move one Mii to the rest area anytime he wants.
  • FTL: Faster Than Light lets you set your ship's guns to automatically retarget the spot after firing. This is useful with Engi cruiser A whose only starting gun is a quick-firing ion cannon that is mostly useless without an accompanying Attack Drone (which is mostly useless without something to break through enemies' Deflector Shields). Or a Vulcan laser that after a few shots takes only about a second to fire.
  • All core Dragon Age games use companion behavior customization similar to the Gambit system from FF12. The Tactics system in both Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II allows you to pair arbitrary triggers with executable actions (and even chaining multiple tactics with each other), with the number of available trigger-action slots per character limited by Character Level and (in Origins) by the Combat Tactics Skill Score. Meanwhile, the Behaviors system in Dragon Age: Inquisition is massively scaled down, only allowing you to customize your companions' enemy targeting behavior, stamina/mana thresholds for using special abilities, and HP thresholds for consuming potions.
  • KanColle has sorties of your ship girls largely being automated, both in navigating between the nodes and during encounters with enemy fleet. During this, the only control the player ("Admiral") has is to decide whether to continue to the next node(s), or to retreat, after each battle finishes.
  • Simplest RPG: You can turn on an option that lets you fight enemies automatically which doesn't stop on its own unless you run out of energy or die.
  • "Auto Chess" games (a game sub-genre popularized by Dota Auto Chess) work like this: Each round, the players build a team of units, using limited resources to obtain stronger units over time and adjusting their composition and positioning to prepare them for the battle phase, where you team fights the opponent's team to the death, and players can't use any interactions during the battle phase to affect the outcome. This process repeats until a player wins enough times or eliminates everyone else.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and 3 both have this function. It's locked behind paid DLC, the AI takes control of everything except Chain Attacks, and can be used in any battle in 2, or is baseline and will use chain attacks, but can't be used in boss or Unique Monster battles in 3.

    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 Shin Megami Tensei games, including the Persona series (though not the Raidou and Devil Survivor games, as they have the same standard Turn-Based Combat) 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. Shin Megami Tensei IV introduced the "Auto-Pinpoint" app, which speeds up battle like "Rush" but instead of normal attacks, the AI will use skills to pinpoint enemy weaknesses if they are able to.
  • Fellow Atlus series Etrian Odyssey also features an auto-attack command.
  • Suikoden.
  • The Breath of Fire series.
  • Alter A.I.L.A.: Most of the games produced with the vanilla RPG Maker 2000 and 2003 will have the same feature due to it being harded-coded within the default battle system.
  • Status inflictions such as "Berserk" can cause this involuntarily. If all of the player's characters get it, the player may have no control at all.
  • Radiant Historia. It bypasses the combo system, making it useful for finishing enemies off.
  • Most MMORPGs 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.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 1: 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 Talent Arts.
  • In Yo Kai Watch, each Yo-Kai has a selection of automated attacks, as well as a special "Soultimate" move that the player can trigger themselves.
  • Last Scenario features a battle command that automatically starts the turn with your characters set to attack enemies.


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 Age of Wonders, 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.
  • Command & Conquer: Tiberium Wars features an auto-resolve feature for battles in Global Conquest mode - which is useful, since otherwise some Foregone Conclusion battles have to be played out. Unfortunately, the decision making process for auto-resolve is.... questionable. This will often see the player incur horrible defeats in battles they would have won effortlessly if they had commanded the battle themselves and given pretty much any attack order at all.
  • Every game in the Total War 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.
  • Dawn of War: Dark Crusade 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 killing the HQ for instant victory.
    • Even worse in Soulstorm, where buildings constructed during a playthrough aren't kept on the map, meaning you can no longer surround the enemy's starting position with turrets to steamroll them with garrisoned units.
  • Star Wars: Rebellion, a 4X game, gives you the option to take control of fleet battles in the form of a 3-D RTS, or let the computer handle it for you.
  • 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 Master of Orion 2, you have the option to turn off tactical (detailed) combat, after which the AI designs all ships and resolves all combats automatically.
  • EarthBound (1994): Pre-existing Encounters 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!).
  • Paper Mario includes a few badges that allow the player to defeat weak enemies on the field, without having to enter battle mode. Starting with Paper Mario: Sticker Star, stomping or hammering weak enemies on the overworld will defeat them instantly after collecting enough Plot Coupons.
  • The Ancient Art of War 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 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 Mount & Blade 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.
  • Endless Space and Endless Legend both feature an auto-resolve button to quickly end battles. In Endless Space, battles are for the most part strictly mathematical in nature anyways - as you can't directly order ships around - and you don't lose much from auto-resolving, as you can still call out tactics in the pre-battle setup. However, in Endless Legend, which has Geo Effects and direct unit movement and attack orders, battles can be hilariously one-sided with autoresolve - such as the game predicting a 1% chance of success with autoresolve, while you could stomp them in normal battle - under certain conditions.
  • In Ten Minute Space Strategy, you can press a button to (nearly instantly) skip a battle to see the results. There's no harm in doing as battles are entirely automatic anyway.


Turning controls over to the computer. This ranges from simple orientation aids to optimization and maintenance tasks being automated to automatic travel that fast-forwards until something interesting comes up. For Driving Games, this can include not only automating gear changes (i.e. automatic transmission), but also the brakes or even steering to a certain extent (usually just enough to keep the player from going off-course). For travelling without crossing the intervening space, see Warp Whistle.

  • In Uncharted Waters: New Horizons, 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 use the head" to "Take the Wheel! I'll man the guns!"
  • A minor example in Ace Combat — 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 Bayonetta offer an "Automatic" mode where the game essentially performs all movement for you, essentially turning the game into a series of Action Commands... meaning you can, ah, play the whole thing 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 Pokémon Mystery Dungeon, 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 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.
  • Mario Kart:
    • In Mario Kart 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 is sometimes a lot easier to use a kart or bike with low drift stats if one uses the auto drift options.
    • Mario Kart Arcade GP DX will enable an auto-acceleration feature if it does not detect any pedal input for the first few seconds of the race. This is mainly meant for shorter players (such as younger children) who aren't tall enough to reach the pedals with their feet while seated.
    • Mario Kart 8 has Smart Steering to keep the player from driving off-course. It also brings back Auto-Accelerate from AGPDX, although it has to be enabled in options.
  • Jump Raven 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 Star Trek adventure games allows you to hand over control of different shipboard systems during 3D battle sequences to the bridge officers.
  • The 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.
  • In the earlier MechWarrior games, 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.
  • Kerbal Space Program has the Mechjeb mod that allows players to automate certain elements of their craft. Considering the surprising amount of realism the game puts into space travel, this is a great tool for first-time players and for veterans who are tired of micromanaging every launch no matter how routine.
  • Most new MMORPGs 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.
  • Elite, and by extension the fan remake Oolite, have a simple "docking computer" upgrade for your ship that eliminates the frustrating business of trying to match rotation speed with a space station and fly into a none-too-large airlock. The sequel Frontier: Elite II had a more sophisticated one that acted as a sort of Zip Mode.
  • Various ingenious hacks for Dwarf Fortress have been devised to enable you to automatically order n "Brew Drink" tasks if the total stockpiled quantity of booze dips below a specified number, or tell your miners to start digging out that ore-bearing tile and keep going until they reach the end of the vein. The latter was made an official feature in a newer update.
  • In Orbiter you could use thrusters to stop your spacecraft's rotation, or you could flip a switch to let your computer do it with extra precision.
  • An interesting example in EVE Online. Flying long routes across many systems can take a long time, and the autopilot allows the player to let the computer handle it. However, the autopilot will always warp to 10km away from objects such as jump gates, meaning the journey can actually end up quite a bit slower overall, as well as potentially being much more vulnerable to attack.
  • Rimworld has the "Colony Manager" Game Mod, which automates away micromanagement in certain areas: You can set it to automatically designate some resources to be gathered if the amount of lumber in storage goes below a certain amount, assign livestock to be slaughtered once you have more than a given number and even tell your colonists to go and cut down any saplings that are threatening to get in the way of your wind farm. Rather than being a simple extra UI element, it requires an in-game object to be built and for a colonist to work at it for the jobs to be assigned, until you unlock some stuff that's a fair way down the tech tree and acquire an AI module to automate the automation.
  • beatmania has the Auto-Scratch modifier, which automatically hits turntable scratch notes for the player. However, doing so reduces the player's maximum score and marks the chart played with an Assist Clear status, and older versions of the game simply don't count scores achieved with it. For beatmania IIDX in particular, older versions also have mods to automate two of the leftmost or rightmost columns to simulate classic five-key beatmania.
  • GITADORA allows players to automate some of the note lanes (such as the last one, two, or three lanes for guitar and the pedals, cymbal, and/or hi-hat for drums), and for guitar, the player can opt to automate either the fret buttons or strumming. However, doing so reduces the player's maximum score, may disqualify the player from reaching Extra Stage and/or Encore Stage, and imposes a penalty multiplier on the amount of Skill Points earned, with the penalty being higher for more assists, and yes the minimum penalty multiplier is zero.
  • For players of D4DJ Groovy Mix who find the unusually complex controls too overwhelming, there are assist features to automate some of the note types, or even all of them for "Audience" mode. However, auto-played notes don't count towards the player's combo or score, the player cannot get a Full Combo with assists enabled, and the quantity of rewards is reduced.


Games with a strong focus on building a complex infrastructure, such as those of the 4X genre or the construction and management simulation genre, or complicated Real-Time Strategy 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.

  • Master of Orion 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri 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.).
  • Galactic Civilizations II: Dread Lords 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...
  • Dungeon Keeper 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.
  • Star Ruler features pre-defined governor settings which can be applied to individual planets or across your entire empire, specializing in production certain materials or research. Governors are, by default, automatically assigned to planets based on the size of the planet and the anomalies present. Some governor types will even produce small bombers and fighters to fight off enemies in the system.
  • The iOS/Android game Summoners War: Sky Arena gives you the option to automate combat, which is good, because farming for experience or mana or runes can be mind-numbing. However, due to A.I. Roulette, Artificial Stupidity is in full throttle. You might want to over-level your monster first before automating the combats.
  • Stellaris:
    • Early versions go further than most and force the player to assign most of the star systems they control to AI governors. Not only does this reduce the income from them, but the AI is not exactly great at its job. While later versions allow players to manually control all their planets, the amount of micromanagement for a fully-established empire shows why governors are a popular choice.
    • Subject empires such as Vassals and Protectorates can be spun off to control sections of the main empire. They must obey certain restrictions and remain loyal to the player, but otherwise are self-governing.
  • Crusader Kings 2 is based entirely around this trope. As a feudal lord, the player has very limited control over their vassals, along with strict limits on how much land they can personally control. The core gameplay revolves around keeping everyone happy so that they'll actually do what you want; failing to do so will not only result in a weaker economy and military, your governors can outright rebel and try to break away into independence.
  • City-Building Series:
    • Pharaoh:
      • The Overseer of Commerce can be relied on to automatically adjust the yearly limits of goods being imported/exported in accordance to the city's current needs (for example, if exporting pottery surplus when above 800 units and another city requests 500 pots, the exports only resume if you have 1300 pots). Unfortunately, this results in a few issues like you city being bankrupted because the overseer is trying to import all of a pyramid's buildings materials at once, even though the pyramid is only build with a few loads at a time. The actual amount of storage devoted to goods is also up to the player, so while there may a large amount of goods being brought in, only a small amount is actually exchanged.
      • The Political Overseer will inform you of whenever requested goods are available in sufficient quantities. He unfortunately doesn't do so immediately after the goods are deposited, and more than once he'll give you the message just after the deadline passes.
    • Later games like Zeus: Master of Olympus and Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom allow troop deployments and battles to be handled by the AI. Unfortunately, the AI tends to stick the units at predetermined points instead of taking into account the city's expansion, leading to needlessly lost buildings. Fortunately, these games finally allow you to skip battle altogether by bribing the enemies (and given how clunky the battle system is, it's a lot more effective).
    • Workers can be assigned to various tasks like industry, food, infrastructure... When left alone, these are usually more or less balanced, but as Critical Staffing Shortage is the biggest headache in the game it's usually necessary to manually assign priorities (especially infrastructure), but these are determined sequentially in Pharaoh (fortunately, in Zeus you can modify a sector's importance independently from another, and in Emperor you can close individual buildings instead of just al of them, and even walker buildings like temples or watch stations).
    • Trade in the later two games must be carefully monitored, as there is no longer a "only export when there's more than X" failsafe. Trade stations will cheerfully fill up with a good you only need a few of to bankrupt you or keep selling a good you need for a request if you don't set the respective quantities to exchange.
  • In the first Shepherd's Crossing, Brammy's friends and relations, and certain dog breeds, will pick up items and move them to designated signposts. Brammy's relatives will carry seeds to signposts, and dogs will carry goods to crates. This helps you organize your farm without extra work.
  • Necesse has settlers that can be recruited to automatically do basic tasks like chopping trees, planting and harvesting seeds, or fishing.