I thought about racing games. How often do you accelerate only moderately? How often do you steer just slightly? So I limited all 4 pods to only 7 moves: Left, Right, Left+Shield, Right+Shield, Left+Full Speed, Right+Full Speed, Straight+Full Speed.
Based on this moves, I looked at one pod a time and simulated the 7 possible outcomes assuming the other 3 pods would simply repeat their last action.
Then I scored the outcome based on several factors:
- The leading pods distance to the next checkpoint
- The angle of the leading pod: is it facing the next checkpoint?
- Is the blocking pod facing the opponent leader?
- Is the blocking pod nearer to or even between the opponents leader and his next checkpoint?
- and some more...
The move with the best outcome was then selected.
I did this with all 4 pods, saved the resulting moves and repeated the process with one, two, three and mostly four additional moves in depth.
As I said: The scoring function is key and you have to think really hard about the essence of this (or any) game to find a good one.