It'd be great if the AI, when giving missions, would give missions appropriate to the period of the game we're in - eg., to not send a mission of "kill civilian structures" when it first makes contact, and to instead focus on missions which are doable and tactically smart-ish, like a "kill ships" mission. That would be a big diplomatic improvement to the early game: currently, sometimes the missions the AI gives players are simply impossible or too stupid to complete at that stage in the game.
The AI will base these decisions on how much it likes you (i.e., its relationship level with you) and if there's a valid target in range (aka - there's another player that's close to you that it wants to get smacked down). Since there's still quite a bit of variable data in here we've adjusted the time limit for missions higher too.
Does this mean that the AI can create and break alliances with other AI? Right now they are always at war with each other.
This is actually a current sore spot that we're evaluating. The AI bases its alliances based on economy, with some relationship info tossed into the formula. If it thinks it can fight effectively on its own, it will tend to do that. Short of re-writing the entire system - which is far outside of scope - we're seeing what we might be able to do easily to make AI players ally up a bit more.
How much of these new diplomacy tweaks will be modable? In particular for the B5 mod we are looking at using the tech tree to unlock levels of diplomacy rather than having all available at the start. This is particulary necessary for the First Ones as they are overpowered early on and need controls to slow down war like behavior as a balancing mechanism. In particular that mod needs to be able to freeze diplomacy at a ceasefire level or better until the appropriate tech unlocks more diplomatic options.
Hmm...probably not going to see much help on that front with these changes, sorry.
While I don't disagree with the inclusion of missions, there have been many problems with the design up to this version. My basic issue with them is that the player profits from them while the AI does not. As the player, my acts in the game, my destruction of structures or ships, will often complete some AIs mission and I will get a boost not available to the AI. Also, as the player I can propose a truce despite the AI's failure to establish a high relationship level with me, so the player need not offer missions to the AI for diplomatic purposes. This means that the mission system heavily favours the player.
Without going into too much detail, Treaties (like Cease Fires) and Pacts now require both players to meet the minimum indicated relationship level. The AI also now prospers (or not) based on military and diplomatic actions (which now take many more factors into account) as well.