To build a universe that truly feels alive, the universe needs to actually live, make decisions, and do things. And we start this simulation with the Ascendance AI system.
The Ascendance system controls the NPCs that populate the universe in EFAS. Each NPC has his/her own goals and aspirations, and a large set of actions. Each NPC carries out actions in accordance with his/her goals.
The NPCs can interact with other NPCs, as well as the players, let's call both types "agents" for simplicity. Various relationships exist between agents. Each agent also has a number of attributes, such as health, impulsiveness, kindness, etc.
How an agent acts depends on its attributes. When an agent acts on another agent, and performs an action that affects another agent, the relationship between them is also affected. Furthermore, as a result of the action, the attributes of both agents could change.
When many agents exist in a universe, the sheer quantity of the agents, as well as relationships, cause a fundamental change in the complexity of the system. You could make a small change to the system, and that change could escalate quickly, causing a large change.
For example, if you kill an infamous pirate plaguing the asteroid belt, the residents around the belt can live a better life. You'll see their happiness levels rise, they'll get married more often, there will be more goods for sale in the shops, and perhaps a new nation will form out of the growth in prosperity.
You might also implant hatred in the heart of an agent toward another agent. If they are factions leaders, you could be the catalyst for an inter-planetary war.
With such a system in place, the universe is always dynamic, and what happens next is unpredictable. Don't be surprised if you get your crew into some very interesting situations!