This mostly has to do with the UEF Engineering station, but I've had trouble with the Cybran one as well. I've seen a couple of issues with their behavior:
Problem 1: I start a building but then change my mind, I want something else there. So I tell the engineer to reclaim the building. I come back a minute later and realize that a nearby ES has repaired it.
Proposed solution: When you order an engineer to reclaim something, mark that object as "do not repair".
Problem 2: A few bombs or artillery shells make it through the shields and damage some buildings. I quickly check that the ES's are still intact, they are, so I go elsewhere. I come back later and see that nothing has been repaired -- the ES's have been stuck helping an SML reload for the last couple of minutes.
Proposed solution: Prioritize better. Repair things first. Assist factories second. Build missiles last. They should be able to change targets without waiting for the current target to finish, so they can immediately go repair as soon as the damage happens. If that's not possible, maybe make it so they CAN'T assist SML's? Their contribution there is insignificant, it's far better to leave them free to repair damage as soon as it happens.
"maybe make it so they CAN'T assist SML's?"
Using hives to rush building/loading a nuke is a normal strategy. If it was insignificant, people wouldn't do it. This would completely change that. Players would have to make an alternate type of build power, like spamming T3 engineers (which would largely behave the same way as hives do now anyway).
"They should be able to change targets without waiting for the current target to finish"
If you assign the engineering station to assist an SMD, it might change its mind on its own about what to assist/repair?
I might not want the hives to assist an air factory, if that would make me power stall. If the hives can change target whenever they want, it would be very easy for them to put me into a mass- or power-stall, or just to use mass that I'd rather be saving for something else.
Are you talking about having a new behavior mode for the hives, such that when it is toggled, every 5 seconds the engineering station would "stop" whatever it is doing (unless it is upgrading itself) and look for a new project to assist? E.g. if you right click on the "assist" button for hives, you get a solid circle around the button (much like auto-OC or snipe mode) and then every 50th tick, the hive will reset its behavior to look for a higher-priority project to work on. This probably should not be enabled by default because it would be confusing to players to have "rogue" hives that defy their orders.
I'm not sure it is necessary or desirable to add that behavior. Maybe players should just learn to click over to their hives and micro them a bit (even if it's as simple as selecting them all and pressing s) if they want the hives to change or re-set their behavior.
for the SML, given the massive amount needed to make it work, perhaps they don't auto-assist SML, but can still assist it if manually assigned to - tiny increase to the APM requirement to do it, but also means they're less likely to get stuck on aiding it
What I was thinking was something like this: if you manually tell an ES to do something, it will stick to that job until you give it a different command or the job is finished (building or repairing something) or forever (factory or SML). If the ES just picked a job automatically, then it's allowed to change jobs again every few seconds if a higher priority one is available. You can override this by telling it to do something else, so you can still rush your nukes.
Another thing I thought of is the range limit on UEF drones. Often I CTRL-click a drone to get several in an area and tell them to do something, but I don't realize that I also selected a bunch of drones from the front lines. So I pulled everybody off repair duty because even though it's way outside their range limit I can still manually order them apparently. So, I think making it so they'll ignore orders outside their base's range would be better.
Target priorities for auto engineers.
Why would you repair any buildings with hives?
Cybran have meme tier regen.
However I agree that they should assist facs before SMD and SML. I have to either disable my SMD or build it away from my hives, so that they focus on pumping units. Its a pain.
@Psions UEF doesn't have regen. Also sometimes a PD gets down into the red and another attack wave is coming -- better to repair it fast than have to build a new one and start over with the veterancy.
@John73John If your reclaiming something then use your hives to help with that. You may be having issues selecting your drones as it takes some skill to nail the selection just get your actions focused with both your engies and your stations and this issue won't happen. If your unsatisfied with what they're doing then hit stop, or disable them all together.
Theres only a few buildings that are production holes like your talking about. Just hold shift and set up the orders you want done first then it will land on the sml or smd or nuke or experimental.