AI EXPLAINED   3-10-2024
Written and Edited by MarkEAW
Text Info by: Zero Pilot, McLane, Neal, Stanley99 and others.




AI Use Simplified FM | More AI Planes


AI Improvement | Wingman Response | Players Plane


Rate Tweaks and v1.1 plus ECA | Rate Tweaks and v1.2a | Rate Tweaks and v1.1 over v1.2
Rate Tweaks and v1.1PC plus Realism Patch


This help document was originally just about tweaking the game rate there fore the behavior of the AI by way of the eaw.ini settings. However it has been expanded to note various aspects of the AI in the game, friend and foe. So this document will hopefully fill you in on what the AI is up to and how to beat it, as well as how to improve it, such as commanding your own friendly AI with better response.

From Youtube user kewkabe in 2022, (apparently an orginal EAW programmer):
The AI was pretty lengthy so it's hard to answer in [short order], but bomber and fighter AI were different;

then fighter AI could be in a bunch of different "modes" depending on the mission and what phase it was in (takeoff, getting into formation, following waypoints, enemy sighted/switch to combat mode...). It used a "rule based" system for deciding what mode to be in, then a "state machine" within each mode to accomplish the task for that mode.

In combat, the AI flight leader would use the rule base (a bunch of "if" statements that checked the state of the game, number of enemy left etc) to transmit the same radio messages the player could issue in the radio menus, to the other AI. Then those other AI would go into the appropriate mode depending on their orders, such as "general combat" which meant it would find the best target at that moment (doing a quick calculation of number of seconds to get into position behind each of the visible enemies, then target the shortest [closest] one). Then if it got hit it would switch to "evading attacker" mode and select an appropriate escape maneuver.

Both the chosen attack and escape maneuvers were based on rules depending on their country's historically traditional combat tactics, plus modifications [adjustments] for the AI pilot's experience level.

As far as being aware of other aircraft positions, it [The AI] was aware only when in formation (to be able to stay in formation), when selecting the best target, when following that target, and any aircraft within an immediate collision distance to break away to avoid it (unless the player was too far away to notice, then collision avoidance and collisions were turned off because it added computation time and the player couldn't see them anyway).


It's been noticed over the years that many virtual pilots seem to consider themselves experts and yet they have reported that 'the A.I. does not black-out' and it performs outrages "UFO-like maneuvers"; With their UFO like abilities they can fly their aircraft to the edges of its performance envelope (more of a computer-like ability, than human-like).

One observation for an example is when a player pilot is trying to lead-turn the A.I. and the player blacks out but the A.I. pilot doesn't appear too. An other example is the player is trying to pull the same difficult maneuvers the A.I. does such as same speed and same sequence and you'll find out - you can't and have to break off.

Even more puzzling is that you may have noticed that AI planes seem to have much better acceleration than when you control and command them. So for an example when flying in formation with Hurricanes and you have given an order to the wingman to attack a target in front you, you'll witness him speed off to attack while your left behind, even when your at full throttle. With this observed, you would come to believe that they have more power, cooler engines and are generally faster overall.

So the question to all this superior behavior, is Why?

Maybe the AI's plane performance may appear to be 'faster' than some players planes possibly because they make changes slower and fly cleaner? or yet is it your flight control dead zones and sensitivity settings incorrectly optimized? or is it that you as the player are using the maximum difficulty settings, while AI uses an easy difficulty, with stalls & blackouts turned off? Keep reading to know the truth.


AI Use Simplified FM:
Many players believed that the AI uses a different flight model. Obviously, this would explain the huge advantage they seem to have. So years later it was discovered that the A.I. indeed use what is known as the "simplified" flight model.

One of the community members when designing their own custom FM's for EAW, had a talk with Tsuyoshi Kawahito, EAW's 'Game Designer' and 'Lead Programmer'. Mr. Kawahito stated the AI in EAW uses the "Easy" flight model, but can only fly their airplanes to 85% of their capability with this FM. The EAW designers could not have the AI employ the "Realistic" flight model and still create the kind of large size air battles EAW has without imposing a severe penalty on the user's computer system.

This is apparently a common method programmers had to take too, to reduce CPU workload, by simplifying FM algorithms for the AI, so that by and large, the overall outcome is similar (not the same, but close enough). Mr. Kawahito said that at the time work began on EAW, a 200Mhz PII was high-end! Therefore, one of the reasons EAW works so well on "old, slow" computers but can still manage 100 or more planes in the air at the same time is because it does not require making a huge number of extremely complex calculations ("Realistic" FM) for 100+ aircraft at a time. Instead, things are kept simpler to ease the burden on computer systems. It also helps with reducing the modem or network transmitted data traffic...

Some community members apparently hacked the eaw.exe (even source code changes in later years) and have forced player and AI to use the same realistic FM at all times, even during multiplaying. It was said that EAW was designed with the A.I. behavior (not the FM) but the aggressiveness (or lack of) hard-coded so changing it would be difficult. If its true that it can be changed, you'll end up needing fast connections to play properly. (The stock game with default settings run at 60 Frames per second, the AI apparently switch and use the 'complex' FM due to the fact the game is performing well).

AI planes (using simplified FMs) do not:
-stall (they may sometimes)
-redout/blackout (G effects)
-suffer from engine cuts in Hurricane and Spit1 in neg-G loops (fuel float)
-use cannons unless very close at the target (or at all ?)
-enemy seem to not go just after any target.. they come after you :)
-think creatively or plan their moves beforehand... they are actually quite predictable.

-bombs/rocket (external ordnance) weight and drag penalty is unknown if it effects the A.I.. It doesn't seem to matter in terms of flight modeling / performance if the A.I. wingmen aircraft still have their ordnance attached or not when engaging bandits. (However Bombs, Rockets and Extra Tanks do impose a performance penalty for the player's plane).

Never the less it is possible for human pilots to beat them, unless of course they outnumber you by more than 10:1. If the odds are overwhelming, try flying very close to the ground and keep turning. Eventually some AI planes crash on their own or you can once in a while get easily on their six (of course this doesn't work if your task is to intercept).


More AI Planes:
To get more AI planes in the air, use the ExtraSquads setting in the eaw.ini file. If you see friendly planes not in your squad flying in formation heading to some unknown destination, you can contact Ground Control with the Pilot radio to call them over for extra help. See my 'EAW.INI Help Document' for more information, under the section titled EAW, and topic ExtraSquads=


EAW uses a kind of a decision cycle that you can modify to affect the A.I.'s flight performance, behavior and command response by changing two or three settings in the eaw.ini file under [NETOPTION]. While changing these update rates to new values they can actually make the game easier in some ways, however in many different ways, others have found it will produce a fair fight. The real goal of these update rate tweaks is to at least prevent the enemy A.I. from having the edge all the time by eliminating their SUPER Enemy behavior and maneuvers. The rate changes can be done for offline and online play. (Note: Changing these rates in the eaw.ini on the Client side will not mess up anyone that goes online flying, it appears that these options are set by the Hosts ini and used for all players.)

Back in 2001 when this information was discovered, then it was used and tested, many players where a bit skeptical at first if it really effected the AI and you may as well be today, but the more you read on and test things out yourself the more you will come to see the differences. Because its just a concept and not about an absolute "fix", much more testing with EAW's default Flight Model (FM) and Difficulty Settings would be needed to find the complete and thorough answers. But because of the reasons mentioned here, this help document was created to try it out for yourself.


The update rate values are in milliseconds per update. The default PlayerUpdateRate of 35ms means for the game to update the players inputs about 30 times per second. A default AI_PlaneUpdateRate of 350ms for AI means the AI gets to 'think' and adjust inputs about 3 times per second. As those defaults were set by the MicroProse EAW Team back in 1998 when a 300mhz machine was considered to be a fast computer, it's no comparison on today's machines which can possibly allow a lot more freedom for the already Super AI to do even more un realistic AI things, and he does!

It would be a good idea to consider what Computer you are running EAW on and how many AI pilots are 'in the air' before making adjustments since EAW uses a decision/thinking cycle that is based on the speed of the computer; If the PCs CPU and Memory speed is not up to running all of the AI's at full quality speed (at least 15 Frames per Second or smooth 'Flight') you could have faulty performance in the game with the AI. Slow and choppy game performance will make the AI behavior poor and won't exactly reflect the numbers you put in. You may also find in a slow performing game that the player's (yours) plane controllability may become delayed or lagged.


The values that are shown below where the result of 8 months of testing, however they are not completely universal and are just new starting points, as mentioned in the previous section they are machine dependant and in the case of the Player value, player dependant, no two are alike.

The AI_PlaneUpdateRate seems to have a restriction, with the lowest possible value of 140. The other two settings, PlayerUpdateRate and ClockSyncRate can be set for much lower values.

  • The lower the AI_PlaneUpdateRate the smarter the AI becomes but in turn it increases the load on the system times the number of AI planes in the scenario. (on a slow machine an AI value of 140 can make the A.I. a bit lazy as the computer can not meet the demand of the lower value). If the game slows down with really low numbers, use a higher A.I. value to keep the speed of the game up.
  • When you increase the PlayerUpdateRate this makes "Flight Errors" more forgiving , it decreases the load on the system times one for the player as the game checks less often; At the suggested new value of 140, EAW gets your inputs at about seven times a second.
  • The ClockSyncRate, was tested at higher values of around 200 or 210 (the game would Sync less often), but findings conclude it seems best to stay with the default 140. Although a lower value would Sync more often, in turn increasing overhead.

For online use, One Virtual Squad found the values 140, 16, and 100 respectively where rather enjoyable. Again depending on your computers speed and connection quality, You may need to tweak them out a bit.

In the eaw.ini file go down to where it reads "NETOPTION" And the Last three lines there read:

AI_PlaneUpdateRate=350......Change to 140 (alternative 140)
PlayerUpdateRate=35.........Change to 140 (alternative 16)
ClockSyncRate=140...........Stays the same. (alternative 100)



These are some of the helpful outcomes of tweaking the values as mentioned above.

A.I. Improvement:
When the values are properly tweaked they invoke the AI to use different flying abilities while still putting up a good fight. The enemy AI fighters will now pull fewer "impossible" maneuvers (UFO's) like those impossible outside loops and vertical 'zoom' climbs as they tend to do in the default settings, thus bringing their skill level closer to the Players, even when the hardest difficulty is set in game. When your on their six, their defensive maneuvers include doing more barrel rolls, turns, climbs, dives and loops rather than the standard mad dash to the deck where they roll inverted and zoom out away from you, however they still split S when they have to. They sway back and forth and try to get you to overshoot by using scissors. Overall the dog fighting just seems to have a better feel as all AI fly more smoothly.


Wingman Response:
A.I. Rate Tweaks effect the performance of your Wingman as well. When the tweaks are done to improve AI, your Wingman's aggression level seems better, they will take initiative and attack on their own accord. They become so intent they can nearly shoot you down if their after the same enemy plane as your chasing. So at times, you may need to disperse the formation a bit and/or tell them to just cover you to avoid friendly fire. In careers your wingman stay in formation with you rather than taking off ahead of you. Unfortunately with the aggression level increased, this will make your Wingman more un responsive to some orders. For an example, when Wingman are told to disengage, they may NOT comply until their current target is destroyed.


Players Plane:
When increasing the value from the default, A few things you'll notice is that your plane runs well at 3/4th throttle setting; You don't stall as fast or burn out your engine as quick! For an example, the Me-110 doesn't stall every 8 seconds like it usually does; You can actually make a turn now without spinning. A Hurricane has the capacity to keep up as well.



To further enhance the the A.I. read the following section combined with various Help Document for more information to learn other ways than adjusting the delays.



There are a couple more things you can do to enhance the behavior of the A.I even more. These changes are the result of combining two or more patches and custom FM/DMs. These methods are not compatible for online play. However, this will make them more lethal and difficult to take out, even harder with the addition and use of the Rate change tweaks. You may want to read my MicroProse Patches Help Document to learn what those patches have pro and con.


Rate Tweaks and v1.1 plus ECA:
Once you have your EAW game patched upto v1.1 (which has very aggressive AI); Using Charles Gunst's ECA (Enemy Coast Ahead) with tougher Armor and improved flight models, makes for some very interesting fighting. Shooting down an enemy plane is very difficult, but doable. Adding the use of the A.I. Rate change tweaks on top of those two options will even increase the difficulty and deadliness even further.

Rate Tweaks and v1.2a:
You can take the custom made v1.2a where the A.I. was improved (over 1.2) and further enhance it with the A.I. Rate tweaks. This will make the skill of the A.I. comparable to the old v1.1 aggressive A.I., (this is in comparison with the relaxed A.I. found in the stock v1.2). Overall AI behavior on both sides will appear less erratic, more aggressive, realistic and intelligent.


Rate Tweaks and v1.1 over v1.2:
Once you have your EAW game patched upto v1.2, you can now swap out the eaw.exe for a v1.1 exe while using the newer flight and damage models of the v1.2 patch. This will provide you with more aggressive and better aiming A.I. than you would normally find in the v1.2 exe. With the Rate change tweaks this will make the A.I. even more deadly.
However, you will loose the ability to use the ExtraSquads eaw.ini setting with v1.1 since it wasn't made part of the game until v1.2 came out. Also the bullet drop is greater in v1.1 than it is in v1.2 where bullet velocity was corrected.


Rate Tweaks and v1.1PC plus Realism Patch:
Once you have your EAW game patched upto v1.2; Using Paulo and Andy's v1.1pc hex edited eaw.exe and Knegel's Realism Patch v3.0(with tweaked FM's) will give you an extremely dangerous realistic game. This will give you the best combat challenge against as realistic AIs as possible. This arrangement will keep you on your toes. Make a miscalculation (ie: too low, too slow) and the AIs will be on you like flies on sugar. You will also notice that AI leaders and wingmen will also work together against you. So it's best to look for an isolated pair and go for the wingman first but don't take too long or the leader will be on your six really fast for a kill. Adding the use of the A.I. Rate change tweaks on top of those two options will even increase the difficulty and deadliness even more.