A.I. Getting To You!!   6-28-2017
Written and Edited by MarkEAW
Text by: Zero Pilot, McLane, Neal, Stanley99, JWC, LLv34_BlauKreuz, Grendel, Prion and others.

CONTENTS

INTRO

DO AI PLANES CHEAT?
AI Use Simplified FM

DECISION CYCLES | UPDATE RATES | TWEAKING THE VALUES

TEST RESULTS
AI Improvement | Wingman Response | Players Plane

MORE ON WINGMEN
Wingman and Campaign Difficulty Settings | Wingman Management | Wingman and Individual Sections
Determining who is calling out for help in your squadron | Single Missions; Support Flight


INTRO:


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 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 control your own friendly AI for the better.


DO AI PLANES CHEAT?:
 

It's been noticed over the years that many virtual pilots seem to consider themselves experts and yet report that 'the A.I. does not black-out' and performs outrages maneuvers. 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, so the question 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 is it that you as the player are using the maximum difficulty settings, while AI uses a simplified difficulty, with stalls & blackouts turned off? or yet is it your flight control dead zones and sensitivity settings?

AI planes do not:
-stall (they do sometimes tho)
-spin
-redout/blackout
-suffer from engine cuts in Hurricane and Spit1 in neg-G loops
-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.

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).

You may have noticed that AI planes seem to have much better acceleration than when you control them. You may have been flying in formation in Hurricanes and have ordered wingman to attack the target in front you. You'll witness him speed off to attack while your left behind even at full throttle. They seem to have more power, cooler engines and generally faster overall.

AI Use Simplified FM:
Many players believed that the AI uses a different flight model, others thought the reason for their "UFO" like abilities is that can fly their aircraft to the edges of the performance envelope and have an almost computer-like ability to tell when they are right on the edge of it. Obviously, this would explain the huge advantage they seem to have.  However, years later it was discovered that the A.I. indeed use what is known as the "simplified" flight model. This is a common way by programmers to reduce CPU workload by simplifying FM algorithms for the AI, so that by and large the overall outcome is similar. It also helps with reducing the modem or network transmitted connection...Some mods have forced player and AI to use the same realistic FM at all times...


DECISION CYCLES:

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 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 in this introduction, this help document was created to try it out for yourself.


UPDATE RATES:


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 back in 1998 when a 300mz machine was considered fast, 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 plane controllability may become delayed or lagged.


TWEAKING THE VALUES:


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)


TEST RESULTS:

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.


MORE ON WINGMEN:


Wingman and Campaign Difficulty Settings:
Just remember the difficulty setting in the game manipulates the effectiveness of your Radio Commands to your Wingman and Squad Members. The lower the difficulty, the more likely they will follow all your commands. If you fly a campaign set to "hard" difficulty, that effectively means that your AI wingmen are more independent, this effect is more true the higher the difficulty is set. Your wingmen and other flight mates will get better as the campaign progresses. Bear in mind that you will need to be the squadron CO to give orders to the whole squadron (not a problem in single missions, but something to remember in campaigns!).

Wingman Management:
To get the Wingman to do what you want, you will need to manage the wingmen by constantly giving them orders, many times, you may need to re-issue a command to get them to respond to your new orders. When commanding an Wingmen and other flights in the squad to engage, waiting until you get within about 4k of the enemy before issuing the commands. As you approach an escorted formation of bombers, tell your flights to "Target Fighters" or "Target Bombers".

Wingman and Individual Sections:
You get a better response out of our AI Wingmen by giving each individual flight/section/schwarm the commands. Atleast better results than ordering the whole squadron/staffel to do something. This is true for any version of EAW, whether you have any add-ons/tweaked or not. You can improve results for orders to attack much more if you have a bandit targeted before you give the order. You may also noticed that if there are two or more groups of bandits, you can target an enemy in a group and order a section to attack, and they will attack that specific group of enemies. Then you can target an aircraft in a second group, and order another section to attack. That section will engage the group of bandits in which my current target is flying! Of course, all things are relative: if you're giving orders to attack to a section that is 6 miles away from any bandits, don't expect immediate results!

Remember that an "interdiction" mission is against ground targets, usually convoys of half-tracks/staff cars or else vs. trains. Check your Mission Briefing to see what your designated target is even in other mission types as your AI mates will have the designated target as their main target, so it IS helpful to always double-check this before take-off, just to make sure. If you order your wingmen to simply attack, they will probably go for the designated target (which is likely on the ground!). If you want them to attack fighters in the air, you will probably need to order them to "target fighters". You could also order each individual section to "target fighters". This seems to have even better effects in all missions than giving instructions to the entire squadron as a whole. Once you have designated the proper targets, your squadron mates should end up trying to attack them. In fact, in ANY mission, it seems to help if you tell your AI mates to target specific types of desired aerial targets (all, fighters, or bombers) before ordering them to "engage bandits".

Determining who is calling out for help in your squadron:
When you hear a distress call from a squad member, pause the game and go to the F9 view. Use target identification and range, plus toggle on target information in the lower right-hand corner of the screen, and pan around, targeting all friendlies and enemies you can find. Try to identify likely candidates who might have called for assistance, noting their range to you and their altitude, and seeing if you can target/locate any bandits near them.

Some people maintain that distress calls normally come from pilots within 20,000 feet of you or so, although I'm not TOO sure about that myself. Usually there are only one or two who appear to be in immediate danger. Sometimes you can even see tracers around them, which makes the determination even easier!

Also, once you have anything targeted, friendly or enemy, you can use F10 to pan around the target itself. When you pick out a friendly, go to F10, and find a bandit sitting close in behind him, and tracers flashing past the friendly, that's a pretty good indication that your friendly AI mate is in trouble! Once you have figured out who issued the distress call, you can next determine whether or not you should go to help. When they're a LONG way off, it could be very difficult to get there in time, on the other hand, it is pretty easy to sneak up on and get in close to a bandit who is concentrating on one of your fellow pilots (!), in fact you can get a lot of kills that way.

If your playing single missions, you should be less inclined to leave a bandit your trying to shoot down to help somebody else, but in a campaign this is not the case. In campaigns, most players fly with limited supply (so you need all your pilots and planes!), and also the guy in trouble could be one of your more experienced pilots!

One trick you could try with aircraft that has both machine guns and cannon (like the Spitfire MkIX/XIV, the Me109G/K, or the FW190A/D) is if you can't get there in time, you can fire a burst of machine gun fire (you certainly don't want to waste cannon ammo!) where the bandit can see it, or better yet, fly through it, even though you don't expect to be able to do any significant damage. If the enemy plane is hit by a round of two, it usually scares the pilot into breaking, giving your AI mate a chance to escape. In airplanes like the Thunderbolt, you have a lot of ammo and a better chance of a long range kill, so you may sometimes want to use longer bursts in the same situation, hoping for a long-range kill and figuring you can at least scare the enemy off you don't shoot him down. This is a more difficult decision in something like a Tempest, where your firing time is limited and you have all-cannon armament (with mixed armament, you shouldn't mind wasting machine gun ammo but cannon ammo is a different story).

Single Missions; Support Flight:
In many single missions you may notice that when you have your flight supported by another flight and the supporting flight takes off and goes about on it's own, leaving your flight without help, this can become problematic. It seems to not to happen when playing Campaign missions as a call to "cover me" and you can see two friendlies fall in behind. All you can do is call ground control periodically and request assistance. Sometimes they will send help, sometimes they will all have better things to do. Allied AI suffers from the same affliction as the Axis AI.

Here's some descriptions in example form of these wandering flights:

For example, setting up a single mission with Me262s supported by FW190Ds intercepting B17s escorted by P51Ds, as soon as the mission begins, the support aircraft turn around and fly away, leaving you and your schwarm(s) of primary aircraft to fend for their selves. Changing and play testing many different variables, such as base/target location, cruise altitude, etc., still leaves the problem present.

Another example, When you hit Alt N you find that if you try to fly manually (no autopilot) all other supporting squadron(s) immediately turn in some other direction and go wandering off. Actually it doesn't matter if it's Alt N or if you fly the whole way there.
But if IMMEDIATELY after jumping ahead you should hit Autopilot to keep your squadron to stay on the same course as you! ("IMMEDIATELY" means press the A key as soon as you get your cockpit view again!) (if your flying all the way without Alt N, you have to use autopilot the whole way) If you ever disengage the autopilot before the bandits are engaged, the friendly supporting units go flying off on their own again.
This is a good news/bad news proposition: if I keep the extra units close to me, I can't climb for an altitude advantage due to autopilot; if I try for altitude by flying manually, I don't have any help when we run into the enemy!

Another example, You occasionally find yourself devoid of the supporting squadron even if you didn't need to use the ALT N because distances to targets are never more than fifty kilometers; however, there are still times when the aircraft you have selected for support get called to other hotspots (We assume). There's a war on and things don't always go as planned (my rationalization). 

 

 

To further enhance the the A.I. read my 1.1 AND 1.2 Help Document for more information.

 

 

[END]