AI=Absent Intelligence..?

Putting MSFS aside to visit Cyprus and the Marianas for a while…
Revisiting DCS after a long absence and with new hardware gives me a warm an fuzzy feeling! What an incredible sim! And in VR, no less! DCS really hits the spot for me!

But no flightsim is perfect and DCS is no exception. But, as I always say; Perfection is not a state, it’s a target, or a journey.
Anyway, today I went shooting some Jerries in my trusty ol’ Spitfire and I came to think about the AI. Now, Getting AI to behave like a human must be the hardest objective in game design. But one thing that strikes me as an easy fix is if the AI is being hit, it should start performing evasive maneuvers… I mean, I could get in on a Jerry 109 that had glued himself on the tail on my wingman, and let lose with my guns. Burst after burst of machinegun and cannon hit home, but Jerry stayed on target! Furthermore, he kept on shooting at my wingman.

Animated GIF

This is quite simply unnatural behavior. Nobody is that dedicated, nor target fixated, that he will maintain course when bullets and cannon shells rip his aircraft apart.

So, I started thinking that there may even be some way to model this…?

What say thee, mission maker gurus? Is there a way to make the AI behave a bit more cowardly?

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I don’t know for sure but you can tweak their behaviour via the advanced Waypoint options.

Alternatively, if you want realistic(ish) behaviour, may I interest you in flying on Philstyles awesome Storm of War server? It requires the Normandy Map and the WWII Asset Pack.

You can fly a wide variety of missions ranging from ground attack, bomber escort and intercept, anti-shipping strikes, some missions offer recon tasks that require you to fly over a target at a certain altitude and then RTB and return the gathered intelligence, you can try and hit the enemy airfields with bombs and/or rockets to make them inoperable (requires a lot of people, so maybe not try this alone xD) or you can simply fly around and look for dogfights.

The learning curve is quite steep as you need to learn to navigate by landmarks and compass, speed etc but it is very rewarding.
I get my weekly WW II fix on that server and I can highly recommend it.



AI programming must be a tedious work in any sim.

When I started with Il-2 more than two years ago, in career mode I noticed pretty quickly that the AI usually followed me deep into my territory all the way back to my home airfield. Sometimes I had as many as five / six trailing bandits ‘escorting’ me home.

How about common sense? How about not having enough fuel to return?

The devs usually played it down and later hired AI programmer to work on the AI (great move).

Few weeks back (and about one year after having left the Il-2) I gave the career mode another shot…
…only to be chased all the way back home again.

Angry Fox Tv GIF by Hell's Kitchen

Obviously I have no idea about how these things are coded so I can only whine as a customer. Though I suppose if it was an easy fix, it would have already been fixed.

On YT you can also find a (rather old) video comparing AI behaviour in DCS vs Il-2.


I do fly airplanes for a living… :wink:
Fighting human intelligence is the best. Maybe I should try. It’s been a while.
I guess most players use TrackIR iso VR?

Same here.

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Yes, most use TIR but there are a lot of people who fly VR on the server. Apparently it’s amazing.

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AI is my “thing”. Not that I’ve done it for production software but I’ve studied it a great deal in the past (wrote simple demos in C for various methods and such).

There’s “Game AI” and “Academic AI”. The two aren’t the same. The prime directive of an AI is make you think it is doing stuff. How it does that stuff is irrelevant.

It’s hard yes. I get that. My issue with DCS AI is that it seems to never get anywhere; my benefit of the doubt leans towards - they are working on it. OTH, Ignoring the issues is taking the easy route - you can just tell 'em, “go play multiplayer”.

In my dream world of AI, given what I’ve seen over the years: expose the underlying system (base it on a FSM for instance [which isn’t ideal but nothing really is], and document this interface) then let the user’s ‘wrench on it’.

There’s enough people out there, with enough time (and energy), to come up with improvements much faster.

Lacking the above, our only hope (while I’m still young) is for DCS to become MUCH more popular, thus, perhaps, allowing ED to spend more time/money on it, relatively speaking.

Every time I see some graphical improvement I can’t help but think, right or wrong, that those things are low-hanging fruit (again, it’s all relative); people like “shiny, sparkly things”. AI takes away (multi-threading it should help but that’s another kettle of fish) cycles from processing graphics.

Good, sound, AI can exhibit Emergent Behavior, extending the life of the game regardless of the latest, greatest, graphics hardware.


The No One Cares Part But, Why Not…

I wrote some middle-ware software for an Air Traffic Control simulator (created by “to remain un-named” major US defense contractor/corporate welfare recipient :slight_smile: ). Long story short: I had to program the ‘flight model’ of the aircraft. In the end the “real” programmers (when I handed it all over to them) wondered how I derived the flight models - how’d I get them to “act normal”.

Simple, “I’ve been watching real ones do this for decades - I know what to expect in this context”. Took about 200 lines of code and some tables. Guess they thought it should’ve been more complicated? It worked, and the end-user (ATC trainees and instructors) believed it.


This! From what I have gathered, the AI aircraft API does not expose enough to expand on. But the other, perhaps even more interesting, application is combined arms, which does seems to have somewhat sufficient API for custom AI expansion.

I am in the process to try out connecting real-time game state to Python server, with more tools to tackle AI specific tasks. The goal is to make more intelligent ground units.

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I really like this post.

I’d like to add that (having worked and still working in the sector) sometimes AI has to deal with a lot of stuff that’s ever changing.
Like, in the DCS case, the damage model and a million other Player-centric things that still affect the AI.

So it’s like a short blanket, sadly- you modify the AI to behave better but then the damage modeling changes ant the AI blanket shifts to reveal ugly bugs, so you change the AI, but in the meantime something else changes and it’s back to square one.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the AI being “bad” is just tied to a number of subsystem that are getting developed.
Maybe once some of the new ground work has changed the AI will be finally worked over to be more realistic.


I have been playing and following DCS and its predecessors since 2004 or so.
AI has always been my biggest gripe with it. The ATC, the planes, the ground vehicles and air defenses are all complete morons. Sometimes super-humanly accurate morons but morons nonetheless.

There are literally 20 year old flight sims with - at least in some aspects - better (or at least more believable) AI. And every time I bring it up on any flight sim forum I get “just play MP” or “give them some time” or “that’s not comparable” as an answer, usually combined with throwing me into a category with whiners and haters. It is one of the few things I really dislike about DCS and the main reason why I stopped creating missions until it gets fixed (that was 2011 IIRC).


There’s actually some work being done on the AI in DCS that hasn’t been mentioned in a lot of patches. For example if you damage an AI it is now very likely to try and run home instead of continuing the fight like nothing happened and doing vertical loops like the engine is made of duranium and running on some kind of fantasy fuel. However that brings its own problems as Troll mentioned because now it often doesn’t even react when it is in the run home state, even if you’re shooting it to bits. A hit into the cooling system will also greatly effect the AIs performance I’ve noticed when they do decide to keep fighting instead of running home to mommy. It also won’t react when you approach from its low six unless it’s a Mustang with its bloody tail radar grml.

So there is some progress but it is slow.



DCS prop-plane and IL2 AI both have flaws but I find IL2 to be more believable. “Absent Intelligence” is a clever term for both.


Really interesting input here…
I only know what I observe, as a veteran flightsim enthusiast.
AI has always been an issue, in one way or another. The often lackluster performance of the AI is often compensated by having the AI aircraft and weapons perfom better than the players. Many titles have allowed the AI a set of predetermined maneuvers to perform. The higher difficulty levels had more variation in theirs.
And that’s just the enemy AI. Friendly AI usually have their own problems. They tend to use up their weapons and fuel or they simply don’t do what they’re told.
And I guess we use the term AI loosely here, as it’s not exactly deep learning Artificial Intelligence we’re discussing. Hence my little play with words in the title.
Call it what you want… We flightsimmers and combat gamers want opposition that presents us with a challenge, but at the same time we don’t want them to be totally superior to us. We basically want to believe that the enemy is human.
Looking at the development of flight and systems modelling and graphics and compare this to the development of our digital enemies, I draw the same conclusion that others here have done before me; Coding intelligent behavior is hard work.
Although there seems to be some very high level research being done in this field, little of it has found its way down to us gamers. I’m thinking in particular about the Darpa trials where a real USAF Fighter Pilot was shot down by simulator AI. But this kind of AI probably need more CPU cycles than DCS and IL-2 do together…
I have no answers or solutions. Nor do I want to blame the developers of our beloved flightsims either, as I realize that it must be a monumental task. And, that thought actually gives me some comfort as well. Our human intellect isn’t easily simulated…yet. :wink:
But one day, AI and robots will rule the world. Won’t you
@Discobot fortune


:crystal_ball: Don’t count on it


Hm… Maybe there is hope for humanity, after all? :thinking:


Btw If you’d like I can give you a sort of fam-flight on Storm of War some day.

Landmarks and their names, general position of airfields and front lines and how they change with time (first mission on SoW is always 10th of June 1944, latest (as of now) is 27th of July 1944). Missions are semi accurate for the time period during the first two months after D-Day. Some of the more significant historical operations following D-Day are included in the missions.

I am usually around on weekends and regularly fly Saturday and/or Sunday between 13:00 and 16:00CEST/CET but can also fly in the evening or morning. I also fly on Friday evenings starting around 20:00 sometimes. If I manage to fly during the week it’s always in the evening as well.


The problem with the human brain is that it’s much better at getting that something is wrong rather than what is wrong.

So we can always point odd, or in this case non-intelligent, behavior.
What’s really hard is to explain to a machine how to be human.

Talk about “shooting for the moon”.


Eventually we are going to get what we’re asking for…and initially regret maybe. Once machine learning is incorporated into the engines driving our sims, the AI will quickly learn how to spank the best of us in a heartbeat. It will use tactics tailored to our individual behaviors. It will be glorious!


Exactly. Is this because we humans don’t really know ourselves well enough to code a computer to mimic us…?

I actually think it’s easier to code AI that will learn from our behaviour to beat us, than to learn from us to mimic us…

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Thanks for your offer, @Derbysieger! I hope I can take you up on that. Problem for me is setting specific time aside for simming. Weekends are either work or family time. Same with evenings. I usually get to do my simming on weekdays, when I’m off duty…