IL-2 AI update, also cockpit customization?

A couple of tidbits of new IL-2 information coming from IL-2’s Lead Developer, Jason Williams, as he replies to some comments on the forums. First we have some of the challenges about the AI upgrades and roughly how long that will take as well as a really interesting note about cockpit customization.

AI development on-going

Sometimes the AI just goes round and round until you can pull enough lead…

If you’ll recall the last big Developer Diary update, 1CGS announced that they had hired a new programmer and after doing some work to improve formation flying had set that same person on to improve the dogfight AI.

One of the charges leveled against the AI at this point is that their defensive tactics often involve flying in a circle. Sometimes endlessly. Though they are capable of more it does often devolve into an angles fight and kind of an unrealistic one – certainly not a satisfying one. Adding a few more tricks to the AI ‘s dogfighting capabilities will be appreciated. It is, however, not an easy task and I’d like to let Jason’s response take it from there.

We are always trying to improve the AI, but you guys fail to understand the complexity of our AI and how they fly and fight and you also don’t know the history behind it all and why it’s been so hard to change. As we have stated in the DD, we have someone working on the AI so hopefully we can make it more interesting and human-like, but as we have said its a big job and will take many months.

Jason Williams

So, if you were expecting a quick fix you may need to adjust accordingly. More realistically I think it is likely that AI is going to be an ongoing and incremental thing that gets improved over time. That 1CGS has an AI programmer back on the team is excellent news and we’ve already seen small improvements over time with the series.

Final note on AI, its important to remind everyone that IL-2 is currently the only combat flight sim that I’m aware of that makes full use of the advanced flight modeling with the AI. That is to say that IL-2’s AI fly using the same flight and engine modeling that human players do. This is why their flying movements are so natural within the sim and somewhat unlike the sometimes unrealistic stuff you see in DCS World or the older IL-2 series titles (IL-2: 1946 aircraft can roll far quicker when flown by the AI for example).

Cockpit customization?

This isn’t one that was really on my radar but some players have, over the years, modded custom images into their cockpits. I’ve seen wartime photo recreations and actual wartime photos. There’s the usual pin-ups and other artwork that we’ve seen as well. These are in the category of “extra feature” but it looks like 1CGS may be adding it.

In the next update you can. We’ve added this ability.

Jason Williams

That’s interesting! I look forward to learning more about this.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. bigalrico says:

    I can only agree with that. I think the AI is doing splendidly. Of course it is not perfect, but I think it is making some progress. For example, in the career mode it is now possible to attack bomber formations at high speed (even with highest adjustable difficulty). This was not possible before the introduction of the last update for the gunners (not without getting hit and most likely shot down). I know it is a little bit different in Multiplayer but even there is it easier to kill a bomber (atleast me) . The attack behavior of some fighters has also improved, trying more and more to stay at their height or use flight maneuvers to get you off your track. What might be more harping are the BnZ airplanes like the 190, La5 or P-47. Nevertheless I am sure that there will be some improvements in the coming months.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Blue 5 says:

    The AI is a bit mixed at the moment so this is good news. My personal views issues are:
    – Anything below ‘Ace’ is a terrible pilot, while ‘Ace’ can be an irritatingly (border-line impossible) shot
    – The ‘BnZ’ aircraft (in the vague sense) do very well for the first minute of a fight if they start with an advantage, but after having missed a few times they squander their advantage rapidly and become easy meat
    – The .BnZ aircraft lack a sense of coordination so their wider advantage of their performance is lost
    – The BnZ aircraft appear to lack a strong ‘Split-S’ logic option: they really should dive hell for leather if airspeed falls below ‘x’ and enemy aircraft is within ‘y’ distance
    – My biggest issue is with the WW1 AI: even on ‘Ace’, they seem to wander along at about 70% throttle performing a slow scissors, so that Camel vs D7 becomes an effort in not accidentally ramming the Fokker (!!?!)

    It is a bit of a shame that the whole thing is not a little better, but I appreciate that the time and energy required is significant.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      The Flying Circus AI I feel are not fully there. Kind of placeholder from the looks of things. I’m hoping for big improvements there.


      1. Blue 5 says:

        I agree. Personally, I feel it lacks the nuance required to reflect the speed and handling of the FC aircraft.

        I am supportive of the team’s efforts, but I feel a little short-changed on this one.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. ACG_Paddy says:

    Great that theyre improving it but I despise closed answers. Can JW explain why its so tricky for AI development.?
    We’re told by the media & books that AI is heralding the new dawn, yet they cant fly virtual planes? Does not compute.


    1. Blue 5 says:

      Because the ‘AI dawn’ is normally cheerled by people invested in an AI company or journalist who don’t understand the problems but like a quick headline.

      Anyone who uses a laptop has daily evidence of AI’s shortcomings, at least when it comes to mass-market programming (which covers sims).

      Such developments are iterative and often develop by working on previous failure as much as massive innovation.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. ShamrockOneFive says:

        For sure. We’ve seen and I have been following efforts made to improve AI but a lot of it is still at the fundamental research stage.

        The most applicable to a game/entertainment product was Google’s AI trainer to play StarCraft II at an elite level. But there were limits and it could only play the one map.

        At the commercial level where IL-2 exists there are no breakthroughs.

        IL-2’s AI programming is hard because they actually do fly the flight engine. Instead of taking shortcuts. So there’s some sophistication there but I suspect the AI is a house of cards – when it works it works fairly well or at least is adequate. When it doesn’t it’s a total disaster.

        I’ll make sure to ask more details from Jason the next time we do a Q&A.


  4. ngabor says:

    AI improvements is good news, very good. Do you think we will get more fixes/improvements in the single player aspect? I am thinking about career fixes and improvements, improved communication (at least il2 1946 level), better flight formation system (pairs – leader+wingman – within the formations)…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Tough to say. I think their focus is on some other key features but who knows… we may see a few updates for Career mode too. As for the AI, now that they have someone on that, it’ll probably improve incrementally.

      Improved comms will probably factor in eventually too.


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