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Sunday
Jun142009

Review: MyTrafficX

Reviewed by: Mark Stewart & Eric McClintock

One of the things that boosts the reality of a flight and helps an airport come to life is other aircraft. Having aircraft parked at the gates, the view of an aircraft paused at the hold-short line or the twinkling lights of an incoming flight on approach, AI traffic is a great edition to the experience.

This week we had the opportunity thanks to “name” of MyTraffic to put his new add-on through it’s paces. There I was, blocking traffic, not clearing the runway fast enough and generally being a real pain in the butt at an airport near you. So why was I doing this? Well, just to see how his new add-on handled my inexperience and sloppiness when it came to simulating other aircraft reactions. I am happy to report that about 80% of the time, the other AI pilots stepped on the brakes or throttled up to go around avoiding me as an obstacle.

Up until now, I had used the add-on Ultimate Traffic which I purchased a number of years ago. It pleased me greatly that MyTraffic had improved upon my previous experience with an AI aircraft manager. So overall, I truly enjoyed the experience and the positive aspects far out weighed the minor breaches in reality. The negatives are really more “wishes” for future patches and editions.

Install

Easy and straightforward, happens in two major parts. (1) Installation of primary program. (2) Building of aircraft database (15-20 minutes). Instructions in HTML format viewed in browser.

Aircraft Quality

Like most AI TRAFFIC MANAGERS aircraft are simpler but still looked quite good. Paint jobs were clear and only faded in quality at a distance. It was a good balance between detail and not bogging down the system with high detailed textures. I experienced a great mixture of appropriate liveries in the airports I was flying out of.

Aircraft Handling & Movement

Aircraft ramp operations, taxi-way, take-offs and landing were performed well. The only aspect I noticed was some turbo-props and smaller aircraft stopped in way to short a distance. The other aspect I noticed that was also present in other add-ons was aircraft taking to long to commence take-off roll. A lot of commercial aircraft start the spool up of engines before they are even lined up to expedite departure for the tower. This was a typical scenario of AI aircraft sitting there and holding on the numbers for 30 seconds to a minute. I don’t know if this is a programming limitation, since it seems to pop-up in stock AI aircraft as well.

Weather Factor

One of the most important things to do when you activate or fly with a package like MYTRAFFIC is to make sure you set up the winds. The program needs to read the winds for an airport in order to set-up the proper departure and arrival runways. If you don’t you will have unrealistic arrival and departure runway assignments for an airport that is not consistent with reality.

Separation Breached & Incursions

I was pleased that in most scenarios MYTRAFFIC sensed when I was on the runways or blocking a taxi-way. I set-up a scenario with landing traffic where I left my tail hanging 10 feet onto the active runway with an aircraft on approach. Sure enough the program set the inbound traffic into a missed approach. It was not so kind with the reverse scenario and my nose partially onto the runway and traffic in take-off mode. The plane taxied on, held and rolled right past me on the take-off roll. It did not sense me clearly breaching the runway 2/3 of the way down. But it is a small point. I was also pleased that there was not a huge wave of traffic that descended on the airport when first starting a scenario.

Sounds

A surprise to me is the sounds made from AI aircraft. There was jet blast sounds and good ambient sound when near the aircraft. It was something I was not expecting.

Verdict

If you don’t own and AI add-on like MyTraffic, I would highly recommend that you go out and support MyTraffic. I have not been flying with AI as much in FSX due to frame rate issue, but turning it on made me realize what I was missing and greatly added to the experience. the program is done well and exceeded my expectations in most areas.

MyTrafficBuilder and MyTrafficBoard

Since Mark’s review above covered the traffic side of MyTrafficX pretty well, I am going to focus on some of the extra features you get with MTX. Most notably the Traffic Editor.

Before appreciating the features of MyTrafficEditor, lets review the MANUAL process of creating FSX AI flight plans:

    • Install FSX SDK
    • Update FSX’s dll.XML file to load the Traffic Explorer.
    • Create each individual flight plan in a text file. The flights must be done in a specific format, using a specific order for the different variables of the flight.
 typeKey,tailNumber,trafficDensity,repeatEvery,flightRules
{
departureTime,destinationAirportId,flightLevel[,flightNumber][,circuitEndTime]
departureTime,destinationAirportId,flightLevel[,flightNumber][,circuitEndTime]
# enter as many departures as required
}
typeKey = one of the typeKeys from fs10.AircraftTypes.csv
tailNumber = unique aircraft tail number
trafficDensity = minimum traffic density required (1 to 100)
repeatEvery = ONE_HOUR, TWO_HOURS, FOUR_HOURS, SIX_HOURS, EIGHT_HOURS, TWELVE_HOURS, ONE_DAY, ONE_WEEK
flightRules = IFR or VFR
departureTime = DHHMM, where D = optional day of the week (0=Monday, 1=Tuesday, etc) and HHMM = zulu hour and minute of the day
destinationAirportId = destination airport ICAO identifier
flightLevel = the flight level, for example 20 = 20,000 feet
flightNumber = optional airline flight number
circuitEndTime = optional time to stop flying circuits at the destination

Each different flight will need to be put in as a separate entry. Afterwards, you need to put the file in the correct directory and compile the scenery through a command prompt entry:

 TrafficDatabaseBuilder /Output=testtraffic0.bgl /AircraftTypes=fs10.AircraftTypes.csv /Countries=countries_regions.csv /Airports=fs10.Airports.dat /Schedules=custom.dat /AutoSchedule=No /log=log.txt

Lastly, drag over the compiled BGL file into your FSX’s addon scenery folder. This is just to show you the labor involved in Manually creating flight plans, if you really want to learn more about this method, check out my tutorial [Link].

The Process with MyTrafficX…

NOTE: MTX REQUIRES the FSX SDK in order to compile the BGL files for your AI. You can find the SDK on the FSX Deluxe disk, be sure you also install all SDK updates (May be found on multiple DVD’s). Unfortunately, if you only have FSX Standard Edition you will not have the SDK files needed by MyTrafficEditor.

  • You’ll need to closely follow the instructions for properly copying the Traffic Builder Compiler from the SDK so MyTrafficEditor can use it.
  • It is also helpful to follow the manual when creating your first few AI flights.

Basic Operation & Features

  • You are able to create your own Airline with up to 4 different Hubs.
  • You are able to designate the types of airspace your airline flys in – Domestic, International, Touristic, and Forbidden Destinations.
  • You can also select specific aircraft types used by your airline.
  • The process of importing custom aircraft is fairly straight forward. It does however require going in to the aircraft.cfg file and pasting in the “title” Parameter. This seems like it could be streamlined.
  • Once you create a custom aircraft TYPE, you are able to specify individual aircraft registrations for that type.
  • For actually creating schedules, MyTrafficX features a completely automated algorithm that schedules flights all over the world based on logical conditions. This feature is work the price of MTX alone.
  • You also have the option of manually creating schedules using a GUI with the departure and arrival airports, times, frequency, etc.

Process for creating a complete custom Aircraft/Airline

  • The process is not very initiative without reading the manual, especially since a lot of the screens look very similar, however it is very functional..
    • Create a custom Aircraft Type
    • Create individual registrations and tail numbers for your aircraft type.
    • Create the airline with Hubs, assign the aircraft types or individual registrations for that airline.
    • Next you can either manually schedule each flight, or use MyTrafficEditor’s automatic scheduler. The processing for the auto scheduler takes approx 10 minutes.
    • Lastly, create the flight plans based on the schedules. MyTrafficEditor automatically executes the command to compile the AI flights, and puts the BGL file in the proper folder for you.

MyTrafficBoard

MyTrafficX also includes MyTrafficBoard, which is a complete solution for monitoring AI traffic status and even allows you to interact with it.

Features:

  • Stand Alone Program uses SimConnect API to interact with FSX.
  • Sort by Arrivals/Departures/Both at specific airports near you, or at ALL airports near you.
  • Board Displays: Schedules Departure, Scheduled Arrival, Airline Name, FLight Type (VFR/IFR), From Airport, To Airport, Departure Remarks, Arrival Remarks, Departure/Arrival Gate & Runway, Aircraft Type, Aircraft Registration, FSX Flight ID, Current Status, and Flight Category.
  • Board can be sorted by all of the different types of categories above, and by the airport you choose.

You can also right click each individual flight, and set yourself up to view the flight in FS or chase the flight in FS.
MyTrafficBoard is a welcome addition to the MTX addon, my only complaint is that it is a stand alone program, and can’t be accessed without Alt+Tabbing out of the sim.

Overall…

Overall, given that you are getting one of the best possible AI flight packages in FSX history with MyTrafficX, you also get a decent traffic editor. While the editor application certainly can use a redesign, and perhaps be made to work a little more intuitively (IE, without requiring reading an instruction manual), it does what it does, and it does a great job of that. I think that ability to plug in a custom aircraft and airline and AUTO generate flight plans is well worth the cost of MTX alone. MyTrafficBoard is a great tool for managing all of your AI flights too.

MyTrafficX can be found at SimMarket for EUR 39.27, or about $45 USD. [Link]

Other notes about MyTraffic X:

  • We talked to someone from the MyTrafficX company, and asked them – Bottom Line – How is MyTrafficX different from other payware AI addons or freeware AI addons.
  • Over the years, MyTrafficX has grown to 1900 Airlines (With 4900 Repaints), as a comparison Matthew from MTX tells us World of AI has 600 Airlines, and JustFlight’s Traffic X just 400.
  • Freeware AI packages are based on either ProjectAI, PSPainer, or AI Aardvark models in the FS2002 data format. MTX uses the FSX format for most models which offers new visual effects, and about 2.5 times better performance.
  • They also had someone go through each airport with AI bugs (For example, aircraft landing before the proper runways), and adjusted the Afcads on each problem airport.

References (1)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    Response: domain
    Review: MyTrafficX - Reviews - FSBreak - The Flight Simulator Podcast

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