There has always been a soft spot in my heart when it comes to Just Flight and its related AI software for Flight Simulator. I have reviewed just about every add-on that came out for Traffic 2005, and I have enjoyed countless hours with that version of Traffic through the early months of FSX until now. Shortly after FSX came out, Just Flight announced that there would be a new traffic program worthy of FSX and that it would be Traffic X.
The Traffic X Package
Traffic X comes in one of three ways; one being the boxed version, two being the download version and three being the upgrade version for those who own Traffic 2005. There is absolutely no difference between the upgrade version and the download version except in price and the upgrade version will require that you uninstall any previous versions of Traffic prior to this installation.
If you are to buy this add-on, I would strongly recommend buying the boxed version because it comes with a printed manual and a full color Spotters Guide that lists every aircraft that is included. That makes this reference much easier than having to navigate to a stored PDF file on one's hard drive.
Initially I did try the download version, pre-patch, and I did find that I had some problems getting it installed after using Traffic 2005 with both FSX and FS9. The next catastrophe was the loss of my main backup drive and a problem with my computer, where I had to reinstall everything. Luckily, I had requested the boxed version and it came shortly after my problems had surfaced and I was able to install it on a new computer with a fresh copy of FSX and Acceleration installed.Okay, I got a little side tracked but I wanted to explain why I do not care for the download version.
So, moving on! Traffic X includes worldwide AI coverage all in one little package. With it you will have access to over 80 different airplane models with over 1700 different liveries and variants. Besides including Commercial Aviation traffic, there is also General Aviation traffic, helicopter traffic and military traffic that is region specific to each individual aircraft, airplane and helicopter. Every aircraft that is included with Traffic X has been created to make full use of the FSX graphics engine.
Included with this AI package are several drivable vehicles and a functioning Tower that can be placed anywhere from within FSX using the slew keys, if you choose to sit and watch from afar. Also included is a character named Spotty, he is that guy that likes to sit at the end of the runway and watch the planes take off and land.
If you are using the downloaded or upgrade version, you will need to take special care in making sure that any previous versions of Traffic is removed from your computer. During the installation process, you will be required to activate the product online through the Just Flight site. If you are using the boxed version, installation is much simpler! You will still need to make sure that you have removed any previous versions of Traffic, but activation is all done via the CD making things much easier in the long run.
If you have had an older version of traffic installed on your computer, it is imperative that you remove any additional TRAFFIC.BGL files in your FSX/Scenery/World folder otherwise you will find that traffic will not displayed 9 times out of 10. I read somewhere that it is advisable to remove any reference to AI traffic, but opted not to do this because of additional 3rd party AI that comes with other add-ons. By default, FSX uses Traffic.BGL and Traffic X uses TrafficX.BGL, so just rename the Traffic.BGL file or simply delete it.
Traffic X Pre-Patch
There has been a lot of talk about this on some of the forums, so I figured I should include some reference to it in this article. When Traffic X was released, there were many people like myself that had been waiting with baited breath to get their hands on a new copy of Traffic X because of their love for Traffic 2005!
Upon its release, Traffic X was, to say the least, disappointing and what most users were left with was an AI add-on that put hardly any AI at hardly any of the airports. There were no General Aviation Aircraft and in my case, with my sliders maxed for AI at places like Seattle, I was lucky if I had three or four commercial jets parked at the gates at any given time.
I spent hours trying to get to the bottom of this. I tried using the Traffic Control Center to adjust flight plans and create more traffic, but it was to no avail and I was left waiting. Just Flight had posted some reference to this problem on their forums and they were quick to say they were working on a fix. A hot fix was released just after the product was released, but it didn’t do a thing to improve the amount of AI in my virtual skies.
Traffic X Post Patch
Finally after the second week of December, a service pack was released for Traffic X and it promised to fix these issues and would make the program work like it was supposed to. In total, the patch was roughly 84 megabytes in size and was a welcome addition to my Traffic X install.
After I installed the patch and had some time to spend in FSX, I found that there was a significant improvement in the amount of AI that I was seeing and I was also able to see GA Aircraft and Military AI, but there were still issues. It is my assumption that if you buy the download now, it will include said patch. But if you own the boxed version, it is imperative that you download the patch and install it.
Using the Traffic Control Center
When you launch the Traffic Control Center, you will find that it is literally the heart and soul of Traffic X. From here you will be able to view Airport Information, view aircraft and carrier codes and check out your fleet database of installed AI planes that include both default AI and Traffic X AI. The hanger mode will allow you to make the AI planes flyable if you like, and a traffic generator will allow you to select what planes you want for AI from the Traffic X database. There is a traffic movements utility that compiles all of the selected AI and its region for use in FSX and finally a comprehensive database of all the flight plans created for each and every AI plane in the flight simulator world.
Another big feature and a rather unique one at that, is the ability to set which aircraft will be used based on what date you set within the program. For example, if you select 1969-1981, it will only use aircraft that were used during that time. This is especially nice when you know that the Concorde is one of the AI aircraft. I was never able to make this function work 100% as I had set my time between 1969 and 1975 and I was still seeing newer aircraft.
Overall, I found that the directions for the Traffic Control Center were a little on the vague side and more detail on how to use it would have be nice, especially when it references the chrono-time option. The biggest thing for me was not knowing that by simply right clicking on the menu screens while using them, would reveal more options. This was mentioned in the manual, but it should have been a lot clearer!
Out of the box and once the product is installed, you should have AI. There should be no need to go to the Traffic Control Center until you are ready to play with some of the other features that are available with this product and learn more about what it has to offer.
Getting into FSX
Upon getting into FSX, I found that there was considerably more AI in FSX than there was before. KSEA was busy with all sorts of flights as were some of the neighboring airports in the region.
Traffic X offers the user several options when in Flight Simulator for enjoying the AI aircraft. The first is a tower that comes in several different models and functions, like an aircraft that can be placed at any airport using the slew commands; it does include a working radar and NAV screen. Traffic X also includes a couple of vehicles, a follow me car and a pushback vehicle that will allow you to tour the airports jetways and get up close and personal with the AI. Finally, there is Spotty and this is that guy that stands outside the fence of just about every airport armed with his camera and binoculars. These are essentially just little extra novelties and you won’t really find yourself using them very often.
There didn’t seem to be a shortage of commercial aviation, but I did notice there wasn’t a whole lot in the way of General Aviation. Still, I'm sure if you looked hard enough you could find some here and there, but at places like KYKM there were still none. If you wait long enough, airplanes will arrive but there are none parked in the GA parking spots. At one point I set the time of day to 8AM and managed to get one to show up over by the McAllister building. The same could be said at most of the smaller airports that I went to in the United States.
I spent a great deal of time looking for AI aircraft in FSX, initially concentrating on Commercial AI I moved onto General Aviation and Military traffic. I started in Seattle, WA and worked my way through the west coast of the United States at most of the major hubs, then moved onto smaller airports. I didn’t find a whole lot in the way of GA traffic, there were a lot of planes in the air but hardly any parked at any airports and or airfields. This carried over to the military traffic as well and I started my search at Nellis AFB and worked my way east, I was able to find some but didn’t find hardly any parked at each individual airbase throughout the US. Nellis AB was devoid of any life and this was pretty much my end result for almost every Airbase I visited.
Figuring I had to be missing something, I ended up at the Just Flight website looking over the support forums for Traffic X and came to find out I was not the only one who was reporting this. The problem lies within FSX and not Traffic X, as many of the Military Airbases throughout the world do not have assigned parking areas for Military air traffic and it is essentially up to the user to fix it. This is done by editing the individual files for each individual airport that you want to use and this allows the traffic to appear at those airports. Editing the airport file is easy, all you need to do is download a free copy of Airport Design Editor and assign new parking areas throughout the airport layout and save it. Of course you will need to incorporate the newly designed airport into the Traffic X program to get it to work. If you are not comfortable doing this you can find modified airports via Avsim that have the proper parking areas assigned.
Now, for the General Aviation issue, I am assuming that this problem must also occur with the GA traffic as well. But I am not quite sure how to fix it because the airports that I frequent already have assigned GA parking. Places like KYKM are all but devoid of any aircraft and the only time I could get Traffic X to place any parked airplanes there was to change the time of day to 8AM and that did give me one parked GA aircraft.
I spent some time exploring the different airfields and airports that litter the English countryside and I was at times lucky if I found at least one or two planes parked at a runway. There doesn’t seem to be any shortage of GA planes in the air though and it is only reasonable that one has to think they all have to go somewhere and perhaps those spaces will eventually be filled.
After all is said and done, I have to say I was pretty happy with the end results of Traffic X as I had a wide array of Commercial Air traffic and once I had a better understanding on how the whole program worked, I was a much happy camper!
Avsim - Interview with Wolfgang Schwarz – Lead developer on Traffic X
1. How long did the product take to develop?
From start of development to release the product has taken around 18 months to develop. This was mainly due to the amount of aircraft that had to be modeled along with the need to consider and test compatibility with latest FSX Service packs.
2. What was the most difficult feature to develop?
With a product like Traffic X the most critical factor was the overall amount of work and detail required due to the large amount of content. With tens of aircraft, hundreds of liveries and thousands of flights world-wide to create the work was very labour-intensive and time consuming.
3. What was the most fun you had working on the product?
Seeing it all come together in the end is the most satisfying experience, with all components coming together delivered from different developers – aircraft, paints, sound, traffic – and seeing it all come to life in Flight Simulator.
4. How easy is it to set up?
Installation itself is as easy as any Just Flight installation – there is a fully guided install process which will then leave you with the product ready to run. However users should make sure that any interference with other Traffic software is eliminated by uninstalling or disabling them. Having two traffic add-ons running on a machine at the same time isn’t recommended and can lead to problems occurring within Traffic X itself.
5. Can you use real-world flight schedules?
You can set up your own real-world flight schedules with the tools provided, however Traffic doesn't claim to come with real world flight schedules. Traffic flights are "realistic", meaning that aircraft are supposed to fly from/to destinations operated by their airlines with aircraft suitable for the trip. We are however not saying that flight plans are so realistic that you could reference a real-world time table and look up the flight in Flight Simulator.
Looking at user feedback about their flying experience with FSX we realized that at this time a realistic numbers of flights, especially at international airports where users are flying most of the time, simply cannot be handled by current hardware. With the full amount of traffic accompanied by proper custom animations and high scenery density at a large international airport like JFK or Atlanta will bring FSX practically to a halt. And this is without add-on scenery or add-on aircraft.
Therefore we have very deliberately limited the number of flights and the number of parking positions at the airports to what we think are reasonable levels. Since release of the product some customers were a little concerned that some airports were light on numbers of aircraft. Perhaps we erred on the side of caution a little too much. We have now released a service pack that along with a number of smaller issues addresses the level of traffic at major airports. I’d urge any existing users who would like to see extra AI Traffic generated to download and install the service pack that is now available from our website.
6. What setting should the FSX Traffic Slider be on?
Following the logic explained in question 5, this really depends on a number of individual factors, as in your particular PC system and your personal preferences.
Do you prefer airliner traffic or VFR traffic? Do you want to see as many aircraft in the sky or would you prefer to see a decent performance at and around your favourite airport? Do you like to fly with high scenery density? Are you using an add-on scenery or 3rd party aircraft? Depending on the answers to these questions, the user is encouraged to find their own preferred settings to allow for a mix of good performance, quality and volume.
7. Approximately how big will the file size be?
The Installed file size is just over 3Gb
8. How often will Just Flight update the product, and will flight schedules be updated (and if so, will that be for free?)
Of course we will be looking at our customer feedback and will provide bug fixes and updates where necessary. As mentioned already upon releases we noticed a few minor flaws and some other issues were pointed out to us by customers. These have already been rectified and are included in the available service pack.
Schedules will not require regular updates as they are not linked to real time flights, however users are invited to upload their own modifications (aircraft paints, schedules etc) to our Traffic X website for others to download.
9. Will it be compatible with ATC add-ons like VOX-ATC?
We have tested Traffic X and it all looks fine running with other add-ons such as VOX – ATC. Warning though - if you’re installing Traffic x all other AI programs need to be uninstalled and all files removed from your PC.
10. Will the new version install over the existing Traffic program, will it uninstall it or will it utilize some portion of the old Traffic program.
We are providing an upgrade path from the previous version to Traffic X. Before installing Traffic X the "old" version should definitely be uninstalled.
For full details on Traffic X visit the Just Flight website.
In The End
Traffic X, for me, was a must have and regardless of its initial growing pains, it is a definite favorite of mine.
I am not interested in learning how to build my own AI routes, or adding planes manually to make my own custom AI, so it is a program like Traffic X that fits well into my Flight Simulator world.
Its overall ease of use and wide array of aircraft makes this product one of the more versatile AI products sold right now.
What I Like About Traffic X
What I Don't Like About Traffic X
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