If there was one single element that completely changed the immersion level of Flight Simulator, it was the advent of AI traffic/ATC. Granted, the original iteration released with FS2002 was far from flawless, but it gave us a glimpse into the future. Since that time, several commercial products have hit the proverbial shelves with varying levels of success and complexity. While each title achieved the same result, the path to active airspace varied among developers.
Over the years I have owned every payware AI product on the market, and as such, feel at the very least I have the experienced to give you an educated and comprehensive review of Aerosoft’s MyTraffic 2010.
MyTraffic 2010 from Aerosoft, along with MyTraffic X from Simmarket, are both developed by Burkhard Renk. Burkhard is an icon in the Flight Simulation community, and you will find his name in many of the leading FS developers support forums. Over the years I have read hundreds of his posts and really appreciate the analytical nature of his responses. Several times I’ve read posts by customers outwardly attacking his products or support, and in nearly every case, it was user error. It takes someone of great character to read a post criticizing a product he spent hundreds or thousands of hours creating, and not reply with an equal amount of frustration when it is the customer who is at fault. Burkhard stands above the rest and it has been an honor corresponding with him throughout this review.
Although MyTraffic 2010 and MyTraffic X are nearly the same product, the different names, versions and various changes have caused confusion among the FS community. At this point in the review, it is vitally important to differentiate the two titles. Due to the nature of this explanation, I will give the honors to Burkhard, who is the best at describing the differences as he is the one who designed them.
(Reviewer's Note: I have edited his various posts for space and readability as it contained minor grammatical errors)
“You know that MyTraffic has been published for many years by two publishers. Simmarket publishes MyTraffic X, either as a download or DVD. Simmarket provides support for this product, and their infrastructure gives you access to updates, patches, and rebates on new versions purchased from Simmarket.
The second publisher is Aerosoft; their version is based on mostly the same models, paints, airport and schedules, but differ due to separate installation policies, different media, support and infrastructure. Aerosoft offers MyTraffic 2010 on DVD and as a download. Support is handled by Aerosoft staff on the Aerosoft forums and updates are through the Aerosoft support infrastructure. Up until now, the Aerosoft versions used the same names, and this led to some confusion.
In the future Aerosoft will use the name MyTraffic 2010, and Simmarket will use the Name MyTraffic X. This also gives us the chance to differentiate the product further. Future products will no longer carry the same version numbers, and update dates will not be necessarily synchronized. “
To best outline “What you get”, I’m going to summarize the published features.
• “My Traffic 2010 is the latest version of the popular and longtime successful My Traffic series. Uncompromisingly optimized for the Microsoft Flight Simulator X this product provides realistic air traffic in the air and on the ground, which is controlled by artificial intelligence, for more than 8200 airports.
• Worldwide dynamic and realistic AI-Traffic!
• More than 140 aircraft models were newly designed for FSX with in a never before seen detail for AI-planes, with a minimal impact on the PC resources.
• Nearly all current airliners, most commuter aircraft and civil freighters are included. There are additional versions of many aircraft types featuring different engines. 1600 aircraft liveries are included as well as more than 4000 different types and associated flight plans.
• My Traffic generates more than 800000 flights a day, worldwide.
• This enormous number also counts on the fact that My Traffic 2010 is "very active" in North America and Western Europe. You can also explore every part of the world and find airlines you’ve never heard of before.
• My Traffic 2010 goes far beyond airline traffic. Charter carriers fly to touristic places, cargo airlines carry freight, and military planes fly to and from military bases and general aviation airplanes make sure you do not feel alone on thousands of airports.
• In some typical regions you will find newly developed water planes bopping up and down on the waves.
• Over 2000 airports were transfigured to make more space for airplanes which are at home there.
• Even some important airports which were missing in FSX are now included, for example the big regional airports of Moscow.
• With the attached My Traffic editor you can program flight plans to your liking.
• The principle of My Traffic 2010 is the simplicity. After the installation the normal user can just go flying, nothing more - with the virtual world around him is becoming more real than ever before.
• Also included is the My Traffic 2004 Version 4.1 for the FS2004 (Box/CD-Version only)”
It’s important to include this section as it outlines the reasons behind the many changes in this product versus previous IA programs by Burkhard. Many of the leading commercial AI programs have grown significantly in terms of both feature sets and complexity. So much so that every day users were becoming overwhelmed to say the least. For the advanced user, it was wonderful, but the mainstream simmer it was too much.
Building on his vast experience with all MyTraffic versions, and once the decision to develop MyTraffic 2010 was made; the biggest question was how to proceed. Burkhard writes:
“Once this was decided, of course the question was: What should MyTraffic 2010 look like, what is the typical market of the Aerosoft products, and of the Simmarket products, etc. I spent quite a while on the different forums to get as many answers as possible.
I also looked into all the reviews I found about MyTraffic X, which all are very positive, with an overall agreement that MyTraffic has become too complicated for many users. And to be honest this is true, MyTraffic has grown beyond anything I could imagine a few years ago in quality, quantity, performance, options, possibilities and complexity, a complexity that allows professional users to do everything - and requires they study the SDK documentation every day. MyTraffic has the size and complexity of an operating system by now; fortunately we never had a MyTraffic Vista debacle.
One of the design decisions for MyTraffic 2010 was not only the obvious one, to use everything that could be finished by the release date given by the retailers, but also to simplify it. For a product that carries the name 2010, I think the user can expect that it only contains aircraft built after the FSX SP2 release and that work properly under Direct X 10 - even if that means that it will contain fewer models. For example, I could make a Tornado, a Typhoon and a Transall, important for the European market, but most USAF aircraft still have to be made for DX10. This also means that the time machine has to be strongly cut down, since the models that are Time machine only (Tristar, Caravelle, DC6, CV440 ...) won't be redone until late next year (2010). On the other hand we don't need the complexity of DX9 schedules vs. DX10 schedules, and Aerosoft support does not need to help its users to find out if they actually use DX10 or DX9.
I think that MyTraffic 2010 1.0 is a very good product, optimized for the main stream market. It contains the giant airliner traffic from MyTraffic 5.2a, existing and new GA models, existing and new military aircraft, improved schedules, is usable with far less options and complexity, but experienced users can use the MyTraffic editor and the network plans etc to program their traffic themselves.”
In the following sections I will give you an unbiased review of this product, but in no way wish it to be taken as overly critical of MyTraffic 2010. Very few products for Flight Simulator are perfect, and as the complexity goes up, so does the probability of encountering bugs.
During my correspondence with Burkhard, he was very open to suggestions, and like a gentleman, accepted my input and had knowledgeable answers to my questions. MyTraffic 2010 has come a long way, and I strive to give viewers a comprehensive review, while giving Burkhard an enormous amount of credit for making this product available.
Purchase Installation and Documentation
The Purchase - Prior to this review, I had intended on purchasing MyTraffic 2010. Fortunately I was assigned this product and had the opportunity to seriously examine it to give you, the reader, an inside look at how MyTraffic 2010 competes today.
My first disappointment was in researching the product for purchase prior to receiving it as a review assignment. Regardless of where I looked, it was the same marketing text, but no comprehensive information on the product.
I wanted to know what military, commuter and GA aircraft were modeled, and what level of animation the AI models used. Unfortunately, much of the information needed to make an educated decision to purchase the product is not available until after you have received it. I frequented the forums and learned as much as I could, but more information on the product before purchase would have been greatly appreciated. A downloadable manual might be an idea here.
The actual purchase is simple and painless. Unless you have dial-up. MyTraffic 2010 is available as a boxed product, or a whopping 1.26GB download. As stated earlier, customers who purchase the boxed product receive MyTraffic 2004 v4.1 at no cost.
Aerosoft has opened a new retail outlet in the US, Aerosoft USA, Inc., and boxed items purchased from US customers will see their shipping costs now start at $6.99. For both the boxed and download purchases, you will need to either log into, or create a new Aerosoft account. After payment is received, you will receive an email directing you to log into your account where a download link will be available. You will need your email address and order number from the Aerosoft email to activate the program. In the boxed version, it will usually ship shortly after your payment has cleared. Both products come in at a bit less than $50USD.
The Installation - The ease of installation is measured on what you want out of MyTraffic 2010. If your plan is to install and fly with minimal fuss, then I’m happy to report the program almost works as advertised. One quick note: As of this review, there is one small (270kb) patch available that amends the priorities of US military aircraft and the F-18 Swiss military livery. To access this patch you must log into the support section of Aerosoft.com. There is also an optional sound pack update to install.
I highly recommend this update as, among other fixes, it adds military call signs to the appropriate aircraft. On the sound pack update; locating the file is not very easy, and the documentation doesn’t accurately describe what steps to take. The following text is from the manual:
“To update your voice pack to recognize all airlines inside MyTraffic, you can download the actual version of the sound patch using the MyTraffic Manager.
After its installation, the sound patch program starts. Please
help it to find the FSX\sound\usenglishbig.gvp file in the event
it fails to locate it. As soon as you locate and open the sound
file, it will check if it is the original one. DO NOT INTERUPT
the sound patch program if it seems to be not responsive. It will
finish. If you interrupt it, your sound file will be corrupted.
If you do so twice, also your backup will be corrupted.
New sound patch updates will be produced with every major release of MyTraffic 2010. New airlines added by free minor releases may have no call sign until then.”
From a user standpoint, it starts to get confusing. When you locate your Aerosoft folder from the start menu, there is no MyTraffic Manager listed. The link titled MyTraffic Configuration is actually the MyTraffic Manager. By trial and error I located the MyTraffic Manager, and was surprised to find there was no option to download the sound pack update as stated in the documentation.
The actual application was downloaded within the MyTraffic 2010 program and is placed in the …/FSX/MyTraffic/ folder. Once I ran it, everything worked as expected.
There are a few things I do need to mention here. The MyTraffic Sound Patch is NOT compatible with EditVoicePack (EVP). EVP is a wonderful freeware program which enables you to manipulate the FSX ATC sound file for a better and more realistic experience. After contacting Lars, developer of EVP, he posted the following response:
“No, you cannot install the MyTraffic patch. While it was created with an old version of EditVoicepack, it does something else to the file that breaks EditVoicepack - I don't know what.
EditVoicepack will add most of the missing call signs, but not all. The only real solution here is that MyTraffic X is updated to use the new EditVoicepack API instead of the patch. I did have some communication with Burkhard concerning this, but I am not sure where he is in the process - or if he intends to go through with it at all.
The API allows MyTraffic X and other products to easily add call signs etc, while remaining 100% compatible with other add-ons, including accelerated voices created with EditVoicepack.”
Also, contrary to the statement” Since there is no known way to get a fresh version of the sound file from DVD…”, there is a way to do this which is outlined on the EditVoicePack X WIKI page.
This is where the installation issues will tend to derail many users. For the record, the problems encountered are a direct result of the Microsoft Flight Simulator SDK nightmare and are no reflection on the development of MyTraffic 2010. Because it adds significant complexity to the installation process for users, I must include it here.
MyTraffic 2010 comes with a very comprehensive traffic editor which will be covered in more detail shortly. Oddly enough, it’s named MyTraffic X Editor (Simmarket product) and not MyTraffic 2010 Editor. (Aerosoft product)
If you plan on using the MyTraffic X Editor, you MUST install the appropriate FS SDK for your current Flight Simulator installation. This program includes the TrafficToolBox.dll that is required to not only use the MyTraffic X Editor, but several “extra features” from Microsoft. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Based on the numerous forum posts, it’s a problem for many users. For example, in response to a customer with FSX and Acceleration, Shaun Fletcher from Aerosoft writes:
” You need to initially install the SDKs from the FSX Deluxe disc, you then need to install the SDK for SP1 then SP2. You may find these updates on the acceleration disc, if not they can be downloaded.
Remember, install the SDK’s from the FSX Deluxe disc first then FSX Software Development Kit Update SP1A followed by FSX SDK - SP2 Update”
Once again, Burkhard displayed his professionalism by giving customers a clear explanation of the cause, and steps to fix the problems.
Please let me explain the problem, which has three origins.
"First, the tool menu entry has absolutely nothing to do with MyTraffic. It is a property of the "Software Developer Kit" (SDK) that comes with FS - if you think of AI traffic, it’s highly useful and we therefore recommend you have it installed and try to help you.
In FS9 this was simple. Technically, it was enough to place a dll file into the FS9\modules folder, and it was used immediately. Legally, the FS9 SDK was a free download and the traffictoolbox.dll marked as a "redistributable".
In FSX, it’s not that simple. Technically, a dll may reside anywhere, but depending which dll you want to use, the user has to program into the file "%appdata%\Microsoft\FSX\dll.xml", a file edited using notepad. Wherever it is, if the file syntax is OK and all the entries exist, then the module will be loaded.
Legally, the SDK is included with the FSX Deluxe Edition and not redistributed so MyTraffic or any other add-on cannot install it for you. This has been made clear enough by the Microsoft legal department.
To make things even worse, there are four versions of FSX (FSK RTM, FSK SP1, FSX SP2 and FSX Acceleration Pack). These are different programs, with different internal data structures, so a module for one of them does not fit to the others. FSX with the Acceleration pack installed is not the same program as SP2, but a different program with a lot of additional structures and features.
So depending on which of the 4 FSX versions you have installed, you do need to install the correct SDK, in the case of Acceleration Pack the SDK.MSI from the Acceleration DVD.
Sorry that Microsoft has made things so complicated, but we here and Aerosoft suffer as much under this as you end users, you can be sure."
For those dedicated simmers that follow the narrow path, the result is well worth it. Fortunately (or unfortunately) I have installed and reinstalled various versions of Flight Simulator and a mindboggling number of commercial and freeware add-ons over the years, and the SDK issue should only be a minor inconvenience for experienced users.
One final thought on installation. MyTraffic 2010 comes with two demo products; SuperTrafficBoard and 777-High Definition. Since these are two separate commercial add-on demos, I did not review them.
Documentation - For anyone who has created professional level documentation, you know firsthand what a chore it can be. The more complex the product, the more comprehensive your documents should be. I have created 40+ page fully featured PDF files, had them professionally proofed, reviewed them yet again, only to find errors after publishing. It happens to the best in the business, just not as often.
When I started reviewing the documentation associated with MyTraffic 2010, it was important to keep a few things in mind. For the MyTraffic 2010 developers, English isn’t their native language. Now, it could be argued that a company marketing products to English speaking countries should take care to ensure the correct grammar and punctuation. I tend to be realistic in this sense. Without significant financial resources, a relaxed development timeline, and top notch employees, high quality documentation just isn’t within the reach of most designers. That’s not to say I haven’t seen some fantastic work from small startup companies, but that is the exception and not the rule.
I will outline the separate files shortly, but want to let you know that although the documentation is excellent, there are small grammatical errors throughout the documents, and several areas where sentences don’t make much sense. You may need to read a paragraph a few times, but eventually you will understand what is being said.
Overall the documents are extremely informative and well written. Although the manuals are great, I did have a difficult time finding any specific information on setting up a historical flight utilizing the installed historical models.
Below are the separate files and their descriptions.
AI_Traffic.pdf - The document is a 38 page PDF titled AI_Traffic.pdf accessed via the start menu link. It should be noted the link is named AI Traffic Compendium, but the actual file is AI_Traffic.pdf. This is a very well written document explaining the complexities of AI. I’ve copied the table of contents below to give you an idea of what this document covers.
MyTraffic 2010 Manual “The FSX technology of AI Traffic” - This file is easily accessed from Start/Aerosoft/MyTraffic2010/MyTraffic Configuration. From the configuration screen, you select the Information For You tab at the top, followed by MyTraffic Documentation-Good Reading.
Although this manual covers a lot of detail in a user friendly and easy to understand format, many links in this document either don’t work, or weren’t hyperlinked to begin with. There are numerous images of various features included with MyTraffic 2010, and the full list of included aircraft.
MyTraffic X Editor Manual - This document is accessed via the MyTraffic Configuration screen as above, selecting the /MyTraffic editor manual/ link from the Information For You tab.
As titled, this is the manual for the MyTraffic Editor. It is packed full of information, and if you intend on editing your traffic files in any way, this is a MUST read.
Conclusion and thoughts on the MyTraffic 2010 documentation - Every time I purchase an add-on for FSX that raises the bar in quality, those that fall short seem to do so at a greater distance. The documentation here is great, and with a little polishing, would be fantastic, but the documents need a more aesthetic and professional appearance in order to be considered truly high quality.
2010 features 146 unique AI aircraft representing 4,106 liveries
the globe. In addition, you will see the FSX default
GA and corporate aircraft at most airports. Each aircraft was designed
specifically for FSX with the latest tools and are fully DX10 compliant.
There are no “carry over” models from FS9 which speaks
volumes about the dedication of Burkhard to ensure only the best
products are incorporated in this release of MyTraffic.
It is important to mention here what is included in the forthcoming upgrade, and what is included in this release of MyTraffic 2010. Although this product combines airline, commuter, corporate, GA and military aircraft into one package, the military, corporate and GA models are limited.
When I asked about this, Burkhard’s reply was: “The next version is intended for May 2010, and will feature a complete rework of the US Air Force featuring new A10,B1,B2,B52,C5,C17,F15,F16,F22, also other air forces using these models and F4,F5,Mirage 2000, in addition some new GA models (Diamond Dimona and Katana as example ) as the biggest changes…”
One problem I did have was when I tried to disable the default FSX traffic using the MyTraffic Manager. The batch file process showed several errors and after restarting FSX, the default traffic was still active.
Night textures are included and their prominence depends on the aircraft type. Whereas a commercial airliner and corporate types will have, in addition to the standard navigation, tail flood, cabin, and cockpit lighting, GA have navigation lighting and military aircraft use a unique lighting system which is modeled correctly.
MyTraffic 2010 has been designed and optimized to work with the FSX Service Pack 2. SP2 improves the quality of FSX significantly and adds to the performance as well. The new models are designed with the latest SDK tools for FSX.
A word on quality vs. performance. There is a noticeable difference in quality between the FSX AI aircraft and the MyTraffic 2010 aircraft. Most FSX default AI aircraft are also flyable models with a much higher level of detail. It just isn’t feasible to utilize that much detail over 146 separate AI aircraft and still experience acceptable frame rates, especially at large airports.
As with any project of this magnitude, there will be areas that shine and some not so much. One issue I have is the repaint quality across the spectrum of models. Some of the aircraft are gorgeous, while others fall well below what I would expect from a commercial developer. I have also noticed various freeware AI models that reflect a much higher caliber workmanship. Granted, those are only a few dozen individual models, and not the plethora of choices MyTraffic 2010 offers, but I think this payware product should come a bit closer to the quality of current freeware releases on several aircraft.
One other fact that that should be noted is many smaller airliners and many corporate jets lack landing gear doors. To keep the level of detail down sacrifices have to be made, but the lack of gear doors is glaring and takes from the overall realism of the product as a whole.
Users will also notice lack of paint on the wings of MyTraffic 2010 aircraft. At first I thought this was a bug, but Burkhard offers a very comprehensive explanation below:
“ Most wings are not textured, and I would go so far to call a textured wing of a frequent AI aircraft a severe design bug. Why? The clear rule given to us designers by Microsoft is to keep the number of un-stackable draw calls below 1000 on any scene. To be precise, this is for textured draw calls, material draw calls are for free almost. Now, animated parts are by definition no stackable draw calls, so an aircraft with a textured wing, four flaps, two ailerons and two spoilers and three wheel sets (a typical 737 or A320) would have 11 un-stackable draw calls (13 with engine animation). With up to 150 aircraft in view, this exceeds the 1000 just for the AI traffic – not airport building yet, and brings FSX into a situation where MS says they doesn’t warrant performance.
With very modern hardware, I see this performance drop more at around 2000-2500 calls now – but MyTraffic planes are not allowed to take much toll on highly detailed airports, and are still expected to work properly on a current mid size / 2007 upper end system – which means that I try to keep the total number of textured draw calls below 500 everywhere for MyTraffic alone – no way with textured wings.”
Since this is such a large part of MyTraffic 2010, I will divide this section into four sub-sections; Airline, Corporate, GA and Military.
Many of the commercial IA aircraft are beautiful. After examining 50+ commercial aircraft in various liveries, I found most of the repaints excellent on average, with a few that bordered average. From a distance, the lower quality repaints are difficult to pick out, but when taxiing past one at the gate, it is much more obvious. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ve attached several screens for your viewing pleasure.
In addition to the default FSX corporate aircraft, MyTraffic 2010 adds the Challenger 300, 601, 604, 850 and the Global Express. The quality of the textures on these aircraft fall into the average category as I didn’t see any truly high quality repaints regardless of which airport I visited.
Knowing MyTraffic 2010 was using all of the default FSX AI aircraft, it was my hope the program would include several new repaints for the default FSX AI aircraft. This was not to be the case; the only liveries I saw on the stock FSX aircraft were stock repaints.
Considering the Challenger family so closely resembles each other, I feel the addition of a few more corporate types would have greatly increased the realism here.
One disappointing aspect of every previous commercial AI program on the market was the relatively non-existent GA fleets. Visit any small real world airfield and there will be numerous aircraft sporting a wide variety of paint schemes. MyTraffic 2010 tried to remedy this by including more FSX default aircraft and adding the Cessna 150 and 150a (float), the Cessna 206 and 206a (float), and the Piper PA32T and R.
From a users perspective I didn’t see many C-150’s, 206’s and only a small handful of PA32’s in 50 hours of testing. Even with the traffic slider set at 50% and above, very few 150’s of 206’s. In my quest for the C-206 amphibian, I visited well known float plane bases in Alaska, through Kenmore Harbor in Seattle, on to several south Florida bases, and even the Caribbean. Where did they all go? Since the MyTraffic 2010 PA32 was visible, it wasn’t an issue of a misplaced GA aircraft folder, but it is curious. I asked Burkhard about this and he stated:
“ Sea Planes can be found as example in Australia, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Scotland, Greece, Canada, Vancouver area, and most of them in the Maldives. They will not land on land, but on water only, which is a limitation of FSX that AI planes cannot sense the ground as variable available for the model design… Got to airport CAM4 for example to see the amphibians. The wheeled C206 is almost everywhere, a larger number of them as example at LSZO. The wheeled C150 has no schedules, thanks for finding a bug!”
After his response I visited the airfields he mentions and “BAM” there they were. I did notice a large number of white or non-painted default GA aircraft at the airports following the installation of MyTraffic 2010. This seems to be a fluke as MyTraffic 2010, like every commercial AI program to date, uses default AI aircraft with their stock paint schemes. After installing numerous add-on textures for the default aircraft, the “white” aircraft were still there, but not as often.
One other noticeable issue is how the GA aircraft appear on the flight line. MyTraffic 2010 utilizes the FSX default AI aircraft, which have a certain level of detail. When parked next to one of their GA aircraft, their lower detail models are easily spotted.
Upon visiting the MyTraffic/aircraft folder I noticed the C-206 Amphibian had 40 repaints, while the standard 206 had 16. The Cessna 150 and PA32 had 6 textures for each model. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to sample an adequate number of textures to really get a feel for their quality.
One last thought on GA aircraft; I asked if it were possible to populate airports with more GA aircraft. Burkhard writes:
“ What the MyTraffic editor does depends strongly on the airport. The ratio of airliner/GA is determined by the airport class and the ratio of gates over ramp GA. On class B airports, GA is strongly suppressed, on class D slightly; on class G airliners are suppressed.”
One aspect of this product I really looked forward to was the addition of military aircraft at bases around the world. With real world military aviation experience, I was anticipating a lot of time with the specific segment. MyTraffic 2010 adds several military aircraft from various global manufacturers, and provides them with flight plans resulting in semi-accurate military flight operations.
virtual military hanger will now contain the Sikorsky CH-53 and
CH-47 helicopters, Navy F-18C Hornet, Grumman S-3 Viking,
Grumman E-2C Hawkeye, Grumman EA-6B, Panavia Tornado, Eurofighter
Typhoon, Boeing E3 AWACS, Boeing KC-135 & 137, MD KC-10, BAe
Nimrod, and Il-76.
Burkhard had a decision to make here. Since the US Air Force fighters weren’t ready yet, he could populate the Navy bases and leave the Air Force bases nearly empty (they would still have the transports and refueling aircraft), or populate the Air Force bases with Navy aircraft. He chose the latter, which, given the alternative, I thought was a wise choice.
Having spent most of my life in Naval Aviation, I’ve been fortunate enough to call many historic military bases, both Navy and Air Force, home. I’ve walked the halls of the Naval Fighter Weapons School (Top Gun) when it was located at Miramar NAS. Langley, Nellis, and Oceana NAS hold many memories, and as I write this, I’m mere minutes from Whidbey Island Naval Air Station (KNUW) where many aviators are transitioning from the venerable EA-6B Prowler to the new EA-18 Growler. I couldn’t wait to see what MyTraffic 2010 would do to these bases.
My first test of the new MyTraffic 2010 was to visit NUW and see how much more immersive the experience was. This turned out to be the best and worst experience of the product as a whole. Sitting at the approach end of RWY 31 in the stock Acceleration Hornet, waiting to take the active while listening to the inbound Prowlers contact the tower was surreal. Flying the pattern with other military aircraft, all being contacted using Navy or Marine call signs, was one of the coolest experiences I’ve had in FSX.
Unfortunately the quality and animations of the F-18’s and CH-47’s proved very disappointing, as did the repaints of many U.S. Naval and Marine aircraft.
The textures on the CH-47’s were very low quality, and while taxing, the rotors rotated in slow motion. A transparent rotor disk would have been far more realistic. The sound file for this helicopter is that of the Cessna 172. Using the stock Bell 206 might have been a better choice.
All the F-18’s sit on the ramp with their hooks in the lowered position and their canopies open, and when taxiing the hooks are down, which in the real world, just doesn’t happen. Burkhard modeled the F-18’s ramp configuration as a result of user request, but for me, having been there, it takes from the experience. He did ask if connecting the spoiler animation to the tail hook, where the hook would only extend when the spoiler was up, would be more realistic. Given the limits of FSX AI, I feel that would be a great solution.
The majority of all US military aircraft have low visibility paint schemes where the insignia and unit markings are barely noticeable. High visibility paint schemes are usually reserved for special occasions, VIP, or Commanding Officer’s mounts. In the case of MyTraffic 2010, nearly all military aircraft have crisp and overly bold insignias. Having more realistic repaints here would greatly improve realism on every base in the world.
Jumping across the water to Europe, the military aircraft are European types and not repainted US aircraft which I appreciated. Bases flooded with Tornado’s and Typhoon’s are a pretty cool site to see, and taxiing past a waiting Il-76 does put a smile on my face. As in real life, you will see visiting aircraft from various military services including those from other countries.
Much like the US counterparts, European fighters have some significant texture/modeling issues. After mentioning this to Shaun at Aerosoft, he reminded me I was evaluating the “big” picture and MyTraffic 2010’s AI solution as a whole, and prompted me not to lose sight of the purpose of this review.
While he is correct insomuch as being too critical of individual aircraft can be considered nitpicking, giving prospective buyers an unbiased and honest assessment of those same individual aircraft is part of a great review.
Airports Schedules and Traffic Densities
More than 2,100 FSX stock airports have been modified with greater AI traffic. In many cases where there was no AI at all, including many military airfields, MyTraffic 2010 added a number of additional parking locations.
While developing this product, Burkhard realized many airports that were home to airlines represented in MyTraffic 2010, were completely missing in FSX. One of the best designers in the industry was contracted to create these airfields using the latest xml technology.
One thing hard core users will realize is this product does not emulate every real world traffic schedule. In fact, no product does. Burkhard does a great job of explaining why, and it was important enough to include here.
“A schedule is a set of instructions to move a certain aircraft over one day or one week through the world of Flight Simulator - there is no AI plane active or parked without a schedule. In order to fill the ground and air with aircraft, about 230,000 schedules are contained in MyTraffic, making more than 670.000 individual movements.
To make these schedules, many things have to be considered. MyTraffic 2010 knows about more than 1,900 airlines with about 4,100 different types and 146 different aircraft are available. While all this sounds comprehensive, and indeed is much bigger than any other AI program, it still is a tiny fraction of the real world numbers, where 6,800 airlines with 15,000 types and about 400 frequent series can be counted. So while MyTraffic is by far the most comprehensive AI traffic program on the market, it still cannot completely emulate the real world airline traffic. In addition, the published schedules of airlines cannot be flown in real life without delays; this much we all know, and in a digital world with its own hard rules, like those of Flight Simulator, all such trials deliver disappointing results.
Furthermore, if you ever have passed days or weeks spotting at many airports, you will have noticed that spotting means waiting. On all but the very biggest airports it just is normal that nothing happens for half an hour or even one hour. From the feedback we get this is not expected by the majority of MyTraffic custumers - we often get bug reports if nothing is happening within 10 minutes or less. So, any emulation of real world data fails most user expectations by far. On the other hand, users do want the schedules to be as realistic as possible - that is where several design decisions have to be taken.
The schedules in MyTraffic originate from several sources. There are schedules written by the author, schedules supplied by users, data that come from actual real world spottings, and schedules that are created along the rules defined in the MyTraffic editor on a random basis. Using one of these sources only, even the most complete one, leaves most of the world void. All of these have to be mixed togther to get the best possible result. New in version 2010 is a fast way to get more schedules called Network_plans, we hope that many users will use it to model route maps of their favorite or local airline to be added to future versions of MyTraffic 2010.
A lot of work in MyTraffic 2010 went into detection and elimination of double schedules - every schedule, when imported, gets compared to all those that are already in. If the same type flies the same route within 20 minutes, the new schedule will be rejected. But there are other potential dublicates, what to do if as example we have in the huge data sets an Air India flight with a 747-400 from London to New York and another using a 777-200 about 50 minutes later? Discussing this the number of votes for keeping and deleting were more or less equal. The decision therefore was to keep all schedules that a very strict check would delete, and store them with a traffic density setting of 95% or above. So, if you run FSX with an AI traffic density of 100%, you will see these doubles - if you do not want them reduce the density to 94% or below.
The coverage of the world by the data sets is very different for different regions, Eurocontrol as example is much stricter than the FAA. Therefore, the imported schedules can be more realistic in Northern America as compared to the rest of the world currently. But still, many large regional airports in Northern America only have a few IFR flights per day, so in order to simulate life on them a couple of random schedules needed to be added - which could lead, for example, to a visit of a TACA at an airport that TACA doesn't use in real life. These random schedules in Northern America for aircraft larger than a King Air are set to traffic densities above 90% now, so again you can choose if you want to see them or not.“
Givin the limits of FSX, I feel the resulting AI traffic is extremely realistic and given that the user can add/remove or edit schedules makes for a very complete product.
MyTraffic Manager & MyTraffic Editor & Time Machine
The primary interface to MyTraffic 2010 is the MyTraffic Manager, which is easily accessed from the start menu under Aerosoft/MyTraffic 2010. Remember, this interface is named My Traffic Configuration and not MyTraffic Manager on the start menu. From here you can link to all of the documentation and configuration settings. As mentioned earlier, you can select the texture and animation level of your AI aircraft, which is accomplished from the Configure My Traffic tab on this screen.
Additionally, you can manage your FSX, dll and scenery configuration files from the Manage FSX Settings tab. Lastly; there is a Select Schedules tab where you can, as the name implies, select your schedule. By default my installation has 2009 schedules, but if you have imported schedules, they would appear here as well.
Keep in mind you must have Microsoft’s .NET 2.0 or above to use the MyTraffic Manager.
A few more settings within the Configure MyTraffic tab are:
As you can see, there are many selections to choose from, and part of the fun of reviewing a product is playing with all the buttons.
The MyTraffic Editor is an extremely effective tool for all of your editing needs. In the Installation section of this review I wrote about the Flight Simulator SDK, which is REQUIRED to use the MyTraffic Editor. Below is a brief summary of the Editor as written in the Introduction section of the Editor’s manual.
“The Editor is a powerful tool which allows you to manage AI traffic through a database driven mechanism. The main databases within the Editor are the aircraft database and the airports database. Based on the data in the preceding two, combined with the parameters of user preferences and geographical logic, the flightsim world is filled with automatically generated, yet realistic, AI routes.
The Editor is recommended for users who wish to make substantial modifications such as the addition of a new aircraft model (or Series, as known within the editor), a new airline or a combination/culmination of several smaller factors such as the addition of a new airport and customization of local traffic.
A specific new feature is that the editor, by maintaining only one database, can also create schedules for past years. You can go back in time and simulate any year from a century of flight – MyTraffic X includes aircraft dating back to the 1960s.
Due to the complex nature of the software, a minimum level of understanding is required before one can make meaningful changes to their AI traffic within FS. For this reason, we strongly recommend that you read this manual before embarking on this rewarding experience.”
As you can see, this is a very complex program requiring a moderate understanding of AI interfaces, but the rewards are more than worth the time spent learning the program. Although the manual states a “minimal level of understanding is required”, I believe someone without the ability to grasp an intermediate level of software based infrastructure would find the process daunting.
An in-depth tutorial on the Editor is beyond the scope of this review as it could easily be written as an independent review, but a summary of its features is in order to give you an idea of how powerful this tool really is.
The manual was created in a question and answer format, covering each item as an explanation of how to use it. There are 34 such sections and I have included them below.
1) How do I add a new plane to the editor?
MyTraffic 2010 was developed to be a much easier to use product right “out of the box” so to speak. Customers wanted a program they could install and start enjoying immediately without the need for complicated procedures. Advanced users wanted to retain the ability to manipulate various datasets within the program, and the inclusion of the Editor is testament to Burkhard listening as customers posted their wish list for MyTraffic 2010.
Stepping back in time is an amazing feature first introduced MyTraffic Editor 2005 V3.0. It allows the user to choose an era, compiled a traffic bgl file and simulate air traffic going back as far as 1960. MyTraffic 2010 can only use aircraft allowed in the currently set year.
Seeing LaGuardia’s ramp full of Boeing 727’s, 707’s, and Douglas DC-8’s will take a lot of “mature” simmers back to a time when air travel was definitely less restrictive.
I did have a bit of trouble with this feature. This product was marketed as an extremely simple way to achieve a complex AI traffic solution. At first, keeping simplicity in mind, I thought selecting “Install aircraft models for historic flights” from the Configuration Manager and setting FSX to 1972 would give me 707’s at JFK. It did not. The process is much more complicated, but experienced AI users shouldn’t have any problems.
Unfortunately there was no Time Machine subheading in the manual so finding the solution was trial and error.
Aerosoft is a large and well respected company, and as with many companies this size, support is primarily conducted through the Aerosoft support forum. In some instances the developer and/or publisher will contact you via email, but in most cases this is not warranted.
Mr. Burkhard, developer of the MyTraffic series, and Mr. Shaun Fletcher from Aerosoft are very good at responding to customers who have questions or are experiencing technical issues. In nearly all instances, customers having trouble only need a little encouragement and direction on how to fix their problem, and they are on their way to hours of AI happiness.
As mentioned above, Burkhard is working on an upgrade to MyTraffic 2010, and his willingness to take requests from the public on what additional aircraft to include reflects great customer service.
The never ending realism/quality vs. performance compromise will take on a new meaning here. Many default FSX AI aircraft are more taxing on a system due to their higher level of detail, so one would argue you can have several MyTraffic AI aircraft for the performance hit as one default AI aircraft. There is another performance limiting factor unknown to most FS fans. The number of AI aircraft exits can greatly reduce your performance at large airports as jetways can be active for all aircraft exits. MyTraffic 2010 gives you the option to disable animations on their aircraft which can have a huge impact on your FPS.
The manual states: “Most frequent models come in three versions: performance-optimized with reduced animations, quality-optimized with reduced animations and quality-optimized with full animations. The quality-optimized models require approximately twice the system load as compared to the performance-optimized models.“
MyTraffic 2010 displays as much airport activity at 16% than FSX does at 100%, and while this gives you a lot of options, users must be wary when moving the FSX traffic slider to the right.
On my system, I tested MyTraffic 2010 with slider settings from 0 through 100%. As expected, higher settings reduced performance, and above 90%, LAX and JFK were clocking in at a whopping 9FPS with fair weather and the default 737-400.
Summary / Closing Remarks
It has been a long road to say the least, but it has come time to summarize my thoughts. Over the years I’ve owned every commercial AI traffic program released. My desires were simple; a complete package including the world’s most visible major and regional airlines, along with fairly realistic corporate, military and general aviation traffic.
Several years ago a company released a product that required separate purchases for commuter and military AI traffic. I was extremely unhappy that separate purchases were required to form a semi-complete package, but like a lot of others, I opened my wallet and purchased each add-on.
Even today, competing commercial AI packages specifically designed for FSX lack UPS, FedEx and military aircraft. Yes there are hack jobs that users can perform which combine elements of several AI titles to form one complete solution, but they are far from optimal and require converting non-FSX files to an FSX format.
MyTraffic 2010 brings everything into one easy to use package. From thousands of new FSX/DX10 compliant airliners, to military bases across the globe full of realistic combat aircraft, this package is a definite must-have for anyone who wants a one-stop-shop for all their AI traffic needs.
That being said, there is definitely room for improvement, but it wouldn’t take much for this product to raise the bar in which all others are measured.
In my opinion, adding several more corporate, military and GA
aircraft types, bringing the quality up on a few models, adjusting
on various GA and military aircraft, and giving the user interface/documentation
a more professional appearance, would completely change the personality
of an already capable package.
What I Like About MyTraffic 2010
What I Don't Like About MyTraffic 2010
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