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Chock

A quick fly by of Pro ATC

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Voice interaction with ATC is a must for many (most ?) of us who fly VFR without a copilot, so it will be interesting to see what they come up with on that front. For me it would have to at least match MCE to be of interest.

 

Also, do you know if it is/will be possible to modify the phraseology the way you can with FSX ATC using EditVoicePack (or similar) ? I fly Allied WW2 warbirds (which means having German ATC controllers would be pretty scary !) and have changed quite a bit of ATC phraseology to make it more authentic.

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The default FSX ATC is known to vector you into this terrain, which is in fact what narked me off about it and made me buy Radar Contact, which keeps you clear of this terrain hazard, so let's see if Pro ATC is aware of this danger too. I'll let you know in about two hours when I've made the flight and hopefully not flown into a cloud with a granite centre.

 

So how was its vectoring?

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Thanks a lot for your review, Al. I just got one question: Does it only have these German voices, or do they change depending on where you fly?

 

Regards

Flo

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So how was its vectoring?

 

Well, when making that vid, it actually crashed (the program, not the plane) before I got to Spain, so I don't know yet. Will try that again later. The crash reported a compatibility issue, so I might try screwing around with compatibility mode to see if that helps.

 

Re sounds, the voices are somewhat limited at the moment, since it is new, but even at this point 'zey are nod juzd limited to zee fazerland' LOL, for example, I have heard Spanish AT communications, and you can also apparently add your own voices, so I suppose if 'for you, ze var iz nod over Tommy' and you wanted to add some wartime controller saying 'Dog Baker Easy, rendezvous over Splasher Six' or 'Green Section, patrol Hornchurch at angels one, eight, Buster, Buster', in a 'jolly decent' ridiculous posh British accent where they say things like 'harriken' when they mean Hurricane, then I suppose you probably could.

 

I actually quite like the German accents though, so it's not big for me anyway. After all, I've been putting up with blokes from the UK being Chinese controllers on Radar Contact and blokes from the US being English controllers with the default FS ATC for ages, so it kind of makes a nice change.

 

Al

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The developer, Mourad Boutabba, is a very helpfull and sympathic guy.

 

In the past I used FsCom for Fs9 and if I had a question he always answered within acouple of hours.

The basic design of the program is the same , but with more features and now for Fs9.

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Here you go for a quickie video of it in action:

 

Al

 

Nice Vid Al. Looks like this program has alot of potential after they add a few things and fine tune it a bit. A shame they released it a little backwards with no previews, demo or a forum first but i guess everyone has to start somwhere.

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Al, thanks for the video post. Looks very good so far.

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Now still after 3 pages we still dont know how the T and the C in ATC performs.. interact with AI ? vectoring ?

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Thanks Al (Chock) for the info. I have been trying several times to fly a simple route from LAX to SFO. So far, NOT! As has been stated several times here, the flight plan is made by just entering the departure and arrival airports. Pro-ATC does everything else. You can even go in there and edit it if you want (before you activate in FSX). It took me several attempts to keep the window open to enter the departure and arrival airports. I'd enter KLAX and the window would close. Open it again and enter KLAX and then the gate position and the window would close. Have to start all over again. Finally I decided to enter just the departure and destinations and opened the window and got KLAX in then moved down to the arrival and got KSFO entered but the window closed again before I could save it. I did what Al said he had to do to fix this and that was to start up Pro-ATC with Admin rights and I got the plan finished the first time and thought I had this problem fixed. But tried it again on another flight plan and the window would not stay open long enough for me to enter the departure and arrival airports AND go to the bottom of the page and save it. Finally, after several tries, I was able to save a flight plan with just the departure and arrival airports before it closed. Once saved though, I was able to open it up and see what waypoints the program had entered. That all looked great. The problem occurs when you first start up FSX, select your aircraft, weather, and enter the departure airport and gate position. You then hit Fly Now and go to the airport. Next you have to go to Windowed mode and open up Pro-ATC and select the flight plan. This is when Pro-ATC looks at the weather and selects a SID for departure. Clearance will tell you what runway and SID you will fly so I was able to go into the PMDG 737 FMC and enter the appropriate runway and SID. That was great. However if you don't like that SID too bad. Once the Pro-ATC flightplan is loaded, no changes can be made. Once the flightplan had me going up to VOR LIN which is around 100 miles NORTH of San Francisco but most have sent me to CZQ (I shut down FSX when I found out I was going to VOR LIN as I couldn't change that). Last night I had a flight plan that took me thru AVE (okay) then over to VOR CZQ then to VOR MOD (not okay). Plus, in the flight plan, there were two AVE's. Didn't think much of that until I got to MOD and ATC is telling me to turn around to a heading back toward KLAX so think it was trying to take me back to AVE again so I had to shut down FSX again. So, to make things short, I don't see anyway to change the SID/STAR once your flightplan has been activated. I could fly hundreds of miles out of my way to get to my destination but that takes away the realism.

 

Regarding AI - The help section says it can see what FSX sees so I suspect it sees AI too. However, when I takeoff from the runway ATC selects, aircraft are taking off on parallel runways and when I got the clearance last night to take off from runway 6L at LAX, aircraft on runways 6R, 7R, and 7L were taking off too and they all crossed my path in front of me. Clearance did not give me any warning to watch out for aircraft taking off on parallel runways. ATC does provide aircraft warnings of other aircraft but no option to tell ATC you see them or not (perhaps that's done automatically by the co-pilot).

 

I set up background ATC for the USA using Ralph Zimmerman's ATC program. That was easy to set up but you have to remember you have to right click on the US map and it turns green then right click it again to tell Pro-ATC this region is the area where this ATC should be played. Did the same for Canada and Hawaii and Alaska. However, no background ATC could be heard but the default ATC came on during the flight and I could hear all that rambling throughout the flight but no Pro-ATC background ATC. I'm thinking I have to name each ATC file a certain way, like for clearance, clr001.wav, clr002.wav, etc. There is no instructions about this but this is the format in the background ATC that was installed for the UK that came with the program. I will continue to work on this.

 

Thanks to Al for a great review so far. I still think there's a lot of work that has to be done to fix things and this program is NOT going to make everyone happy. There's one guy here that thinks this program runs great and has absolutely no problems whatsoever. That's impossible IMHO. AVSIM might be wise to set up one of those 'unofficial' Pro-ATC forums as Pro-ATC has not started one up yet.

 

Best regards,

Jim

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Yup, your tale pretty much matches mine Jim. It is great at what it does, but it is prone to windows closing on their own whilst you are setting it up to do what it does, so like you, I have taken to just getting a start and end point set up and saved, and then gone in to edit that afterwards, saving regularly, since the random closing of windows leads to frustration otherwise, with all your work gone if you haven't saved it and a window decides to close. That aspect really does need sorting out, as it is infuriating, although I presume they will address it. In the meantime, it is possible to at least work around it though, and once the flight plan is in fact created, it is then in there for good, with further editing still possible to offer some variety.

 

So when you do get it set up, it is very good and very immersive even in spite of it not interacting with my UT AI aeroplanes. It is more like an old-style FS 'adventure' than a dynamic affair such as Radar Contact, so not unlike Pro Flight was for FS98 in some ways (which I really loved), but as you say Jim, that difference means that it won't float everyone's boat.

 

I like the co pilot in Pro ATC in particular, because sometimes I find the co-pilot in MCE to be a pain in the &@($*, for example he won't stop banging on about what flap setting I want on my PBY Catalina, which doesn't actually have flaps, but with the co pilot in Pro ATC, I could select the option for the co pilot to ignore the flaps, or the gear, or the radios or whatever, so that would not be a problem which occurred here. Don't get me wrong, I really love the way MCE lets you talk to ATC, and generally speaking I like the co pilot and other crew members it simulates too, so I do think it is a truly great add on, but that co pilot sometimes really gets on my nerves when glitches like that constant querying about the flaps shows up, so it being the case that one can cherry pick options from both MCE and Pro ATC, I could see a circumstance where combining the two would really give me what I wanted if there was not a specific FS2Crew add-on for a particular aircraft.

 

Thus I'm coming to the conclusion that when it gets patched to be a bit more stable, I will probably regard it as not a substitute for MCE, nor FS2 or Radar Contact, but rather as another choice I can go for out of all of those, depending on how the mood strikes me, and even combining the merits of more than one of them to suit what I want to do, since sometimes I want a full on hard core sim experience, and other times not.

 

Whilst there is no denying it does need some patch attention from a stability standpoint, and it is not cheap either, I suspect the particular combination of things it offers, in the way it offers them, will probably find it quite a few advocates when it has had the benefit of a bit of post-customer usage feedback applied to some patching. Even as it stands now though, you could certainly do a lot worse than to give it a try if you can justify the price.

 

Al

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Chock,

 

Many of us use FS2Crew, so I see a conflict between the FS2Crew copilot and the Pro ATC copilot.

 

There a way they could co-exist?

 

Bill Clark

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Sounds like it is not ready for prime time. I often wonder about some releases regardless of their purpose seem to not have been adequately tested. But there is always the ones the allow the community to test it for them. I can understand to some degree this particular approach as it has become so difficult to test because there are so many configurations, addon's that it must be tested with. This leaves the developer with either a huge investment in time and money or find those with varying configurations to test their software with. This also could be a one man developer team, but maybe not. I will wait as this progresses. My MCE and RC is working pretty good now.

 

Bob

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Yup, I did regard taking a punt on Pro ATC as just that - a punt - given that we had not heard much about it beforehand. But I am reasonably confident that it will get tweaked up, and I can wait a while for that to happen because it is still usable even with the minor issues. In the meantime, it was worth giving it a shot for the benefit of advising fellow Avsimmers as to what it offered if nothing else.

 

Al

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HMMM.. Does not interact with AI, planes taking off from intersecting runways while you are taking off, can't amend your flight plan, flying 100 miles out of the way for no reason. crashes, windows close before you are done with them

 

 

Yeah this sounds like a must buy. lol

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Agree, promising but not quite ready for prime time IMHO. At $60 it should be rock solid, full AI awareness, voice activation. I really like the new voices after so many years of the same old default ones. Ambitious add-on. I'll check back in 3-4 months to see what they have done.

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This definitely shows promise. I am sure that once the service packs and tweaks happen this will be a keeper.

 

Thanks for the vid Al.

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Many of us use FS2Crew, so I see a conflict between the FS2Crew copilot and the Pro ATC copilot. There a way they could co-exist?

 

Bill Clark

 

Yup, you can completely disable the co pilot's actions in Pro ATC if you like, and then you could just use its ATC and flight planning functions alongside FS2Crew.

 

HMMM.. Does not interact with AI, planes taking off from intersecting runways while you are taking off, can't amend your flight plan, flying 100 miles out of the way for no reason. crashes, windows close before you are done with them Yeah this sounds like a must buy. lol

 

Bit of a harsh summation there, and whilst there is truth in it, to be fair, only one of those you mention is absolutely correct: It actually does interact with the AI, just not UT's AI, so if we are being completely fair, that's an incompatibility with another product, not an incompatibility with FSX, and one presumes with a tweak it could be made to work with others; you can in fact amend your flight plan; not sure what you mean about flying 100 miles out of your way for no reason, I've not seen it do that, but if someone else has, then fair enough; crashes - yup, but only once so far on me, and let's be honest, what program has not done that?; windows close, yup that is absolutely the case, and that is a pain in the arse too, but as much as it is a pain, it is not a total show stopper, it just adds a minute or two to knocking a flight plan together. I definitely want them to sort it out though, because it is annoying.

 

So I agree that some of these things are concerns, but I would not say they preclude us from watching this product with interest, nor indeed from using it, but I certainly do think they make the price tag a bit hard to swallow in its present state, and don't exactly make you fall hopelessly in love with it at the moment, although I do really rate the co pilot function pretty highly.

 

Just had an email saying there's a patch out which fixes some issues incidentally.

 

EDIT: From a quick test, that patch seems to have fixed the window closing randomly problem.

 

Al

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Al, from what I've been able to garner so far in this thread, this program, given its high cost, from your own quotes, is a bit of a pain in the a---, requires tweaking, has windows closing, etc. Doesn't have a lot going in its favour then to coax another $50 spend, then?

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It actually does interact with the AI, just not UT's

 

I think what is meant by interaction, does it give AI instructions and does it respond like it does to the user aircraft? Or does it just recognize an AI plane landing and just keep you out of it's way, what I would call reacting to it. This was my problem with RC4.3, it only partially interacted with it., Initial takeoff, landing clearance Freq Xfers, but not interim altitude climbs/descents. It did do this well with the user aircraft though!

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Al, from what I've been able to garner so far in this thread, this program, given its high cost, from your own quotes, is a bit of a pain in the a---, requires tweaking, has windows closing, etc. Doesn't have a lot going in its favour then to coax another $50 spend, then?

 

Yup, I think there will be a lot of simmers who will have a hard time justifying the price, although that 'random window closing issue' appears to be gone following the patch, so that's at least encouraging. So now what we have is: a fairly 'on rails' flight planner that you can tweak somewhat, but which does offer SIDs and STARs (albeit not all of them), a pretty nice co pilot add on, and an ATC system which has some plus points but also some minus points, most notably a plus in that you can fairly easily add your own voices, and a minus in its limitations with AI.

 

Thus I agree Rick, that's a pretty tough sell for 40 quid in my book, and especially to anyone who already has maybe FS2Crew or MCE and Radar Contact. But with the addition some voice control (which is supposedly on the way) and some tweaks to the flight planner as far as exporting goes, it might yet come to be worth it. I guess we'll see.

 

Al

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A very fair appraisal, Al. With so many add-ons in the offings, being prudent is the way for me to go. Just picked up another FS2Crew add-on at 25% off which runs out today. I reckon I'll wait for this one to iron itself out.

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On the subject of offers ending very soon, if you are feeling flush and are quick, Just Flight's Battle of Britain add on (Spitfire, Hurricane and bf109) is on at 20 quid at the moment, think it ends in about an hour.

 

Back on topic, as much as I really like its co pilot in particular, if I'm honest, I would say sitting back and seeing how Pro ATC turns out might be a wise move given the price.

 

Al

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I like the co pilot in Pro ATC in particular

 

Totally agree with that statement. They did a very good job in this area. You can also turn off some of the functions of the co-pilot if you want.

 

Regarding AI, it's hard for me to tell whether or not the program is interacting with the AI. The AI do see me and they stay out of my way but ground or ATC in flight does not warn AI that I'm in the area. So far I have not seen any interaction between Pro-ATC and Ultimate Traffic X (you stated it does occur). I think that's going to be difficult to accomplish to everyone's satisfaction. It's not a big thing as peoples lives are not at stake here.

 

So now what we have is: a fairly 'on rails' flight planner that you can tweak somewhat, but which does offer SIDs and STARs (albeit not all of them)

 

So you are okay with the flight planner? As I mentioned above, the flight planner only provides the departure and arrival airports with waypoints in between. It does not select SID/STARS until you have activated the flightplan in FSX and once the plan has been activated, it cannot be modified whatsoever (same as any FSX flightplan. It's loaded into the program and you cannot modify it). ProATC then selects a SID and later on a STAR based on the weather at the departure and the arrival locations. So, you have to follow the route ProATC prepared. You cannot ask ATC for another SID or another STAR. At least I do not see this capability and, in one instance, the STAR Pro-ATC selected took me to a waypoint in the STAR over 100 miles north of KSFO (it was setting me up for a landing on R/W 10L or 10R, can't really recall). When I try it without weather loaded, it takes me to a waypoint in a STAR well west of KSFO. What's wrong with BSR2? With high fuel costs, you would think it would take you to the fastest route possible. So I'm stuck on the STAR that Pro-ATC selects and it is mandatory that I follow it to set up for a proper approach. I think airline pilots have the discretion to modify and select another STAR if available. I apologize for not being clearer above. You're right on with the other responses though. I am also concerned about the workability of the background ATC. As I stated above, my setup for background ATC in the US did not work (so far). I have not tried the background ATC for those areas, like the UK, that ProATC provided with the program. It may be an Administrative right issue. The developers at Pro-ATC will surely figure it out someday and an immediate fix is not really necessary. I was just interested to see how well it performs.

 

Best regards,

Jim

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