Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

mmaclauchlan

Tower Simulator - has SP1 fixed it?

Recommended Posts

After my somewhat critical review of Wilco's Tower Simulator in May, I promised a few people I'd do a follow-up once SP1 was released. This happened on 3 Jul, and this is what I now think:Firstly the good bits - the AI aircraft models are slightly better rendered and the airports are a bit smoother when looking out of the window. End of tangible improvements.FeelThere have seemingly completed a long list of improvements and fixes, but I'm leaning towards the opinion that much of their time producing SP1 was spent fixing things they thought needed fixing, as opposed to listening to feedback from customers about more pressing, fundamental, problems. That's not to say I think my criticisms should prompt the developers to act, but I refuse to believe that they can, in their heart of hearts, say they are comfortable about the state of Tower Simulator, even after SP1.Okay, specifics: The AI voice that I mentioned previously has not had any obvious work done to improve it. It's slow and unwieldy in an environment (albeit simulated) where brevity and efficiency are key. By 2008 I expect AI voice to sound more or less as if a real pilot has spoken to me, but am left feeling that 1980s technology was used. I read elsewhere that the AI voice was being worked on, but there is no evidence that this has happened, and if I were to choose my top 3 grievances with Tower Simulator, I think this would be No1. Imagine giving a jet an instruction to "taxi to runway 14L" - and notwithstanding the developers choice to dispense with most proper ATC voice procedure, I cannot believe [Victor Meldrew mode] that they haven't spotted and acted upon the 1+ second delay in the middle of the jet's reply, between the jet saying he is taxying and the addition of the runway number at the end of the readback. Put another way, tell your wife/gf/bf or whoever that you're going to the pub tonight, but leave a 1-2 second gap between "I am going to the" and "pub" and see if that sounds right to you. Regional accents are a nice touch, but not if the phonetics sound nothing like any human being you'll ever meet! The AI voice is perhaps further evidence towards reinforce my ultimate suspicion that Wilco/FeelThere have looked at this title from a completely different standpoint to anyone else - ie. the customers.The performance of the AI jets has improved, but only slightly - they taxi a little slower than before - but giving them a take-off instruction from the holding point still always results in rolling take-off, as opposed to the reality that many, if not most, jets in the world will still sit on the piano keys - sometimes for up to a few minutes - before applying power and departing. To reiterate a previous point, a jet dawdling on the runway with another on approach is one of the key excitements of real ATC, as the controller starts to wonder if the runway will be clear for his arriving traffic. A simple programming subroutine, to include such a random runway blockage, would have done so much to add to the realism of the sim but, once again, stuff like this has been missed, seemingly in favour of fixing 'shadow problems' and other irrelevance. As BAO proved, you can have a saleable, very playable ATC simulator, without getting overly bogged-down on what it looks like - Wilco/FeelThere seem to have got this the wrong way around, and even then I can't say theirs looks at all spectacular. I was also hoping the developers would have taken my tip of visiting a real airport before starting SP1, but they haven't been anywhere near one - the AI jets still depart stratospherically in comparison to real aircraft and undoubtedly dispense with the departure controller in favour of NASA (think of a real B52's take-off profile - it's nose doesn't lift and it climbs slowly, almost horizontally. Only this is what Wilco's B737 model does and exaggerate the lift x5 - that's what you're getting). Arrivals, in the mean time, are slightly more surly, following some critical feedback that the developers actually listened to, that all aircraft types took the full length of the runway. In reality many commuter aircraft would vacate much earlier. So now arriving aircraft brake earlier on the runway, but then take an inordinate amount of time to reach their exit, ignoring several achievable turns while you sit there drumming your fingers. To add a little balance, I will add that, whether I noticed it or not before, arrival profiles for jets do seem to have been improved upon - as opposed to their departing colleagues. They look much more realistic, although I can't be sure whether this was the same in the original release.Also in my top 3 'magic wand' fixes would be a fairly simple overhaul of the controller interfaces. Oddly enough, in air traffic control one of the key features of the job is utilisation of the radios/radar/strips etc, and it's no coincidence that much of real world ATC equipment is designed for ease of use so brainpower is directed towards actually controlling. Tower Simulator misses this point a little, although to be fair the interfaces aren't too far removed from BAO's successful title 'Tower'. Somehow BAO pulled-off what FeelThere make look clumsy and I can't totally put my finger on what the difference is. Equally, I'm not a programmer, so have no idea how difficult it would be to produce a pop-up facility for stuff like the ground radar and flight strip windows, but I don't think it's a big job. But my opinion doesn't matter - the reality is Tower Simulator controllers have to contend with double-clicking and dragging windows in and out of view as they are needed. I don't like it at all - maybe someone does.One bonus is the ability to re-program the shortcut keys, and in the short time I've tested SP1 I haven't had a repeat of the failure of some shortcuts that I encountered in the original release. That said, I still don't understand why more intuitive shortcuts weren't decided upon from the start - I would use CTRL-L to give landing permission, but FeelThere use CTRL-U; I would use CTRL-P for 'position and hold', while they chose ALT-4. And as an aside, there are still 37 commands, of which I'm reasonably sure you'll never use more than 10 - the simulation is sufficiently narrow that you simply don't need to know a jet's heading, and rarely care what taxiway it uses.In my original review I mentioned the lack of realism in the application of real world ATC rules and I was told by one of those involved in creating Tower Simulator that it wasn't for the software to correct me, so much as for me to employ my imagination better, and when a United A320 landed straight through a Delta B737 with no ill effects, I established that my imagination was, once again, going to be called upon to compensate for the program. I take issue with this after spending EUR56 - that should buy programming, not an opportunity to test my imagination! FeelThere may have fiddled with the points system at the end of the controlling session, as mentioned in their fixes, but I don't care. With a fear of whacking them around the head with BAO again, Tower told you instantly when you'd done something wrong and I don't understand why Tower Simulator can't - after putting up with the sim for as long as possible the last thing I want is an extensive debrief documenting errors that I've long forgotten about. It could be one of the best bits of the program, but it's poorly conceived.SP1 promised a number of fixes such as aircraft shadows, wrong colour runway lights and UTC wrong at some airports, and while they may have fixed these issues, few run-of-the-mill customers will have noticed the majority of these minor points. Most will have noticed the sort of points I raised in my original review, and few of these have been visited in SP1. I would much rather taxying aircraft didn't jump and taxied smoothly like FS2004 AI traffic; I would much prefer jets passing ORD didn't hang in the sky motionless when I look that way; I would like the AI voice to sound like BAO's Tower as opposed to concentrating on regional accents; I would like more inbound controlling options, such as 'report 4 miles' so I can try and flow traffic, as opposed to being given the pointless ability to ask a jet its speed (I can't make it slow down or speed up!). Some of the Wilco/FeelThere team who visit the forums have questioned the power of people's PCs, but the way I see it is if FS2004 copes, especially with smooth flowing AI as a secondary feature, why can't a program that has AI as one of its primary ingredients?Finally, I had previously said I wasn't a pixel zealot, while some consumers were criticising the marketing claim to 'photo realistic scenery'. I had another look tonight and the scenery isn't that great - I expect Trading Standards' biggest factual error would be the photo realistic claim - but once again I think Wilco/FeelThere are missing the point. People who buy ATC sims don't do so for the view out of the tower, they do so for the fun of flowing jets in and out of a specific airport. BAO's Tower managed to produce the long-term gameplay that Tower Simulator so obviously lacks, and I'm truly puzzled that FeelThere didn't use Tower as a springboard. In fact, one of the ironic twists of Tower Simulator is it's pointed me back towards BAO Tower and I'm enjoying that again!If you're still in doubt about buying it, I've used the analogy of Tower Simulator' marketing equating to 'the latest alien invasion blockbuster'; the reality is

Share this post


Link to post
Help AVSIM continue to serve you!
Please donate today!

I haven't played Tower Sim really at all since I had 2 aircraft on final, about 10 miles apart, yet that wasn't enough room for the first aircraft to vacate before the second had to go around. What on earth is the speed they're flying on final for goodness sake? And they were told about this right at the start.Plus FeelThere's very bizarre relationship with Wilco. I was under the impression that Wilco simply publish the product, and FeelThere actually made it. Yet you constantly get sent to Wilco by FeelThere for any support. Then Vic comes up with a comment like this - "We believe this is the right balance at the moment and we need to remind ourself this is the first release of a hopefully succesfull series". Not what you want to hear when you've spent $70 on a program that looks and performs only as well as or worse than the free BAO Tower that's about 15 years old.I believe it's companies like FeelThere/Wilco that help to fuel the amount of piracy in the Flight Sim world. When it's so easy to get software illegally, why would you pay $70 for a product that falls so short of what it should do.

Share this post


Link to post

>When it's so easy to get software illegally, why would >you pay $70 for a product that falls so short of what >it should do.so it is OK to steal if you feel a company's product(s) are not up to your expectation of quality?!

Share this post


Link to post

>>When it's so easy to get software illegally, why would >>you pay $70 for a product that falls so short of what >>it should do.>>so it is OK to steal if you feel a company's product(s) are>not up to your expectation of quality?!I didn't interpret his statement that way at all! To me, his point is that one would have to perceive enough quality to justify the cost of the product. While I'll concede he could have made this point with other wording, clearly he thinks this product falls very, very short of that quality.Pretend he didn't use the phrase you refer to. Is that your only beef, or would you care to comment on everything else he has written. After all, a review is to help others in making purchase decisions. I for one have been interested is this simulator from the time I read of its announcement. And I always wait for reviews before I personally buy. Based on what I have read (not just his review, but from others who have bought) I am nowhere near choosing to purchase this until I read that this product has improved considerably.Of course, hard-core simmers may not be the market you are after, and we should just leave this alone. But I imagine there are quite a few of us who would be interested in a product that performs adequately.

Share this post


Link to post

>so it is OK to steal if you feel a company's product(s) are>not up to your expectation of quality?!To be frank, it seems it's okay for a company to sell it even if customers feel it's not up to their expectation of quality (with the exception of the obscure Italian site who gave it 8/10, of course).And your observation is quite valid Alex M, there are few proponents of Tower Simulator who are not somehow involved with its development, and they post little in defence of the product, save correcting the odd factual error in people's posts. I'd love someone to explain why the AI voice is still so bad, the aircraft models jumpy and unrealistic, and perhaps provide justification for the high sales price, to list 4 from my lengthy list of questions.

Share this post


Link to post

I'm not saying that piracy is OK at all.I am saying that it's programs that are rushed to release with major bugs that drive certain people to do that.Compare BAO Tower to Tower Simulator and I really can't see that much difference. Yet FeelThere still feel justified charging $70 for it. When user reviews pop up on AVSIM forums ripping Tower Sim to shreds, and with SP1 still not fixing all of the major bugs (and even introducing some new ones), there are some who will just download it illegally in order to avoid being 'ripped off', which is exactly what I feel.I feel that there is a growing trend with the simulation community in general, not just flight sims, where programs and/or addons are being released to market for quite high prices clearly before they are ready or have been through any substantial testing. There seems to be a policy with some companies of get the cash now, and fix the product later.I have no problem paying PMDG or Level-D large fees, as I know I'm going to get a very good product, with minimal bugs, and recieve very good support. I cannot say the same thing for FeelThere/Wilco at all.And to spin the question back round, do you think it's OK for a company to release a shoddy, buggy program that doesn't do alot more than a 12 year old freeware program?

Share this post


Link to post

>Compare BAO Tower to Tower Simulator and I really can't see>that much difference. Yet FeelThere still feel justified>charging $70 for it. Hi Phil - I disagree with this first part of your post; I don't think Tower Simulator is as good as BAO Tower. The latter's interfaces were much better, the aircraft models performed like the real thing even if they didn't look pretty, the AI voice was okay and the ability to actually do something - anything - useful with inbounds made flowing traffic in and out a real challenge - "Experience the thrill of ATC" you could say. Tower Sim is a bit prettier, but that's it - but it's got zero gameplay, a worse controller interface, a very bad AI voice, and the controlling challenge is only made more difficult by the programming and the interfaces, as opposed to ATC injects! "Experience the frustration of being had" would be far more apposite.>And to spin the question back round, do you think it's OK for>a company to release a shoddy, buggy program that doesn't do>alot more than a 12 year old freeware program?I'll give you the following odds:2-1 Due to the awkward question, your post will be ignored.3-1 A reply that will ignore your final question, but bring up an error somewhere else in your post (I would guess this will be something about how much testing they did).20-1 Some sort of proper defence of the product.

Share this post


Link to post

Jump in again any time, Scoob. You have current and potential customers who would appreciate substantive dialog.

Share this post


Link to post

One might consider releasing a product with so many major problems and charging $70 for it a form of stealing. I definitely do not consider $70 for TS even with SP1 a fair trade.Bernd

Share this post


Link to post

We've got to be careful not to be too defamatory about the developers, otherwise Avsim will be forced to close the thread. If that happens then other potential buyers might not benefit from the warnings written here. That said, I've made it my job to submit my critique to every site that Google lists for several variations of Tower Simulator (including a train sim!), so hopefully not as many people will fall into the trap.

Share this post


Link to post

Well, Scoob has been to the forums today, yet chose not to re-post to this thread. Too bad. He has a wide open opportunity to participate, yet opts out. The "silence" is deafening.

Share this post


Link to post

Let's get back to first principles.A developer can put its product on the market at any price it chooses. Consumers can decide whether or not to buy it at that price. That's they way the world works. There is no such thing as a "correct" price. The old maxim "let the buyer beware" still applies. Check the product out - read the reviews and consider the developer's reputation before buying. Those who don't bother to do that should only blame themselves.

Share this post


Link to post

>Let's get back to first principles.>>A developer can put its product on the market at any price it>chooses. Consumers can decide whether or not to buy it at that>price. That's they way the world works. There is no such>thing as a "correct" price. >>The old maxim "let the buyer beware" still applies.>Check the product out - read the reviews and consider the>developer's reputation before buying. Those who don't bother>to do that should only blame themselves.This thread is about the product as it has been reviewed. So potential buyers can "beware." The the developer(s) have an opportunity to participate, thus affecting their reputation.Let's leave the economics lesson out of it so it can stay on track, please.

Share this post


Link to post

Other posters have already raised the question of its price so my post wasn't xhanging the track of this thread.

Share this post


Link to post

I understand you were commenting on something others brought up. Not accusing you of anything. The main thrust, though, is the integrity of this sim, and since threads can easily be deflected, intentionally or not, I am still holding out a little hope that we moght hear from the devs. I seriously doubt that will happen if price becomes the focus, that's all.Cheers,

Share this post


Link to post

I sincerely wish to thank the OP for his cogent review of a product that I would have purchased based on the advertising. I've always loved tower simulations; I recall using one years ago that took basic text commands to control inbound and outbound planes (DOS-based). I spent hours on it. So, thanks for this excellent write up along with your initial write up which also spelled out problems that you saw.I also want to thank the folks who have responded thus far for keeping it mostly on track. Thanks also to scoob for his input. If I were to move on from this thread at this point, I would come away with the conclusion that there is no defense to this critique other than to attack. I hope future posts prove me, and others, wrong.This thread is what makes these forums (fora?) so useful to me as a flight simmer and community member. Thanks again!Paul

Share this post


Link to post

>The old maxim "let the buyer beware" still applies.>Check the product out - read the reviews and consider the>developer's reputation before buying. Those who don't bother>to do that should only blame themselves.This is why a developer should release a demo version of the product. When you can't return it, you should have the option of taking it for a test drive. What Wilco/FeelThere did here is the equivalent of those instances in the film industry, when the studio doesn't screen a new movie to critics prior to release. A studio that does that knows that they're putting a shoddy product out there and hopes to just make a quick "opening weekend" buck before the bad word of mouth spreads. Wilco/FeelThere basically pulled a fast one on everybody, and it's a shame.When a product in this price range is not given a demo, you know you're sunk. One thing is a $10 game off Steam or Xbox Live. $10 isn't that much money. But $70? And no way of try-before-you-buy?There are two other ATC simulation products out there that ARE quality products and DO have demos: London Control and ATC Simulator 2. Why do they have demos? Because the developer is not afraid of their potential customers.

Share this post


Link to post

ATC Simulator 2 is pretty realistic for anyone wanting to learn a little about area radar, although it lacks quite a few of the realities of ATC (danger areas, airways, other controllers' traffic). But that said, it's realistic enough ;clearly someone has put some effort into the sim. I sense Wilco/FeelThere got to a point of saying 'it'll have to do' and decided to risk putting Tower Simulator on the market as was, possibly gambling that $70 would imply it was way better than it was.Well you fooled me Wilco and I'm coming to get you, warning as many people as I can about you along the way ;-)

Share this post


Link to post

It's quite simple. If you expect to try-before-you-buy then only buy products that offer that. If you don't then you shouldn't complain - let the buyer beware.

Share this post


Link to post

I am right with Paul. Thanks to the OP for the review. I will not go anywhere near TS with such awful support, let alone the poor quality of the product. I REALLY love how the only time Scoob appeared was to comment on something totally off topic. Awesome - you just lost a customer due to your poor support!And due to that poor support, I will not go anywhere near any of their products - EVER. Unless, of course, I see hundreds of rave reviews praising high quality products with excellent support.I somehow doubt that'l be happening. And that is the true purpose of a product review - to educate the masses on a purchase decision. I have made mine!

Share this post


Link to post