Author: Chris Serio

The world is under control…

So as Ben has mentioned, I’ve been working on giving X-Plane a new ATC system. To be clear, the task was not to add features or fix bugs with the existing system, it was to write a whole new one…from the ground up. Why? Because our goal is to lay the foundation for a system that can grow over time; a system that we can easily expand and add features to. So what does this mean? It means that starting with the initial release of v10, the ATC system will grow incrementally until we feel it suits the needs of most of our users. It will never be a replacement for VATSIM however!

There’s only so much that can be done with artificial intelligence and since starting this project I’ve learned that humans make decisions in ways that are really really difficult to quantify, so lines have to be drawn somewhere. If you want that human factor, that’s what VATSIM’s for. The goal for our ATC is to make it as realistic as possible within the confines of what’s reasonable. It also needs to cater to a wide range of users. Some who are real pilots and do not deviate from ATC commands at all while others are new to aviation and may make some mistakes (even some dangerous ones). In real life making some mistakes will get you killed or at least earn you a phone call to the FAA…in here, the controller may grumble that you’re not listening and encourage you to follow directions again. I know that some of you are thinking “Why not just add levels of realism that the user can pick from a menu” and we may just do that for some things in the future, but for now I can’t stress enough that the goal is to be reasonable and flexible in our system design so that we can grow the system over time…all while keeping it fun for all types of users.

Enough blabber, time for some pretty pictures. The shot below is a picture of X-Plane with the North American ARTCC/FIR boundaries turned on. This is just for development purposes but it’s kind of neat to see the boundaries overlayed on the planet. As you fly from one center to the next, you’ll get handoffs from facility to facility.

And the shot below is what happens when I turn on the boundaries of towered airports. Any airport in the apt.dat file that has some combination of Delivery/Ground/Tower specified in it will be given a living control tower.

This only covers a tiny bit about the ATC system which is quite complex even in its infancy but I’ll do my best to keep the posts coming so that you can learn more about what it’s capable of.

I don’t have time to go into great detail about subsystems just yet (that’ll be covered in other posts) but I’ll leave you with a juicy detail….See those dots in the first image in the ZBW (Boston) ARTCC’s boundary? That’s a custom ATC pack (similar to a custom scenery pack) that I created that perfectly replicates Boston (KBOS) and Bradley (KBDL) TRACON airspace. Yeap, that means you can customize the system how you want it. More on what that means in the future….

Posted in Air Traffic Control, Development by | 11 Comments

Captcha support added for commenting

If you haven’t already noticed, I’ve added some captcha’s to our comments to try to combat the spam we’ve been getting. I don’t particularly like captchas….I usually spend several minutes staring at them like a Rorschach Test but I think this will save time moving forward. Please let us know if they’re causing any problems beyond the severity of just being annoying.

Posted in Development by | 2 Comments

Android Web Market is live!

Google announced today that the Android market is now available on the web. It’s really quite nice and the best feature is that apps can be purchased directly from your desktop computer and installed over-the-air (that means no tethering like in iTunes) directly to your Android device. It’s quite cool!

Here are the links to our stuff. Please share them with your friends. You can even tweet about it right from the market listing.


Posted in Android, News by | Comments Off on Android Web Market is live!

When is X-Plane 10 coming?!?!?!

If I had a dollar for every time I saw this question asked on Facebook, forums etc I’d be richer than Warren Buffett. I have to say though, I can’t really blame people for asking because our track record for releasing news has not been stellar but that’s changing as we improve our online front. Stay tuned for more news on that!

You have to understand that it is not as if we’re keeping the release date a secret, it’s that we don’t have a hard date set at the moment. I will reiterate that we’re all working really really hard. This is not a 9-5 job where you punch in and punch out and go home and forget about work. We’re all pretty much chained to our computers most of the time because like you, we REALLY want X-Plane 10 to go live as well. It’s going to be a great step forward for the flight simulator community.

So when is it coming out? When it’s ready and not a moment sooner or later! Trust me, you’ll be the first to know when we have updates to share.

Posted in Development, News by | 60 Comments