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 Post subject: FS-MP.COM
PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 7:29 am 
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2009 9:00 pm 
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I just listened to episode 145 on FS-MP and took a look. Impressive!

Having more integrated multiplayer support was a feature I looked forward to in FSX, which of course has controller functionality now. In lurking about the FS-MP website, it seems to be developing well. At the specific time I checked, about 21:00 CST today, there appeared to only be two pilots and one getting set up in the lobby.

Back since FS2000, I'd been a one-time participant in the VATSIM network, which has similar aims to create a virtual airspace operated with as close to real world procedures and traffic as possible.

I'd been away from flight simulation for about a year between my copies of FS2004 and FSX, but the podcast inspired me to get back in and see how the virtual airspace has evolved.

FS-MP's first impression struck me as comparable to what VATSIM has been back in the FS2000 days.

VATSIM now is HUGE. Checking it's status tonight, there were hundreds of aircraft up and 74 controllers offering worldwide service. I saw at least 40 flights being conducted for the virtual equivalent of American Airlines. Truly amazing!

VATSIM has similar codes of conduct. Entry to fly requires an account and some basic software add-ons. That's a downer in that it's not directly using the new MP capabilities of FSX, but the upshot is that any version of FS from 2000 up to FSX can participate, and I believe also non MSFS simulators can as well, provided an interconnect add-on for their sim of choice is available.

Pilots have an etiquette and protocol primer and access to basic charting materials worldwide with at least enough detail to get flights done. Abusers get suspended, as in FS-MP, but it is more open (the software setup providing more of an entry barrier to keep out non-serious hooligans).

Controllers are well cared for in the system. I saw links to at least seven different radar control software packages which can all interface to the system (only one crude scope software existed back in the FS2000 days). My favorite judging by the user guide is one called "EuroScope" which is modeled very closely after the Matias control system in Europe. It's adjusted slightly to accommodate the virtual environment, but seems extremely rich and realistic (apparently, Eurocontrollers helped with the software's development).

Controllers go through a rigorous basic training course where upon they become "students" and can work traffic in the system as their comfort level dictates. Usually, serious controllers join one or more virtual ARTCC/FIR organizations and become sponsored by more senior controllers to gain credit and experience necessary to elevate their status from "student" to more senior controllers and get a chance to work more complex and busy virtual airspace, where keeping realistic ATC dictates better skills. I've known of real-world controllers who also worked virtual traffic in VATSIM for fun (these are the folks who love their jobs, eh?).

VATSIM's regional units worldwide frequently sponsor realism events where full ATC service (all or nearly all ATC positions in a given region manned at once) is offered for a day or so to make for an extra realistic experience. Pilots from all corners are encouraged to descend on the party region to experience a crowded airspace where ATC services become crucial! Pilots and controllers alike get a nice buff.

VATSIM's inclusiveness and popularity comes at the expense of perfectly seamless integration with FSX's own MP features. Having flown in the VATSIM network as late as FS2004, the ATC was always great, but the up close experience of other traffic was not as realistic as the sim itself could provide. Other aircraft appeared boxy and position updates were not very frequent, leading to herky-jerky flightpaths in the terminal area.

I don't know yet if the experience has changed in FSX with the latest releases of the add-on software.

If I was only available to devote time to flying or controlling for one virtual airspace, how would FS-MP compare to VATSIM and what might be the pros/cons of selecting one or the other?
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 8:34 am 
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 8:34 am 
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 12:02 pm 
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Harro and Jason,

I really enjoyed the episode on FS-MP. It was interesting to learn more about it. I think the more pilots we have flying online the better, whether they choose FS-MP, VATSIM or IVAO.

I certainly realize we all have our favorite service. Guilty as charged.

Being new around here, I don't want to make anyone angry. However, I do want to correct/clarify a few things:

Quote:
FS-MP with current and retired FAA ATC personell and real life pilots driving the procedures and standards has next to nothing replication of the real aviation system -> making it a unique training platform for real life pilots


I would disagree completely with this statement, especially the "unique" part. FS-MP may be very realistic, but I find it hard to believe it's more realistic than the realism that can be found on VATSIM. I can buy equal, but not more.

VATSIM is in partnership with the MITRE corporation, who does Air Traffic related research. They've run several events on the VATSIM network to collect data about the effectiveness of proposed procedure changes, and more are planned.

VATSIM has hundreds (at least) of real-world pilots (commercial, airline and private) as well as numerous real-world ATC (both active and retired). In ZLA alone there are 3 real-world ZLA controllers, including one who was a tower controller in Houston and used VATSIM as a tool to prepare when he changed locations to California. Additionally, there's a real-world Australian controller. I was initially trained by a 30-year retired ATC veteran, and until recently, the head of the Atlanta ARTCC was a real-world ZTL center controller. Those are just the ones I know personally. There's probably another dozen I don't know.

VATSIM also has numerous pilot certification systems to teach everything from VFR traffic pattern to DME arcs.

Most ATC trainees take from 9 months to a year or more to go from "brand new" to "Center qualified." (varies by the complexity of the ARTCC)

Quote:
FS-MP is almost an out of the box solution for the FSX owner, whereas IVAO and VATSIM requires a quite complicated setup of add-on software - you may get prove when you just hook up to FS-MP via the gamespy guest server functionaility - it will run immediately. Later on, when you become a permanent and certified member you will direct connect to the server and run one or two small add-ons


VATSIM requires the installation of a single add-on if using SquawkBox. FSInn is slightly more complicated, but users of that software are usually quite happy with it.

Additionally, VATSIM supports FS9 and X-Plane users (both Mac and PC), which FS-MP does not. (Bolding this just so X-Plane users will see it.)

Quote:
VAO and VATSIM were characterized to be quite unpersonal by many FS-MP'ers (most of them who happen to hold dual membership in both FS-MP and either IVAO or VATSIM). FS-MP is very social in the forum and on Teamspeak


Actually, VATSIM usually gets criticized by IVAO flyers for being "too uptight" about realism. In my experience, we try to do things as realistic as possible given the limitations of software, but we're not going to jump down someone's throat for a mistake. It's a very friendly community - we just expect people to pay attention and to try to learn. As long as folks are doing that, we're always willing to help. We don't have much patience with trouble-makers.

A global Teamspeak is not an option for VATSIM - there's simply too many pilots and controllers. (Voice is built-in to the clients for communication with ATC - but that's used as if real-world, not for chatting. Most ARTCC's and VA's maintain their own Teamspeak server for chatting)

Quote:
IVAO and VATSIM generate these impressive participation numbers on aggregate. However, they are suborganized into regions and countries which have their events. When it comes to the actual event or an actual active region, FS-MP attracts more and denser traffic to an event area at a specific time


Hmmm...having not been in an FS-MP event, it's hard to refute this one with data.

However, I'm not sure where the "generate this data on aggregate" comment comes from.

I can say that VATSIM events can be massive, involving hundreds of pilots. The weekly "Friday Night Ops" generally draws north of 200-300 pilots within a few hours, sometimes approaching real-world traffic levels at busy Class B airports.

Here's the very beginning of an event:

Image

The event was at San Diego (lower-right) - which is why you see the huge cluster of targets on the ground there. I count 26 aircraft being tracked, there were 20+ on the ground and this was right at the start..hundreds more were enroute. We had 18 controllers staffed in just the ZLA sector alone. Incidentally, for this event we exceeded the real-world traffic levels at San Diego, according to the numbers stated on FlightAware.com.

One of the nice things about VATSIM is there's a local event almost every night of the week. Want an event to fly in? I can guarantee you there will be one happening. They won't generate the huge numbers of a Friday Night Ops, but even smaller events are a blast - and an especially fun way to explore new countries. No better way to explore a new airport than flying in a nightly event.

As I write this, at 1:17 pm Central on Friday, January 23rd, I see:

FS-MP:
1 controller (an observer, not controlling)
5 pilots

VATSIM:
106 controllers (70 actively controlling, 34 observing, 2 actively instructing)
600 pilots

Admittedly, mid-afternoon is likely not the busiest time for either network.

I think this adequately explains why VATSIM can't have a global Teamspeak server. Even during a non-peak time, there's more than 700 people on the network.

So, again, Harro, I'm not here to offend. I've experienced the passionate arguments that IVAO flyers have for the benefits of their network. As I said, the more flyers online, the better, regardless of the service. However, I did want to correct/clarify those points, as I felt they were incorrectly presented.

If folks find FS-MP more fun, by all means - more power to them. I just didn't want folks to read this and leave with the impression that VATSIM is not realistic, has the same traffic level as FS-MP and is unfriendly.

Thanks again for the excellent episode on FS-MP. It was very interesting to me and I'm glad to know there's yet another place people can experience the joy and challenge of online flight with realistic procedures and ATC.

Wade


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2009 3:38 am 
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