The three commercial products - My Traffic X, Traffic X and Ultimate Traffic 2 - by now all have FSX native AI models.
My Traffic X still uses almost exclusively models designed by Burkhard. Ultimate Traffic 2 uses models designed by TheFruitStand, AiAardvark and Burkhard. I don't know the designer of the models for Traffic X from Just Flight. Each of these may use some models by Henry T.
World-of-AI does not design any models for their packages, only using those FS2004 models for which they have been given permission by the model designer.
WoA is very much an FS2004 product, as is MAIW - the other major source of new freeware AI. However I have found no problems with the performance, either FPS or graphics display, of the FS2004 models from WoA and MAIW. I particularly like many of the XML based animations available on the FS2004 models which cannot be done on the FSX native AI models - like flaps which lower for takeoff and then retract after the plane climbs above the runway.
But to be truthful, there are some things a person needs to be aware of and be capable of fixing.
You cannot use DX10 Preview with most of the FS2004 AI models. You cannot use aircraft cast ground shadows with most of the older models. FSX is much more sensitive of variations of texture formats on a single aircraft. I've made sure all my AI repaint textures are the same format. That means I have to check each new texture to make sure that the main texture, the night lightmap and the prop texture are all DXT3 with no MipMaps - my preferred format. That adds a bit of time to adding AI.
Prop textures for many to most FS2004 AI aircraft are 32-bit uncompressed with no alpha - they need to be converted to DXT3 with an alpha.
Flight plan .BGL files are a bit different in FSX than FS2004 and the two types will not co-exist side by side. The FSX format plans will be ignored. I use AI Flight Planner to convert every FS2004 FP created by WoA, MAIW and others to FSX format. Also, using a FS9 traffic file will result in the day of the week for flights being off by one. In FS2004 - Sunday is day 0, Monday is day 1, etc. In FSX - Monday is day 0, Tuesday is day 1, etc. Programs like AIFP can be used to compile traffic files for both FS2004 and FSX - and it will keep the days straight.
Besides - TTools is an unfinished tweak of an FS2002 program - AIFP is much better for FS2004 traffic .BGL files, not to mention TTools cannot understand FSX traffic files. AFCAD can also not understand FSX airports. But you can use some FS2004 AFCADs in FSX without problem.
Just as TTools needs to be retired by everyone and replaced by newer, better programs like AI Flight Planner, AFCAD also needs to be retired. Airport Design Editor can do much more for FS2004 airports than AFCAD, cleaner and easier. ADE does not create the many errors which AFCAD can compile and cause problems. ADE does require that you have purchased FSX Deluxe, or FSX Acceleration or FSX Gold to be usable in FSX. It required the FSX SDK to be installed with is not available for free. For FS2004, ADE used the free FS2004 BGLComp SDK.
I guess the key element is that you need to be aware of what you are doing, what impact it might have and how to fix any issues. That may sound like a lot of work. It is not one click and done - but WoA and MAIW are great products which create much better AI than any of the payware products.
Some of the issues which bugs some people about the payware products are model and repaint substitution.
No payware product has a complete range of AI aircraft available to folks who use freeware. Each payware product approaches this in a similar manner. If the AI flight plan calls for a rarely used aircraft - a similar aircraft will be used as a substitute. For example - most of the payware will use one model of CRJ rather than having separate CRJ-200, CRJ-700 and CRJ-900. I've not seen an ERJ-140 model in a payware package. While such differences are small and not always noticable - model substitutions such as using a Saab 340 for a B-1900, or a Do-328 are a bit more noticable.
No payware product has the complete range of repaints for all the airlines of the world. Ultimate Traffic 2 and Traffic X will use a generic repaint for the aircraft in place of missing textures. One of the key topics on Ultimate Traffic 2 forums is where to locate 'missing' repaints. The same basic issue occurs with My Traffic X and Traffic X.
World of AI and MAIW do not release packages for airlines / military units - unless they have the correct repaints. Thus, WoA and MAIW do not have many airlines for which the payware products have schedules - even if those schedules are flown in the payware world by generic repaints and similar but not exactly correct models.
I've use WoA, MAIW, UGA, PAI and hand created AI packages as my main AI for years. I've used Ultimate Traffic in FS2004 and Ultimate Traffic 2 in FSX to supplement that customized AI to fill out the world. (I do own all three payware products and use each at times for testing).
Another point - airport AI parking. First FSX is much better than FS2004 with populating airports with parking spots. Many airports, especially small or mid-sized airports have sufficient parking for commercial AI. Major airports are a little short, but much better than FS2004.
My Traffic X and Traffic X both include hundreds of airport parking files. However many of those files are not FSX native airport files. Both use FS2004 AFCAD files as the basis for many of their airports. Most work just fine, but almost all could be better tweaked.
Ultimate Traffic 2 and World of AI do not include airport AFCAD files in their product/ packages. MAIW always includes their main airports and key others in their packages. MAIW also frequently adds an airport scenery for the main military base.
For UT2 and WoA, you will need to search for FSX AFCAD type files on the various libraries. I strongly recommend those by Ray Smith whenever possible, but there are several other good designers out there.
Military base AFCAD type files for FSX are harder to find. Most MAIW AFCAD files can be used in FSX without problem. The military base sceneries take a little adjustment, but usually work well.
The bottom line - it depends upon how much money and how much time you have available vs how much quality you want. The payware products will have you up and running faster with less work. But the 'lower quality' of the AI will show up over time.
I would recommend trying the free stuff first, then moving to payware if you wish.
Last edited by ReggieF5421; 01-04-2011 at 08:55 AM.
@ PawPaw's house - near KADS, Addison, Texas, USA