This is an introduction to some enhancements that Derek TP,
an independent software developer and fan of Jay's simulation, has made to that game.
These were originally built for my own amusement only and to address some of the small
shortcomings of Jay's game, but I share them here to get feedback on them. It may be that in time and with
Jay's support we can integrate some of these changes back into the main game.
In the meantime, the enhancements can be played here as an addition to the free version
of the simulation, but playing Chicago O'Hare only.
For now, the enhancements over the base game include the following: (my reasoning for each enhancement is given in italics)
Arriving flights are highlighted in pale yellow on the radar display
to distinguish them from departing flights. On conflict they will turn red as usual, but on conflict resolution return
to pale yellow. Outbound strips are now shown with a white background, matching the colour of the radar blip.Sometimes when spotting potential conflicts on the display, action is needed quickly and it helps to know
instantly whether a flight is inbound or outbound
The wind indicator turns red on change of wind direction. The red reverts to its normal colour after
5 seconds ("ticks") I found otherwise I didn't spot the change and ended up crashing planes by landing downwind...
The undocumented "XX" command now displays all attributes of a flight, and uses more friendly titles (mainly). To invoke, use [flightid] XXMainly to help
me with diagnostics/debugging my changes
When paused, the Pause button is highlighted red. A few times I would quickly hit pause and walk away, maybe to
answer the door, and come back a few minutes later to see I'd not clicked properly and mayhem had ensued
Use the new command QA to "Quiesce Arrivals". The sim runs by default with random arrivals and
departures. Use QA to prevent any new arrivals turning up in the control area. After using QA, just use it
again to resume arrivals in the usual way. At the end of a session it always seemed "wrong" just to quit or walk
away with planes waiting to land!
The sim may now be paused/resumed by the commands PAUSE and RESUME as well as by clicking the buttons. The pause button still highlights in red
when the sim is paused, whichever method is used. Just seemed reasonable to make all commands available via the keyboard
Use the new command QD to "Quiesce Departures". The sim runs by default with random arrivals and
departures. Use QD to prevent any new departing plane strips appearing. After using QD, just use it
again to resume departures in the usual way. At the end of a session it always seemed "wrong" just to quit or walk
away with planes waiting to depart! Guys - I hope you use this wisely and NOT just as a way to quieten things down when you
let them get out of hand! ;-)
Mouseover a plane on the radar display and its corresponding strip is highlighted with a red border Aids finding a
plane's details on the strips
Mouseover a plane's strip, and it's corresponding blip on the radar display is highlighted with a red border Aids finding where
a plane - particularly a new incoming arrival - is
When expediting ascent/descent, the plane's strip shows two up/down arrows instead of one. This change
alerts me to "emergency" flight level changes so I can revert to normal procedures as soon as possible
A new command, RW, allows departure runways to be re-assigned. E.g. [flightid] RW 27R re-assigns that flight to
leave on 27R. It cannot be used after takeoff (of course!) nor after a flight has been instructed to hold / lineup and wait. This
feature has been requested on the forum a few times, and means that if wind direction changes after a flight
is shown on the strips, it can still be safely despatched.
Non-paused playing time (in ticks) is shown at the bottom of the screen. So easy to get carried away playing this game; this
lets you see just how long you've been playing. Beware it is ticks, not actual elapsed time, however (see below).
Clock speed adjuster. A new drop-down control below the pause/resume buttons allows you to speed up game play - by a factor
of 1.5, 2, 3, 4 or 8 times. Adjusting clock speed affects everything! There are times,
especially at the start of a simulation, when there's just not much happening. Speed things up to get to the action, or to give
yourself a mega-challenge play at 4x realtime speed!
The number of seconds (ticks) a flight has been under your control is shown in grey on the progress strips. A future
enhancement will allow reporting on average take-off waiting times, and perhaps also calculate a score that takes this - and
extended flying times circling etc into account
After a collision (which *never* happens, does it!) the STATS display will show before returning you to the home page Otherwise you
never know whether things *had* been going really well up to that point...
New command ? (single question mark) pops up a message showing all available commands, including the new ones. I only found some commands by
reviewing the game's code, and remembering some of the little-used ones (like the new QA / QD) is simplified by this
The STATS command now shows four additional metrics: the number of violations (planes involved in violations, so
typically each incident will increase this by 2), the number of invalid commands issued, the number of aborted take-offs and the number of aborted
landings. (Basically anything "bad") Violation duration is important, but 120 seconds could be
two planes following each other for a minute, or over 50 separate incidents; this change helps identify that
Planes now have a finite amount of "fuel" on board. They start consuming that fuel as soon as they appear on the screen
for inbound flights, or as soon as a LW or T command is issued. The fuel is sufficient to get them in/out safely in most cases, but there
is a random element and some will run low on fuel. A low fuel (one minute remaining) condition is highlighted by a red warning message in the feedback area.
If a plane runs out of fuel entirely it will be unable to maintain height or to climb, and its speed will gradually erode as it drops. It still responds
to course changes and can land in the normal way if positioned appropriately. If it reaches airfield altitude before it reaches the runway it does of course
crash. Just adds some random jeopardy to the game. The parameters are being fine tuned so if you see low fuel conditions turning up too often, do let me
Future enhancements will include a "settings" panel that can be brought up during gameplay (automatically pausing it of course) that will allow
you to toggle some of these features on/off (the mouse-over highlights for example), plus control some of the "predefined" settings such as
frequency of wind change, frequency of new flights, plus display more detailed stats (including for instance average/max departure wait times).
Then there are the old chestnuts of support for "chained" commands (i.e. including height and direction in a single command, and/or setting
a series of waypoints to follow); plus additional work on eliminating unavoidable conflicts due to new arrivals appearing in each others' path etc.
To Jay - thank you for your fantastic work on this simulator. An ATC sim was one of the very first games I wrote for my first "micro computer" back in the
early 1980s, and so was delighted to find you'd built an updated version for the web.
So, to put all this into action (remember this is just my enhanced version, Chicago only)