Developer Month: Ryan Parry vPilot AI Creator


Welcome to the FSElite Developer Month. Our theme this year is about delivering for the community and part of that is delivering great content to you all. As part of our commitment to you all, we’re pleased to announced Developer Month – a month themed solely around celebrating our great development community. Over the course of March, you’ll be treated to some behind the scene looks at some of our favourite developers, stories from the FSElite team, exclusive interviews and more.

Ryan may be a member of the FSElite team, but before us, he was developing plenty of tools to help the community in different capacities. Ryan is well known among the Vatsim community for his controlling and piloting mostly across ‘Murica. In Delta colors. With that passion in mind, Ryan embarked on an adventure to create a realistic and reliable rule set for vPilot – all for free. Visit the forums here for more information and instructions on downloading.

You can read his story below.

Tell us a little about yourselves and how you got started?

I’m 24 years and I am an aircraft dispatcher in the United States. I got started with FS when I was about 12 after taking my first flight on a plane (Frontier, N927FR). I landed in a record setting snow storm after a few missed approaches and I’ve been hooked since. I picked up FS2004 that came with a model of the Wright Flyer (which I still have) for $10 at an office store. Little did I know that $10 purchase would change so much in my life.

How do you use your real world aviation experience to help with people in the Flight Sim community?

Well, when people will listen I like to explain different flight planing things. I see a lot of silly stuff thrown around, and a lot of ridiculous stuff filed in flight plans on Vatsim. I can’t blame anybody though, Dispatching isn’t as sexy as flying and so very few people take the time to learn about it despite how important it is.

What made you decide you wanted to develop for Flight Simulator and why?

I’m not really much of a developer, at least in my opinion. I’ve dabbled in repainting, scenery design, and some other stuff, but I’ve never really gotten very far with it. I don’t like taking enormous amounts of credit for my vPilot AI pack, I feel that is a disservice to the devs that have pourd many hours into creating models and stuff. Really, I compiled this together and setup some XML rules as a resource to better the community. In addition, it’s really an honest attack on SkyAI which has just out right stolen everything.

How many of there in your team and what are your backgrounds before becoming developers?

It is just me doing me. I’ve considered asking for help, but I feel like I’ve got this covered right now. I could use somebody that can make me a cool installer application that can do updates as well. But I’m dreaming there.

What inspired you to create models for AI traffic within the Sim?

I’m a picky person that likes realism. I like to connect to Vatsim and see the right aircraft and the right paint. Especially at the regional level. In the US, regional airlines operate for multiple airlines and I wanted to make something that would show me the right paint for the flight.

What is the most challenging aspect of creating a model pack?

Getting everything together and managing the rule sets. I’m looking for a Tomson 787-8 and -9 paint for the FSP model and I can’t find it. I’ll probably end up painting this one myself. I have a list of “needed” paints which I’ll start working on myself going forward. That will likely be the hardest part, painting the stuff I can’t find.

Tell us a little more about your Vatsim experience?

I’ve been on Vatsim for over 10 years with more hours than I am comfortable admitting to. I’m a controller and a pilot and I’ve found that doing both really helps you learn. Vatsim created the backbone which I used when I got my dispatch license, and for that I am thankful.

What interests do you have outside of Flight Simulation?

I like the outdoors. Hiking, biking, fishing, those are things I really enjoy, though I haven’t been able to do any for a while now.

Tell us what your typical day is usually like.

Hectic, that’s all I got.

Favourite power drink and why?

You spelled favorite wrong, but I disgress. I like Gatorade. No reason, that’s just what I have always had as far as power drinks go.

Favourite snack and why?

It really depends on my mood to be honest. I like pistachios, I like cheetos, I like a lot of stuff that isn’t healthy (‘Murica).

When development gets tough, how do you continue to motivate yourselves?

As I said before, I don’t see myself as much of a developer. It doesn’t really “get tough”, just overwhelming with how many airlines need to be added, updated, corrected. The XML rule sets are diffiult because sometimes airlines operate different aircraft under the same callsign and I don’t know how to setup a flight number range. For example, there is an airline that oeprates domestic and passenger 747-400s under the same ICAO and the flight numbers don’t vary greatly like you’d expect.

If there was one thing you wanted to see developed for Flight Sim, what would it be?

It would be a high level simulation of the 767-400. Though my first real flight was on an A319, I’ve flown on many A318’s and have always been attracted to the odd planes that aren’t popular. The A318, B736, B753, B764. I think the 764 is a great mesh of the ever so amazing 767 and 777 that never relly gets any attention. It is one of my favorites and I’d love to be able to fly it. On a more realistic note, I think an MD80/90 line would be great. Please come back to us Leonardo.

Favourite add-on (that’s not your own!)?

I really love the PMDG 737 NGX. I gave PMDG a lot of crap when I bought it and tried to move to FSX (sorry RSR), but it has become one of my all time favorites. Another plane I really love and sadly can’t fly anymore is the Leonardo Fly the Maddog. What an amazing add-on that was years ahead of its time.

Any hints on what’s to come after your next project?

No, this is it. I made a resource to help the community out and that is where it ends. If I can ever master scenery creation I might throw out some freeware sceneries, but outside of that, this is it.

Where do you see Flight Simulation in 10 years time?

I’m not really sure, but I think it is going in a positive direction. For a moment there it looked like Flight Simulation was about to die off. Now XP11 is gaining steam, P3D came in and saved the ESP platform, and Dovetail is trying to get in on the action as well. I think as far as platforms go it is in good shape, especially with 64bit becoming a standard (that took way too long).

Anything else you want to add?

I just want to thank those who developed the AI aircraft and repaints I’ve used in my vPilot AI package. I’m doing my best to secure all of the required licensing permission from various devs, but some of these devs closed up shop and vanished. If they ever read this, I just want to say thank you (and email me please).