In the days of FPI, keen to see increased useage, I undertook most of my flying on line. Since there were seldom controllers present and rarely other flyers, when I happened to be on line, it became a very lonely existance. Take off and landing were no better, since I normally remove static aircraft and there was no AI traffic present. The AI was missed whilst in the air, also.
Predictably I stopped on line flying and reverted to using FPI and, more recently, PCI only during our Wednesday sessions, or when I'd arranged to be on at the same time as someone else from the group. I guess my reactions were shared by some others.
Yesterday, the subject of MP having again surfaced, I tried to set up an FSHost session, to check out a couple of things I'd forgotten. When I first tried I was told my software was out of date, so uploaded the current FSHost and FSHostClient. For reasons I eventually resolved I couldn't set up a Host session. Not to beaten I took a belated look at FSX's GameSpy and, having registered fairly painlessly, managed to set up an FSX session, where I was joined by Tom Smith. For comms we used the PCI Voice Client. The session was OK, so far as it went, with no time lag. We didn't manage to get the cockpit sharing to work, so that was something for another day. The downside, as Host, was the lack of access to any options, once the session was started. I could neither access World Go To, to move my position at the start field, nor use Slew, to do the same thing. Nor could I change aircraft without shutting down the session and starting again. I think Tom had most of the same restrictions. So, although it worked, it didn't look all that exciting.
Once I'd realised how I'd been mislead by the FSHost error messages I managed to start an FSHost session. Next clanger was that I didn't realise, until a second session, that I needed to join my own session via FSHostClient, so that the others could see me.
For me, in the absence of checks on server lag etc, there were a few immediately appealing properties of this version of FSX.
We had a mix of FSX and FS9 users.It was possible, if one of the aircraft didn't appear as the type the pilot had listed, to select that type from a list of those available on my system, or something close. That worked and means the irritation of an A320 looking like a C172 can be avoided. If I didn't have an A320 on my system I could select the closest and least illogical match. For me that's a big step forward. I was back to the flexibillity that had disappeared when using GameSpy. I could Slew, change aircraft, change airfield etc. The clincher was that all my AI was present! I'm curious as to what, if any, AI the others saw. The main impact, for me, is that it will be possible to fly on line without skies or aprons being the cold, empty places that I'd tired of in the past. In fact I mistakeny followed a C172, thinking it was G-CART, all the way from West Wales to its landing at Valley. The server was silky smooth and staying on station, about 300 yards behind was quite easy. I'd earlier done the same with the real G-CART and it was just as smooth.
I don't see this as a candidate solution to the disappearance of PCI and continuation of our Wednesday ATC sessions. I'm sure there are lots of reasons why it's far less attractive for that. As a medium for non ATC on line flying it looks more promising than it used to be. If PCI continues for some time "in the background" then it might be possible to continue to use Voice Client, on JHB_OPS, for some time; as did Tom and I yesterday.
Another attraction, which continues, is the password entry protection. PCI hasn't seemed to attract the undesireable element that can spoil sessions. Some my previous excursions into setting up FSH sessions did. It didn't make my evening when a voice boomed into my headset saying something like "Hey fella, I've never tried this before. I think I'll join ya in my Phantom". Or when another appeared and said he would fly into my farm strip location in his Lancaster. The password avoids that; unless JHB membership harbours a closet bomber pilot....
Yet another FSH attraction is that the level of activity in a session can easilly be seen, using FSHostSpy12. If a server session is open but there's no one around, then it can be avoided. OTOH there might be a few flying, though not necessarilly in the same areas and that might be more tempting.
Others have done it before, so I'll join in by trying to leave a session running, whenever it's feasible. That means it won't be on after 2200; probably. It's not intended as a replacement for Shetland Flyer, or any of the other existing systems; just another alternative, to help test the waters. It won't be active on Wednesday evenings or whenever there's an official JHB session.
I'll put it up with the session name as RAMSEY and password FAIRWAY; both in upper case
I checked yesterday and FSHostSpy12 seems to find it OK, and list current users. If you use Spy, remember you'll need to run Server Refresh occasionally, since it doesn't seem to do it automatically, as we're used to with Servinfo.