Dev Blog 158: Airport CEO in beta!

December 7, 2020

Well hello there, airport CEO! Long time no see, it’s been exactly two months since our last development blog and you are all very much due for another update on the continued development of Airport CEO. During the past two months we’ve made major progress on the development of the game’s many beta versions and yesterday we deployed beta 4 with more new bug fixes, balancing and features. If you haven’t been part of all of the development that’s been going on the past few weeks, let’s just simply get into it...

The beta period so far

Since the beginning of the Airport CEO beta period we’ve now deployed four beta versions with varying content and purposes. The two initial versions, beta 1 and beta 2, were of a broader character and sought to fix and balance a lot of the content that was recently put in as a result of alpha 35 and alpha 36.

Beta 3 on the other hand shifted perspective a bit and introduced multiple new features, some that were planned since long including large maps and some as a result of feature requests by the community. The third beta version also took a great deal longer to develop compared to the two previous ones, mainly because of the large map feature. In order to reliably support the large terminals and taxiway areas that inevitable come with a large map feature we had to rebuild the game’s build tiling system, something that indeed took longer than the original “two weeks per beta version” schedule. With this tiling change we also took out a few other issue which resulted in increased performance when building large tile areas, heavily reduced save file size and perhaps most notably greatly reduced save loading time. Beta 3 also contained multiple quality of life features such as a construction planning mode, buildable world entrance tunnels, new terrain textures and more.

New terrain textures.

Buildable world tunnel entrances.

Construction planning mode!

Beta 4, deployed yesterday, is another stabilizing update building on the changes in beta 3, plus some additional new features. In terms of content, it’s a lot smaller than beta 4 and so will most likely the next forthcoming beta versions be as well. We want to get back to our original plan of smaller and faster releases so that we can quickly iterate and fix the changes that we introduce. Ultimately, the beta period is all about primarily fixing bugs and stabilizing gameplay and secondly adding those remaining features that we, and the community, was washing for.

Water!

New data overlays.

A context panel.

We hope to deploy the fifth beta version just before our holiday break and once 2021 is (finally) here we’ll jump straight into continued development and deployment of more beta versions. Check out the latest information on beta 4 here.

The full 1.0 release of Airport CEO

But where do all of these beta versions take us? Of course, eventually, to a full 1.0 release of Airport CEO. We’ve been in early access for more than three years now, a lot longer than we originally anticipated, but the number of players we’ve had over the years and the continued support and attention from the community has allowed us to continue to pour everything we have into Airport CEO. However, at some point the party must come to an end. A game is never finished, is never perfect but eventually is “done”. We feel that with all of the alpha updates, and some of the beta updates, we’ve delivered on the promises we made when ACEO first set out in early access and that the path we’re on now will take it to becoming as good as it can be. We’ve set an internal release date for ACEO, nothing we’re ready to announce yet but it’s well into the first quarter of 2021 and if things do not continue to progress as well as they currently are we’re not afraid to move it further ahead. We’ll continue to deploy daily updates on the experimental branch, bi-weekly updates on the default branch and continue to crush bugs all the way until the final release.

Airport CEO will of course also be maintained after it’s 1.0 release and we also have some new, minor content, planned post its completion. However, as of this moment we do not have any plans on major DLCs such as cargo or similar, developing Airport CEO has been the most difficult thing we’ve ever done and we want to take everything we’ve learnt and immediately start putting it towards a new project building on new tech.

We’ll talk more about the future of Apoapsis Studios and ACEO as it leaves early access. For now… full steam ahead!

In other news

... things are definitely moving along in the aircraft factory! As you may have noticed, each beta update contains at least one new aircraft model and those are all part of an aircraft implementation backlog we’ve had for quite some time as Steve has been rapidly putting together new models. That backlog will with the deployment of beta 6 come to an end but Steve has more aircraft planned, post the 1.0 release. Here’s a little sneak peek at some aircraft models that have been in development for some time but not yet been given a release date, and a few welcome additions to the game even after it has left early access.

Woah! So many birds.

We’d like to point out that even though some of these are business jets, they will be added as regular general aviation aircraft and not part of any DLC.

... our intern Elin, as announced per the previous dev blog, has been busy roaming around the various parts of the ACEO community helping out with providing answers and insight. If you see her make sure to say hi!

So that’s it for this time around. As you know, the dev blog is no longer bi-weekly and we instead write when there’s time and content enough for a proper update. We’ll let you know when that time is again but until then... fly safe!

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