Dev Blog 108: Finishing the UI Sprint, The ACEO Mod Tool and The ACEO Soundtrack

May 15, 2018

Good evening airport CEO and welcome to this week’s development blog! This is the 108th in the order and the first one that is done on a bi-weekly schedule, as mentioned in the previous log. The transition was motivated partly by us needing more time to compile its content but also us needing more time to develop the game, and we’re happy to say that it has worked well. We have made significant progress on the UI sprint as well as on other fronts and once again you will get a fresh devlog with the latest and greatest of the next upcoming release, on time! But… time is code, and we’ve got no time and a lot of code to write so let’s just get into it!

Finishing The UI Sprint

Believe it or not, but from a functional stand point the new UI project is nearing completion! We’ve been hard at work implementing new panels and have revisited a lot of underlying systems, ranging from economy to notifications and to the newly implemented incident system (which currently only relieves the notification system and actually creates incident out of, for example, a broken sink, more incidents will come later). We have also, as of this week, completed the implementation of the management panel’s data display, which marks the last large functional feature to be implemented within the large UI overhaul sprint. What remains now is a few rounds of important testing and as we’ve mentioned before, everything we’ve been doing with Alpha 27 is subject to feedback from the focus group and so far, all in all, it’s going well. The UI is in large considered to be a lot better than as of Alpha 26.2 and we believe so too.

So what happens now then? We’ll make good use of the remainder of this week to polish the current version of Alpha 27, including bringing on the earlier mentioned consultant for an expert opinion on the usability of the new UI as well as its visuals. However, we do not wish to delay the deployment of Alpha 27 any further than it absolutely has to and we feel that we’ve sort of reached that point as of this week. Our target is therefore set to release Alpha 27 to the experimental branch either late this week or early next week, depending on polishing progression of the current version. However, we want to make it clear that we still have some work to get through before a default deployment, meaning that there with the input of the UI/UX consultant might still be large visual overhauls and therefor that the first experimental version of Alpha 27 is not the final one. This is not the last time you will get reminded of this.

A lot has changed with the new UI and we don’t want to have any speculations or share any further screens of the work that’s been made, instead we want those who dare play on the experimental branch to soak it in all at once, once it goes live. We’ll make sure to let you know once this happens!

The ACEO Mod Tool

As a part of the UI sprint, the foundation for the Steam Workshop integration is now complete! While there are still additional features to add, we consider the current state shippable for the experimental branch, and more info on when we launch the workshop feature will come as we’re nearing an initial Alpha 27 deployment for the experimental branch. On the Forums we’ve recently seen a few very, very dedicated modding attempts ranging from C# code injection to custom aircraft mods. We realize that this is a highly requested feature and as we’re slowly wrapping up the UI overhaul chapter it is time to look beyond Alpha 27. We are currently having discussions with some community modders on the concept of building a dedicated Airport CEO mod tool. When we listed the steps required to, in a fully supported way, mod an actual aircraft into the game it became quite clear that some form of visual tool is required in order to make this process democratized, so that anyone with an interest would be able to implement a new aircraft. For our perspective it would make the most sense to use and integrate what the community have created so far into a single application, where mods can be both created and uploaded to Steam without having to do complex .json text editing. Even though airline and business modding is quite simple today to do “manually”, aircraft modding will be a lot more complex due to the many parts that need both proper slicing and careful positioning to get that ACEO high detail polish. Hopefully, a tool like this will also encourage less experienced modders to mod in their favorite airline or aircraft so that we together can grow the content base for ACEO.

The details around the mod tool is not yet fully decided but what we can say is that it will also be built in Unity and offered for free, either as a standalone application or integrated into ACEO. This with will not only ease integration of core Airport CEO principles but also enable swift implementation of visual tools and guidance to aid designers in creating their mods, for example by pulling and dragging parts, slicing and positioning of lights and effects. We will not develop the ACEOMT entirely by ourselves as we have enough on our plate, but instead take help from skilled developers within the community in creating this application. This will enable us to keep developing new Airport CEO features and mainly act with guidance and control in developing the mod tool, since it after all will be an official, maintained and supported Airport CEO product. As production on this tool is initiated, we’ll naturally keep you posted in the upcoming devlogs.

A New Aircraft Implemented

Speaking of new aircraft, we actually took a short brake from all this UI stuff as of last week and implemented the CRJ200 and also, finally, the last winning airline from the airline design contest: Allure!

The CRJ200 will be enabled in the next, previously mentioned, experimental deployment of Alpha 27.

The ACEO Soundtrack

While we’ve briefly mentioned the creation of a dedicated Airport CEO soundtrack before, we’re now happy to finally announce that it’s as of this week official! We’re currently working together with Sinephony, a game music production company based in Stockholm, on a brand new full-length soundtrack for Airport CEO to keep you company when bossing around your airport. We’re both huge music nerds and felt that a soundtrack is not only an important part to give the game a proper, solid, quality finish but also something that’s really fun to work with.

We’ve already listened to a few ACEO demo reels and the initial results are very promising. They are very talented and with solid experience from other tycoon related projects and with a mind-set and music taste that very much matches ours we believe that the foundation for creating a soundtrack that lives up to, and support, the ACEO ambition is well within reach.

We have no set deadline for this side-project and will not do so as it’s naturally not a top-priority, but we’ll make sure to keep you posted on the challenges and progress of developing it. However, we can already now say that there’ll be no tracks leaked before it’s put into the game: The soundtrack is built for the game and that’s where it should be heard first!

Design Contest Prizes

Today we can finally announce that the winners of the design contests has had their prizes shipped as of last week! Airport CEOs in Europe should expect to have their packages by the end of this week and international CEOs anywhere from the end of next week to the end of the week after that. What did they get, you ask? They got a brand new, branded Airport CEO coffee (or tea) mug!

We can track most packages and will see if something goes wrong, hopefully not, but if they do we’ll contact the associated party. If you’re a winner and haven’t received your package within a month, please notify us. We’ve had some questions regarding if non-winners would be able to get their hands on a mug and if there are enough requests for such a thing, we’d happily set you up with an opportunity to get some merch – just let us know.

That’s it for this week. With the deployment of Alpha 27 to the experimental branch around the corner, and with that the deployment train being freed once again, we have a lot of exciting stuff in front of us! Next week we’ll also be attending the Nordic Game Conference 2018, this time in our home base of Malmö which’ll be a lot of fun while also time efficient with the office around the corner.

Stay tuned for the next devlog to be posted on the 28th of May, where we’ll release more info on the upcoming public Trello platform, give you a tour of the Apoapsis Studios office and much more.

Have a safe flight!

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