Dev Blog 123: The development strategy ahead, new aircraft production and announcing the Airport CEO soundtrack trailer!

February 12, 2019

Good afternoon airport CEO!

Welcome to another development blog update. It's already the 12th of February and time is passing by quickly, fortunately we're putting that time to good use and are slowly progressing with stabilizing Alpha 29. Alexander, the newest Apoapsis Studios member, is at an increasing pace finding his groove and have over the past two weeks added a lot of content not only to Airport CEO but to the studio as a whole. On top of this, we've got some exiting news you'd really want to listen to so... let's just jump into it!

The development strategy ahead

But first, lets deep dive into our main time consumer right now: Continued stabilization of Alpha 29. As we first deployed this version it brought about the largest set of fundamental changes in ACEO since the initial release in 2017 and looking back at the deployment of Alpha 29 in December, even though it was a large change, we did not anticipate the many additional changes we've done since then for this major version number.

The main purpose of Alpha 29 was to increase the game's performance and ultimately the number of agents we could simulate in a world. The tech goal we had in mind, derived from looking at our Steam reviews, the main reason why people refunded the game, the bug report flow and general input from the community being "poor performance", was to be able to simulate 10000 passengers in an average sized airport at around 60 FPS on a very high-end machine. With the recent CPU load fix we're now deeming that possible, given that the airport has been "correctly built" as intended by us as developers, which is great. What is not so great is that results for none-developer players may definitely vary, as present bugs, lacking simulation process optimization or lacking UI and instructions that can cause players to "build wrong" (should be read as that we are the ones failing to instruct or hint properly) in the end impacts performance which is something we are and will continue to address throughout the development process all the way to a full release. Also, with more performance available, CEOs build increasingly larger airports which put more strain on the quality of the simulation.

Looking at the mentioned feedback sources now we're seeing very few performance complaints, especially compared to how it was before Alpha 29, which is great. What is not so great is that we're instead seeing those sources mentioning mostly game breaking bugs and related issues instead. We're recognizing this fully and therefore our current focus is to stabilize Alpha 29, by addressing large and fundamental bugs that affect a large set of players and simulation behavior bottlenecks, to a point where such bugs are not present or only affect a very small set of players and (or) can be worked around. We realize that we've with the latest updates moved a bit too fast and even though the game is in an "early access state" there are too many instances in which core systems fail due to a bug. Airport CEO is a very complex simulation engine and the underlying systems were in many parts not properly adapted for the large changes with Alpha 29, which is why we're currently dealing with a few critical bugs to systems that are core to the simulation process, such as the delivery system handling deliveries of construction material which we're seeing several important bug reports on as of now - and which is as a result of those bug reports now being overhauled completely.

Thankfully we're well equipped with a great community, an in-game bug reporting tool and an every-day improving QA process that should over time prevent us from deploying more critical bugs to the default branch. More importantly, we're not prone to any future branching issues which allows us to devote time to bug fixing while also being able to put a few hours into continuing development on larger features. One that we're mentioning below in just a few seconds, and we've recently also made good progress on multi-floor which we're excited to share news with you about in a few weeks or so.

As always you can track the current ongoing issues and development via the public Trello development board!

New aircraft in production

And while we're working on fixing bugs, thank fully Steve is shielded off and has time to explore the voice of the ACEO community. Last month we held a community vote on which the first ever large aircraft to be implemented in ACEO was going to be, and an additional GA aircraft vote. The community decided that up next for implementation is the Boeing 787 (Dreamliner) and the Piper Cherokee! Over a whopping 1000 votes were cast between the two and we believe that the community made a wise choice... and although it is very likely that the other aircraft in the votes will be implemented eventually aswell we're excited that these will be the first ones out. On top of these two we have an additional aircraft coming out soon, the Cirrus Vision Jet, but until then you'll have to suffice with a very work in progress pic of what's currently being assembled...

The in-progress Boeing 787, courtesy of Rubble (Steve).

The Airport CEO soundtrack trailer

Yes, it's soon here! From conception to deployment, the empty audio space in Airport CEO will soon be occupied by its soundtrack. The soundtrack has since about a month back been completed and delivered to us by Sinephony, and we're currently working on connecting the final parts, i.e. building a soundtrack playback system and overhauling the generic sound effect invoker system as we'll together with the soundtrack update bundle 25 new sound effects. Since we down the line, before entering a full release, will expand with even more sound effects we're putting in the effort now to build a system that will last and allow for quick and easy future expansion.

And to give you an idea of what it's going to sound like, we're today happy to announce the release the Airport CEO soundtrack trailer featuring some behind the scenes footage of its making. We'd like to hand out nothing but big thanks and hugs to the talented musicians below who've graced the soundtrack with their skills and also a big thanks to Sinephony who even managed to have time to get a few shots in while recording.

Accompanying the soundtrack is as mentioned 25 new sound effects, further expanding on the audio design of Airport CEO. The total package will be release as a part of Airport CEO Alpha 30, or the soundtrack update, and will hopefully make its way to you as of late next week. You'll as always be the first to know!

So on that note we'll end this weeks dev blog. Thank you for reading and we can't wait to release the soundtrack update as soon as possible, we hope you're just as excited as we and Sinephony are. Fly safe!

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