Dev Blog 129: Another multiple floor update and a first de-icing demonstration!

May 7, 2019

Hello airport CEO and welcome to yet another development blog, the 129th in the order. Work is steaming ahead as we’re, mentioned in the previous dev blog, developing on three fronts and we’ve made another good dent in the development of the features coming up ahead. Since we want to make sure that we put all effort into where it’s really needed, this dev blog will for once be a little shorter than they usually are. With that said, let’s just jump into it…

An update on the multiple floor

The multiple floor feature has throughout the past week, since the last dev blog, had yet another round of internal updates and a lot of testing by the focus group. We’ve managed to squash many bugs, solve performance issues and have in general progressed well throughout the week. However, thanks to the testing that’s been done, the bug reports that have been filed and some of the user feedback we have been doing a lot of thinking over the weekend and have ultimately come to the conclusion that this final (... or maybe not so final) version of the new path finding system requires a slight re-design. While it does work for around 95 percent of the user design cases we have with the feedback given found a few logical weakness where the current system throws path finding errors causing agents to get stuck, errors that per the algorithm’s design are reasonable but that to a user may be perceived as incorrect since a few design cases are not covered. The introduction of multiple floors and the rules that the A-star path finding algorithm live by has also spawned a few question marks which align with the missing user design cases, giving further weight to why we need to do this final adjustment. This essentially means that we have to break up the new system one final time (hopefully…) and that the full implementation of the multiple floors feature will require another week of work. We still think this is for the best as we don’t want to add a bunch of ugly exceptions for the remaining five percent which would probably only in the end introduce more bugs and instability. Given how huge and truly fundamental this update is to the game, we want to make sure that there are no design or architecture question marks left once we release it onto the experimental branch. We’ll continue to share more updates on this feature development as they progress! Meanwhile, take a peek at this escalator below doing its best to bring passengers up and down. Escalators can be set to either have an up direction, a down direction or both (one up and one down).

A second floor gate area. Graphics are not final.

De-icing demonstration

With catering more or less completed, except for a few missing UI parts and some final polishing, we’ve moved on and completed the first iteration on the de-icing service. With the introduction of the catering service, i.e. a depot and another vehicle on the stand, we wanted to do something different with the de-icing turnaround service. After a lot of consideration and design talks, we opted to go ahead with not including it as part of a traditional turnaround on the aircraft stand but instead run it as an after service for when aircraft have pushed back and are ready to depart. Weighing in all factors from realism, to game design, to visual feedback and operational satisfaction we’ve decided to implement a separate de-icing pad which aircraft pass through on their way to the runway. We've done a lot of research these past days and de-icing, just as with anything else in the world of aviation, we could probably now start working on De-icing Truck Simulator 2020 as there is so much one could include.

Parked de-icing trucks eafely awaiting birds to soak. Disclaimer: This taxiway design is not recommended as aircraft must pass over the runway for the de-icing service which causes delays.

De-icing pads in Airport CEO are operated by de-icing trucks, which are automatically deployed once the temperature drops to near sub-zero degrees. To make this dispatchment system reliant, we’ve thrown out the old temperature generation system and have implemented a season and day dependent temperature cycle system that generates realistic temperatures depending on, well, the year’s current season and the hour of the day, with random variations depending on the current weather condition. Thus, de-icing will really only (obviously) be relevant during the late autumn, winter and early spring days - however we could easily extend this system to include local coordinate-based temperature modifiers if we could find a public data base that would supply us with yearly temperature averages around the globe.

Once the temperature drops down low, the de-icing trucks are as mentioned dispatched to each de-icing pad and will stay there for a 12-hour shift or until the weather warms up again (i.e, if for example a warm breeze comes down during the early morning hours). If a shift is completed and the temperature is still in the sub-zero regions, new de-icing truck job tasks will be issued. An aircraft making a request for de-icing will taxi to the stand, hold for occupation and then enter for their de-icing fluid bath. It will look something like this:

De-icing trucks doing what...

... they do best!

We still have a few more design decisions to take and polishing to do on the remaining full implementation of the de-icing service such as de-icng fluid supply and consumption, pad sizes (considering the arrival of large aircraft) and also including further polishing on the weather system and related UI assets. We will tell you more in the next dev blog as we’ve by then will have made additional progress.

In other news

Nordic Game Conference 2019is roaring closer. It’s happening right here in Malmö and we’re really excited to attend. It’ll be several days of learning, networking, a few beers here and there and some coding in between. If you’re going there make sure to hit us up!

… a massive thanks to everyone who got back to us regarding the localization testing. The system is now completed and will go live properly on the internal branch tomorrow for testing, however only with a temporary language solution as we’re currently waiting on the first completed German translation. As we have that delivered and implemented live on the internal branch, we’ll make sure to give anyone who’s notified us of their interest to play Airport CEO in German an internal branch invite.

… with de-icing soon out for testing, we’re immediately carrying on to the third and final new turnaround service: Cleaning! The vehicle has already been crafted by Mitchell and is now sitting in the backlog waiting for implementation. As we'll be releasing all three new turnaround services shortly after each other to the experimental branch as part of Alpha 32 (Alpha 31 being reserved for the multiple floor update) we're starting to see the light in the tunnel for this feature request. More updates on how cabin cleaning will be implemented will hopefully arrive in the next dev blog.

... we, as of the last dev blog publication, crossed 200 followers on the Apoapsis Studios instagram which was highly unexpected! We're not too overly active over there but we'd might need to repay you with perhaps some moving de-icing content later this week. Who knows?

So that's it for this week... fly safe!

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