Dev Blog 133: Alpha 31 (the multi-floor update) released, experimental testing of Alpha 32 and the development road ahead

July 2, 2019

Hello airport CEO and welcome to the 133rd airport CEO development blog. We've had two very, very busy weeks of developments and deployments on several fronts. Not only did Alpha 31 and the multi-floor update go live on the default branch, but even Alpha 32 managed to get dumped on the experimental branch and therefor became accessible to the public. As with every week, or rather day, around here we have a lot to get through so without further delays lets just jump into it...

Alpha 31 (the multi-floor update) released

Alpha 31's beautiful update graphic!

Finally, after what has felt like an eternity, we've deployed Alpha 31and the multi-floor update onto the default branch. This is without a doubt the largest single feature update yet in the development history of Airport CEO (from a code perspective) and most likely the single biggest, fundamentally changing, feature update we'll ever do (again from a code perspective). Enabling multi-floor has, as you know by now if you follow these dev blogs regularly, been a challenge of literally a new dimension as more or less every single system is in one or several ways affected by the fact that there's now a floor number to take into account when things happen. Most challenging has been to enable the pathfinder to find paths, reliably, logically and efficiently, across multiple floors and areas, but also from a rendering perspective to making sure that viewing the different floors looks as good as possible given the challenges of Airport CEO's unique "2D but not really" art style; developing Alpha 31 has been incredibly requiring but also equally rewarding.

Looking at the overall development, and its following deployment, we are very satisfied. Thanks to the long and super rewarding internal testing period of Alpha 31 and all the incredible focus group participants, Alpha 31 had a very brief few weeks on the experimental branch before being deployed on the default branch just prior to the start of the Steam summer sale (which was our long-term deadline goal for Alpha 31). Looking at the overall discussion concerning Alpha 31, bug reports and player experiences being had, we are very satisfied as with an influx of new player the game's Steam score is (at least for the time being) steadily holding just above 90 percent approval.

We're however of course not done! We still get a steady flow of bug reports, most non-critical but some critical detailing strange passenger behavior, performance issues or path-finding problems and we'll continue to squash those with if not daily, then weekly, updates to the default branch as the game continues to develop. And with Alpha 31 now out in the wild, and with the gigantic hurdle it came with now have been climbed, we expect to become much more agile with more frequent updates to the default branch. But more on that later...

Alpha 31 was released 2019-06-25

If you've just now seen the news of Alpha 31's release, make sure to read the full Steam message as Alpha 31 brings a lot of new and important changes.

Experimental testing of Alpha 32

And thanks to the very long incubation time of Alpha 31 we managed to concurrently squeeze in a lot of testing of Alpha 32 and the turnaround update. Since the main features of Alpha 32, i.e. the new aircraft turnaround services catering, aircraft cabin cleaning and de-icing, relied on existing and well-functioning generic systems its overall development was fairly quick and the initial, most critical bugs, were swiftly found; again thanks to our brilliant focus group. This, together with the branching strategy we currently have in place, allows us to develop, share code between the two versions and deploy updates at the same time. Even though it's a bit tricky to maintain, we decided that we wanted to have Alpha 32 available on the experimental branch along side Alpha 31 as we were aware of the very lengthy time since we've last deployed updates and with both versions in such a, generally speaking, executable condition we felt it was time to step on it.

Alpha 32, also to be know as the turnaround update

Alpha 32 has a few more updates to go including continued bug fixes and missing UI elements before it's ready to go live on the default branch, but we hope to do so already as of the beginning of next week. We want to get this update out on the default branch as soon as possible, partly due to upcoming summer holidays and break, but mainly because maintaining and developing two live branches, although fully possible, is a bit tricky and not something we want to keep doing in the long run. We'll make sure to keep you posted on the development of Alpha 32 but as always you can follow the general development live here on our public Trello board. We as ususal expect multiple updates to roll out this coming week.

The development road ahead

So... with Alpha 31 on the default branch and another default deployment of Alpha 32 swiftly approaching... what happens next? Well, after a whole spring of crunching and an in general pretty hectic year of work we'll soon be treating ourselves to a little summer vacation and some development downtime. During this time away from the keyboard, we'll not only take a few days or two relaxing in the sun, playing a few video games or consuming other media, but most likely ponder on the gameplay aspects of Airport CEO and it's near future. With Alpha 31 and Alpha 32 becoming increasingly stable, and with Airport CEO as a game also becoming increasingly stable and fleshed out, we've ourselves and with the input of you, the airport CEOs, realized that it's time to start tying things together. We have a lot of complex systems running, a lot of simulation happening, a lot of stuff to build and design and in all of that the impact you as a player have on all that airport simulation could, and by now, should be drastically improved. Therefore, the first thing we'll do coming back from the summer leave with a refreshed mind and new energy, is a weekend of putting together the big picture of ACEO and also putting together a concrete plan for tying all the various parts of the game together. We want to make sure that everything that's in the game, and that will come into the game in the near future, has a real purpose and and an impactful meaning. We've heard all of your requests and demands on improved passenger behavior, improved economics, improved airline relations and more loud and clear and it's time to start realizing those. As we have that plan in place, we'll let you in on what the coming changes and improvements will be starting this early autumn.

On top of this new gameplay mechanics perspective we'll be adopting, we'll of course also continue the development of the large aircraft update. We've already, on the side of Alpha 31 and Alpha 32, developed several aircraft and assets intended for the large aircraft update and will make sure to continue putting a lot of effort into making it part of either Alpha 33 or Alpha 34 as we know this is a highly, highly requested feature update. There'll also be a new focus of implementing new minor items and assets more quickly, since we have a lot of art assets ready to go and now a good upcoming opportunity to implement them. All more on this as we return from our holiday.

In other news

... this will be the last regularly scheduled development blog for a while now as we'll be focusing our reaming efforts solely on stabilizing Alpha 32 and then taking a little summer break. We might be back with an update over the summer however, depending on how things progress and what we work on, but if not we'll of course remain active and available via our various social media channels but mainly on the Forum. And as mentioned earlier, the current state of development is always viewable at the public Trello board.

... over the summer we'll also run another feature voting round! It's been way, way to long since and to make sure that this one goes a little quicker we'll this time around enforce a few rules that make sure that the next round of top voted features will be a lot smaller in implementation size and something that we can deliver to you more quickly. Stay tuned for this, we'll let you know when it happens!

So that's it for now. Thank you so much for reading these dev blogs and we'd love to see you here agin once they come back on a regular schedule after our summer break. Until then, we'd like to wish you a wonderful summer and hope to see you around the Forum. Fly safe!

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