Dev Blog 134: We’re back from summer vacation(!), The Turnaround Update released and what’s next for Alpha 33

August 20, 2019

Hello airport CEO! Wow, long time no see. We’re back with the dev blogs from after our summer vacation hiatus and we’ve already been back for a full week from the actual summer vacation. Today, we’re writing to you from a train, an aircraft and then another train on our way to Gamescom and a week of getting inspired by the biggest and best in consumer games, meeting up with other indie devs and perhaps most importantly meeting up with our own friends and family from the Airport CEO community.

We’re back from summer vacation

After an intense period with a lot of work just prior to, and during, the Steam summer sale, we then took a full four weeks of downtime away from code, computers and Airport CEO. Although we routinely kept up with the infrastructure to make sure everything was running and replied to e-mail support inquiries, we decided that after not only an intense spring, but after a few years now with nothing but ACEO on our minds, we needed a proper break. Alexander spent his summer roaming around the Swedish outbacks, including a few nature experiences camping near various lakes. Fredrik spent his break with the family and his now six months old son Hugo, but also managed to get out and about in Sweden and visited both the western and eastern shores of the country. Olof too stayed in the Swedish neighborhoods and took a long “island” road trip and visited both Bornholm (although not Swedish, but Danish), Gotland and Öland. We’ve now since a week ago returned back to full workload and are feeling more refreshed and excited than in a long time.

The Turnaround Update (Alpha 32) released

Available at an airport near you!

Alpha 32, or the Turnaround update, has finally, after about a month worth of “soaking time” on the experimental branch, made its way to the default branch! Since we’ve written about this major update multiple times before, you by now probably know that it mainly contains three new turnaround services including aircraft catering, aircraft cabin cleaning and de-icing. Each service is accompanied by at least one new service structure, one new service vehicle and one new turnaround process simulation. On top of that this update, just like the rest of them, contains a large set of various bug fixes, performance improvements, gameplay improvements and other minor changes.

However, over the summer we actually couldn’t really fully stay away and have included two additional surprises for Alpha 32. We’ve implemented what we call a template tool, a tool with which you can copy and paste a group of objects across the terminal. You can copy any kind of object that has a one by one (1x1) grid snapping size (i.e. armchairs, sofas, walls, street lights and more), full desks with queues attached and even rooms! But wait, there’s more: The template tool does not only allow you to quickly copy and paste object groups, you can even load them into a template and save for later use via the usual build panel. When saving a template, you input the name of your object group, a description, search tags and we automatically generate an in-game picture for it as you copy it. We’ve already received a lot of positive feedback from our experimental users and the hassles of building large terminals with a lot of beautification and precision should now be heavily reduced. Please note that we will not be supporting floor or zones for the template tool, as there are too many cases in which it doesn’t make sense to copy those. In a near future, we will deploy Steam Workshop support for the templates which mean that you’ll be able to create and share templates across the community. However, since the templates are generated and stored with .json files you can already do this. We’ll let you know once you’re able to upload your templates to the Workshop! The template tool is activated by pressing a blue button in the lower main interaction menu, and all the instructions you need to know how to operate it is available in the panel shown when hovering on that button.

And as if the template tool wasn’t enough, Airport CEO is now available in German! While the actual localization system has been implemented and ready for quite some time, we decided to use the downtime of summer to have a local translation agency perform the actual (this time professional) translation. Airport CEO features a lot of text in general (just under 20000 words!), but also a lot of complicated avionics industry terminology which makes translating it a daunting task and so, even though the translation agency has done their best, we of course still want a German native aviation fan’s perspective on it. The German version has been tested on the internal and experimental branches for about two weeks and we’ve received a lot of great feedback. If you have any input on a certain translation or phrasing, do not hesitate to file a bug report and state your opinion. You switch language by, in the main menu, going to the gameplay settings panel and clicking on the German flag.

The Turnaround update is live on the default branch and if you haven’t checked it out already now is the perfect time. We’ll continue to watch the bug flow as this update is rolled out and provide updates for any critical problems that may arise accordingly.

What’s next for Alpha 33

Now, let’s cut to the chase and to what you actually came here for. With Alpha 32 deployed and with the summer vacation break over… what happens now? Well, if you’re an avid follower of Airport CEO’s public, real-time updated development board, you can already now see that a new Epic (a large encompassing feature name containing several minor new actual feature additions) has popped up and that it’s been populated with a series of new issues. And yes, you read that right, the large aircraft are finally coming! Alpha 33 will bring a new and final class of aircraft to Airport CEO, heavy aircraft with heavy infrastructure to support it. In excess of several new, very large aircraft models (dwarfing the A320…), we’re working on implementing a large runway, a large stand, a large de-icing pad, a large pushback truck and code to support multiple vehicles of the same type operating on that large stand. This is one of the most requested features after what we deployed in Alpha 32 and one we’ve been looking forward to working on since the development start of Airport CEO.

Another thing we’ll look into for Alpha 33, or possibly Alpha 34 depending on where we end up in terms of planning, size and scope, is the gameplay aspect of Airport CEO. With Alpha 31, 32 and large aircraft we’re now really starting to grow the number of assets available in the game. There are a lot of items implemented, features implemented, simulation mechanics implemented, that are interactable but have no obvious effect on gameplay and now is the time to fix that. We’re going to combat this problem on two fronts, primarily by overhauling the game’s airport rating system (and associated parts) so that it makes sense, is impacted by relevant thing we’ve implemented into the game to this point and so that is has an impact on you and your performance as an airport CEO. Secondly, we’ve with the feedback we’re getting from you realized that the game needs a lot of better systems for progression and we think we have a fun and somewhat unique idea in store here... but more on that later.

We’ve already started on the implementation of large aircraft assets but have yet to kick these two other aspects in to gear as they are pending a planning session first. We’ll be taking a few days within the next weeks where we properly plan and lay out the development for the coming updates so that we won’t end up in another scenario where the game has multiple features but none of them are connected or have an impact.

In other news

... we’re heading to Gamescom! As a post-summer kick-off activity and for other networking reasons we’re spending the week in Köln, Germany at Gamescom. We’ll be checking out the trade expo as well as the consumer part, and you can join in on the ride by following us on Instagram and checking out the story.

… as part of the work we’ll be putting in for Alpha 33, we’ll be having another feature request voting round! We’ve mentioned this before and included the fact that this time around (and in the spirit for Alpha 33) we’ll be looking at collecting a larger number of very minor feature requests instead of the big ones we did for Alpha 31 and Alpha 32.

So that’s it for this week! We’ll be trying to get back to the bi-weekly dev blog deployment schedule to keep you up to date but as we have a bit of runway to clear now with Alpha 32 out and some important planning to do for Alpha 33 we’ll make sure to keep you posted. And as you know, you can always check the public development board. Fly safe!

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