Dev Blog 140: Alpha 33 and The Big Bird Update released! ... and the pillars of Alpha 34

November 12, 2019

Hi there, airport CEO! Welcome back to another dev blog and perhaps a little break from Alpha 33 and the big bird update which was deployed on the default branch just this last Thursday! We are incredibly happy to bring you this new update which really phases ACEO into a new dimension. We’ve spent the weekend watching your large creations sprawl to life, seen you land a lots of big birds and seen you send over lots of good bug reports. You know what? Let’s just get into it…

Alpha 33 and The Big Bird Update released!

Get your tickets now!

The big bird update is indeed one of the most important milestones in the Airport CEO development roadmap as we with Alpha 33 are adding a core feature that has been missing for a long time: Large aircraft. After a few weeks of internal and experimental testing, we launched the update on the default branch as of Thursday 7th of November and have just now deployed a stabilizing update, Alpha 33.5-3, which has had a few days of soaking on the experimental branch.

All things considered, Alpha 33 has been the most stable release we done to this date which is a very good thing – the big bird update thankfully did not become the bug bird update. Our long-term bug fixing efforts are slowly starting to pay off and judging by the bug flow and number of bugs reported in contrast to how many of you are playing the game it’s easy to see that CEOs all over the world are having a more stable experience than usual when it comes to major releases like these. As you know we are mainly developing this game on a complaint driven basis and one of the most common complaints we’re currently seeing is in relation to stalled passengers and employees as a result of an increased pathfinding queue count. Alpha 33 brought many, many bug fixes to the pathfinding system and this has allowed us to detect a behavioral issue that we’re now working on resolving with a bigger systematic change to the working system surrounding the pathfinding algorithms. Today, if a passenger is displaced in such a way that it cannot find a path to an object they may attempt to find a path in such a way that blocks the system form processing any other path requests. This is what is causing the stalling behavior and queue buildup and with the upcoming change we will allow the system to run multiple path calculations concurrently which should mitigate this problem. Of course, you should always pay attention to the path finding issue notifications, but we understand that it may not always be possible when you’re a busy CEO and regardless it’s a very undesirable behavior to have one deserted passenger blocking path calculations for everyone else. Since this is a pretty major change however it is something we’ll be initially testing on the internal branch and then eventually roll out on the experimental branch for public testing.

Perhaps one of the biggest birds?

If you haven’t already, you should read up on the official Steam release notes to learn more about the release in detail and of course also check out to full patch notes. And even though we’ve mentioned it in the Steam notes, we’d like to highlight a few important changes as of this update.

How do I turn around a large aircraft?

Big birds, just like medium and small birds, are handled on their respective large infrastructure. Build large runways, large stands, large de-icing pads to make your airport suitable for handling the new weight class. Also make sure you have enough service vehicles and staff; these monsters require a large work force to leave on time! To handle large aircraft baggage transfer, you’ll need to buy a large belt truck loader and to push back large aircraft you’ll need to buy a large pushback truck. Also, if you’re loading an airport from the previous Alpha 32 version you will need to cancel existing contracts and re-accept them to properly be offered large aircraft flights.

Service vehicle parking lot size increased

Please note that service vehicle parking lots have been increased in size and to prevent issues with loading your airport, airports saved before Alpha 33 will not have their service vehicle parking lots de-serialized meaning there will be some initial road mayhem. Pause, and rebuild your parking structures at a suitable place and your vehicles will eventually find their way there.

No need to staff zone your conveyor belts in a baggage claim area

Please also note that we’ve done a lot of improvements as to how passengers move about a baggage claim area, so you should no longer need to zone your conveyor belts with staff zone to keep pax off the belt (in fact, it might render your passengers unable to claim their baggage).

Steam Workshop support for logos, object templates and products

Steam Workshop now also supports modding of airport logos, object templates and shop products. We’ve also added tags for the remaining missing business types (catering food and de-icing fluid suppliers). We will be updating the modding page on the Airport CEO website during this week with instructions on how to go about this but if you feel a little techy you can go ahead and start uploading already today! MDKs for the Boeing 777 and the Airbus A380 will during this week aswell. Once everything has been sorted we will announce proper support for everything via a Steam Workshop news message.

All in all, we’re satisfied with the results of the Alpha 33 release and will continue to watch to bug reports and deploy stabilizing updates to the experimental and eventually default branch as necessary. However, we’re also finally now starting to write a new chapter in the ACEO book, one that we hope will be very good…

The pillars of Alpha 34

Alpha 34, currently known as the gameplay update, has already been in development for a few weeks, from low priority now switching over to our main priority. It’s the update that we as developers feel will give a soul to the game. Last dev blog we wrote a somewhat cryptic little paragraph about it and even though we’ll stay away from exact details on the various new and overhauled systems we’re implementing, we’d like to demonstrate the three core pillars of this update and thus a receipt on what the game is currently most urgently lacking.

A progression system that aids new players and supports experienced players

Airport CEO has since its early access release had a very poor grasp on progression. To be honest, there isn’t really any. The current procurement system is a strange and schizophrenic mix between buying assets that support your airport such as vehicles and “researching” new “technologies” that enable you to expand your operations. This is something we’ve wanted to change, not only because it’s very clunky in its current shape and form but also because it’s not very intuitive and easily approached by new CEOs. A CEO coming into the game today will only have the tutorial to rely on for instructions on how to play the game but not anything else and being able to build all stand sizes at the start of your airport should not be possible. For Alpha 34, we are introducing a new progression system that is separate for the procurement system. Procurement will still be around in its current shape but only for vehicles, it’ll be the equivalent of hiring staff but… just non-human. The other procurables that you’d today expect to find in that panel such as fuel depot upgrades and other will be extracted into a new system. It will also be heavily expanded to comprise the entire range of buildable objects and other features in the game. It will also contain a few additional fun things and a little twist that we don’t think we’ve seen in any other tycoon game yet but that is something we’ll leave for another dev blog. As we’re writing this one, the system has already been designed and built as we’re preoccupying ourselves with internal testing and text production.

A new airport rating system that gets impacted and has an impact

Why would you even care about scanning bags in the game at this point? It doesn’t have any real impact… other than of course the visually pleasing aspect of building a really complex working conveyor belt system. Alpha 34 will seek to fix that with an overhauled airport rating system. Not only will every feature we’ve put into the game matter as this system makes an intelligent evaluation of what each agent in the game thinks of your airport from their perspective, it will also generate accurate ratings that in turn impact your business. Passengers will be dissatisfied with you poor quality furniture or lack of attention to cleanliness (yes, you will be able to enable proactive cleaning for janitors) and GA pilots will carefully consider what price you charged for that litre of Avgas 100 LL before recommending your strip to any of their friends. Again, this system is in large implemented and we’re currently working on the rating report functions for each agent type. We’ll sit on the details regarding the wealth of details of this system until a public release, but we’re very much looking forward to the changes this system will bring… and the balancing need of aspects of the game we’ll probably discover as a result of it.

Just better gameplay!

Alpha 34 also introduces a wide arrange of minor gameplay improvements, within a multitude of different aspects but perhaps mainly targeted towards economy and ATC. We’re in the process of overhauling and adjusting the pricing of all objects in the game, including both the fixed cost and the operational cost since it’s been in need for balancing for quite some time. We’re adjusting these prices partly based on your feedback but also in line with the redesign of the game pacing changes coming up in this update. There’s also for a long time been many requests and voices concerning the development of the game’s ATC systems and we’ve heard you loud and clear here. Alpha 34 will bring a set of important improvements that surround how are generated as well as giving you more control over ATC functions like the runways and the auto planner.


In other news

... there's actually not much more to say, for once! Just business as usual. That's unexpected.

So that’s it for this time, thank you for reading and we hope you all are enjoying those big birds. Fly safe!

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