Dev Blog 145: Passport checkpoints and immigration, self check-in, segregating departure and arrival and more!

February 15, 2020

Good evening airport CEO and welcome to the 145th development blog! We’ve had two amazing weeks of progress and since there’s today a wealth of content to write about, the creation of that content is also the cause of the delay of this dev blog. As you may know it’s often simply more valuable to keep the flow and finish development of a feature rather than taking a dev blog break or multitask. The terminal update is really a “back to basics” update where we revisit the vast terminal construction abilities in Airport CEO and both own up to the lack of functionality concerning existing features such as trashcans but also to greatly expand what you can build, and the layout options of your terminal with, for example, passenger segregation. It’s one of the most fun updates we’ve been working on to this date which is why we’re currently fully invested in the development of Alpha 35 and have implemented a large set of features already, that we’d today like to dig a little deeper into. With that said, there’s no more time for chit-chat and so lets. Just. Get. Into. It!

Passport checkpoints and immigration

The passport and immigration feature has now been fully developed and implemented. In the default Airport CEO universe boarding desks connecting to large stands will be required to be placed in an international zone, thus all aircraft arriving on those stands and their passengers will be subject to passport checks and immigration. While unrealistic, this is in our opinion the best approach for avoiding issues in relation to simulating realistic and complex migration relationships between nations but also the best option to avoid “the Iceland problem”, i.e. a situation where a player would place their airport in a country which does not have an extensive number of domestic airport.

However, after discussing this feature on the forum and after surveying the results of its implementation we decided to add an additional layer of functionality to accommodate airport CE-prOs’ (professional airport CEOs). In the gameplay setting panel in Alpha 35 you’ll find a toggle that will allow you to enable the “realistic international stands” setting, which will cause a per-stand international flight setting toggle to appear. With this setting enabled you can yourself decide what stands will receive international flights and thus have a lot more flexibility and realism in the construction process. However, as we previously mentioned, this is considered an advanced and custom feature and will not be mentioned in the tutorial.

The passport immigration feature is made up of two important sub features: International zoning and passport checkpoints. Passengers departing on flights via stands connected to a boarding desk placed in an international zone will after passing a security checkpoint try to pass a passport checkpoint.

A grand hall for checking persons passport!

"Business or pleasure?"

For those who do not enjoy the touch of a human, automated alternatives are available.

Passengers must pass through a passport checkpoint in order to gain access to the international zone, similarly to how passengers must pass through a security checkpoint to gain access to a secure zone. Once inside, they expect to be able to engage with the typical leisure activities they usually can before a flight including bathroom visits, eating, resting and tax free(!) shopping. Passport checkpoints can be placed in either direction, as long as it is crossing a secure and international zone border. This means that you place down the same object in opposite directions in order to accommodate both departing and arriving passengers. Yes, arriving passengers of course also need to be able to leave the international zone as they arrive to the airport on an international flight. Passport checkpoints come in two tiers: Manned and automated. Alpha 35 will bring a new R&D project called “Automation” which will enable a set of automated desks that are higher in operation cost but do not require staffing personnel to operate and are thus available for passenger interaction around the clock.

Passing security and them immediately on to tax free shopping!

What's this? New zone colors!?

Since we're now dealing with multiple colors for the various generic and specific zone layering we've also done some necessary adjustments for the zone overlay. While no longer being opaque, this change should more easily regardless of floor color allow you to overlook your zone configurations. We're also working on an experimental, as you can see here, secure zone text label for each specific secure zone which will allow you to more easily understand what areas are isolated against eachother. Please keep in mind that the above text element is work in progress.

Self check-in

Speaking of the automation R&D project, in excess of an automated passport checkpoint the research project also enables two self check-in components: The self check-in and bag drop device. Alpha 35 actually brings three tiers of check-in desks: A small check-in desk with no conveyor belts attached for those early, non-baggage compatible and small terminals, a normal sized check-in desk with conveyor belts attached (the one you have today but now fitted with check-in desk monitors) and the final tier which includes the automated check-in devices. Self-check in devices can be placed anywhere across the open zone in your terminal and will service passengers one at a time. Passengers who do not have any baggage to check-in will after interaction with a self-check in device be immediately cleared for check-in and continue to a security checkpoint. Passenger who do have baggage to check-in will be required to drop these at a baggage drop station which should be placed and connected to your conveyor belt system similarly to how the regular check-in desks (with conveyor belts) are. However, contrary to those regular check-in desks who are booked by a system that reviews the number of required desks for a flight depending on its number of departing passengers and the number of available check-in desks connected to the flight’s stand’s connected baggage bay (yes... simulating airports is... complex...), any baggage drop connected to that flight’s stand’s connected baggage bay will be available for baggage drop around the clock. This means that by placing multiple self check-in devices in your airport terminal, in combination with multiple bag drop devices, you can very notably improve your check-in speed by distributing the passengers across multiple stations. While providing a sterile feel to your airport terminal, it also noticeably reduces your workload but of course at an increased operations cost.

The robots... they are coming for their jobs.

Perhaps humans and robots can work in symbiosis?

Look at that line-up!

Look at them go, all by themselves.

Looks like the check-in area of a small tropical airport.

Looks like the check-in area of Automated Efficiency International (AEI).

Improved passenger and employee behavior

Another important part of the Alpha 35 update is seriously improved passenger behavior. We’ve already overhauled major parts of the logic relating to how passengers decide what activities to execute and when and they’ll be further advanced and tested before internal testing. But in relation to these overhauls we’ve also enabled new behavior for both passengers and employees as part of this update. Both these person types can now snack, i.e. walking up to vending machines to purchase minor food units for consumption and throw away trash generated by certain activities. In Alpha 34 there are a few different issues with how dirt is generated across the airport, in Alpha 35 we’ve overhauled this system and made it contingent on the placement of trashcans. While single items can still become dirty after excessive use (such as gate seating and other interaction items) the filthiness of floor tiles now heavily dependent on the ability of people carrying trash to be able to offload that trash. When a passenger visits a bathroom, snacks, eats or go shopping there is a slight chance that the activity will generate trash carried by the passenger (such as paper napkins, packaging, wrapping paper or receipts). If the passenger is carrying trash they will try to throw it away by fetching a nearby trashcan. If they cannot find one, they will carry the trash with them but have a notable higher chance of generating a trash pile along their path. This gives purpose to the placement of trashcans in areas where passenger consumption is high while also taking care of the issues you’ve reported in generation to endless dirt generation in corridors.

Janitor taking a break with a snack and, of course, cleaning up after themselves.

Departure and arrival segregation

The overhauling of the passenger’s behavior in Alpha 35 also enables another long awaited and heavily requested feature: Segregation of departing and arriving passengers. As a result of an extensive community discussion and the advancements of the passenger behavior system we’ve spent a few extra hours enabling segregated departing and arriving passengers. While this is not a feature that will be mentioned in the tutorial, it’s a design choice that you as an airport CEO can invoke if you so wish with a few simple steps. Jetway entrances have been widened from two nodes to four meaning that there’s now an option of constructing a wall in-between thus causing the expected behavior, i.e. arriving passengers can via the construction of walls and zones be fully framed off from the departure areas. Furthermore, baggage claims can now be constructed in secure areas which further enables full end-to-end segregation of departing and arriving passengers. Again, this is not something that will be brought up in the tutorial but instead something we expect you to discover and play around with as you become more accustomed to mechanics of the game. However, to ensure that baggage is routed correctly you will not be able to connect a baggage claim that is placed in a secure area to a baggage bay that already has existing connections with baggage claims placed in open zones.

They shall not mix.

Wouldn't mind waiting for baggage here!

"State your purpose coming to this country!"

Baggage claim before security... this is truly a new era of ACEO.

Multiple new decorative objects and additional content

Alpha 35 also brings a wealth of new stuff including a section of decorative items. Flower beds and various statues, in excess of the statue that is enabled when you win the Airport of the Year Award, is now placeable in your airport. This update also includes both restaurants and airline business lounges as well as walkalators and ultimately support for multi-terminal layouts but this dev blog has already gone on long enough and we’ll need some content for the weeks ahead…

That must be solid gold.

As you can see, Alpha 35 is jam-packed with new stuff to do and there’s lots of things that’s not been mentioned or is still to come, but as you hopefully know by now you can track the development progress of all our upcoming features in the public Trello feature board.

Wait... what is this game? Restaurant CEO?

In other news

... Fredrik is on parental leave, which means that we’re working with a little less resources than usual. But do not worry, most of the development tasks in Alpha 35 can be handled by the rest of the team and the one day per week Fredik currently is spending with us he will be fully invested in the multi-terminal support development. His son Hugo says “hej” to the entire ACEO community and thanks you for lending him his dad for a little while.

... Alpha 34 has not seen any new updates this week as we’ve been fully invested in the development of Alpha 35. As we mentioned in the previous dev blog, both Alpha 35 and Alpha 36, the final major content update before the 1.0 release, will bring some notable and fundamental changes to the game which justifies an increased development focus on new development and implementing these new features so that we more quickly can get around to the extensive beta phase before final 1.0 release. During beta we’ll know the full width of all of ACEO’s features and will thus be able to make more extensive and qualitative bug fixing and balancing.

Phew! If you’re still reading, well done! But that’s it for this week. Thanks for dropping by and we hope we’ll see you in another two weeks with more content on the development of Alpha 35. Fly safe!

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