Dev Blog 146: Restaurants and airline lounges

February 28, 2020

Hey there airport CEO! Glad to see you dropping by this dev blog in your, perhaps, usual order. Maybe this is the 146th dev blog you read or perhaps it’s the first, regardless we’re very happy to have you with us as we deep dive into today’s topics.

First off today we’d like to thank all of you for your immense support and excitement as a result of the previous dev blog. We’ve not seen this much interest in an update since the launch of the game and the big bird update and given how much fun we’re having developing this update we can tell you that your excitement is reciprocated.

It’s been another two good weeks of progress and we’re again exited to share the advancements, and how Alpha 35 is slowly growing into shape, with you. In the last dev blog, we managed go on for quite a while and this time around will probably be no different so let’s just get into it...

Restaurants

With the terminal update and Alpha 35 we are finally introducing proper restaurants. In its essence, restaurants rely on the same code that enables the current café businesses which are established in food rooms as of the current Alpha 34 version. However, while cafés require specific counters and fridges, restaurants of course have their own uniquely differentiating requirements. Included in the update is a set of new kitchen items such as a cooking station, a separate decorative stove and work bench and a kitchen fridge freezer, all beautifully designed by Mitchell. These, along with a new requirement system ensuring that businesses moving forward will have extended requirements on the furniture you place in the room such as seating and decoration, make up the foundation of establishing a restaurant.

A cozy little restaurant with a center kitchen.

Cooking stations will, along with the counters placed in a restaurant, also spawn job tasks and thus be manned by franchise staff. Unlike other franchise staff, those manning the cooking stations may at some points walk about their closest proximity and tend to the preparation of meals.

"Yes chef!"

To easily get you going with restaurants we’ll include a few new default restaurant businesses and those that today are in the game, but recognized as cafés, will be converted into restaurants. Whatever mods that are out there which has their business type tagged as restaurant will also automatically converted once launched in Alpha 35, however new requirements will not be invoked until a contract needs to be signed.

Another friendly establishment!

Passengers will interact with restaurant businesses in the same extent as they do with café businesses but will in general most likely spend a bit more at a restaurant as a result of the more expensive products a restaurant has, compared to a café. This means a greater revenue and a potentially increased turnover profit in the sale cut for the airport but in turn the contracts are a bit more demanding. And while the franchise contract system will for sure receive an overhaul, either in this update or the next, that’s a subject for another dev blog.

Airline lounges

While restaurants are an expansion of the food room functionality, the terminal update will also bring about a completely new, long-awaited, room type: The airline lounge!

Swiftly and Maple, toe to toe, room to room...

You can't go wrong with color coding.

Airline lounges are rooms dedicated for use only by upper-class passengers traveling with a specific airline. Airline lounges are built just like any other room but of course have a different set of requirements to be opened and operated. To open an airline lounge, you’ll need to ensure that there’s at least one information desk, one buffet table, one airline floor logo and one bathroom built within the room’s premises. The information desk is operated by your employees, the passenger service agents, and just like other rooms the desk must be operated in order for the room to be opened. In an airline lounge, all of the passengers’ four basic needs can be tended to: The bathroom will allow them to relieve themselves within the airline lounge’s premises, the buffet table allows passengers to get something to eat in order to still their hunger and as a passenger is relaxing in the lounge to regain their energy, they also enjoy themselves. The airline lounge bathrooms are built just like any other bathroom and can be placed within the airport lounge room, which has previously not been possible, and is as mentioned only utilized by those who have access to the airline lounge.

Airline lounges are ideally placed on close proximity to gates.

The airline lounge part of the Alpha 35 update also means that we’re now simulating two types of passenger classes: economy and business class. For starters, around 20 to 30 percent of a flight’s passengers will be traveling in business class and out of those 90 percent will be wearing suits (those 10 percent who don’t are simulated successful tech entrepreneurs who would never wear old money clothing).

Important business people on their way to important business meetings.

An airline lounge can be established for any airline that your airport currently holds a contract with. Airlines are always very interested in establishing their presence in an airline lounge and the synergy between your cooperating businesses in the form of airline and airport, in excess of the master contract, will naturally boost the airlines approval rating of the airport. Airline lounges also have a direct monetary return as each passenger visit will generate an entrance fee payment which is varying in size depending on the size and rating of the airline, i.e. the bigger and higher rated the airline contract is the more valuable the entrance of a passenger in that lounge will be. This is in accordance with the upcoming airline fleet overhaul, also part of Alpha 35.

Airline lounges can be built in both regular secure areas as well as international areas.

New system for floor trash generation

A problem a lot of CEOs have been struggling with recently and especially as their terminals grow bigger is the issue of cleanliness. Previously, each passenger has had a default cleanliness reduction value for each grid node they walk on meaning that heavily trafficked routes will become filthy fast and thus generate a filth tile and a janitor job tasks for cleaning those nodes. We do not particularly like the concept of an aesthetically negatively impacting feature (well, it goes into the rating system too...) that you as a player cannot impact and so in the terminal update, we’ve sought to change this.

The above-mentioned system has been swapped out for a more realistic, impactable way of trash generation. As a passenger is interacting with an object that is known to cause trash such as shopping, snacking, eating or visiting a bathroom they are around 25 percent likely to generate trash. When a passenger is carrying trash, they will try to offload it in a trashcan but if they cannot find one, they will carry the trash with them. As a passenger is walking around carrying trash, they have a relatively high risk of at some point simply dropping the trash on the floor. As more passenger drop trash on the floor, the grid node slowly becomes filthier until it passes a certain threshold where a janitor job task is generated.

... of course, with new graphics!

As we wrote in the previous dev blog, the best way to mitigate this is to place out trashcans near objects of commerce, i.e. objects where passenger have a chance of generating trash. A passenger’s trashcan search field is relatively narrow, meaning that if you place trashcans scarcely and cheap out on the frequency you may run at risk having filthy floors.

Improved passenger and employee behavior

What would all of the above-mentioned efforts, including the rest of the feature list for Alpha 35 mentioned in the previous dev blog, mean if it was utilized by the same half-dumb passengers as in Alpha 34? Not much, which is why we’ve taken a serious look at passenger and employee behavior as part of the terminal update. The changes we’ve made to the general AI behavior system is both related and un-related to the changes coming with multi-terminal support, which is an endeavor in itself and something that is still in production so for now so we’d instead like to talk a little bit about the multi-terminal un-related changes instead.

In the current version of Airport CEO, if you center the camera on a boarding desk and review the events as the flight for that desk nears departure, there is one major thing you’d notice: There’s a lot of strange running going on. This is not only unrealistic because gate areas are in fact quite calm but also puts a lot of additional strain on the pathfinding system in whole and is this something we’ve dealt with. The previous version’s running was caused by incorrect behavior that over the years slowly have crept forward as a result of incremental extensions to the passenger AI. Beyond the terminal update it is unlikely that any major behavior adapting content will go into the game meaning that we in Alpha 35 finally have been able to dig deep into the rules guiding a passenger and do a lot of initial changes that will result in initial improvements. Of course, this is something we need to test on a larger scale (with you!) to really set in stone but comparing the two versions with each other we’re certainly liking what we see. Passengers now make more realistic choices; they do not get up and run about every 10 minutes but instead weigh their options before deciding if they should leave a seat or not. The result is an a lot calmer gate area with passengers who have their needs fulfilled simply enjoying themselves in their seat as they wait for their flight to start boarding. Passenger that have access to airline lounges will stay there as long as they can and only proceed to their gate as the time of boarding draws closer.

Now doesn't that look a lot calmer?

Another important change we’ve implemented is the fact that passengers are now more aware of how they’re feeling and that their activity decisions are more influenced by their need state. For example, passengers will no longer go shopping in stores unless their other needs are above critical level. A passenger which cannot relieve themselves or are too hungry or too tired is someone who’s probably both uncomfortable and irritated and thus not someone who’d like to go on a shopping spree. This mechanism is both realistic but will also ensure a higher state of integrity in the simulation engine and you’ll no longer be able to pump passengers for cash as their only option of activity, unless their other basic needs are fulfilled of course.

There’s a bunch of other things that have been adapted on both the passenger and employee side in excess of what’s been mentioned here today, some more stuff to do such as improved seat occupation randomization and we haven’t even touched on the changes for supporting multiple terminal… but’s that something we’ll save for another dev blog!

In other news

... we will over the weekend deploy a small update to the current Alpha 34 version with a solution for the duplicate flights planned issue when using the auto planner, and also a few other minor bug fixes. You’ll be the first to know via our various channels when that happens!

... the studio tour, unsurprisingly, will be a little delayed! We’re waiting for a final, important, piece of the new office to come together but once it’s in place we’ll make sure to give you an extensive insight into the space where Airport CEO is crafted. Over the few years we’ve been active for, we’ve managed to accumulate an unanticipated amount of stuff including souvenirs and Easter eggs, something that for sure would be fun to get a view of if you’re an avid ACEO fan.

That’s it for this week! Thanks again for reading up on what we’re doing and keeping tabs on the development. We’re super excited to work, and eventually, release Alpha 35 and are doing our best to move that date closer. Fly safe!

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