Dev Blog 147: Multiple terminals and elevators

March 13, 2020

Good evening airport CEO! It’s nice to have you with us once again in this ongoing bi-weekly dev blog series and we hope that you, wherever in the world you are, are staying safe and healthy, are washing your hands regularly and are happy to spend some of your indoor time together with us getting through this dev blog. We’ve had yet another great two weeks of development and are starting to finish up the major development of Alpha 35 and all of its numerous features and are preparing it for an internal release and testing period. However, before we do that, we’d like to go through two of the final Alpha 35 implementations we’ve been working on these past two weeks. We’ve got no time to spare so let’s just get into it!

Multiple terminals

One of the perhaps most extensive and complex features of Alpha 35 and the terminal update is the addition of proper multiple terminal support. Over the years that Airport CEO has been developed, it’s been increasingly more and more “possible” to build an airport with multiple terminals but in the end there’s always been one or two key aspects of passenger, employee or airport system simulation that has violated a design rule and caused delayed flights. With the terminal update we are now finally adding support for fully separated terminal designs which will enable you to construct separate terminal concourses and run your airport as expected and without strange behavior that render aircraft inexplicably delayed (well, unless you build a poorly functioning airport of course). Despite multiple terminal designs being “almost” possible already today as of Alpha 34, adding it properly for Alpha 35 was no walk in the park. There are a number of things that need to happen in a correct order for passengers to navigate to, within and from their terminal without disruptive behavior as well as for employees and vehicles to remain within their respectively assigned terminals.

Our big, default test airport that's been multi terminal ready since Alpha 34.

A terminal is defined as a separate terminal via the new terminal tool. The airport CEO will construct each terminal just as before but can after completed construction enable the terminal tool and paint each terminal as their own respective area via square drags, similar to how zoning works. We’ve in previous dev blogs mentioned an improvement relating to the presentation of secure and international areas in the game as of Alpha 35, which now includes better color highlighting and text labels, and this is of course extended to the terminal tool. Check out the below screen of an ugly test airport for an idea of what it currently looks like...

Terminal overlay (please note that all graphics are temporary and subject to change).

Since terminals are defined in the same way as secure and international areas are defined, they can take on any shape you wish.  However, since a terminal is a concept that is fully encapsulating, for it to work properly you will need to include not only the terminal building but also all structures around the airport grounds that relate to that terminal including everything from bus stops to aircraft stands (this ensures, for example, that passengers deboard public transportation at their correct departure terminal). If a bus stop or an aircraft stand does not belong to a terminal it will default to not being related to any terminal at all and can thus not be used together with objects that are encapsulated by a terminal. And since terminals are encapsulating, they extend across all levels of floor which means that the area you define as a terminal on the ground floor is also the same terminal below and above that area (thus, terminals cannot extend over or under each other).

Terminal and zone overlays (please note that all graphics are temporary and subject to change).

Dividing your airport into terminals will also ensure that job tasks created within a terminal will only be carried out by employees and service vehicles assigned to that terminal. It’s up to the airport CEO to ensure that there’s enough staff in each terminal which is handled via the terminal overlay UI. By specifying the number of requested staff or service vehicles belonging to each terminal, the simulation engine will automatically assign suitable candidates. Because of this, you will be required to provide a walkable path and drivable road between the terminals so that staff and service vehicles can make their way around the airport if they are re-assigned. Employees and service vehicles that are not assigned to a terminal will not be able to grab job tasks happening within a terminal but can instead carry out job tasks that are not created within a terminal just as before, which means that it will very well still be possible to play Airport CEO without the terminal tool (at least for the time being).

In the end, the multiple terminal feature will allow you to efficiently run your airport split across several building with isolated passenger and service flows and together with passport checkpoint and immigration, separation of departing and arriving passenger and all of the other new things coming in Alpha 35 it’s indeed an update that further pushes the design possibilities towards a new, perhaps infinite, horizon. It’s for sure one of those parts of the terminal update that will require extensive testing and balancing so we’d like to take the opportunity to mention that the above design solution is not set in stone and may change as we start testing Alpha 35.

Elevators

Ever since the multiple floor update where we together with the concept of multiple floors introduced stairs and escalators, elevators have been one of those wet dreams for almost any airport CEO. The ability to quickly and efficiently transport a passenger or employee across multiple floors on a within a small physical space is indeed an attractive tool to have in one’s construction kit and thus something we’ve implemented in Alpha 35. The reason it took us several major updates before we finally could get it implemented was simply due to complexity, since the multiple floor update already brought a number of challenges with it and needed to be thoroughly tested with “simple” stairs and escalators, the elevator was pushed forward until we were confident in the node transition system (what persons use to path find across floors).

Two elevators and an open shaft.

Elevators can be constructed on any floor and connected to any other floor below or above, as long as they do not cross zones or areas. Elevators do not require a stop on every floor it is built on but can act as simple shafts allowing for passing traffic, thus enabling an elevator built on the ground floor passing traffic to the top or bottom most floor. Extending an elevators number of connected floors is a bit different than building other objects in Airport CEO as elevators have their own UI panel. To extend an elevator in either direction, simply right click it and carry on with your specific construction needs.

Elevator construction panel (please note that all graphics are temporary and subject to change).

Elevators are at this stage stupid transitional objects meaning that there is currently no complex elevator lift simulation, i.e. persons will not be standing around and waiting for a specific lift but instead teleport across the floors with a certain time delay. This might change moving forward but as you should know by now, the way we go about implementing new features in Airport CEO is an initial rough feature implementation that after testing and solution verification is polished into an overall satiable solution.

In other news

... as strange as it may sound, due to the current ongoing pandemic the studio tour will be further delayed. The final decoration pieces we mentioned in the last dev blog are stuck in transit and until they have arrived at the office, we cannot justify the tour so please bear with us for another two weeks as we wait for the delivery to arrive.

... after an intense period of aircraft design and implementation and thus a well-deserved break for Steve, we are slowly starting to look at the implementation of a few new select models. We’ll end today’s dev blog with a few sneak peeks of two of the upcoming aircraft models in production, soon nearing completion.

McDonnell Douglas MD-11

Airbus A350-900

So that is it for this week! We’re looking forward to an imminent internal testing of Alpha 35 and bring you the results of it in the next dev blog but until then, wash your hands and fly safe!

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