Dev Blog 156: The Emergency Update released and a new development paradigm

September 9, 2020

Good [insert appropriate time-based greeting depending on your local time state], airport CEO and welcome to the 156th dev blog in order. It’s been another two weeks since we last spoke and since then we’ve made some major progress on multiple aspects of the game, both alpha and beta, and we have a loooooot of work ahead of us so let’s skip the pleasantries and just get into it!

The emergency update and Alpha 36 released

Last week we finally deployed the emergency update and Alpha 36, the last big alpha content update, on the default branch! It’s a huge milestone for the development of Airport CEO as we with this deployment new transition into a new development paradigm (which we’ll talk more about below) and it seems as if you’re enjoying its content. Of course, as with every major update, for every new branch we release the game to the more players experience the new content and even though both the internal and experimental testing phase clear out most of the critical bugs and balancing issues, there’s simply a lot more players on the default branch which triggers issues, previously undetected or not significant enough, to appear more frequently. This means that we’ve also been deploying daily stabilization updates on both the experimental and default branch, first on the experimental branch for at least 12 hours of soaking and then on to the default branch. Overall the emergency update has been received well with a few more notable balancing issues and crashes relating to a major engine upgrade and even though we now transition into beta which will mean a slightly slower development pace for the default branch, we will of course as per usual continue to monitor the bug report flow and address any really critical issues as they are reported, and if needed be separately from the beta branch.

But now it’s time to switch gear and switch paradigm.


A new development paradigm: Beta

After seven major content adding updates and nearly three years in early access, Airport CEO is now more or less feature complete which means that we’ve effectively left the alpha state of the game’s development and moved into beta. The first beta version, Airport CEO Beta 1.0-0, is currently available on the experimental branch as part of the first beta sprint. But with a new development paradigm comes a new way of releasing updates, gone are the days of weeks without updates but major big bang releases and now is time for truly agile development.

With seven major content additions over a very long period of time the base of of Airport CEO is somewhat sprawling, both in gameplay terms and technical terms. The point of the beta period is to rectify that, to go through the entirety of the game as it stands, feature complete, and ensure that the game is fun to play, that everything is connected and works as expected and that it runs as well as it possibly can. With this in mind, let’s take a look at what the development cycle will look like as we enter beta.

A lot of work. Summarized!

The Airport CEO beta development cycle

The Airport CEO beta development cycle consists of a series of sprints. A sprint is a short period of time in which a number of planned development tasks should be completed and the ACEO beta sprints are no different. They will last for two weeks (pending no delays…) and contain a series of different planned tasks ranging from performance overhauls of certain systems, plain bug fixing, polishing and or necessary changes to certain gameplay elements. Another type of development task found in one of these sprints can also be “minor” new features that have been planned for some time, such as larger maps or additional world entrances.

When a new sprint starts, a new beta version is released on the experimental branch. That beta version is then maintained with daily updates for two weeks, updates which are comprised of a mix between planned development tasks as part of the sprint and bug reports from both the experimental and default branch. When the two weeks are up and the sprint’s tasks are completed, the beta version will be deployed on the default branch and the cycle starts over. This means that the first release of a beta version we deploy on the experimental branch will contain very few fixes but those daily releases will then eventually amount to a larger bi-weekly default release. The first beta version, Beta 1.0-0, was released today which means that the first beta sprint starts today. If we stay on schedule, this means that we’ll launch a new beta version on the default branch every other week, i.e. every other Wednesday.

We currently have six beta versions planned but this may very well change throughout the development process. In terms of game development, as Airport CEO is the only game we’ve made, we’re still quite new to this and going into beta is definitely a new experience. We hope that these changes will bring about a better and more qualitative game faster but if we discover that things are not running as optimal as we’d wish, we’re not afraid of making any changes and if so, you’ll be the first to know.

In other news

… the final aircraft set-list for Airport CEO 1.0 has been set and one of the final birds to arrive sometime during beta is the Boeing 767-200 and -300, beautifully crafted by Steve in the aircraft factory. Here’s a sneak peek of ‘em both in a nearly completed state!

Boeing 767-200 & Boeing 767-300

… with the upcoming development pace changes and bi-weekly Wednesday releases, on top of all of the rest of the work that goes into preparing for a full release such as the development team actually excessively playing the game, and with development geared mainly at fixing, balancing and polishing and not towards new development, we will in favor of development efficiency halt the recurring development blog schedule. We’ve not decided exactly on how to progress with the development blog from this point on, instead for the time being we’ll make sure that each major beta release is accompanied by an update text digging into the total contents of the beta update and the development surrounding it. We will also most likely be back from time to time with the occasional, more encompassing update, as we near a full release.

That’s it for this week! Thank you for reading and being part of the development so far. We’re extremely excited to start polishing the very rough diamond that Airport CEO, at least to us, is and to make sure that it becomes as great as it possibly can. See you around the community and fly safe!

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