Dev Blog 157: Airport CEO celebrates three years in Early Access!

October 6, 2020

Hipp hipp hurra!

Salutations and celebrations, airport CEO! Another year has passed and as of last week’s Monday (28th of September 2020), Airport CEO celebrated its third and final full year in early access. Last year we celebrated with a custom ACEO cake and a party for friends and family but this year is… a bit different and we’re instead celebrating with continued development! Airport CEO has also grown up quite a lot since last year, leaving the early years of alpha childhood and becoming a full-grown beta teenager with loads of new content to offer as well as languages learned! Oh they grow up so fast… and Airport CEO is now maturing more rapidly than ever and that the next celebration we’ll have is when ACEO comes to age, leaves early access and becomes a full-grown 1.0 title!

Strange human growth parables aside and while this year’s celebration is a bit subdued compared to last year, we still wanted to take the opportunity to highlight this event! To celebrate the anniversary we per usual ran our early access anniversary sale last Thursday at 30 percent off for a week but… we also have a bit of a different surprise in store this year, something we’ve been working on while the code was compiling…


Over these past three years of developing Airport CEO, and ever since that first design contest prize award consisting of an Airport CEO mug, there’s been numerous requests from the community in regard to securing a mug for one-self. We’ve always been keen on ordering merch for ourselves and the studio and since we’ve recently updated the Airport CEO logo it was time to refresh that merch… which reminded us of the fact that there might still be some community demand out there for that old (but now new!) Airport CEO mug. We’ve always said that during the development of Airport CEO, the first and only game we’ve developed, we’d like to try out all aspects of game development and this project is simply another one of those side quests on the journey. So during code compilation, build uploads or git pulls we have alongside the regular development been working on some item and apparel designs that we think will look really neat on anyone who’d be interested in wearing them. We’ve partnered up with Spreadshirt to handle all of the infrastructure around the items including the online shop, shipping, returns and customer support. We’ve supplied the designs and have set up one store for the EU region and one for north America, however due to Spreadshirt’s different supply chains the product range and colors will vary depending on what store you browse. Here’s a screenshot of the product range in the EU shop…

You can count on us wearing the yellow aircraft tee at the office next week.

We’ll be putting down our own orders shortly and are very much looking forward to be able to wear the result! If you want to check out the merch you can check out the European store here and the US store here.

Development of beta 2

Over the past two weeks we have been working on development of beta 2 and the various planned bug fixes, feature improvements and feature additions. Unfortunately, due to some unexpected instabilities with beta 1 at the point of its release and due to illness within the team (not related to the pandemic) we will most likely not reach the sprint goal within the allotted time. The sprint has also been somewhat delayed by an expanded ambition within one of the planned overhauls which of course is a good thing from a quality perspective but a bad thing from a time resource perspective. Our ambition is instead to complete the sprint by the end of the week, depending on how everyone is feeling within the team. Regardless we will be deploying daily updates on the experimental branch as per usual and if you want to tag along on the beta 2 experimental experience, you’re more than welcome!

An overhauled weather system

The overhaul of the weather system is one of those things we’ve planned for the beta period since long before we were even close to transitioning into beta. Weather is an important aspect of any game but perhaps especially an airport tycoon game like ACEO and while it’s been working okay-ish since its initial development it’s never been that good but perhaps more importantly its been designed from a very northern European perspective. Simulating realistic weather is difficult even for just a single position on Earth but when that position, as chose by the CEO of a new airport can be literally anywhere on the earth, it becomes a huge task. Naturally, Airport CEO will not and frankly does not need ultra-realistic and accurate weather simulation as the main purpose of a weather system in a game like this is to bring ambiance, scenic variation and a slight gameplay challenge. The weather system so far did all of that but since you in Airport CEO really can place your airport anywhere on the globe, the system were prone to a lot of local bugs such as for example invoking de-icing in the middle of the Sahara desert. This is obviously not something that holds up for a game that wants to grow up and leave early access and thus it was time to rebuild the system.

8000% humidity and 0 mm rain tomorrow... wow! Some would say its a bug, we'd say its a miracle. The little angry red icon indicates a sever weather state.

Initially we had prepared for just an extensive overhaul of the current weather generating algorithms which we thought with more localization input could generate better weather but that wasn’t really the case, there are just too many inconsistent variables and patterns that make up the specifics of a weather depending on its locale. Thus, the new weather system is built around the concept of actual world data. A combination of realizing that the ability in ACEO to place your airport anywhere in the world is absolutely horrible from a weather generation perspective and, after years of searching, finally finding a service that could provide us with extensive and qualitative weather data has enabled us to build a system that draws inspiration from the real world and prevents the same weather patterns being used across the globe and eliminates the issue of de-icing being invoked in Africa. The new system pulls in a year worth of historical weather data from multiple points around the globe with a resolution of one hour, meaning a complete set of 8760 data points per location. It then analyses the different variables across the year and builds an internal map that the weather system then uses as a reference for generating the weather. This does not only mean a lot more accurate and realistic data generation but also reduces the save file data of the weather system from in some cases several megabytes to the low kilobytes, as we do not need to save the data we have generated but instead just reference the internal map we rebuild once the airport is launched again. The system is also fully moddable meaning that as long as you format your data correctly and place it in the correct folder, it will be automatically consumed by the system on launch and used as the reference point for the airport’s weather generation if it’s the nearest data set available per the coordinate placement of the data set and your airport. Weather in Airport CEO will of course never be truly 100 percent accurate but with this change we’re finally getting as close as possible.

Currently, in order to test the system, we have about 10 data points spread out across the world which means that the resolution as of right now is very low, i.e. you may still get some really weird weather depending on where you place your airport (we expect the final version to have around 30 which will greatly increase the accuracy). Using this data means that we can now also deduce what type of climate the airport is placed in and thus leverage it for multiple other pressing improvements regarding the ground texture and other environment related system , including ensuring that the ground texture do not become green summer grass if you you play on Greenland and local climate data being exposed in the main menu as you select your airport’s location.

The airport selection menu, now with more insight!

The system is currently live and available for testing on the experimental branch, although prone to some childhood diseases as a result of its big overhaul. These will be squashed in full before beta 2 makes it to the default branch. We’re very excited about the changes in this system and the added realism it brings and will continue to balance and improve it throughout this beta period.

In other news

... an intern has joined us at the office! As of a few weeks back we have been joined by Elin, our new marketing and community manager intern, who will be working alongside us with the various preparations needed to be done before we can really start to think about a final release. We’ll give her a proper introduction on the forum later this week!

… did you think we were done implementing new aircraft into Airport CEO? As you may know there’s already multiple new aircraft scheduled for release across the different betas but Steve is still hard at work developing new birds. Here’s his latest creation, can you spot the model?

It's not a bird.

That’s all for this time folks. As you may know by now, the bi-weekly dev blog is put on hold in favor of more focused development and we don’t know when we’ll be back but until then… fly safe!

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