Hello, airport CEO! Wow, it’s been quite some time since we last corresponded, but we are finally back with another dev blog! We’ve been occupying ourselves with the daily beta version releases of Airport CEO and when you’re in that kind of almost exclusively bug solving and balancing development state there’s not really that much interesting stuff you can write about, apart from each version’s change log of course. But today is different as we do not only have some catching up on the past month’s development to do but also…. some very exciting news! But as usual, let’s just get into it and start from the top…
Since our last correspondence, another three beta versions have been released. Beta 5, 6 and today’s default release of beta 7 are all versions that continue to build on the increasing stability of Airport CEO. We have been balancing all aspects of the game, squashed bugs from left to right across multiple systems, implemented minor new improvements and some final small features as requested by the community. For more information on the exact contents of each beta version you can check out the beta release announcements in the ACEO Steam news feed. As of today’s default release, beta 7, we’ve been focusing on some of the last significant bugs that have still persisted including issues with objects clipping through floors as part of a rendering bug, a rare 100% CPU utilization issue as well as multiple fixes to balancing systems across the board. You can read all about the latest changes in beta 7 here.
Over this past month we’ve seen the number of bugs reported drastically decrease as the number of players have remained about the same. Every day, around 3000 Airport CEO players together rack up almost a year’s worth of playtime every day and on that playtime combined we average around 30 to 50 bug reports sent in per day. These bug reports vary in content a lot, ranging from valid issues (that are often part of a set of other duplicate reports) to suggestions, opinions on certain features or various user errors. The average Steam score of Airport CEO has for an extended time remained around 85% with no signification deviation in either direction despite multiple sales. This extended beta period and the results we know see, along with the fact that we’ve now delivered on the somewhat fluctuating (but since this past autumn finally hard set) roadmap for Airport CEO has led us to make a significant decision.
After two years of prototype development for an early access version and then another three years of actual early access development, multiple major releases and essentially a complete overhaul of the game from its initial launched state to today, Airport CEO 1.0 will take off on March 4th 19:00 CET (10:00 AM PT) 2021 and at that point consequently transition out of early access and into a fully released game.
Another two beta versions with continued fixing, polishing and balancing are planned to release before (or as part of) the final 1.0 release. Nothing about the development cycle and daily experimental releases will change before March 4th. In case of some significant development impairing event within the studio occurring (these are after all uncertain times), the release date may be pushed forward to a later date in March.
It’s difficult to say when a game is truly finished, completed or full in its state, especially for a tycoon game developed in early access. ACEO is a game that many categorizes as “an infinite content generator” and it truly is, both in content and development potential. Most games are, or at least should be, developed starting with the end and designed backwards to start with a clear scope in mind. That’s not how ACEO came to life, ACEO is an idea that began as a prototype developed by two software novices and eventually morphed into a complete product finished off by three, now experienced, game developers. A development cycle like that sets its marks on its product and ACEO today is a fun, but quirky, hardcore tycoon airport management game.
We’ll not take the time now to sum up our views on the years that have passed for we are not yet across the finish line - but there is no questioning that if we were to choose a sole success factor of Airport CEO it would be community. And as a small token of our gratitude to the community for these past years of development, the full 1.0 version of Airport CEO will release together with a small, but in our opinion significant, surprise. More on that in March.
Airport CEO will after its 1.0 release in March of course still be maintained, although not in an every-day active development state. Depending on the influx of new players in relation to the 1.0 release event, Steam sales, new versions of the underlying Unity game engine or changes with the Windows or macOS operating system or other broad issues, we will continue to update the game as necessary. There are also additional aircraft, produced by Steve, waiting to be implemented into the base game which will happen as part of post 1.0 updates. We expect to dedicate at least one day per week to Airport CEO maintenance across the studio throughout 2021, or more if necessary, while also immediately starting work on what’s next to come for Apoapsis Studios.
Airport CEO will also see new, but minor, content additions in 2021 through dedicated releases. However, we’ll announce more information on that when it is time.
… as part of the 1.0 release celebration this month we’ve enabled a legacy branch on Steam, enabling you as player to look back at what Airport CEO looked like when we released the first early access version back in 2017. A lot, well, everything, has changed and it’s quite interesting to see what it looked like back then. However, please beware that this legacy version is not supported in any way and should be considered as a museum piece, a look back at where this game started and what the power of early access development and community meant for it. If you have a save game from the pre-Alpha 29 era, or if you find one on Steam, there should be no issues playing them on the legacy branch. You switch to the legacy branch the same way you switch to the experimental branch.
… Fredrik has over the past few days spent a lot of time on finalizing the aircraft MDKs! All aircraft MDKs will be completed and available for all aircraft in the game ahead of the 1.0 release so if you’re a modder we highly recommend keeping an eye on the modding page and MDK folder as we’ll soon begin uploading the remaining kits.
That’s it for this time. We are extremely excited about finally being able to set a 1.0 release date for Airport CEO and seeing it depart the runway once and for all. We’ll definitely be back with a new dev blog as that happens and a few months after the release has happened, do a postmortem write up on the full development experience, and release, of Airport CEO. But until then, stay safe, see you around the community and fly safe!