After a rather long period of silence it's about time for a status update concerning current and future AirlineSim development.
Results from Hamburg: Easier access!
How many steps does it take to get an aircraft flying in AirlineSim? We've been asking ourselves this question on this years team meeting in Hamburg and after short counting the answer was: About 10! Even though these do not even include optional steps like browsing for the best starting airport or the optimal launch fleet they pose a major hurdle for beginners and make many of them quit the game before they have scheduled a single flight.
To tackle this issue and the resulting loss of new players we have agreed on a package of "immediate measures" to be implemented in the upcoming patch to 1.5.7. Their basic goal will be to automize as many steps as possible in between sign-up and first take-off. Beginners should not have to quit the game because they are overwhelmed by the interface but instead should have an easy start so they can investigate AirlineSim's rich and detailed feature-set after they've got their basic enterprise up and running.
In practice it will look like this: Whenever an airline is founded, it has a default on-board service profile set up already that will be used for all flights. A maintenance provider is pre-selected and aircraft are equiped with a seating configuration on delivery/purchase. If no such configuration exists yet, AirlineSim will create a standard one. All auto-generated profiles can of course be deleted and replaced by own ones. Beyond this, staff management has been streamlined considerably - not only for beginners. Pilots are hired or trained automatically on assignment while the management of cabin crews has been completely automized and does not have to be handled manually at all anymore. Aircraft are ready to use right after purchase - having seating installed and crew assigned - and flights can be scheduled immediately. Further optimizations are planned but might not make it into the next release.
Before the pro-gamers among you get scared of loss of control, behold: All these comfort tools can be disabled in your custom settings and for existing accounts and companies they won't be activated in the first place.
On our way to 1.6
Other than these immediate changes we have layed out the core goals for 1.6. What we are thinking about in detail will not be disclosed just yet. But one important fact should be announced already: According to current planning, 1.6 probably won't be backwards compatible. For this reason we want to realize as many feature ideas and improvements in the lifespan of version 1.5. As with the broader 1.6-goals, these changes will adhere closely to the results of the survey we ran on out forums just a few weeks back and which generated some pretty clear results on what things about AirlineSim are most important to you. Consequently, we want to work on these areas as much as possible.
To put long things short, this sums up our current roadmap: AirlineSim has to become more accessible to new players, but it will also remain a specialized, complex and challenging business simulation.
As always we are neither able nor willing to answer the inevitable question for a realese date. The only thing for certain right now is the fact that quite a bit of Jet-A will get burned before 1.6 will hit the browsers. Another important piece of information: If 1.6 actually proves to be incompatible with previous versions, all 1.5 game worlds will remain in operation until community interest vanishes.
New game world and version 1.5.7. This and that.
As soon as development and testing of the new comfort tools as well as some performance improvements has been completed, we will patch all game worlds to 1.5.7. After these changes have proven themselves in production we would like to start a new international game world for which there is no launch date yet, of course. We also got a data patch in the pipeline but it won't be completed before Easter.
Last but not least we'd like to point your attention to the upcoming community meet-up in Prague. If you want to be there on June 11th make sure to book your flights and hotels as soon as possible. Prices are rising by the day! As usual, the meet-up and its program can be discussed on our forums.