In September we have announced a considerable amount of new features, wrapped in a completely new mobile-ready UI. Quite some time has since passed and we spent most of it polishing, refining and testing said features. Although this work is not completely done yet, we think that AirlineSim 6.2 is ready for "Early Access". This means we will be launching a new game world on Monday, December the 15th that will run the new version for about 3 months. This way, you will get something new to play with over the holidays and we can gather a lot of real, early feedback to prepare the game for a full-on release in early 2015.
Note that this game world comes with "limited warranty": Some minor things still need to be smoothed out and it's very likely that you will encounter bugs in a few places. In either case, we are very much looking forward to your feedback.
As said, the list of new features is comprehensive. To give you a rough overview of what you'll find in the new version on Monday, find a list of the most important changes below. Before Monday we will also prepare a FAQ containing answers to questions we expect to come up.
Improved usability on mobile devices
AirlineSim has received a completely new interface which improves usability on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets considerably. On small screens, the navigation menus collapse to a touch-friendly version and content is automatically “stacked” as to make side-scrolling a thing of the past. Of course, for a project of the size and scope of AirlineSim, we cannot provide a perfect mobile experience for every single page in the game, but the general usability will improve substantially.
Completely new look
Also a part of the new interface is a new, darker look. It is to convey the direction we want to take in AirlineSim’s development over the coming years: The airline simulation for pros! Loosely modeled on the design of professional software systems, the new design is also a lot more modular and flexible, allowing us easier and faster integration of new features and expansions in the future.
Since we’re sure that the dark themes won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, the new version allows you to pick a different theme. Initially we will offer a “dark” and a “light” theme, but further variations are a thing we keep in the back of our heads.
Adjusted Terminology and Navigation
As part of the “professionalization” we are introducing a slightly changed terminology: for example, “offices” become “stations, “route management” will be replaced by a combination of “Scheduling” and “Inventory”. The game’s navigational menus now more closely follow the structure of real airlines and are divided into “Commercial”, “Operations” and “Management”. The process of applying these adjustments will be on-going and the new terminology will be used consistently during future development and reworks.
Quick Search on many pages
In many locations around the game you can now find small context-aware search forms right below the head of the page that allow you to quickly navigate to certain items by entering a code or search term. This way, you could for example enter an airport code on the stations management screen and it will take you directly to the page of the respective office, even if it doesn’t exist yet. A single extra click will suffice to open the respective station.
Scheduling: Departure Offsets and Speed Overrides
A large step towards more flexible scheduling: To make better use of slots and to standardize the flight plans of different aircraft types it is now possible to separately adjust the departure times within a single flight number for each day of the week. Additionally, you can vary the cruise speed by up to 5% of the optimal cruise speed to shift the arrival times.
Scheduling without aircraft assignments
If you’d like to plan your network while the respective equipment still has to be ordered or delivered, you can do that now: Once you provide an explicit cruise speed for a particular flight, you can schedule it without assigning an actual aircraft. This becomes an especially powerful tool in combination with the Connection Analyzer (see below).
Simplified assignment of terminals
Up to now it was necessary to explicitly assign a handling contract to a flight. With several contracts per station and many stations this could quickly become a tedious affair. This changes in the new version: Already during scheduling you can assign any terminal to a flight - even if you haven’t actually booked handling there yet. This assignment will be valid no matter if or how many handling contracts exist for the given terminal. The only important thing is that sufficient capacities have been booked. Because if a terminal is assigned to a flight but the weekly quota has been exhausted, this can cause cancellations in future versions. It’s a lot easier for cargo: Here you can book capacities airport-wide and independent of single terminals. Are they insufficient, AirlineSim will take care of the handling.
New planning tool #1: Bulk Terminal Assignments
Terminal assignments become even easier with the respective tool on the station page: With a few clicks you can shift many flights between terminals at once. This way, you can quickly and easily react to load variations or changing contractual relationships.
New planning tool #2: Connection Analyzer
Controlling the network is one of the most important tasks of an airline manager. And yet, so far this has been tedious and a matter of luck in AirlineSim. The new Connection Analyzer simplifies things: As part of scheduling, you can display which flights could serve as potential inbound or outbound connections for a particular flight number. A variety of parameters allows to fine-tune the result and the connections are sortable by several fields. For the first time, this tool grants an actual advantage to alliances as it is possible to display connections with alliance partners - even if you don’t have an interlining agreement with them or the flights have not been unlocked yet!
New planning tool #3: Route Evaluation
Many features that were formerly a part of route management have been rebuilt to work on an “airport pais basis”. To still get an overview of potential routes and the respective traffic rights, an old acquaintance finds its way back into the game: The route evaluation tool. Many years ago, this was already a part of old versions of AirlineSim and offered a range of information like aircraft recommendations for the selected route and similar things. We might add this and other functionality in the future and we’re looking for suggestions from the community.
Redesigned Leasing Management
With several hundred leased (or leased out) aircraft the old leasing page would often become close to unusable. For this reason it has been rebuilt from the ground up and offers a sortable and pageable listing of the contracts as well as filtering by aircraft type and lessee.
Various pages of the finance part of the game have been consolidated into two pages: Accounting and “Corporate Finance”. On the former you can find your bank statement, balance sheet and income statement. On the latter, equity and loans are managed.
Service Profiles: One-click save
Small stuff matters, too: Up to now you had to separately save the food and non-food settins of a service profile. Now this can be done in a single step.
Embedded Help System (content not completed yet)
If you click on the small help symbols located around the game you can view the documentation for the respective features without leaving the game for the wiki or other external pages. The documentation will open in an embedded window and even allows to jump to related topics without switching pages.