New approach to slot problem

This of course was our contribution to April Fools Day ;-)

Tomorrow we will be holding our annual team meeting to discuss the further development of AirlineSim in its boadest sense. While preparing for this event, we addressed a somewhat smaller but nevertheless urgent issue: Lack of slots.

Every player knows the problem: After a game world is some weeks or even months old, free slots become scarce at most larger airports. This problem is fueled by the misuse of slots - for example by employing small props on trunk routes - or the intentional blocking of slots.

Unfortunately there is no simple solution to this issue. Every approach we have thought about so far has its own disadvantages. One-time or recurring payments for slots favor large airlines over small and young ones. Big airlines will always be able to afford their slots and thereby the occurence of the problem will only be postponed. A strict assignment based on size of aircraft and route is too rigid to allow for new or experimental airline concepts and as such does not provide a solution either. Implementing complex assignment rules from reality - like grandfather rights or similar mechanisms - would require a bloated and complicated interface and would - as most complex rules in a game do - cause several unwanted side-effects that cannot be anticipated in advance. The seemingly easiest solution - removing or softening the slot limits - could not find a majority among the team since it would effectively diminish one of AirlineSim's most important features: The mere existence of actual resource limitiations. The idea of assigning slots for actual credits was short-lived and discarded for obvious reasons.

Following the success of the User Advisory Board we have therefore followed a totally different approach: If strict rules don't suffice and when artificial intelligence won't do, actual humans have to step in. As such, in the future slots will be granted by a so-called "slot manager" as soon as a certain treshold has been exceeded. This manager is elected by the airport's local airlines for a fixed amount of time and he has to decide which flights will get approval and which won't.

By means of this feature, the game is enriched by a completely new social and strategic aspect since from now on airports will differ in their "political attitude". The players will keep their influence via the election and they will be able to decide whether they prefer a pro-corporation or a pro-start-up management. We will be able to judge whether this approach works as we envisioned it as soon as we have patched to version 1.5.7. This will be the patch to contain the changes. As long as no slot-manager is elected, slots are granted automatically every day while prefering airlines local to the airport or the airport's country. To ensure a quick and smooth introduction we will provide "start managers" where desired. If you are interested in being one of these, please contact support and provide your airport and game world. If more than one application comes in for any given airport, the initial manager will be picked by lot.

We are looking forward to your feedback and are very excited about seeing this feature unfold within the game. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide a specific launch date for 1.5.7 as of yet.