Over the past few weeks and months, we have been very busy working on various things on and around AirlineSim. And since we're rolling out a small maintenance patch today - check out the respective section below for all the details - we felt this was a good opportunity to give you an update on what we have been up to!
First: Another Update on Fuel Prices
In non-development but nonetheless relevant news: As we have stated before, we have been and are keeping a close eye on real-world fuel prices which feed straight into AirlineSim, have exploded since the beginning of the Ukraine war and have since been a hotly debated topic in the community.
We have been very reluctant to just switch over to a new source of fuel price data because of something that might turn out to be a shorttime outlier. But at the moment it seems like the prices are plateauing at a very high level and as such, are becoming a serious problem for many airlines, especially in game worlds configured with the "new ORS".
Consequently, we have decided to use pseudo-random fuel prices values going forward, with an initial manual downward correction to get back to a level somewhere between pre-Ukraine and today. This will likely be a temporary measure until fuel prices are back in a more "regular" price band and we can revert to real-world data. But we might also opt for making fuel prices follow an artificial function forever, possibly with different settings per game world. Time will tell.
The first artificial fuel prices will be added today and should then show up in all game worlds 24h to (at most) 48h later.
This patch is just a bit of housekeeping, getting some long-overdue improvements checked off our very long to-do list. We're also looking into several performance-related problems that have been reported to us over the past months, and some of the internal changes of this patch are supposed to help us in finding their root causes.
Here's an overview of the patch details:
- Improved handling of runtime errors: You should see a lot less of those ugly "system error messages". That doesn't mean those errors go away, but now you'll get a nicer-looking page with clear instructions on what to do.
- Fixed a couple of bugs around the stock exchange.
- Fixed an issue keeping people from using Premium features after purchasing credits.
Aircraft Conversion Tool
Apart from the patch, we also started working on a new in-game tool for aircraft conversions, which we know has been an anticipated feature for quite a while. As we're currently acquiring the necessary aircraft data, there's no fixed release date yet, but we're aiming to add the tool some time around the middle of May, likely in tandem with a general data patch. We will reveal information about available types and conversion options as soon as we can. Stay tuned!
Technology Demonstrator Development
We'd also like to use the chance to provide you with some input regarding the development of the AS Technology Demonstrator prototype! Don't worry if you're not familiar with the project – we've put together an in-depth FAQ explaining all the details.
Since the project was announced last December, we have been able to stick quite closely to our intended timeline. We don't want to go into too many details just yet (we're in the "closed development phase" for a reason), but to give you a rough idea, here are some of the things we have been working on:
- Basic performance tests to figure out the physical limits of what is possible.
- Implementation of a large part of what will eventually become the Distribution System, including schedule searches, availability generation and fare matching, to name a few.
- Implementation of the initial parts of the travel request generation system to generate millions of individual travel requests.
- Various helper and data preparation tools for development purposes, including tools to generate "real'ish" test data based on data taken from live AirlineSim game worlds.
- Research into new data sources to generate authentic travel desires.
Over the course of the coming weeks we will wrap up this phase of the project, at which point we are confident to have a working proof-of-concept of the Distribution System. While this version will lack a lot of the detailed rules of the final system (like how exactly virtual passengers select connections and how airlines can differentiate their offering), it will have all the key parts that make up the foundation for the actual game.
After this phase, the project will go on a brief development hiatus, as Martin is taking a couple of months of parental leave. That doesn't mean that nothing will be happening: The rest of the team will be working on game design and data research in preparation of the open development phase, so we will be able to hit the ground running once Martin is back.