Technology Demonstrator Development Update December 2022

Some of you have been asking for an update on the development of the AirlineSim Technology Demonstrator, and rightly so. If you aren't aware of what this is: Last year we set out to develop a prototype for a potential future successor to AirlineSim. The project is supported in part by a funding program of the German government and our plan is to have a playable version of a very basic game loop ready by the end of next year. Here I just want to give you a brief update on where the project stands, what the current and upcoming steps are and when you can expect to give it a first try yourself.

Status and timeline

Let's get the sad stuff covered right away: We took a total of three months off of the project, partly for my parental leave, partly to take care of some urgent work in other areas. That said, we're back to regular work on the project now. The general timeline has been adjusted accordingly, which would put the completion of the project towards the end of December 2023.

Current and upcoming work

As mentioned in a previous update, the "prototype within the prototype" of the so-called Distribution System has been finished in mid-2022 and we are now looking at implementing the actual game system. This includes setting up the backend and frontend frameworks we are going to use to implement the game logic. Since this is essentially a greenfield project, this work includes a lof of boring and (mostly invisible) boilerplate. And because the plan is to use the Technology Demonstrator as the technical foundation for a potential "AirlineSim 2", we are putting a lot of thought and effort into the groundwork, applying lessons learned during the development of our other title Prosperous Universe. After all, we started development of current-generation AirlineSim more than 15 years ago and we expect the new version to have to last at least as long as well.

The goal right now is to get the most important and most commonly used parts of the framework fleshed out before the end of the year, with airline registration being the first "feature". While this is not an exciting feature in itself, it uses all the bits and pieces required to have a full interaction between client and server that causes a lasting effect on the game world's state and is visible to other players. Sounds a bit abstract...and it is. Things are going to become a lot more concrete next year, I promise.

An important part of "making it more concrete" is the design work that's currently going on with an external agency that's going to provide the user interface design of the ASTD. Unlike the previous version of AS, the UI is not going to be coder-art done by yours truly anymore, but a proper design, done by professionals, with mobile devices in mind from the get-go. I can't wait to show you the first bits of that. Just a disclaimer: The first preview (see below) won't have any of that work just yet. We expect it to hit the codebase some time in early 2023.

Access to development preview

The test server is actually online and accessible. But as described above, it doesn't actually do much at this point. The moment this changes, I will put details on how to check it out on the forums. Likely in a category only visible to players with premium status, as that is going to be the access criterion for the preview server as well.

I sincerely hope this is going to happen before the end of the year. But as said before, we are not rushing things at this point as we really want and need a solid foundation. So fingers crossed and stay tuned!