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Author Topic: Long term playability vs. slots  (Read 2989 times)

Offline Sami

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Long term playability vs. slots
« on: July 10, 2013, 12:55:56 PM »
Allrighty, this may have been talked in other threads but I am planning imminent changes due to long Jet Age game, so let's check with this again.

With slots the obvious problem is that it is "first come, first take" which is not fully fair. But that is not going to change yet at least. One change I would plan for this, in order to limit huge monopolies, is that home based airlines combined together could not control more than 60 or 70% of the slots at the airport. All other slots would be marked for non-based airlines.

However, when we think of longer term the one big issue is that when you replace your fleets to faster ones, the arrival/dep times at outstation change and you may end up having no slots for the departure, and you have to stick with the 1955 propliner schedule to LHR all the way to 2020 even though the flight could be 5 hours faster. This isn't very realistic nor desirable.

What I quickly thought for a solution could be that your slots are actually time locked only at base airports. For any outstation airports you could freely move the departure time there as long as you just have a slot on the route. So when editing a route you can freely change the departure time from the other airport without problems - however slot edit price would remain the same, so larger change equals larger one time price, but you'd never end up in a situation where the slot is not available there.

..ok, not realistic and this may have some issues but some solution for the route editing and change of fleet types (to make it easy) would be needed.

Online dmoose42

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Re: Long term playability vs. slots
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2013, 01:24:45 PM »
Sami,

I think these are generally good ideas...some thoughts below.

Monopolies at home bases:

1. While a cap at the base (60% or 70% or whatever) sounds like a good idea, it also reduces the striving aspect of the game where one of the goals is to slot-lock an airport in order to reap monopoly profits.  If a cap is going to be inserted, then there needs to be another modification that replaces the sense of accomplishment for slot-locking an airport. Not sure what the answer is, but need to balance competition and the ability to achieve something.  Perhaps by opening a base at an airport an airline gets x slots guaranteed (or created)?  Something like that?

2. 60%/70% at LHR with no nighttime hours means something different than at ATL which is open 24 hours, so some adjustment would be needed for that (higher cap at restricted hour airports vs. non-restricted?)

3.  Overall, I hesitate to institute hard caps on things and suggest that we try to find a gameplay mechanism to avoid the cap.  While obviously some time in the future, city based demand may alleviate some of this concern (LHR traffic would likely flow to LGW and others if the LHR airline is charging monopoly prices).

Fleet transitions/slot flexibility at out-stations:

1. This would definitely make transitioning plane types easier, but still would have the challenge of red-eyes where your props land in the morning, but when you convert to jets, they suddenly arrive in the middle of the night.  So there will always be some switching involved.  However, I do think this proposal will mitigate some of the player fatigue that occurs when an airline has a large fleet and a transition is coming up and the player gets fed up and quits the game world.  So from a playability perspective this may be a good idea.

2. A key challenge is what happens to the slot, if the outstation slot is not fixed, and there are no slots available at the 'new' time, then where does the slot come from, does it continue to be removed from the original time slot until a slot at the new time is available?  Also, this gives a lot of flexibility to airlines not based at the airport to create optimal schedules, but may hinder those airlines actually located at the base to produce optimal schedules because they are still constrained.  In a situation such as JFK-LHR - the airline based at JFK will have a much easier time optimizing that route in the mid to end game than the LHR airline with this change.

3. For slot constrained airports, slot price is typically irrelevant except for the first couple game years, so that is not a significant consideration in my opinion.

4. Could a trading system more effectively produce this result (i.e., trading slots at an airport on a 1 to 1 basis, not selling for cash)?

5. Another thing is that this could be exploited such that a person creates a route that needs to take off in the middle of the night from a slot constrained out-station, flies it a week, and then changes the take off time such that the outstation gets an ideal departure time.

Happy to discuss further, but I think we need further clarity on these potential rule changes to fully think out the consequences before we make them in order to not have any unforeseen adverse consequences.  Thanks for your hard work Sami.

dmoose42

Offline Sami

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Re: Long term playability vs. slots
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2013, 01:26:13 PM »
one of the goals is to slot-lock an airport in order to reap monopoly profits

Can't approve such goal by any means, such would have to be nearly impossible by game rules and mechanics.

Also for item #5, we can also fix that the slot time change without constraints is possible let's say every 5 years or so.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2013, 01:28:44 PM by sami »

Online dmoose42

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Re: Long term playability vs. slots
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2013, 01:33:18 PM »
I guess my point was that it shouldn't be prevented by a physical cap that disallows slot purchases beyond x%, but rather the game mechanics that create additional competition - which is why i suggested the guaranteed slots associated with opening a base idea (analogous to a new terminal/runway, etc.).

Separately, I do think there is a challenge regarding how the cap is determined?  Is it x% for each hour block?  or x% across all blocks?  If it's x% against all blocks then I think this cap would be less effective as the monopoly airline may have a huge majority of the desirable slots and leave the less desirable slots for other airlines.'

As for your item #5 limitation, i think that will definitely help reduce abuse.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2013, 01:35:47 PM by dmoose42 »

Online dmoose42

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Re: Long term playability vs. slots
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2013, 01:43:39 PM »
Oh and Sami, one more thought (from jaimer)

You also have the problem if the cap is 70% and a well established airline has 65% of slots.  If a brand new airline opens there with an HQ, they could only ever control 5%.  So if the cap is for all airlines based at an airport, then it may have the effect of reducing competition.


Offline jamier

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Re: Long term playability vs. slots
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2013, 02:26:16 PM »
If restrictions like this are brought in then it can severely limit the game. with 3 more bases but only 100 a/c per base the game could become very boring, very quickly. Changes like this would definitely make me rethink about how much I play this game.

Offline Sami

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Re: Long term playability vs. slots
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2013, 02:26:43 PM »

Another slot hogging prevention method which I posted to another thread earlier is a slot quota. In other words each airline is limited to X % of the available slots each game month. Easy method to prevent the f5 spam...

Online dmoose42

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Re: Long term playability vs. slots
« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2013, 02:31:56 PM »
Sami,

Another example - if the cap is 60% and there are 4 good airlines at the base, then each (on average) could have no more than 15%...which is restrictive.

If you want to provide more opportunities for airlines to acquire slots at slot restricted airports, I think the approach you just mentioned of limiting slot acquisition (x number of slots a month) is a better idea.  It would also be an easy implementation relative to some of the other proposals that have been suggested over the years to change the slot allocation system.

Offline Herman

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Re: Long term playability vs. slots
« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2013, 03:43:21 PM »
Sami,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us on this topic, and for allowing us to provide input.

I agree that some of us like to build huge airlines, and - consequently - some of us end up dominating an airport.

That having said, I believe there is good competition amongst airlines that have homebases / bases at almost all airports. In the last 2 years, a lot of restrictions were created already to avoid that airlines would grow too fast and dominate too quickly. Just to mention a few ... the limit of 7 calls per week to the used market, the ability to get a maximum of only 3 aircraft from the used market in any 7 day period, the slower release of slots at airport, the slot releases at random times, the pricing restrictions on how aircraft can be sold within alliances, the new algoritm on pax allocation by route looking at optimal aircraft / frequency by route, etc. Further there is the 4 bases limit, the max 100 aircraft per base limit, etc.

Most of these changes (if not all) were very good ones to increase competition.

City demand - when it will be introduced - will create further competition.

So I believe the current system already enables a lot of competition. Again, I agree that there are a few exceptions (usually LHR and a few other airports).

Implementing the restrictions that you suggested would have significant downsides that would potentially impact a lot of players, also in places where more restrictions are not at all necessary. Dmoose42 mentioned a few here below. These restrictions would impact a lot of airlines, also in places where the restrictions would not be needed.

Airports that end up having no slots seem to be located mainly in Europe or Asia. If the objective is to provide better access to everyone to the (relatively few) slot restricted airports, then perhaps a much easier solution could be to just increase the total amount of slots in those (few) airports such as (LHR, FRA, NRT etc?). That might address the issues maybe in a more efficient way rather than creating another artificial limit?

Herman

Offline Teadaze

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Re: Long term playability vs. slots
« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2013, 04:58:18 PM »
I think a priority system may be a solution:
The airport is trying to introduce new competition and allow new comer to have a certain amount of slot set aside:

Let's say 3 airlines, A from beginning, B opened a base in DOTM, C joined in in MT in a slot restrain airport

A has 1000 slot
B has 400 slot
C has 7 slot

new slot release = 168 slot in a 24 hours airport.

Slot will be pre-released to the new airline for 7 days. They can get up to certain amount of slot before it is released to the public. Where it is free grab or based on a lottery system. You apply for a slot and is awarded slot if there is no contest. If there is other airline applying for that same slot it will be randomize by the server.

Let's say a new airline has priority for 35 slot before it is released to public. I don't think that will be too harsh on the original base airline(which in theory should have most route filled by now). Obviously the priority or the modifier should be scalable when the airline grow as you do not want the competition able to have the same amount of slot as the main airline who played for 30+ years.(not all slot lock airport is LHR HND etc)
« Last Edit: July 10, 2013, 05:02:16 PM by Aoitsuki »

Offline ZombieSlayer

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Re: Long term playability vs. slots
« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2013, 07:00:28 PM »
Ok, I have to get my 2 cents in here....

IRL, there are a limited number of fully slot controlled airports. At those airports, slots are occasionally offered to airlines with little or no presence at the airport. To avoid putting unfair restrictions on paying customers while still allowing players outside of the normal slot constrained airports to serve those airports, I would propose a system like that.

For example, lets say LHR is 100% out of slots. Airline A wants to offer service to LHR, but has no slots. Airline A can apply for slots held aside for airlines with little or no presence at that airport. These slots would be EXTRA slots not included in the displayed slot availability. An airlines ability to apply for these slots would disappear after lets say 21 slots are owned.

If you say this is unrealistic, it is far more realistic than artificially capping a based airline at 70% of the slots. This kind of system is used in the US at airports like DCA and LGA for new slots.

I am 100% against any measure that will limit my ability to play the game I pay to play....if slots are open at an airport, I should, in all fairness, have the same ability to go get them that the next guy does. The only truly fair way to do this is to implement a system where airlines with limited or no presence can apply for and acquire slots created for that purpose.

Don
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CEO PacAir
Designated "Tier 1 Opponent"

Offline ezzeqiel

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Re: Long term playability vs. slots
« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2013, 08:57:42 PM »
What I quickly thought for a solution could be that your slots are actually time locked only at base airports. For any outstation airports you could freely move the departure time there as long as you just have a slot on the route. So when editing a route you can freely change the departure time from the other airport without problems - however slot edit price would remain the same, so larger change equals larger one time price, but you'd never end up in a situation where the slot is not available there.

Yes please!! please please !!

With that in mind there's no need to limiting based carriers up to 70%, since foreigns will always have slots...



I don't agree (as some sayed before) on hard capping the slots for monopolistic airlines vs new entrants ... if you open a base in a full airport it's your responsability... there's always plenty of empty ones.. new entrants should have no "advantage" over other airlines.


My Idea... every airline start with 5 slots (5 per hour).. then you can "fund" for terminal and runways upgrades, thus granting you slots for every "funding"... you don't own anything... you "fund" to the airport, they grant you slots... (5 more slots per hour... you can use them at your discretion: maybe you can lend some unused to alliance members or just for personal use)

Every funding is exponentially more expensive than the previous one (airline by airline basis), thus limiting the amount of slots that every airline can have to their individual efficiency for generating money...

New entrants can build up slots easily, cause they will be at the bottom of the exponential curve (as the older airlines once were)... monopolistic airlines will have serious difficulties in creating more slots (going bigger) since the cost will be extremely high...
For big airports, you can raise the starting point of the exponential curve for each funding each of the other airlines do, thus making that airport less desirable with every slot built...


This (I think) will make the game fully playable and even more fun :)

Finally, thanks for listening to the players ;)

Greets.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2013, 09:08:57 PM by ezzeqiel »

Online schro

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Re: Long term playability vs. slots
« Reply #12 on: July 10, 2013, 10:11:00 PM »
The reality of life is, at slot constrained airports, the dominating carrier will have monopoly price control over the routes that are serviced from there. With the move to city based demand, things could get significantly more interesting as the viabilty of say, TTN instead of PHL/EWR, where a new entrant could disrupt the major airline at the slot constrained airport. Thus, it seems that trying to solve the slot problem before city based demand is just putting a bandaid on something that will be fixed for good later on.

I personally do not like arbitrary restrictions placed on what can be done (i.e. the 70% slot limit at a base airport). While slot locking can be one way to eliminate future competition, it is also a business decision to fly your routes less efficiently than your competition in order prevent them from creating ideal schedules to fly against you. The business decision to fly less economical fleets (i.e. F100's instead of A320's) inherently weakens that airline, creating more difficulty for it to sustain itself during a fuel spike or other adverse downturns compared to a more efficient operator. Staying with the business decision side of things, perhaps pricing will be the best way to deter slot locking - sure, it costs me $3m per set of slots in ATL right now in MT8, but at my airline's size, that isn't a real deterrant to me scooping up everything that comes available. Once my slot holdings reach a certain level, perhaps you'd want to make me chose between buying a set of slots or buying an airplane (i.e. 30m/set).

The other consideration for slots could be to limit them less, and only limit slots at airports that are currently slot constrained (of course, I'm thinking from a US perspective).  In the US, your slot constrained airports are LGB, SNA, SFO, EWR, JFK and LGA. Anything beyond that, there are no slot considerations in real life in the US.... It would be interesting what a free for all would do...

Offline LemonButt

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Re: Long term playability vs. slots
« Reply #13 on: July 11, 2013, 12:55:48 AM »
There are many gameplay problems that revamping the slot system would solve.  Right now there is an artificial ceiling on slots and anytime you put an artificial ceiling on anything, you create artificial scarcity.  In a free market without artificial floors/ceilings, things reach equilibrium using supply/demand.  With that being said, coding a hard cap on slots is absurd.  Sure there are airports that are slot constrained, but anything is possible for the right price.  A prime example is Denver International Airport—the largest airport in the world by area.  They have a master plan for additional terminals and runways for future growth.  However, they are only going to build out the rest of the airport if there is sufficient demand and money available.

In AWS, there is no amount of money you can spend to increase the number of slots available.  Once slots are gone, the price of slots effectively rises to infinity.  In the real world, if I walked into KDEN and said I’m willing to pay you $1 billion for the privilege of flying into your airport, they’re going to find a way to build those extra runways/terminals and make room for me.

Therefore, the solution is to eliminate ALL artificial ceilings on slots, which effectively drops the price of slots from infinity to something less than infinity.  IRL you’d have to account for not only takeoff slots, but also landing slots, which is eliminated from AWS for simplicity.  The same thing would happen for takeoff slots.  You can’t tell me that if I said I’d pay $1 billion for a rush hour slot at Heathrow that they wouldn’t find a way to squeeze me in and make it happen.  Part of the problem is that having a hard cap  on slots reflects the real world versus the fake world we play in.  The only reason ATL has a billion slots and STL doesn’t is because there is no airline with a major hub in STL.

So the solution is to eliminate all hard caps and restrict slots based on market factors.  At some point, slot prices simply become cost prohibitive instead of impossible to acquire.  Since slots are simply expensive to acquire versus infinitely expensive and impossible to obtain, there is no need for a hard limit on the number of players in a game or the number of players based at an airport.  Slots will always be available—for a price.

The simplest model would be to charge for takeoff slots at the base and destination airports based on 4 factors: how many slots are used at the airport, used by the airline at the airport, used on the route, and used within +/- 1 hour.

1.   Slots used at the airport—since we have a hard limit from real life, we can use this as the benchmark.  Currently slots grow from 50% to 150% over time, which is good.  Once slots used are >150% the benchmark, they start getting more and more expensive.  So if an airport has 100 slots/hour IRL, it starts at 50 and grows to 150 slots/hour over time.  When airlines start buying slots #151 or higher the cost starts to rise dramatically.

2.   Slots used by the airline—this is based on competition and the real life limit/benchmark.  If an airline controls more than 50% of the slots compared to the benchmark and/or total slots used (since we can create infinite slots) at an airport, additional slots start getting real expensive.  If an airline goes BK and frees up a bunch of slots to get the total slots used below the benchmark level, slots get cheaper.  If they BK and the free slots is above the benchmark, they get cheaper, but not by nearly as much.

3.   Slots used on the route—airports like competition because it lowers fare prices and gets more people flying.  If the slots are used on a route with no competition, the slots are more expensive.  If they are being used to enter a new route for the airline that another airline already flies, they are cheaper.

4.   Slots used +/- 1 hour—this is relative to the rest of the day.  The first step is using up slots for “cargo airlines” to help our benchmark.  Something like 1 slot/hour during the day with a bunch of slots used overnight, such as 5-10 slots/hour from the hours 11pm to 5am.  Then, we calculate the average slots used per hour for our benchmark value (total slots used / number of hours open).  Then, we calculate how many slots are used +/- 1 hour and compare it to the average slots used.  This tells us how “busy” that time period is for the airport and the busier the airport is, the more expensive the slots.  This encourages “more equal” distribution of slots so that every airport doesn’t end up with 0 slots used overnight and 200 slots used during the day.

By calculating all 4 of these values, you’ll get 4 coefficients that determine slot costs for the base and destination airports.  This solves several gameplay problems:
1.   Players will never run out of slots—they will always be available for the right price.

2.   Players will never be able to block competition—slots will always be available and if an airline doesn’t fly into the airport yet, the slots will be significantly cheaper than an airline with 1000s of slots there already, encouraging competition.

3.   Players will never be blocked from upgrading planes.  Slots will always be available for purchase no matter what time they takeoff, which means they can upgrade a prop to a jet with piece of mind knowing they can actually schedule it.

4.   Players will be faced with opportunity cost, which is the basis of all business decisions.  Airlines will reach a point where it is cost prohibitive to expand by adding planes/routes and will be forced to open a new base and/or use bigger aircraft on existing routes.  They will reach the point where it makes more sense to spend $300 million on an A380 or opening a new base than spending $300 million on slots to schedule another A320.

5.   Players will BK more often—they will overextend themselves much quicker/easier and the used market will get a nice boost when it happens.  Patience and steady growth is key to survival in AWS.  Since players cannot block competition anymore, they will be more vulnerable, making it that much more important to build an airline the right way.

6.   Players no longer have to worry about slot hogging—neither will admin.  Slot hogging is against the rules and “cheating”.  This would make this form of cheating impossible.
In addition to this feature, since we have long game worlds it would be prudent to remove the basing restrictions in terms of number and location.  By removing the cap on number of bases, airlines can choose to create focus cities by having 10 bases and flying routes between them.  This strategy would mean more expensive base costs, but cheaper slot costs.

In terms of basing location, airlines should be able to open bases anywhere they want.  US-based carriers such as Delta have international bases at AMS, CDG, and NRT.  For long game worlds, restricting airlines to one country doesn’t make sense.  The most boring game ever would be basing at Doha, Singapore, or Hong Kong.  This further increases competition so that no one is safe.  If you are a large US airline and see an opportunity in Europe or Asia, you should be able to exploit it.  If you’re in Hong Kong and Shanghai or Taipei has an opportunity, you should be able to jump on it.

All of these ideas would increase competition, eliminate players getting bored, and make the game more challenging.  The idea of having uncapped bases and opening focus cities excites me.  By doing this, city-based demand will be more realistic as well.  Competing airports will have the opportunity to truly compete as Chicago Midway can add slots and be larger than O’Hare.  The airports in Los Angeles, New York, London, Paris, Moscow, etc. will be able to compete with each other and airlines won’t be stuck picking the larger airports simply because there are more slots there IRL.

So I think the bottom line, in general, is to stop imposing artificial floors/ceilings and let the market work when it comes to slots, bases, number of players in a game, etc.  All of the issues in the game today are due to these artificial constraints, with the exception of limiting calls to the used market (since having aircraft go to the highest bidder require a substantial waiting period).

BD

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Re: Long term playability vs. slots
« Reply #14 on: July 11, 2013, 04:36:09 AM »
When reading Sami's post here, my immediate reaction was "market based" solution!  Not sure I follow all of LemonButt's model, but I think LemonButt has it right on with the direction the solution needs to take...the demand for slots need to be modeled and a price mechanism that reflects the demand.

Right now slots are priced like a "rate table", where, as LB thoughtfully suggests, there are other factors to measure that should affect price an individual airline pays.  I would think just the congestion pricing alone would be a major modification in behavior.

Also, don't airline usually pay a large sum for expansion of their base airports IRL?  Perhaps some ability for the mega airlines to buy/build a new terminal.


Online dmoose42

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Re: Long term playability vs. slots
« Reply #15 on: July 11, 2013, 04:39:07 AM »
Thanks BD - I agree that a game mechanics/ market driven solution is better than legislating caps/etc.

Offline ezzeqiel

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Re: Long term playability vs. slots
« Reply #16 on: July 11, 2013, 01:34:06 PM »
In terms of basing location, airlines should be able to open bases anywhere they want.  US-based carriers such as Delta have international bases at AMS, CDG, and NRT.  For long game worlds, restricting airlines to one country doesn’t make sense.  The most boring game ever would be basing at Doha, Singapore, or Hong Kong.  This further increases competition so that no one is safe.  If you are a large US airline and see an opportunity in Europe or Asia, you should be able to exploit it.  If you’re in Hong Kong and Shanghai or Taipei has an opportunity, you should be able to jump on it.

All of these ideas would increase competition, eliminate players getting bored, and make the game more challenging.  The idea of having uncapped bases and opening focus cities excites me.  By doing this, city-based demand will be more realistic as well.  Competing airports will have the opportunity to truly compete as Chicago Midway can add slots and be larger than O’Hare.  The airports in Los Angeles, New York, London, Paris, Moscow, etc. will be able to compete with each other and airlines won’t be stuck picking the larger airports simply because there are more slots there IRL.

I'm drooling  ::)


I agree with your ideas... it's similar to what I proposed (but highly much more elaborated)... I think we (all) agree on a free market.. how is that free market implemented, that's debatable, but the basis are the same...


Also, I think we all agree with removing hard caps.. I mean, not being able to play, because the cost of expansion is prohibitive is one thing (acceptable), but not being able to play, because your competitor pushed F5, 10seconds before you and got the slots is really really annoying...

Offline Sami

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Re: Long term playability vs. slots
« Reply #17 on: July 11, 2013, 01:41:20 PM »
The simplest model would be to charge for takeoff slots at the base and destination airports based on 4 factors: how many slots are used at the airport, used by the airline at the airport, used on the route, and used within +/- 1 hour

This variable slot pricing has been there already for ages really.. And it already takes into account pretty much everything you mentioned in price calculation.

Also, having unlimited airport capacity or unrestrcited basing will not be done. Will keep at least some sense and relation to real life in things....
« Last Edit: July 11, 2013, 01:47:37 PM by sami »

Offline Herman

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Re: Long term playability vs. slots
« Reply #18 on: July 11, 2013, 02:02:44 PM »
This variable slot pricing has been there already for ages really.. And it already takes into account pretty much everything you mentioned in price calculation.

Also, having unlimited airport capacity or unrestrcited basing will not be done. Will keep at least some sense and relation to real life in things....
Why not just increase the amount of total slots available in these airports that always run out of slots so quickly, and keep all else as is for now? It's easy to implement and will provide more competition (which I think is what you want)?.

Offline ezzeqiel

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Re: Long term playability vs. slots
« Reply #19 on: July 11, 2013, 02:16:11 PM »
Also, having unlimited airport capacity or unrestrcited basing will not be done. Will keep at least some sense and relation to real life in things....

I think you get it wrong... In RL you actually do have unlimited building capacity in airports... what you do not have is the excesive amount of money required to do it...

I'm sure that If I go over LHR and pay BAA and the city over 100billion USD to build another terminal or even the third runway (and another few millions in lobbying, and another few millions to the people living around the airport that has to leave), they'll probably let me, but paying that money for that reason is just insane... of course it makes more sense landing in stansted, or gatwick instead...


Unrestricted basing is another topic...

 

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