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Author Topic: AirwaySim Previews  (Read 8205 times)

Offline Sami

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AirwaySim Previews
« on: May 03, 2015, 12:51:07 PM »
This is a dedicated thread for previews about future developments of AirwaySim.

The features and changes displayed here are not yet available in the game worlds - the implementations are announced separately in the changelog thread.


All game related implemented updates are posted to this thread: http://www.airwaysim.com/forum/index.php/topic,58865.0.html

Updates to the website core and non-game systems are announced in this thread: http://www.airwaysim.com/forum/index.php/topic,54937.0.html


This thread is locked and is reserved for announcements only. Please make all comments to the General forums: http://www.airwaysim.com/forum/index.php/board,1.0.html

Re: AirwaySim Previews
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2015, 01:03:24 PM »
Cargo previews

The cargo features are one of the things under development at the moment.

Each airline will be allowed to transport cargo with dedicated freighter aircraft or as belly cargo with their passenger flights (depending on available capacity).

Cargo will have three categories: light cargo, standard cargo and heavy cargo. The type of cargo dictates the types of aircraft able to transport it. For example a small regional aircraft like ATR is only able to transport the light cargo (like mail), while standard cargo can be transported in A320 series planes as belly cargo already. Heavy cargo will always require a dedicated freighter airplane.

The database of cargo capacity of each aircraft is still incomplete (70%?) and many pure cargo planes are missing but this data will be supplemented after the initial implementation.

Technically the cargo system will be built to use the new city based demand model where the cargo demand is independent of airports, but is generated from the global population and economy data instead. This will be the first step to test this new system and it will be built and implemented bit by bit - first versions will be rather static and limited but improvements will be made over time.

Cargo demand and sales figures will be presented to the players in a very much similar manner than passenger figures.


Offline Sami

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Re: AirwaySim Previews
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2015, 05:38:02 PM »
Start with ready-made airlines

Especially in the Beginner's Worlds the new users tend to struggle with the somewhat complicated first steps of setting up their airlines. The manual does explain all the necessary information but people are not always determined enough to read through the long start-up guide.

That's why a completely new feature has been in the works for a longer time already allowing players to start with ready-made airlines with a few simple clicks. This means that player will only need to choose the airport and the base steps of creating the airline with active scheduled routes will be taken care by the game engine - this way the new users can avoid some of the costly initial mistakes like getting the _completely_ wrong aircraft.

These airlines are created based on the information the "base finder wizard" gathers from airports (their available demand, available slots etc.) and based on availability of suitable used aircraft from AI brokers' storages.

The player simply needs to choose the continent and type of operation (short or medium-haul .. longhaul start is not supported due to difficult scheduling) and then he is presented a list of suitable airports. Upon confirming the airport and choosing the airline name, the airport will have a fully set up and ready (small) airline for him to manage. The airline will be created by the game engine based on the chosen airport, available start-up cash, available aircraft and available routes&slots. The system will lease the necessary amount of airplanes based on the available cash (usually 2-4), will create routes based on potential routes, set up schedules for the aircraft, hires staff, sets up marketing and does all the other necessary preparations required for the initial step.

There is no financial or other advantage of using this feature compared to the standard start, since the game engine won't use any more cash than available for example. The scheduling of the routes for example won't be as smart as human-created route structure but will be something that should allow the new players to get off the ground without too much learning. In other words this is a very basic setup utilizing as much of the default settings and features as possible, but creating ready basic schedules for the player.

These ready-made airlines are not airlines left by other players, but are always generated on the fly. The feature of 'reviving' old bankrupted airlines under new management is being considered too but this new feature is made purely to help the new players get onboard easier.


(This feature is still under development, but ETA shoudn't be too far away.)

Offline Sami

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Re: AirwaySim Previews
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2015, 06:28:44 PM »
Cargo previews & thoughts

A bit more work with cargo features for a change.

One of the key aspects of the cargo feature is to make it understandable. Since the background calculations at AirwaySim are very complicated and the features take into account a large number of aspects in aircraft operations and performance (all the payload vs. range calculations etc.), adding the cargo on top of everything might become very complicated for players to manage and understand.

An important thing to all this is the aircraft cargo configuration and available cargo types. It has been decided that there are three different cargo types the players can transport. These are named simply as Light, Standard and Heavy Cargo (like mentioned in the other preview earlier). And the fourth type to be carried in the cargo holds are the checked bags of the passengers. Since the cargo holds are not only for cargo, but there are the bags too, the amount of available cargo space and it's display to players is a matter of potential complexity. We know the total cargo hold space of aircraft, and the amount of cargo that can be placed there varies according to the number of bags already placed there (and the number of bags varies according to number of passengers) - so the cargo space could be potentially a complicated thing for players.

In light of all this, the cargo system will work so that player is able to configure his aircraft for cargo in a simple method by allocating certain percentage of cargo space for each of the available cargo types (taking into account the limitations on allowed cargo types vs. aircraft model/size; for example Heavy Cargo is for pure freighters only). In other words the player can simply state that "I want 70% of the available cargo space for Light Cargo, and 30% for Standard Cargo" and the system will figure out the rest.

The system will figure out the volume and weight needed by the bags of the passengers in the cargo hold. The rest of the cargo hold space is then available for the cargo transport, and it will be filled according to the cargo configuration set by the player. But only if the route's payload restrictions allow this - if the route is payload restricted (runway or range), the passengers are loaded first and only after that any remaining space/payload is then allocated for cargo (by sharing the remaining space according to the cargo configuration).

Each of the passengers and their bags will have a defined weight. The number of checked bags (into cargo hold) per passenger will vary upon aircraft size class, since usually on longer flights the passengers have more bags. Each of the three cargo types have also dedicated and fixed properties (certain size and weight per unit that apply for all cargo transports for that cargo class). There are also other properties like minimum required cargo hold space to tranrport certain type of cargo.


Practical example of the cargo space available (the cargo space is calculated with the assumption that all seats are sold):
  • DC-9-32 has a Payload of 13674 kg, Cargo Hold Volume of 25,3 m3 and will carry 100 passengers in the default configuration.
  • By game's settings we will have 75 bags 15 kg and volume of 0.17m3 per bag (based on our research; the average weight/dimension). Hence the total weight of bags is 1125kg and total volume is 12,75m3. Weight of a single passenger is on average 83kg (person and carry on bags).
  • Summing all together the total payload we transport is 9425kg and total volume used so far from the cargo hold is the 12,75m2.
  • So the remaining space for cargo is then 4249kg (13674-9425) and volume 12,55m2 (25,3 - 12,75). And these are the two values that are displayed to players in the main interface (with minor roundings). Also the total cargo hold volume is displayed for reference.
  • Naturally players are not expected to calculate or know any of this, but this is just to show how the system works in the background and how many things it will take into account.
  • Some aircraft may not be able to transport extra cargo after all the bags on any routes at all - the cargo hold or payload capacity may be too small. This will be then shown separately as zero capacity. Creating a seating configuration with less seats will then free up payload/space for cargo.
  • Some planes are also missing the cargo capacity data alltogether and will show a similar message.

Based on all these calculations and settings the actual cargo capacity for each route/flight is calculated. It will be shown to players at the route pages (not done/coded yet) and the total cargo demand/supply figures will be also visible in a similar manner like passenger demand figures.

For pure freighter aircraft all these calculations are naturally more simple. But there too the cargo configuration / allocation will be based on the same percentage-based aircraft configuration (customizable by players).

The system creates already the factory default configurations with the cargo settings in place, while the user interface for cargo configuration hasn't been done yet. The aircraft interface pages on this matter are done and they display this information based on all these calculations (see pictures). The New/Used Aircraft listing pages have also a new selector to choose 'Cargo Only' aircraft (the pure freighters).

All aircraft range values (the so called 'nominal range') will continue to be shown like they are now. This means that the range is shown for full passenger payload (and their bags) and no cargo. Any cargo added on top of that will then reduce the effective range (displaying the 'maximum payload range' might not be feasible instead of this 'maximum passenger capacity range' - but this can be changed based on feedback).

Complicated or not..? Comments to this thread please: http://www.airwaysim.com/forum/index.php/topic,60273.0.html

This thread is locked and is reserved for announcements only. Please make all comments to the General forums: http://www.airwaysim.com/forum/index.php/topic,60273.0.html
« Last Edit: September 02, 2015, 06:32:04 PM by sami »

Offline Sami

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Re: AirwaySim Previews
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2015, 12:44:21 PM »
Cargo previews

Here are some screenshots on how the interface will look with cargo features enabled.

There's still quite a lot of work and tuning to do since the cargo information will be present in several places but on the other hand quite much of the interface has been done already. The latest changelog entry lists a lot of things that have been updated and I'd say the interface is 80% complete to work with cargo. Much of the tuning will be done later on based on user feedback - since, like mentioned in the previous post, some aspects of the cargo allocation might be complicated to understand since cargo goes always after pax and their bags and the amount varies for each flight.

Another very big thing (can be considered as big/complicated as the interface too) is the background calculation systems that control the amount of cargo demand and how it is distributed to the flights. The generation of the demand figures will come from the new city based demand system, and the first technical concept has been already done for it but it's still a long way from being complete. The initial test versions will include a completely static system at first (with no shift in demand between adjacent airports).

Preview pictures below are:
  • Income statement

  • My Aircraft listing page

  • Aircraft details page, financial overview

  • Route information page's cargo display

  • Route information page's price display and adjustment.

  • Route history data and charts.

  • Route planning screen of estimated cargo demand and market share.


This thread is locked and is reserved for announcements only. Please make all comments to the General forums: http://www.airwaysim.com/forum/index.php/topic,60273.0.html
« Last Edit: September 16, 2015, 12:48:39 PM by sami »

Offline Sami

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Re: AirwaySim Previews
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2015, 10:39:18 AM »
Interactive assistant previews

Here are some early previews of a feature aimed to help the new players to get started better, an interactive assistant.

This is a live tutorial mode that will help the new users to get their airline going in a step-by-step manner. It will start by directing them through the airline creation process (using the new easy start option), and then it will present the game interface and all the major functions to the user. The contents of the assistant's flow will be basically the same as in the startup guide of the manual. So it will act as a live version of the essential parts of the beginner's tutorial (which many users neglect to read).

The assistant feature is one of the last major things on our "master list" of making the game more friendly to new users. The previous updates of new airline boosts & operational discounts, and the aforementioned easy start feature are some of the other major updates in this field. All of these changes have been directed mainly for the benefit of the new users, since previously the simulation has been hard to grasp and it has been also somewhat difficult to enter competed game worlds, but with these updates things should be much better.

This assistant system is currently in technical "proof of concept" phase and it only works for the airline creation process so far (on the development server). It will be tested together with the cargo testing later on.


This thread is locked and is reserved for announcements only. Please make all comments to the General forums: http://www.airwaysim.com/forum/index.php/topic,60273.0.html

Offline Sami

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Re: AirwaySim Previews
« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2015, 11:01:03 AM »
Cargo feature's progress report

The first private test game of the new cargo features is soon completed so it's a good time for a small progress report:

The cargo design is progressing among other AirwaySim's updates and the first alpha-level test game has been almost finished now. At this time already a thanks to the volunteers who have been sending ideas and feedback based on the test game. Generally the testing has been moving along without major problems and the main focus has been so far to test only the general concepts and the interface (such as route planning screens and other most used functions).

Most of the interface's pages and functions already support cargo and the few remaining ones will be completed during the next month (together with the remainder of the bugfixes related to the first cargo test game). You can monitor the progress of individual pages/features from the Changelog.

Also parts of aircraft data is still lacking the required cargo information, and the cargo-only aircraft models are not yet added. The first release version of cargo will be most likely with only "belly cargo" and the full freighters will be added later on (even though the system technically fully supports them already; the data collection just takes a bit of time).

The next phases will involve the completion of the new City-Based Demand system which is a key cornerstone of the whole cargo system. This new demand model will be previewed and explained in detail later on but in short it means a completely new approach to the way the demand figures from airport to another are calculated. They are no longer based on each airport's predefined statistics but instead on country's historically accurate economic values, and the data of individual areas in the country. So no longer will an airport be big just because a major airline is flying to it - it will need a big economy/city to support the natural local demand from it. The new demand system will be first built only for cargo so the passenger systems will remain in the current airport-based demand model until enough experience has been gained from the new system with the cargo feature.

The demand system's development is a major task. In the first test game it has been running with static and dummy figures but has had all technical calculation basis already in place. Now the development will shift into making the system produce realistic figures and after that making it dynamic and responsive to player's actions (where the demand can shift between two airports competing over the same area). This will be, again, done in several parts to make sure everything works (so the first version is a static system, and then later on adding the dynamic elements to it).

As usual there is no defined timeline, and the cargo feature will be released when it is done and tested. Since AirwaySim's isn't produced by a big & evil corporation, we don't wish to release anything half-done either.

Some pictures of the interface:
  • Freighter aircraft data page

  • Part of the cargo statistics

  • Route planning page


This thread is locked and is reserved for announcements only. Please make all comments to the General forums: http://www.airwaysim.com/forum/index.php/topic,60273.0.html

Offline Sami

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Re: AirwaySim Previews
« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2016, 10:45:55 AM »
City Based Demand systems

This is the first official preview of the new City Based Demand system that is planned to power the new cargo feature, and later also the passenger traffic figures.

Please bear with me as this is mainly a text-only preview since the interface won't have much new to show.


What is City Based Demand?

The current method of modelling passenger traffic figures between airports is based on real-life data and statistics of airports, which are then used to calculate the assumed passenger numbers between two airports. These numbers are factored with other values to get suitable results for each game world and each era. This can be called Airport Based Demand system and it is static and non-responsive to player's actions.

The new demand system, City Based Demand, aims to free players from the shackles of traditional large real-world HUB airports making the passenger demand figures independent from the airports.

The benefits of the new system are that it makes the game worlds more dynamic, it allows players to develop airport traffic based on his actions and it enables us to create a more detailed economic environment with regional changes in the economy (vs. global at current model). This new model was first suggested already a long time ago, and the (huge) data collection efforts have taken its time. And as with all major features, the development happens parallel to other smaller updates, so progress isn't always lightning fast.

The key to understanding the new demand model is that passenger demand is no longer airport-to-airport, but region-to-region and airports only serve as the gateways between these two points. So the specifications of an airport have nothing to do with the potential demand it has anymore (i.e. even the small city airport will have the potential long-haul demand - but in practice in the games the demand will shift to other airports with actual longhaul service).


Technical background

To calculate the passenger and cargo travel desire between two points, we've split the world into predefined areas. Each of these areas has certain values and specifications - some of these are collected by our users (thank you!!) and others are loaded from various statistical sources. This way we know for example which area of each country is a holiday resort or an important industrial center.

This background data is dynamic and based on real history - for example the economy trend values are based on actual historical stats, and this allows us to model situations like recessions in some country (see image #1, this depicts the economy development of a country - there are several points where the economy shrinks or grows rapidly). Using all this data the system will figure out the total potential demand departing from this predefined area (this is not visible to players, just a step in the process).

This demand can then be assigned to any nearby airport. The airport must usually be within the same country, but if the political situation allows border crossings all or some of the demand may also end up in nearby airports in the neighbouring countries.

Each airport has a designated catchment area which determines the range and amount of demand they can catch from these nearby areas. This catchment area changes over time based on the size of the airport and can be between 50 to 200 kilometers depending on the size classification of the airport. (see image #2, an example from the admin interface that shows the catchment area of a regional airport)

Finally this demand caught by the airport is calculated together and will be presented to player in the familiar "airport to airport demand" chart. So the interface of the game will not change that much - the players will still research demand between airport pairs like already now. But the big difference is that airports are now only facilitators of the demands generated by cities and other areas, like in real life.


Demand can be caught by many airports

When a game world starts, a demand from an area is very often caught by many airports with overlapping catchment areas. Think for example Tokyo with two major airports, Haneda and Narita (see image #3, the catchment areas of the airports are overlapping and the airports "fight" over the same demand). Both of these airports catch the area of greater-Tokyo.

This means that the local area demand from Tokyo area is directed to both of these airports based on the distance to the airport and the size classification of the airport. The closer the airport is and the bigger it is, the more demand it will receive from this area. This means that basically the demand for Tokyo area is shared by these two airports (other airports may catch parts of the demand too if they are nearby, but it will only be fractions of the total since they are not so close to the city).

However, and here's the beef, if the other airport (let's say Haneda in this case) is not being served, the demand will gradually move over to the other airport. So after a while the Narita airport would then catch all of Tokyo's demand and would be a very big traffic center. This will then work the other way round too - if later on someone decides to start the routes from Haneda, the demand will then gradually move back towards it (note that due to the technical structure and large scale of the system all of these demand shifts are gradual and take a fair amount of time). This dynamic demand will be previewed in action later when it's finished.

There are many other cities and areas that are served by several airports. Like London, New York and Paris. Effectively this means that the big cities will have now much more competition as the many airports sharing the city will fight over the same demand and the demand is not fixed to the airports anymore. So you won't just compete with the other airlines at your base airport, but with other airlines at other airports nearby - just like in real life. This also means that the old money maker airports like LHR might not be as lucrative as they used to be since the demand from London can be served by for example Gatwick instead of Heathrow (depending on the player's actions).

Once again, the airport only serves the demand and the specifications of the airport have nothing to do with it. So for example initially the small London City airport will have very much long-haul demand to for example North America since it serves the big city of London, but if (and when) nobody will serve this demand it will move to other airports in the area (but the potential for it remains if someone were to start such service later). The runway and slot restrictions at airports make this interesting too - would you start at a small city-center airport with more demand potential than the suburban big airport but risk being limited by the infrastructure (and wait many years for the small city airport to expand, if ever..)?


Traditional big HUB airports won't be big anymore, necessarily

Since the whole demand system will be based on city areas instead of airports the real-life big HUB airports that are big just because there is a big airline present but little local demand (like Atlanta) will lose their meaning. Atlanta area airports will have only the demand from the Atlanta city area (and surroundings) - so for example airports in cities like New York and Los Angeles will have a great deal higher demand numbers since they serve big cities.


Can I build by own big HUB?

Players can indeed make the airports grow and create traffic to airports that would be otherwise quiet. For example you could find a small city airport that will catch the demand of a big city (like Stockholm and the Bromma airport) and start flying from there. Initially your problem can be that the airport might be capacity limited but future versions of this system will allow airports to expand with new runways (more slots) and so forth.

The model of actual flight connections (= fly between points 1 and 2 with transfer to other flight at airports 3) won't be modelled yet at the first release. There are initial plans for it but the development of this whole new demand concept will be made in smaller steps in order to be able to integrate the systems to currently running game worlds.


Only for cargo?

Yes, the new demand systems will be initially used only to create the cargo data between airports. The new passenger demand model will be added later when the concept is tested with cargo.


When?

As usual, no fixed ETA or launch date is given. The development of this feature is just one of many things that are being worked (along the daily upkeep of the systems), and the I don't like make promises of dates that might slip by. This is a complicated system with dozens of different smaller components to change and update (all of which affect other parts of the game).

The cargo systems are being tested by a group of our users and while the interface for the cargo features is almost complete there is still work to be done with the new demand system. I will keep you posted!


This thread is locked and is reserved for announcements only. Please make all comments to the General forums: http://www.airwaysim.com/forum/index.php/topic,60273.0.html
« Last Edit: February 02, 2016, 10:56:41 AM by sami »

Offline Sami

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Re: AirwaySim Previews
« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2016, 11:15:40 AM »
City Based Demand systems

The work on the City Based Demand is ongoing.

If you'd like to read more about the system's operation, the first draft version of the manual page has been completed.

The page is still hidden from the normal menu structure but you can access it directly here: http://www.airwaysim.com/game/Manual/Routes/Demand/

Note that this is a preliminary version and more images and text will be added later on. The text is partly the same as in the previous preview post (Feb-2016).


This thread is locked and is reserved for announcements only. Please make all comments to the General forums: http://www.airwaysim.com/forum/index.php/topic,60273.0.html

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Re: AirwaySim Previews
« Reply #9 on: October 07, 2016, 02:09:24 PM »
Enhanced schedule moving

The ablity to convert aircraft flight schedules between fleet groups is now possible in the new test mode.

See details on how to test it from this thread: http://www.airwaysim.com/forum/index.php/topic,68205.0.html

(feature will be later enabled to full use)

This thread is locked and is reserved for announcements only. Please make all comments to the General forums: http://www.airwaysim.com/forum/index.php/topic,60273.0.html

 

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