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Author Topic: 10 years of AirwaySim - First steps  (Read 680 times)

Online Sami

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10 years of AirwaySim - First steps
« on: January 12, 2019, 11:51:22 AM »
As part of the 10th anniversary of AirwaySim we're posting a series of blog-style posts to tell you more about the history and background of AirwaySim.

In this second post of the series we'll take a look on how it all started.

Part 1 - People behind AWS: https://www.airwaysim.com/forum/index.php/topic,79661.0.html

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10 years of AirwaySim - First steps

Like you have read in the first chapter, AirwaySim started its life in 2006. It was not called "AirwaySim" at that point, and it was only a rough idea and something that would not necessarily be ever made.

The developer, Sami, had always been a fan of flight simulations, aviation and generally of all sorts of management and strategy games, such as Transport Tycoon or Civilization. In early 2000s there were a couple of airline simulations available, but none of them were really realistic or capable of doing anything "serious". Of the offline games for example Airline Tycoon (1998/2003) was a nice humorous game (Honey Airlines and Mario Zucchero  8)) but nothing to do with actual airline management. Another offline game called Airline was a tad better since it contained more real-life elements, but was woefully lacking usability and was buggy. Some of the early online simulations were better but were still lacking in terms of level of depth and data, and realism too.

So bit by bit over the years the idea grew that a better airline sim game is needed. Like with other hobby projects of that time there were no real development plans, no business plan or anything other serious drawn up at first. After all it was supposed to be a small test just to see "if it could be made". However the airline simulation was not the first and only choice. The basis of a good simulation is good data, and since Sami had already access to a lots of different aircraft specs and performance info Sami also thought of coding a flight planning application for flight simulation use. But the idea of the management game looked more interesting and had more potential so it was chosen. At any time back then it was not thought that AWS would be a commercial venture or it would be here after a decade and still counting...

First code
The first testing and first lines of code were written in late 2006. The choice of name was made in December 2006 and the associated domain names were acquired. This made the project more serious and something that actually will happen, instead of being just some small coding exercise at the corner of the home office. Various different name options were considered, including just calling it "Airline Game", but it was thought that the name should be more unique and recognizable.


The coding and ideas flew high in the winter/spring of 2006-2007, and a bunch of guys from the flight sim website and related chat channel were given early access to the rough development version. They would play the game for fun and would instantly comment to Sami and others in the chat what they thought and what doesn't work.

Interestingly for example the very first versions did not have a constantly running game time. Instead each player in the scenario would perform their actions and then click "I'm ready". Only after each player did this, the game moved to calculation phase and to the next day. This worked well for the small group but not with 500 players of course... The whole concept of how the simulated time is modelled and how it moves on did change a couple of times during the development. One plan was that one "turn" was one simulated game week and it took always 5 hours (= one calculation every 5 hrs). Other turn-based models were also tested. But the current model of "accelerated real time" (= time moving constantly 24/7, and going forward day-by-day in the sim, with single day being 20-60 minutes) was made by around October 2007. It is still technically turn-based but the background calculations are spread to a few different times around the day, and the moving clock and other features make the game feel more live than actually traditionally turn-based.

All such changes even in the core ideas of features were common in the early development. After all this was still a hobby project and no exact plans had been made. This if course meant that some things were done twice and development took its time. But the nature of the project was very experimental and at no point there were any hard targets for any public release or such fixed deadlines.

Public website
The closed pre-alpha had been going on for a while already when the public website opened in April 2007. This was a small static website that outlined the plans and information about the simulation and had a newsletter signup. The idea was to gradually grow the public interest and let them know how the coding progressed.

Forums were opened in May 2007 and they were part of the Flight Sim Nordic website at first, but soon the forums were moved to be part of the AirwaySim.com website. At this point also a decision was made that the forums are part of the core website and the login functionality must be integrated so that users can access the site, games and forums with the same account. Sounds obvious today but back in the day many sites had different logins for their forums and downloads etc.

Sadly a proper versioning system was introduced quite much later so we can't pull up "AirwaySim version 0.1" for you to test online. But some screenshots from pre-alpha version from May 2007 have survived. This layout was in use only until summer 2007.

This initial private development continued all the way until 2008 when the call for beta testers was made. During this time a lot of the time was allocated to data collection, both aircraft and airports. More about the next steps in next chapter.

In this picture we see the new aircraft ordering page. Already in 2007 the essentials were in place but the interface was very basic and many of the features bringing additional realism were not there. For example realistic aircraft production lines were introduced much much later on, and initially all new aircraft orders were delivered the same day.

The route maps were already a part of the first alpha versions.

The basic structure of the pages and functions was already present in the alpha version. But much has happened since...

Fuel prices based on real history was one of the key early features. The same idea remains but you can see the evolution if you compare the fuel management page today to this screenshot.

Realistic scheduling of flights was an unique feature not seen elsewhere in online simulations.

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In the next chapter of this series you can read more about the milestones after the initial development.

Remember also the discount for 20% from all of your Credits purchases by using the code "AWSTEN" at the purchase page. This code is valid until Jan 16th 2019, 23:59.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2019, 12:02:12 PM by Sami »

Offline [ATA] Sunbao

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Re: 10 years of AirwaySim - First steps
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2019, 11:27:11 PM »
what happened to next part ? :)

 

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