Hey /r/IAMA,

we're the developers behind SimAirport, a game where you build up your own Airport! How stunning.

We just released a new update last weekend and will be doing a "fire site chat" stream today and also want to answer as many as possible questions over here.

We're /u/lvgamedev - Arthur,

/u/Borrego6165 - Michael and

/u/joscha999 - Joscha.

All three of us are developers and somewhat designers of SimAirport, ask us anything about the game, working on an indie project or just how the weather was today!

We'd be happy to answer your question on Stream from 11:30 am Pacific || 20:30 EU Mainland and will answer as many as possible questions on reddit after we stop streaming!

We've just finished Streaming and will be around for the evening to answer your question. You can get the game on Steam now while on sale! https://store.steampowered.com/app/598330/SimAirport/

If you'd like to watch back our Stream where we talked about a lot of things be sure to check it out, if you have any question not talked about on the Stream or you don't want to watch us talk be sure to write it over here and we'll be glad to answer it: https://youtu.be/cywd2_JCrAo?t=46

Steam post for Stream links: https://steamcommunity.com/games/598330/partnerevents/view/1711860855751617861

And proof: https://twitter.com/SimAirport/status/1199768065031979010

Comments: 54 • Responses: 14  • Date: 

NayvadiusWilburn5 karma

I’ve never heard of this game but used to be obsessed with Sim City and the Sims. Where is this playable ? PC? Is it an App? I’m interested now this sounds like a great concept

lvgamedev1 karma

I played quite a bit of both as youngster; Theme Park from Bullfrog holds maybe the most special place in my nostalgic gaming heart, though.

I also quite fondly remember looking for "tycoon" games in the games aisle at the stores, and then examining & reading the boxes in excruciating detail before deciding which, if any, to buy. It's a bit different these days, though lots more (and far better) options in basically all genres -- though not a big fan of the 'DLC' model that many of them use these days but I digress. ;)

NayvadiusWilburn1 karma

I still miss sim city 3000 I think it was , that might’ve been the best one. Or the original roller coaster tycoon.

JamesTalon1 karma

Nothing beats SC2000 Network Edition lol. Played with a friend, but didn't get far as our demand for zoning went negative for all 3 lol

NayvadiusWilburn2 karma

Have you tried to the new game that’s out? City skylines ? It’s out for all major platforms and consoles . The reviews make it seem like a it’s better than sim city

13esq1 karma

There's no doubt City Skylines is better. EA ruined Sim City.

lvgamedev1 karma

I bought Cities Skylines several years back, though never got real into it -- may have just been life/timing, because as a kid I could very easily burn an entire weekend with the old SimCity games. I bought the most recent SimCity too but it was indeed quite a ferocious letdown.

I keep meaning to try to find some time to really give Skylines a go; everything I've come across says it's a truly remarkable game. I'm sure at some point in the future it'll eat up a chunk of my time. =D

pckrrr3 karma

I’m certain you are aware of Airport CEO. Have you played it? Did you ever find your team in a competition to create x feature or concept better or first?

lvgamedev4 karma

Good question! :)

Yeah, we're definitely aware of it. I've never actually played it personally, though I know Joscha owns it and has put a couple of hours into it -- we actually talked a bit about it on the live stream today.

After we had begun development on SimAirport but prior to our Early Access release I had stumbled across ACEO's site and reached out to them; they weren't interested in talking though did wish us luck, perhaps sincerely.

I'm not sure if I'd say that it felt "directly competitive" as far as development progress or feature/functionality itself went. That said, I definitely remember the collective "vibe" we received from some people around the time we launched -- reviews saying stuff like "this is a cash grab" or things like "ACEO is going to be wayyy better"(prior to it being released). I've become far better at it these days, but early on I personally wasn't very good at being on the receiving end of non-constructive critiques like these, and I allowed some of those early rumblings to take a larger emotional toll than they should have in hindsight. There was definitely a bit of 'must deliver kick-ass stuff now' vibe for the first few months (or more), but I wouldn't attribute it to competitiveness so much as I would the pure excitement & rewarding nature of shipping a game that people actually generally liked.

Making any kind of game is quite difficult by itself (far more so than I ever thought it might be), and a 'logic-driven' game like this is perhaps even more-so a challenge, even if only due to the breadth of problems that must be solved. My hat goes off to anyone who is able to build a game like this and successfully make it fun/entertaining for players -- their team absolutely included. :)

WorriesWhenUpvoted3 karma

Is it related to SimCity? If not, are there any trademark issues? Can be kick TSA out?

lvgamedev7 karma

It isn't related, no -- we're a very small indie team and SimAirport is our first title. Although EA initially challenged the registration, we prevailed and are the proud owners of the trademark for the game's name. :)

TSA won't force anyone off of aircraft during gameplay.

pastelrazzi1 karma

I'd enjoy it more if you had the option to make TSA strict as hell, or lenient as hell, letting drug smugglers through etc. It's always the darker corners of sim games I find most interesting, but I may be in the minority. Are you going to avoid the dark corners and try to keep it light?

lvgamedev2 karma

Yeah, so I really do want to see events in the game -- Joscha and I just had a conversation about it yesterday actually.

I do want to avoid any overly dark aspects, though my thinking on that has definitely changed some since development began; initially I was far more open to it, but as the game has matured and become a solid experience without any 'darkness', it has me wanting to keep it fairly 'clean'.

The second aspect of events is that we don't want to be unrealistically throwing "black swan" events at you every game-day, I feel that'd kind of taint the experience overall. And we also don't want to spend a bunch of development time on code/agent behaviors for an event that you might only see once every 200 hours of gameplay, because that just isn't a very good dev-time to gameplay-impact ratio if many players likely would never even experience it.

That kind of leaves it in a state where the 'events' would probably need to be a bit more mundane: smuggling (as you mentioned), intoxicated passengers, aircraft issues on the tarmac, VIP visits, etc...

I really DO want to do something here, it's just a matter of finding the right balance between "darkness", frequency of occurrence, and occurrence realism -- and balancing that with the dev-time required vs the 'size' of the positive impact on gameplay experience that it'll have.

Hope that makes sense. =D

BurgerPleaseYT3 karma

Can you include any burger joints in your game? What's your favorite burger joint?

lvgamedev6 karma

I'm a big fan of burgers though I prefer to grill them myself; I kind of like the logic / science behind cooking in general. :)

That said, if I had to pick: Five Guys; Red Robin is solid; and, perhaps a bit nostalgic, but the Bacon Burger from Chili's will always have a special place in my heart, too!

There are a variety of food 'kiosks' in-game as well as more detailed kitchen/cooking setups, though I don't think that we have burgers implemented specifically (Michael wrote most of the 'retail' related code so he definitely knows best on this topic).

EllaLoves932 karma

I like the game but never could understand baggage stuff like the comveyer belt setup in the basement Co fused the he'll out of me and I stopped playing around 8 hrs. Have any fixes or changes been made in this area?

lvgamedev3 karma

How long ago did you have that experience / when did you last play? We have made a bunch of UI/UX improvements ("auto-foundation" being a big one) somewhat recently, and maybe ~1.5yrs ago we overhauled the system substantially. The UI/UX improvements were solid, it's definitely not easy to do complex multi-terminal stuff with it, but it's also no longer tedious either.

IMO (biased obviously) it's a solid balance of realism & puzzle-esque complexity, without being too rigidly realistic/complex. I'm very curious to hear when you most recently interacted with it, though! :)

ForDaLulz2 karma

Didn't play in a few months but really loved it and spent over 100 hours on it. Any news on cargo planes?

lvgamedev1 karma

It isn't something we've started on yet, though we were tossing around some ideas and discussing it during the live stream. At this point in time it'd probably be something that comes post-release though, which would be some time in 2020.

thelochok1 karma

What is the best reason to play SimAirport instead of Airport CEO?

lvgamedev1 karma

Between my inherent bias and the extreme disparity of knowledge that I have between the two games, I really don't think I'm capable or qualified to answer this with any acceptable/useful level of objectivity.

I think SimAirport is a good game; though there are certainly things that I'm not yet (and in some cases, may never be) completely happy with. Overall, I think that if you're drawn to this type of "open-ended" business/management gameplay, and your primary focus is to have a fun & engaging (without frustration!) experience, then SimAirport is very likely a game you will enjoy.

From my understanding, and despite sharing both genre and setting, I believe that they're still fairly distinct as far as mechanics and gameplay experiences.

If you typically enjoy the genre then you probably can't go wrong either way -- and "both" is absolutely an acceptable answer, too. :)

nnxeo1 karma

what is the next plans for the game? Big fan from Brazil!

lvgamedev2 karma

Glad to hear you're a fan!! :)

We've had a public roadmap going for a long time (we're almost 3 years into Early Access now!) and it can be found here: https://trello.com/b/KMWlUJHg/simairport-roadmap

It needs updated, I just did a quick once-over to update the "already shipped" stuff, but during the live-stream today we covered several topics that we want to work on next & had a few very good community suggestions too. We'll get those items added/updated so that the roadmap accurately reflects our immediate plans -- it's a "living" document so it will continue to change, but we'll get it updated by tomorrow AM / probably in the next few hours today even!

Thanks again for being a fan -- it's really incredibly rewarding for us to see/hear from players like yourself, and from all over the world, who sincerely enjoy the game. We appreciate the support tremendously!

McPies1 karma

when and how did you get the idea to make SimAirport?

lvgamedev3 karma

Yep, is a good question. I'd like to say that we did a ton of market research, understood the 'domain' extremely well, and were expert game-makers -- but that's really not the case. We had actually never made a game, had barely even heard of Unreal or Unity except maybe in passing, and we didn't have any professional experience with the programming languages that either of those two engines used.

I was not much of an active "gamer" when we began on SimAirport, and probably even less these days as most time goes to actually writing code & working on the game. In childhood I strongly preferred "business management"/tycoon games to the games that many of my friends played such as Doom, Goldeneye, CounterStrike, etc... For a long time the only game I actively played and bought each year was Madden, though I ended that [long] streak a few years ago, hah. ;)

All that rambling aside: about 6 months prior to starting development I came across a game you may be familiar with, Prison Architect -- I picked it up and surprised myself by putting ~20 hours into it over the course of about a week. It reminded me very much of the "old-school" tycoon games that I had loved years ago but with a fresh & modern feeling -- that "modernized" feeling was really interesting to me, and my experience was that it basically took taht extremely familiar feeling, the "open-ended addictiveness", and made it even more engaging.

At the time I was pretty tired of working on web apps and doing yet another CRUD application, sitting through client meetings, etc -- and Prison Architect seemed so elegantly simple and serenely logical. How hard could it possibly be? Turns out, it's a lot more challenging than I ever expected -- there would be [many] nights coding solutions for problems that I never even remotely had considered might exist, and it is more technically challenging than I could have ever fathomed at the outset, though also extremely rewarding in that regard.

Eleven months later (and maybe a month too early), we would release it into Early Access -- with performance that could barely handle 50 passengers (handles thousands now), tiny maps with runways that were 45-tiles long (240+ tile runways now), and plenty of bugs.

You question was why airports specifically, though! I personally am an aviation geek -- I've been a student pilot for many years, with enough hours to get my PPL but I just haven't really flown often enough to develop the confidence to actually do it. I've got a fairly robust flight-sim setup though, and I've honestly just loved every aspect of aviation since I was young. Even the airport experience is something that I find intellectually interesting, and I remembered the airport tycoon games (which were never actually done too well), and thought it'd be a great setting for a management game that was actually done well.

In hindsight, I've actually kind of come to the belief that airports are perhaps not an ideal setting for a management game, mainly for two reasons: The passenger "lifecycle" is very short, which doesn't leave us as much room for "fun" events/interesting behaviors as I'd like to have. And second, many (most) operational aspects within an airport are "chained" actions which require a lot of things to "work correctly" -- when any one part of the overall system fails, the entire system fails, and it tends to do so in a very boolean way without much "fudge factor" for things being mostly-working. This makes for a tougher learning curve because you need to be able to get (and keep) all of the "base line" systems working in order to keep your airport functional. That said, it's not a particularly bad setting either, it's just probably not quite as ideal as I've better understood how game mechanics & gameplay experience impact the actual player experience. :)

Sorry for the novel and some of the unrelated content -- hopefully it answers your question though! =D

Technojerk361 karma

As a fan of the original airport tycoon (aka air mogul/airport inc) I’m super happy to see a revival of the airport building game. How did you end up deciding to make an airport sim? Did you grow up playing the original?

lvgamedev2 karma

Just answered a very similar question, with good amount of detail (and some rambling!), here: https://old.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/e2l0a8/were_the_creators_of_simairport_aua/f92pgk8/

AlxIp1 karma

How much you guys make?

lvgamedev1 karma

The game has been pretty successful, at least relatively speaking, and its reception definitely exceeded our expectations.

That said, we are actually losing a bit of money each month at this point in time -- though that hasn't always been the case. Sales have, perhaps obviously, declined pretty significantly since we initially released into Early Access almost 3 years ago. We've been pretty conservative as far as cash-flow planning goes so, even though we lose a bit of money currently, we should be in good shape to get the game through to "release transition" and then have just enough to make another game.

We'll see how it goes, the business side of game development is definitely a lot more competitive and challenging than I had expected (and even more so today versus when we launched), and it's shockingly difficult to face the reality that you will not be able to work on "your baby" (SimAirport) forever simply due to the realities of it being a business.

Let's just say that my wife would likely laugh me out of the room if I asked her about a second mortgage to continue working on SimAirport -- but the idea has crossed my mind! Hah. =D


Do you even care of the A(M/U)A or you just did it for make a sponsor of the game? (Legit question i guess)

lvgamedev2 karma

Legitimately care. As a small indie team who had never made a game before deciding to embark on the SimAirport development journey, I figured there would be interest in hearing about the "route" we took -- equally as much as interest in the game itself.

In hindsight, perhaps we should have included a bit more background in the OP -- this is our first time doing an IAMA though and, just as with game-development itself, we're learning as we go! :)