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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.

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).

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. :)

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

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! :)