Developer's Blog #10 - Of Maintenance, Malfunctions and Mechanics
by Otmar Nitsche, 11.05.2019
It has been quite a while since the last developer's blog and I think it's about time to fill you in on what is brewing for version 0.90. The most time-consuming component of the update is the implementation of a new, comprehensive wear, tear and maintenance module for the Lockheed Vega.
There are three aspects we need to look at:
- The systematic generation of failures
- A mechanism allowing the user to deal with those issues
- A reporting function to review problems and its solutions
It is probably fair to say that you, the user, enjoyed the implementation of a fully voiced ground crew member. I am happy to announce that with version 0.90 we are stepping it up a notch by introducing a second member of your ground crew. Meet Jack Norman, your chief mechanic.
Just like Heinrich, Jack will be fully voiced and interactive and we are currently doing the recordings in conjunction with the necessary programming. The implementation of a proper chief mechanic to the simulator also means that a lot of the maintenance mechanics have to change, but I think it's fair to say that they will change for the better.
For a long time, I was worried that the Vega becomes too complicated to maintain for regular users, because in order to fix a problem, you needed quite a deep understanding of the underlying systems. Jack is a game changer in that regard! Just like in real-life, you won't have to know what could possibly cause a certain malfunction to appear (although, it'd be good if you did anyway). Instead, you'd take the problem to your mechanic and let him sort it out. In order to bring this sort of experience to the Lockheed Vega, I extended the dialog interface to allow "forking" the conversations.
Let's take an example of a situation you probably encountered a few times as well. Your Wasp engine doesn't start. There's a lot of reason this might be the case, but instead of trying to investigate what the root of the problem is, you'll just ask Jack and he'll start looking at all relevant components of the engine until he finds the culprit. If needed, he'll remove the cowling to get to the relevant parts and he will fix any problem he encounters.
Overall, this new mechanic makes the maintenance of the aircraft a lot more accessible while still maintaining the complexity of the systems itself.
The last item on the list for the new maintenance feature is the reporting. In that regards, version 0.90 will consolidate some elements of the interface. There will be a new panel, the "Aircraft Desk", through which you can access various parts of the "documentation" of your specific Vega. There are logs for the aircraft itself, the engine in particular and a new version of the already known maintenance manual. However the functions of the maintenance manual will slightly change, since we won't need it to fix issues any more. Instead it will be transformed into a reporting tool that will highlight components of the aircraft that had issues and got fixed.
The new log books are based on historical logs of the 1920s and will automatically be populated when you perform various tasks around the aircraft. They are means to keep track of the inspection intervals and the whole history of your personal Vega flying experience.