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X-Plane Developer: Locking Airports On The Gateway


If you've been experiencing frustration with the airport lockingmechanism on the Gateway, it's probably my fault! The logic behindthis feature was changed recently and it kinda caught us out. All ofthis deserved an explanation, and some further tweaking from us tomake things better.


To protect against two artists working on the same airport, sometime ago we introduced the capability to "lock" an airport onthe Gateway (for the duration of its development cycle). Originallythis feature was unlimited, but was later revised to restrict thenumber of simultaneous locks that could be taken.

Recent Changes

The original locking mechanism was better than nothing, but notmuch. There was no intelligence behind it, that is to say, nothing toprevent an artist from holding an airport indefinitely (by releasingand renewing the lock) and no taking into account previous submissionhistory for a given artist. As a result, we sometimes heard fromfrustrated artists that a certain high profile airport was being heldfor a silly long time by a newbie. Another source of frustration wasnot being able to lock enough airports to keep busy, a direct resultof us trying to solve an earlier problem that artists wereoccasionally holding too many airports!

So, we brainstormed a new design that took into account eachartist's skill set and submission history. Higher skill sets = moreairports that can be locked, more and longer extensionperiods. Locking an airport and then abandoning it without making asubmission = fewer airports that can be locked, fewer and shorterextension periods. I signed off on the new design and Daniela (asalways) did a beautiful job coding it to the exact specifications.

Shortly after we went live there was a noticeable drop in Gatewaysubmission levels. This sometimes happens, and I attributed it to thenormal ebb and flow. However, it has since become apparent there ismore to this. The new "locking" mechanism that was supposed to makethings better and fairer was having the opposite effect. At first Icould not understand this–surely artists don't need to lock moreairports than they can simultaneously work on? But of course this iswrong! The problem is that, during the wait period between submissionand moderation, the airport must remain locked, and hence an artistpotentially needs to hold onto a bunch of airports that are "inlimbo". No doubt everyone in the community already knew this, but Ifailed to take it into account when signing off on the new logic.

The Solution

The solution is to not tally airports that are waiting "inlimbo". This means as soon as you submit your airport, it is no longertallied against your lock total (but is still locked in an absolutesense, and therefore cannot be claimed by another artist). One thingto be aware of – when an airport becomes approved or declined, itceases to be in limbo, and WILL be tallied against an artist's lockcount. It's important therefore to manually release locks that are ineffect, but no longer needed.

If you're reading this, it's already done. Things should be alittle better!


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