Hello there! The current release version of Self-Loading Cargo is "1.6, The Interactivity Update"!
Be sure to check out the changelog to see what's new and the development roadmap for information on future releases!

😊 RELEASE UPDATE - 28th May 2024, 1500z - Please ensure you are running the latest 1.6.3.5 release update. See changelog for release info!

Self-Loading Cargo v1.6 Is Released

Posted on Monday 31 July 2023 at 11:00 by Steve W into Latest News


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It is my absolute pleasure to announce the release of Self-Loading Cargo v1.6 - The Interactivity Update.

This version of the application has been a hugely complex undertaking which has taken an extremely long time to get right - however the results I hope speak for themselves and I am very much looking forward to receiving your feedback and thoughts on the new release and plans moving forward into version 1.7 and beyond.

So what's new?

In version 1.6, Self-Loading Cargo now has a brand new user interface which not only makes the application easier for you to use but puts it in good stead for future expansion without needing any more major changes. Additionally Self-Loading Cargo can now operate in a much more "out of the way" fashion with focus placed back on flying your aircraft - although you can show/hide as much additional information as you like if you want the real-time information that you've always had in previous versions.

One of the major features aside from the user interface is the addition of a completely new method of interacting with the application - using your own voice. Self-Loading Cargo now comes with a suite of voice commands which are not only context specific and dynamically generated based on your flight, but fully customisable as well via your captain voice packs.

Don't worry if you're not sure what you need to say - there's an autocue function built in to assist you.. and you can always revert to the traditional button control mode instead (or even have it running fully automated) if you prefer the sound of the captain voice packs to your own voice.

On the subject of voice packs, the captain and cabin crew voice packs have been completely reworked with thousands of new sounds for a fantastic level of interaction over the aircraft intercom and public address system, while also allowing for multiple languages, and multiple-stage dynamic announcements to be made to the passengers. They're also fully customisable if you'd like to replace the existing scripts or add additional phrases.

There has also been a complete overhaul of the pilot scoring and passenger satisfaction system - passengers will no longer simply be graded as a "1" to "100" percentage but both in real-time and their overall opinion of the flight generated from events that occur throughout its duration, as well the the announcements you (and the crew) make to them over the PA System. Additionally, your pilot score is now generated based not only just on how well you control the aircraft but also on your punctuality and communications effectiveness - you will be graded based on whether you actually made announcements as required and how accurate you were when setting expectations for your passengers.

This helps bring a sense of purpose to your job as a pilot - while you may not be able to completely control the satisfaction of your passengers (that's mostly down to the cabin crew), you can make sure you do the best job possible in your own role to maximise the possiblity of a good result.

Finally we also now have a simulation of the aircraft ground crew who will interact with you at both the departure and arrival airfields, with regionalised voices to increase immersion even further - there are over 1,900 sounds included for the ground crew alone and a very handy integrated pushback system with support for "Hotel" and "Single Engine Taxi" modes that can be controlled via voice, buttons or your onboard EFB without having to open up any new windows or menus.

More Details On The Changes

There's much more information and detail available in the changelog so take a look and then head on over to your account page to download the new version.

I also highly recommend checking out the What Is Self-Loading Cargo? page for a detailed look at the new features (and user interface). When you're ready to fly you should definitely check out the user manual which is now in an online format and contains complete documentation about all of the new features - including all of the contextual scripts contained within the new voice packs if you wish to create your own.

The Idea Behind This Update

The main purpose of this update was to transform the primary focus (in terms of usability) of Self-Loading Cargo into a communications system that allows direct interaction with the crew and passengers at any time throughout the flight. Self-Loading Cargo now supports an unlimited number of scenarios and events which can all overlap and be dealt with individually using the communications interface at entirely non-linear times, i.e. they take as long as they need to and can be triggered at any point.

This is important moving forwards because the interface (and codebase) doesn't need any additional logic added to it to facilitate the integration of new scenarios - it just needs the scenario added in a format it understands, relevant sound effects added and it will work with the "core" functions of the application that you see in this release. For instance I will be adding a scenario where a passenger starts smoking in one of the toilets - that will involve simply creating the passenger logic, the crew logic, the communication functions, the sound effects necessary and any score ratings. The code within Self-Loading Cargo will simply pick the scenario up (if it happens) and will automatically put the correct buttons and timings in place.

Right now Self-Loading Cargo has reached a "base" level of interactivity - it does a very good job of increasing your workload at realistic times without being overbearing, and as more features come online over the next series of updates, that workload will increase and make the experience much more intensive - while requiring no additional effort on your part to get used to the interface. What you see now is how the application will remain in terms of its UI and usability, there will just be extra buttons, extra visual scenarios added to the cabin layout view, extra sound effects and extra pilot scoring added.

I personally can't wait to see it in full flow with issues, failures, illnesses and aggravations turned on...

Tooling

Obviously there are now multiple voice packs available which means for every new scenario developed, a suite of additional sounds needs to be created for each. Not so much of a problem if there is only one voice pack, but if there are several like there are now then it becomes a laborious, time-consuming and error-prone process.

For this reason I have developed a suite of helper applications that are capable of taking a script (from an event) and automatically generating the necessary sound files for any language - an entire voice pack can be created in approximately 3-4 hours instead of days of work. What's more, the tooling automatically validates the voice packs to ensure there are no sounds missing which is important when there are 1000's of individual files.

This tooling will be made available to users once the application is finalised (as per the roadmap) - the code is built and works fine (I use it now) but the user interface is certainly not suitable for release to the public because it is, if you'll forgive me, most definitely not idiot-proofed and requires a level of caution to be adhered to while using it.

What it does do though is make things a lot easier at this end for pushing forwards with the new interactions coming in later releases. The hard work has been done, it all works, it supports multiple languages ... it was used to build v1.6.

Reflecting, and Future Updates

I have updated the product roadmap so that you can see for yourself the timeframes and release schedule that Self-Loading Cargo is now on.

Now, as I'm sure you're aware, this version of the application was a bit of a disaster on my side in terms of planning and communication. While I have worked on the application throughout the time period between updates, I'm acutely aware that my communications have been inaccurate and not what you would have expected. While I am not prepared to go into the personal reasons behind the delays, I would like to apologise to you and fix this moving forwards. It should not have happened as it did and I am sorry.

For this reason, I am committing to the following on the roadmap:

  • I will release subsequent versions of the application as a series of smaller updates rather than as one big "chunk" now that the core is completed.
  • I will commit to quarterly development updates explaining what the state of play is with development, the first one being on 1st October 2023. There may be smaller updates between these quarterly updates if necessary - for instance if a problem occurs with say, SimBrief, I will let you know I'm aware and working on it.
  • I will try to keep the application as "current" as possible as new addons get released (if they require specific changes to be made to ensure compatibility) so there is never a long wait for a fix.
  • The updates will be automatically downloaded by the application (optional) via an autoupdater (which I will be bringing online shortly) so you no longer have to uninstall/reinstall every time there is something added.

This will hopefully fix three issues:

  • You will always have the most up to date information and software version as it is available
  • You will always know when an update (or development update) is due to be released
  • I will no longer have to field lots of emails / random forum posts / etc asking for update information

Discord Server and Technical Support

I am currently working to bring the Discord server back online however I will be limiting participation on it to those people who are actually customers and users of Self-Loading Cargo. You will need to link your account on the discord page to gain the necessary permissions. Ideally I would like this to serve as a place for service and application update notifications rather than general discussions but I will see how it goes as I'm aware that quite a few people enjoy it.

I have also built a self-service technical support area into the website which will hopefully negate some of the more repetitive questions that get asked so that I can dedicate more time to development than support. Again, we'll see how it goes - it's there, it's available, let me know what you think.

Price Increase

The price of Self-Loading Cargo has been increased from £12.99 to £16.99 due to higher running costs across the business, as well as a reflection of the increase in functionality of the application over previous versions. Customers who have already purchased Self-Loading Cargo prior to version 1.6 are unaffected and are free to download the update using their existing license with no additional charge. As of the v1.6 release, any customers purchasing Self-Loading Cargo will be required to pay the new amount.

Thank you

I very much hope you enjoy this release of Self-Loading Cargo - keep an eye on the roadmap to see what is next up and as always, thank you for your ongoing support. There's much more to come!


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