I got into an argument with my dentist yesterday, as he performed my 6-month checkup. We like to talk business, and since his car is nicer than mine, I try to listen and take advice. He keeps asking when I’m going to start “building the company up” with employees and an actual work space. “You’ll never become huge if it’s just one person. Gotta be able to delegate stuff down”, he insists. As he scraped coffee stains off my lower left molars, I formulated what I was going to say as soon as he got out of my mouth to let me speak.
I operate at the bottom of a massive industry that delivers games. I’m a little guy. I didn’t build Angry Birds, and I don’t have employees. Next time you are at Starbucks, look for the guy sitting in the corner, foot tapping, working feverishly on his Macbook. That’s me, listening to Daft Punk in my earbuds while sipping a double-latte. Welcome to my office.
I’ve seen many developers build successful games that cost more than they earn. I’ve certainly done this myself (anyone here played Airport Madness: Time Machine?). I love airplanes, and enjoy building games that involve airplanes, but I do like to make money as well. I like to stay small and have absolute control over every aspect of the games that I make. Even if it means that I can only focus on one game at a time.
Staying small means there are no expenses, no meetings, and no investors. I can change my mind as often as I want, and I don’t need anyone’s permission. In 2014 I actually torched a project I was working on, a flight simulator of sorts, full of ridiculous drama and unrealistic consequences (think wild Cheetah on the loose in the aircraft cabin). I loved the concept, but I decided it wasn’t something I felt people would be dying to play again and again, for hours on end. It was going to be another Backyard Brat, good for a little chuckle, then on to something else.
I’ve been lucky with Airport Madness. It is by far my bestselling game, with Radar Chaos being second. The rest of the games are basically tied for a very distant third place. Since I’m a one-person operation with a “full-time ATC job on the side”, I only have time to work with one game title at a time. Currently, that title is Airport Madness 3D. The next game will most definitely be a continuation of the series. I’ve tossed many ideas around, from a pro edition to a builders edition. I actually get a surprising number of emails asking me to make Train Madness.
I’m reluctant to ditch Airport Madness for anything else at the moment. However, I can’t shake this new game idea I have, based on something I witnessed while looking out the window on a flight out of snowy Vancouver. It was the deicing operation. Planes load up their passengers, start their engines, then taxi into a lineup for deicing. After a lengthy wait, they head for the runway lineup. This is where it gets interesting. It’s still snowing, and if they can’t get airborne within 15 minutes, they will have to get out of line and head back for more deicing. Years ago, this airport had only two runways, one being shorter than the other. As the snow fell, the airport would alternate runways. Aircraft would use one runway, while the airport vehicles plowed the other. Then they’d switch runways. How unfortunate for the 747 destined for Hong Kong, after they already spent 40 minutes in the deicing bay, only to be told that the shorter runway is currently in use! They would have no choice but to go back to the gate and wait for the larger runway. Wait, there likely wasn’t a gate available, so they’d have to park in a holding area, while they figured out how to time themselves properly so that they would have the large runway available once they finished deicing all over again. I think there is a game idea here. I’m not sure where it belongs. It would definitely fall under the Airport Madness title, either as a standalone game, or simply as a single level of AM3D.
My view, from seat 8A. On my way to Las Vegas, considerably warmer!
I don’t plan to create any new games outside of the Airport Madness series, for the foreseeable future. I may consider building a better Radar Chaos, if I can find a way to properly farm the work out, while still making an overall profit from it. We’ll see.
I’m also curious how Airport Madness fans would react to a remastered version of Airport Madness 1 and 2. These are our classics, written in 2008 and 2009. That’s forever ago! Back then, steam engines were still being used to power large wheels that drove the internet. I’m thinking full-screen resolution, better graphics, multiple aircraft, better music, achievements, a high score board, and of course, put it on Steam.
As CEO of this company, I’ve ordered myself to work on NOTHING but Los Angeles, the next level of Airport Madness 3D, aiming for a mid-February release. In fact, I’m not even supposed to be blogging at all, only coding. I’m the worst type of boss!