Our Next Big Thing: Part 2

Our office is feeling a bit like Santa’s workshop these days.  We are hard at work on our fifth version of Airport Madness.  Back in July, when I decided that there would be a fifth version, I made a clear rule that our assembly line be super efficient, capable of building additional game levels with ease.  But of course, this game has taken on a very interesting shape, and now contains a great deal of complexity.  The efficiencies that we built in early on are now feeling rather slow and antiquated.

It really amazes me how much code is required to drive a few planes around.  In Airport Madness, an aircraft must have a reasonable degree of logic.  It must have the ability to recognize a runway that it isn’t supposed to cross.   And know that it must wait for a parking gate that’s occupied.  A 747 must know better than to attempt to park at the flying school, and vice versa.  No Piper Cubs are allowed to park directly in front of the main international terminal.  Conflict management is complicated, too.  I’m not just talking about the ability to detect collisions.  When two taxiing aircraft are converging, they must mutually decide who will give way, and who will keep taxiing.  This requires a bit of trigonometry magic (anyone remember inverse tan?).  It gets interesting when you have four or five aircraft in a cluster.  Sometimes you get a dead-lock, a stale mate.  There must be logic that deals with this.

In the fifth edition of Airport Madness, your airport grows.  Slowly.  And as the little changes are introduced year after year, the code must change with it.  In 1938 I decided to lengthen a runway.  This means every aircraft must understand the specific new taxi routes, arrival routes, and departure routes.  But only for that particular year, because in 1939 high speed exits get added, and every aircraft must now understand these new routes, too.

The biggest nightmare I think has to be the artwork.  Our artist must be an architect, an airport designer, a city planner, and must be an expert at dealing with people like me.  The game’s timeline is very delicate, as airport and city objects are in a constant state of either generation or destruction.  The artwork for AM5 is going to be truly amazing.  There’s a great deal of it, and it’s demanded that we be as efficient as possible with regard to the user’s CPU, GPU and system memory.

We will keep you posted as we make progress!

8 thoughts on “Our Next Big Thing: Part 2

  1. marco

    i think that the planes this time should be more to scale. like a 747 should be much bigger than a 737.
    also. i think it would be cool if there where real airlines in this game. and mayby even replicas of real airports

    1. Josh

      I agree with you marco. I think there should be replicas of airports like Heathrow, JFK, LAX, just to name a few.

      1. Iohane

        Heathrow has a great history to it, so it would fit nicely. originally 5 runways with tents in the middle acting as terminals, would be very interesting.

  2. RicYOW

    I’ve really enjoyed playing these games. Great work and I’m looking forward to newer versions.

    I do have a suggestion for AP Madness. Within the various levels, there could be a controlled number of aircraft arrivals/departures (30, 40 and more?) within a 3 or 4 “hour” (game time) period. Lower levels would obviously have fewer. Along the side of the screen, before playing, each aircraft for the “hour” is listed. It’s at that time that the user would pre-select the arrival runway and gate assignment. Level one would simply be that. Level 2 and higher would add more components, such as same-time arrivals, delayed flights which would create slower movements. While trying to land aircraft, those still in the air but far from the airport would need to be re-assigned an arrival time by having the aircraft slow down it’s speed etc.

    It’s a lot to ask and I can only wonder at the amount of time it would take to write the code, but it’s my suggestion.


  3. Chris Cox

    I am so excited for Airport Madness 5, having played the previous two versions and also radar chaos for MAC and Sky Madness for iPhone!

    Recently I have begun introducing friends of mine to aviation type games through my blog and I have begun creating the post for the latest Airport Madness 5! I intend to write a full review once it is released and up until then, just drop teasers!

    Stumbling across your blog this evening I’d like to say congratulations on producing such an epic game series and I am really excited about number 5! It is rare that you get to read the insights and technical details behind the programming of the app – it’s really interesting and I for one had not considered just how complicated it must be!

    Anyway, just wanted to say a huge thank you and that I am looking forward to purchasing, reviewing and recommending AM #5 on my site post-release!



    (Forever wishing games like this contributed towards my degree in Air Transport Management!)

  4. JMR

    About the free version, how about only giving the continous play for 15 minuites and giving all normal levels up to 2015? That leaves about 40% more levels I think and infinite time for paid.


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