Category Archives: other games

Seasonal Games

Today one of my offspring asked me how come I haven’t made a Halloween game, since it’s October 31st and all. The truth is, I have some decent ideas for a Halloween game, but it would be at the expense of delaying a few larger projects that are on my horizon. Airport Madness 4 for example, which will happen sometime in mid-2011.

The last seasonal game that I developed was Santa’s Landing, in which you attempt to land Santa’s sleigh on people’s rooftops while avoiding starvation by eating falling candy canes. Candy canes seemed like the most appropriate reindeer food for a Christmas game. After all, how much fun would a Christmas game be if the reindeer were stuck eating lichens and vascular plants? Santa’s Landing was cute, but not exactly the viral success I had hoped it to be. It was played a few thousand times on Christmas Eve of last year, then it petered out to a steady trickle of 100 or so plays per day. Who knows, maybe it will get a second wind in December.

Every project that I undertake must be justified by a reasonable expectation of success. If a game such as Airport Madness 3 does really well, then it makes sense to spend time and energy porting it to mobile devices, as well as build a decent sequel. The rest of my ideas simply get added to “the list”. The list gets longer and longer each day. It started out as a small piece of paper from a 3M notepad in 2006. It has outgrown paper, and now exists as a series of spreadsheets littered across my desktop. I have friends, family and business partners that constantly feed me with their big ideas. “Hey, you should totally make a Halloween game and put zombies and stuff in it”. I always thank everyone, then add their ideas to my list 🙂

Where We’re Headed

There has been great change in the casual game industry over the past couple of years. More and more users are looking for games that can be played socially on facebook, or on their mobile devices. Our most successful game, Airport Madness 3 for PC/Mac, fits neither. It is simply a downloadable application. While it is our intention to release an Airport Madness 4 in 2011 in a similar fashion to its’ predecessors, we can’t overlook the shift in the gaming industry.

Lately we have been developing quite a number of iPhone/iPad applications, such as Airport Madness Challenge, Airport Madness Mobile and Will It Fly. We are not overlooking Android, which happens to be next on our list. It is our intention to build out many of our existing PC/Mac games for both iOS and Android. At the same time, we are working on a social game for facebook, of the airport variety.

We also have a few entirely new game ideas that break free from our air traffic control theme. These will initially be introduced as flash games and later ported to Android and iOS. 2011 should be a very busy and exciting year for us, so please stay tuned.

Christmas Game: Santa’s Landing

Back in September I came up with an idea for a Christmas game that involved driving Santa’s sleigh and reindeer through the snowy Christmas Eve skies. At the time it seemed too early to be thinking about Christmas already, but games do require time to assemble.

It is now November 28 and in my opinion, rather late to be launching. Free games like mine only thrive if they can virally spread themselves across the internet to the many thousands of game portals. This takes time, and likely won’t happen by December 25. I guess there’s always next year.

This idea originated from my desire to do something with “inverse kinematics”, the motion of connected objects and how they affect one another, something I learned from a super book by Keith Peters called, “Actionscript 3.0 Animation: Making Things Move”. I initially wanted to try this with a train game, which I still hope to do. The connection of the reindeer to each other and ultimately Santa’s sleigh offered a perfect opportunity to apply these phyics to something real. Well, sort of real.

I am always surprised at the amount of code that goes into these projects, and the number of bugs I wind up having to hunt down and fix. What originally looked like a simple weekend project became literally thousands of lines of code. Add in the quest for decent music and graphics, and you wind up with a two-month ordeal.

I don’t really know how to rate this game. It likely resides somewhere between “kinda fun” and “pretty damn stupid”. I hope that you like it. Your job is to be Santa, riding his sleigh through the snowy skies of Christmas Eve. Control is very, very basic. The up key takes you up, and the down key takes you down. The control point being the lead reindeer, with the rest of the pack obediently following in chain. You must land on as many roofs as you can, while ensuring that the reindeer get plenty of food.

In my world, reindeer eat candy canes. It seemed to me like the most appropriate reindeer food for a Christmas game. After all, how much fun would a Christmas game be if the reindeer were stuck eating lichens and vascular plants? Candy canes rain down from the sky and you must gobble them up often enough to prevent reindeer starvation, which could cost you a life if you are not careful. Each successive level offers something new, such as terrain, obstacles, heavier snow, more rapid energy depletion, and smaller roofs.

Like most of my games, this one has ties to aviation. It was originally to be somewhat like a flight simulator, requiring speed control and a smooth round-out to touchdown. Unfortunately my crack beta team hated it, and so I removed the realistic properties of flight and made it a simple “point it at the roof and land”. I sincerely hope you approve of this game, and as usual, feedback is always greatly appreciated.


Will It Fly?

I’ve dreamt of flying airplanes since I was six years old. I was the kid you’d see running around the school playground with his arms swept back, like a fighter jet. I had an extensive collection of Crayola art, usually only stick-form drawings of the DeHavilland Beaver on floats. Not very inspiring pictures, but in my own young eyes they definitely summarized the magical world of flying.

At that young age, I had pilots all figured out. They had nerves of steel. They feared nothing. They took risks. Behind the RayBan sunglasses and brown leather jackets stood Superman in disguise. Their work was exciting, ranking right up there with Policeman and Fireman. I had decided that one day, I would become a great pilot.

About 20 years back I read an amazingly humorous article describing a game show in which contestants would attempt to takeoff from a short center-stage runway while overloaded with as many prizes as they felt they could safely takeoff with. The show had a sort of ‘Price-Is-Right’ feel, with contestants scrambling to jam their planes to the roof with BlueRay players and iPhones before their time was up. Some contestants would safely depart, others would crash off the end of the runway.

So anyway, enough rambling. I have created a game based on this concept and have named it Will It Fly?. As a bush pilot of a small aircraft, you must take off with as much cargo and as many passengers as you safely can, while avoiding terrain and obstacles. You earn points by the amount of weight that you safely depart with. However, the more you carry, the worse your aircraft will perform.

How many passengers and how much cargo can you successfully take off with, and still outclimb all obstacles and terrain? This is indeed a good question, and certainly one that many a pilot has asked. This game applies the real-world laws of aviation to a variety of challenging scenarios. Earn points by daring yourself to carry as much as you safely can. I’ve added the basic environmental variables: wind, temperature, altitude and weight.

As in real life, a headwind can be your ally. Wind reduces the speed at which you travel over ground, but it does not affect climb speed, so a strong headwind can provide pilots with a steep climb angle.

Hot, High, and Heavy. Any combination of these can produce disasterous results. Hot or high atmospheric conditions indicate thin air, which reduces aircraft performance by lengthening the takeoff roll and reducing your climb angle. Too much weight will have the same effect on aircraft performance.

This game is absolutely free (not a shameless demo teaser like Airport Madness). I hope you will all enjoy it. As usual, my email inbox is always open. Fire away with your suggestions, critiques and ideas.

Upcoming New Game

I am especially psyched about a new game that I am working on. I can’t share a lot of details yet unfortunately, but it will be available here on July 10, 2009. I should hopefully have some screenshots up by July 1, 2009.

One of the great difficulties I experienced while programming the Airport Madness series was testing. I would receive an email about some aircraft that wouldn’t line up with the runway properly, so then I’d fire up AM2 and wait patiently for 20 minutes until the scenario in question would finally occur. I would perform debugging sessions that lasted hours on end. What a time eater. I could be doing other stuff, like filing my taxes late.

During the creation of Airport Madness 2 I tried to be good about posting details of delays and troublesome bugs. Then finally somebody emailed me and said, “If you spent as much time coding AM2 as you spend writing about coding AM2, it would be done already!”. Good advice, however I do intend to post my progress regularly on projects old and new.

Although I am moving forward with some new projects, I have not forgotten the existing ones. Airport Madness 1 is in need of an overhaul. Some bugs still exist, and it could use some of the features included with Airport Madness 2, such as pause and mute. Airport Madness 2 has some minor issues, and there will be a version 1.8 coming out for that in August.

Please don’t hesitate to email me if you have any ideas for new or existing games of mine. Many of my ideas come from email that I receive. And if my emails sound a little short and blunt, please don’t take it personally. I am trying to answer them all. Thank god for the iPhone.

Bathroom Simulator

Here is a project that I originally published as an iPhone application, and last week decided to distribute it as a Flash game as well.

There are several versions of this urinal game circulating the internet, so admittedly it is not an original concept. Here is my version of this great game idea, and I hope that you enjoy it.

The idea here is to test and improve your public washroom etiquette. You choose the most appropriate stall in a variety of situations. The Bathroom Simulator was inspired by several other games that are based on this concept, but mine has enough “extras” to hopefully get your attention.

The other urinal games are fairly basic, offering the player a variety of situations such as, “There’s a guy on the left and a guy on the right, so which urinal will YOU choose?”. I’ve really tried to pimp things up by adding sit-down stalls, busted urinals, and pervert bikers. The game is loaded with graphics, sound effects and music.

I always appreciate fresh ideas from people, so let me know if it is missing anything, or if it could be made better in some way.