Airport Madness Progress

I really dislike it when someone updates their stale blog with an apology for having not blogged recently. If someone has nothing to say, then nothing should be said. It clogs up the internet. I have confessed many times that I’m a horrible blogger. Not only do I go months without posting, worstblogbut I seldom have time to give appropriate responses to replies. In my defense, I am very busy. I do read every single email that I receive from customers, however.

It is hard to believe that Airport Madness 3D is 6 months old, already.  I have learned not to make solid promises on release dates, especially for free game updates. It is very difficult for me to know how long a particular update will take, as I am a single-person operation, building games in my spare time. It is business as usual in my office (my office is Starbucks). I spend approximately 2 hours each day answering emails, fixing bugs and building new stuff.

I am almost finished the next AM3D update, which adds Castlegar Airport with a bizarre theme – an aerial firefighting operation. In addition, I’ll be adding 6 new aircraft including a Boeing 737 and a DC10 Fire Bomber. A possible future development is a “multiplayer” option for AM3D.  Air Traffic Control is a sport. A lot of people don’t know that, but real-world air traffic controllers are competitive, and like to think they can move airplanes faster than their coworkers. The employer, of course, discourages such competition, always pushing safety first.


Top-secret Airport Madness screenshot – Castlegar Airport.

My game development progress has slowed over the past two months, as my real ATC job has demanded more of me lately. Our airport’s traffic rate has been on the rise, and when I get a day off, I really need it. I still roll up my sleeves and work, but I can’t do 4 hours of work like I did during AM3D’s release. I’m still fired up about Airport Madness development, and plan to share with you my 5-year development roadmap very soon.

The next AM3D update is definitely coming. I just don’t have an exact date. It could be 5 days, it could be 20. Thank you for your patience.  Please enjoy this stunning painting of the DeHavilland Beaver while you wait 😉


Artwork by Andrew McTaggart

Airport Madness 3D Review

This month Air & Space Magazine give a nice printed review of Airport Madness 3D.   I had no idea they had done this, until a customer stumbled upon the review and was kind enough to forward it tome.  It means so much when I see a review like this. It makes all of the effort worth it!





Go Around!

The “go-around” is an air traffic controller’s get-out-of-jail-free card.  It may be somewhat inconvenient for pilots and passengers, but it is a perfectly safe operation and often the ga1right thing to do.  A controller tries to move traffic as quickly as possible, but sometimes the timing does not work out, and they get a situation where an aircraft is about to touch down with another aircraft still on the runway. In real life, a controller is not questioned when they elect to “pull somebody up”.  In Airport Madness 3D prior to Update 1.121, go-arounds were free.  Don’t like what’s happening?  Simply pull somebody up!

Unfortunately, some players have learned that tremendously high scores can be achieved by pulling up large numbers of aircraft.  What a great way to maintain a tidy field!  Just pull everyone up!  You get no complaints about takeoff delays, and your stress meter goes way, way down.

To fix this cheat, in Update 1.121 I decided to force these go-arounds to circle back and join the ga3landing queue.  I thought it was a clever way to stop cheaters.  Unfortunately, very few players agreed.  When a player is legitimately trying to manage an airport, and they encounter a bad situation, they do what any real-life controller would do: they pull someone up.  When an Airport Madness player reaches the point in their game where they start issuing go-arounds, it usually means that their airport is in a state of anarchy.  And the last bloody thing they need is for the aircraft to circle back into the mix again!

So here’s what I’ve done with this morning’s Update 1.122: if an aircraft is assigned a go-around, the aircraft will climb straight ahead for eternity (to infinity and beyond!).  If you’re like me and you have too much pride, you’ll do the right thing and bring the aircraft back for a landing.  If you let it fly away, you’ll be left with a 1000-point penalty.  And you’ll also lose the 1000 points you would have earned for landing the aircraft.

I look forward to getting feedback from all of you on this.  I apologize for not being better about responding to comments on this blog.  You can always reach me quickly via email, or even better, by joining our Steam Community.

Big Fat Simulations at Vancouver Full Indie

The good folks at Vancouver Full Indie were kind enough to have me speak at their July meet-up about my game development experiences. I gave my little talk, and they recorded it.  Please enjoy my sultry voice, questionable game design principles, and repeated use of the word “um”.

Or not. The talk is 12 minutes long. You could probably more enjoyably spend your time doing, say, ANYTHING ELSE.

Airport Madness 3D: Next Update

I am working on another update. I just fixed the bug that stops traffic flow, once the player has achieved 150 or so movements.

I’m adding a feature that I call “auto-tag”, which prevents tags from overlapping. It’s does not do a great job of tag management, which is why it will be optional.

I’m also considering adding some bonus features into the game:

-Automatic go around for traffic
-Automatic stop / cross runways
-Auto taxi
-Matched arrival speeds
-Faster taxi speeds

I would like your input on how I might implement these features. I could sell them all as an in-app purchase and name them “ATC Tools”. Or I could enable these over time, as a reward. Or, I could simply add them to “settings”. Thoughts?

I am also looking into my options for “instant replay”, or at the very least, a screenshot of your game ending crash.


Airport Madness 3D Update 1.113 Available

This is an important update, fixing a few key issues.  Most notably, after installing this update you will be notified in-game of all future updates.  The game will provide you with an update method.


Added in-game update notification;
Control panel opens at mouse position;
Abort takeoff feature;
Traffic unjam tool;
Experimental fix for backwards-taxiing aircraft;
ASDE Radar more interactive (shows waiting aircraft in red);
Increased higher end of traffic rates (low 94%, med 106%, high 139%);
Improved terminal building textures;
Traffic pattern diagrams added to menu pages;
Added “will cross”/”will hold” information in aircraft control panel;
DH8C now rotates sooner;
Concorde climbs faster;
Minor performance improvements.

A New Update Notification System

Last week I sent out 10,000 emails informing customers that an update was available for Airport Madness 3D.  I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when I received over 1000 responses asking, “How do I download the update?”.  Game updates have always been a great struggle for me.  Back in 2010 when Flash was still considered cool and cutting-edge, I invented an in-game update system that actually downloaded and installed updates for you.  All by itself.  It was one of the coolest things I ever coded.  Too bad the system failed for so many users.

I switched to email notification.  Everybody would get an email, letting them know that an update was available.  And in theory, everybody would have still had the original download link that they purchased, and could easily download updates from it.  However, that is not the way the world works.  People lose emails, and sometimes delete them.  I’ve had a great number of people tell me that their link no longer works (something I’m investigating with our commerce provider, FastSpring).

updateAvailableNotificationScreenshotWhat I intend to do next is add an in-game notification system that lets users know when an update is available, and gives them a button that links them to the download file.  I think this system will work quite well, and it will be added to the next update, version 1.11. I will however, need to send out one last email notification, letting users know when update 1.11 is available.


I sincerely appreciate the patience of all my customers with these updates.  Hey, at least they are free!

More Ideas for Airport Madness 3D

On our Steam Community page there have been over 100 airport ideas suggested to me for future updates.  It boggles my mind.  As a full-time air traffic controller in the real world, I only have a certain amount of time to develop this game, and as such, it takes me about two months to create a new airport.  At least the updates are free, right folks?  IMG_7056The other night on TV I watched an old favorite, Always (1989).  It’s got a bit too much romance for my taste, but nevertheless a great movie for people who love airplanes.  The movie concept was based on an aerial firefighting operation, which absolutely intrigued me.  After the opening scene I pulled out my phone and began researching aerial firefighting on the web.  I already know a fair bit about this type of thing, as I work at an airport that serves aerial firefighting operations.  In this movie, however, the airport was immersed in the operation.  The airport used in the film was Libby Airport in Montana, and footage of the Yellowstone National Park’s 1988 fires was quadused for the fire sequences.  Steven Spielberg did an incredible job of capturing the beauty and excitement of the operation.  There was fire, smoke, and beautiful vintage bombers like the Douglas A-26 Invader and PBY Catalina. It looked like an airport that would be fun to work at!   Here’s a quick clip of what I’m talking about:

So, I’m wondering if this is something that I could add to Airport Madness 3D.  An aerial firefighting base.  I looked at Libby Airport, but since I can’t determine if they even use this field for firefighting, I decided to go with an airport that I am familiar with.  Like I’ve said many times, Airport Madness needs conflict points in order to be fun, and this usually means having at least two runways.  However, exceptions can be made. dual

I think a great airport for an Airport Madness firefighting operation would be Castlegar, BC.  It’s not primarily a tanker base, but as you can see in the photos above, it does get to host such operations from time to time.  Castlegar is also very special to me personally, as I used to fly Navajos out of there many years ago.  It’s mountain scenery is absolutely breathtaking, and I feel that a game level such as this one needs mountains.  As usual, I may need to to bend the truth a little, to maintain an appropriate balance between fun versus real.


Will there be an actual fire?  You can count on it.  The west ridge will be engulfed in flames, which will advance towards the city if left unattended, and retreat if the player moves tankers quickly.  After takeoff, tankers will drop their load of retardant over the fire, then return to the field for reloading.  The fire action will be interspersed by arriving DH8C’s and B737’s.

This looks like it will be fun, and challenging, to put together for you.  I hope to deliver this mid-October. As always, updates to Airport Madness 3D are free.

Game Release Order

I always prepare myself for trouble whenever I release a game, or an update for a game.  Yesterday, I released update 1.10 for Airport Madness 3D, a substantial update that added an airport and 7 new aircraft.  Immediately after doing so, the emails started pouring in.  Where is the iOS version?  Where is the Android version?  How come we have to wait??

frustrated-guy2If I really wanted to, I could better time the releases so that they would simultaneously arrive to all platforms.  I’m sure that’s what Electronic Arts does.  Being a little guy, I need to budget my time and workload very carefully.  It would not make sense to attempt this, as there are inevitably going to be problems with the game that somehow got overlooked.  This happened yesterday, in fact.  I released an update on Steam, and not 10 minutes later I received complaints of two substantial game bugs.  Now, if I had released across all platforms (PC, Mac, Steam, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon and Mac App Store), I would have had several days of work ahead of me.  However, by releasing the update only on Steam, I was able to test the waters with a ‘soft launch’, fix the critical bugs, then move on to all other platforms.

Why Steam first?  Three reasons:

  1. Steam has an excellent community.  The culture on Steam is to report problems on the forum pages.  If there’s a problem with a game, you can rest assured it will get talked about.  When there is a problem with the PC/Mac direct download version from this website, I usually get an angry email, and sometimes a demand for a refund.
  2. It’s easier to upload games to Steam.  With Steam’s content upload system, called Steampipe, I can upload game changes in just seconds, directly from the terminal window on my computer.  I don’t have to wait for anyone to approve the update.  I click publish, and the changes appear online, automatically updating all users.
  3. PC/Mac users pay more than mobile users do.  Because I would be crucified for charging $14.99 on any mobile app store, I need to offer a slightly more competitive price tag, like $8.99.   This is fair because the PC/Mac version has more features, better performance, higher definition graphics, and more immersive game play with a mouse.  I also like to think getting updates first is another big perk for PC/Mac users.

Airport Madness 3D Update 1.10 Available

Airport Madness 3D now has five airports and 15 different aircraft types. We’ve added Vancouver Harbour’s float plane base, plus seven new aircraft including the Concorde! We’ve fixed some minor bugs, including the “random explosions” of aircraft.

Haven’t Purchased?
If you haven’t yet purchased Airport Madness 3D, grab it here! Buy risk-free with our 60-day refund policy.


Already Own It?
Those of you who have purchased this already can update their version by simply downloading the game again from the original link you received after purchase.  If you can’t find your link, or you require assistance, don’t hesitate to email me at