Building air traffic control games has been one of the most complex endeavors I’ve ever tackled. I recall how overwhelmed I was after buying my first book on the C++ programming language seven years ago. Chapter one discussed things like functions, arrays, variables and loops. Chapter two is where I got lost, in the lengthy discussion about associative arrays and pointers. My head is still spinning from it all. I am reminded of Chevy Chase’s presidential debate on SNL where he answers, “I was told there would be no math”.
Programming is definitely no place for those who do not care for math. In programming, and especially programming of air traffic control games, there’s plenty of it. I’ve sought out ex-high school math teachers. I’ve paid freelancers for assistance. I’ve been a pain in the neck on many programming forums, asking questions like, “How do you calculate an angle when you only know the length of two sides?”.
There are some amazingly helpful resources out there right now, which I highly recommend to anyone who is considering casual game development. It is bold of me to assume that most game developers would choose flash these days. There is so much being done with other platforms such as Unity and Apple’s xCode for iOS. But if you do plan to start with Flash and Actionscript 3.0 (which is my recommendation for newbies), here are two books you need to grab.
Actionscript 3.0 Game Programming University by Gary Rosenzweig is fantastic for beginners. Gary breaks everything in Actionscript 3.0 down into bite-size chunks, aimed purely at game development. The book is filled with projects. It is rare to find a programming reference book that you can actually get all the way through. The author also offers several how-to videos on his website, http://www.flashgameu.com/.
Advanced Actionscript 3.0 Animation by Keith Peters. This book is everything you need to code complex animations for your games. Whether you need some powerful code snippets for your pool game, or complex trigonometry to calculate aircraft trajectories, you will find this book helpful. The book starts out simple enough, but becomes rather complex towards the end. I don’t need everything in the book, but I have used much of it. Keith Peters has a terrific blog at http://www.bit-101.com/blog/.
I have learned in this business that you do not need to understand every little detail of code that you read from a book. You only need to know what the code does for you and how to implement it. I know how to cook toast, but haven’t a clue how a toaster works.