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Archive for the ‘Airline Traffic Manager’ Category

Airline Traffic Manager: OpenGL Interface?

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

After my news update from late last week about the interface changes to Airline Traffic Manager, a number of my game development colleagues weighed in on what I should possibly use to develop the interface for. In particular, I was pointed to OpenGL using GLUT (GL Utility Toolkit). Specifically, for my data interface needs such as what I was getting with MFC and Windows Forms, I can add on the GLUI (GL User Interface) library.

The combination of GLUI and OpenGL means that I can have the data-display and input functionality of buttons, lists, select boxes, etc., without having to write the code for them myself. On the other hand, I can also use a robust graphics package that will support all sorts of nifty stuff that we may want to add to ATM in the future such as 3D overviews of airports terminals.

The other thing this solves is the scalable window issue. With the MFC solution (and a little with the proposed Windows Forms one), I was really tied to one resolution. That also means that I wasn’t developing a full-screen graphical game. With OpenGL et al, the game can be full-screen and everything will scale regardless of resolution.

Another major bonus is that it will also be cross-platform. The initial suggestion came from a colleague that is a big aviation buff (and will want to play the game) and is also a Mac user. Sure, his recommendation of GLUT/GLUI was a little selfish in that regard, but it looks like a great solution nonetheless.

Right now, I will just be experimenting with OpenGL on my own to get a feel for it. (Might need a book or two but I haven’t ever really shied away from teaching myself new techs.) If I can do the interface programming myself for a bit, that’s great. Eventually, however, it will be best for me to bring on someone to do it for me to let me concentrate on the engine, simulation, and AI programming. (When I get to that point, I will make an announcement here and update the IA jobs page accordingly.)

Anyway, not a lot of movement, but certainly a lot of planning going on.

Airline Traffic Manager Interface Decisions

Friday, May 28th, 2010

For those of you who are following the development of Airline Traffic Manager (especially all those people who keep sending us wonderful emails asking about it), there are some decisions  that are starting to be made that will help jump-start the process once again.

First and foremost is how to proceed with the game interface. The original interface was written in Microsoft Foundation Classes. MFC was never meant to be permanent solution. Instead, it was merely a way of visualizing what was going on in the game simulation engine. Unfortunately, MFC is a bit unwieldy. It got to the point where it was more of a hindrance than a help.

We have been keeping an eye open for possibilities during this (very long) lull in development. One option was to go to the successor of MFC, Windows Forms. Windows Forms are based in .NET and are significantly easier to use than MFC and they can be customized nicely to make for an attractive interface. However, there is still that “Windows app” feel to it. That’s not all bad. On the other hand, I’m a little wary of combining my existing C++ code with .NET as that tends to get a little prickly.

Other solutions have been proposed by colleagues including Flash, something from TorquePowered, and even simply using DirectX. One of the drawbacks of  those options is that I would have to bring in someone else to do the interface – which the budget does not support at the moment. Windows Forms I can do on my own for the most part.

Speaking of money, we have been keeping an eye on the rise of community fundraising sites like KickStarter. It’s a way to raise funds from the community by promising contributors a final product and maybe even perks on top of it. If the funding goal doesn’t get met, the contributors don’t pay anything. I have a feeling that a couple of well-placed mentions of the fundraising would generate a ton of money. Again, it’s something we are looking into.

Anyway, I just wanted you all to know that we haven’t abandoned what was our original pet project. For all of you people who are dying to play the most detailed, realistic airline management sim ever made, I’m still planning on making it! Hang in there!

Dave Mark in new Kill Screen Magazine

Friday, February 12th, 2010

Last summer, Dave was interviewed by Matt Shaer for the debut issue of a new game magazine, Kill Screen. The magazine bills itself as a “game magazine for grown ups” rather than the more juvenile fare that one finds in other game industry mags.

Issue #0 is going to be shipping in the next few weeks complete with a major feature story about the state of game AI and how it leads to deeper games. The primary focus of the conversation (and what brought Matt to Dave in the first place), is extensive discussion of the ongoing development work on Airline Traffic Manager as an example of an AI-based game.
It’s unfortunate that the story took so long to run (the interview was conducted in Father’s Day, 2009). Some of the information is a little out of date. For example, Matt talks about the lecture Dave did at “this year’s AI Summit” with Richard Evans and Phil Carlisle. That lecture, of course, was from last year’s 2009 AI Summit. By the time many people read this article, we will already be rolling out the 2010 AI Summit at GDC.
Regardless, some things are accurate… such as the fact that development work on Airline Traffic Manager is still stalled. We are now grumbling about this internally and are looking at restarting things – even if only on a part-time basis. More on that later.
Anyway, Dave was honored that Matt wanted to include him in the interview. We have see the full text of the article and it is well-written. Now we are just looking forward to seeing it in print for the first time!

Forums Closed

Friday, May 1st, 2009

Due to a MySQL database error, the Intrinsic Algorithm message boards generated an error. I briefly thought about killing a lot of time trying to fix it, but then I realized two thing:

* First, I haven’t been using it much anyway. The same can be said for the people who registered. Mostly, it was people who were interested in seeing the video presentation on Airline Traffic Manager. Those can be found on our YouTube channel.

* Second, it looked like someone had written a bot to automatically register users on (and subsequently spam) ubbthreads message boards. I had started receiving plenty of bogus registrations — some of which were posting… well… less than savory items. It was time to move on anyway.

From a company announcement standpoint, I have been using this news blog for some time. This includes any news on Airline Traffic Manager. For general information on game AI, I have been using IA on AI. When you add Post-Play’em, my observations on the AI of games I play, you can find most of what I have to say on those three blogs.

If you are interested in Intrinsic Algorithm and/or Airline Traffic Manager, please subscribe to this feed.

Sorry for any trouble. Thanks for your interest.

Back from GDC — Possible New News

Monday, March 30th, 2009

Laurie and Dave arrived back from San Francisco early Monday morning. (Gotta love delayed flights… someone should make a game about that!) The week was an adventure for sure. You can read more about the AI portions of it over at IA on AI.

There may be a shift in direction (and momentum) for Airline Traffic Manager coming up. We are going to be doing some experimentation with a new approach for the client development. The current MFC-based client was our bottleneck for development and it was meant to be a throw-away interface anyway. Changing this direction on things may be just what we need to spring-board ATM’s progress forward.

Additionally, we may have decided on the route we are taking for distribution eventually. We need to investigate more. Check back for details! (Remember to subscribe to this blog for news updates as they happen.)

Post-GDC coma is lifting

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

I’m gradually getting caught up with all my GDC-related stuff. I have a stack of business cards that almost didn’t fit under the seat in front of me on the plane, tons of notes to sift through, etc. Oh yeah… AND I had to get back in sync with the real world such as it is in the Central time zone.

For those that haven’t glanced at IA on AI lately, the AI-related posts about GDC are going there. One is Soren Johnson’s lecture on his Civ 4 AI. The other is my (audio) interview with John Abercrombie of 2K Boston about the AI he did for Bioshock. There will be more as I wade through all my notes and memories of the last week. Specifically, I need to touch on Ray Kurzweil’s keynote, Damian Isla’s lecture on the Halo 3 AI, my brief interview with the guys from Kynogon about Kynapse 5, and my recap of the annual AI programmers’ dinner. (I will probably put non-AI related stuff in this blog.)

A lot of my info can be seen on the constantly updating GDC page I put up. Remember, you can see my GDC pictures here. Some of them suck because I had to go without flash which left the shutter open longer… thus the blur. Many of those were strictly for my notes, anyway.

Now that I have seen Soren’s lecture and had my interview with John, I will be updating Post-Play’em with my observations from their respective games. I also need to get into Halo 3 (if I have time) now that my step-daughter is distracted with the new Wii. I want to plow through that while Damian’s lecture is still in my head. I just don’t know if I can commit to it yet.

On a business note, we had some interest in the funding for Airline Traffic Manager that I need to pursue – so those of you who are fans, that’s good news. Remember, however, the process is often long. I know you have been waiting for the development to move forward in earnest – but it is not something that will happen next week.

There should be a game…

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

Well, our GDC 2008 trip is getting off to a stuttering start. We were less than a mile from the house at the horrific hour of 7AM for our 8:55 flight when my cell phone rings. It was United’s nifty automated message system calling to tell me that our itinerary had been changed. Our new flight is departing at almost noon.

We turned around and went back to the house so I could investigate. It turns out our original flight from OMA to DEN (UAL 731) got delayed somehow – likely due to weather. There were two results of this. 1) it was now an hour behind. 2) They swapped the 757 for a 737. That meant they lost quite a few available seats. So, we got bumped to a later flight (UAL 859) and automatically rebooked on our 2nd leg from DEN to SFO (UAL 77). I haven’t been able to determine what caused the original flight to be delayed that set all this in motion – but it sure is interesting to see the ripple effect throughout the system and how passengers get rebooked.

It sure would be neat if there was an airline simulation that took into account such things. What would that look like? Wow… it would have to have hundreds of aircraft doing thousands of flights to move… well… millions of passengers around. With all those flights, it would have to take into account things like weather delays, because what would happen if an aircraft got delayed on its daily schedule? You would have to swap aircraft for whatever is available, even if it means a different type of aircraft and having to bump and rebook passengers. Which means passengers would actually have to have a real itinerary to mess up! If it happened at a crowded airport, things like that could even mess up an airline’s nationwide route structure!

That sure does make for some great problem solving and could be a lot of fun!