I might introduce myself to get an insight where I and therefor my ideas come from, I think that might clarify some of my thoughts, especially when it comes to difficulty and casual style.
After playing Counter-Strike and World of Warcraft on world top level for over a decade, I started playing AirwaySim as well as AirlineSim several years ago before I went inactive there due to lack of skilled competition and, from my point of view, necessary features.
As I had and have involvements with developments there I may not go into full detail in public with everything as I respect the developers and games there as well.
I'm also creator of the AWS FAQ (http://www.airwaysim.com/forum/index.php...6.0.html),
the (old?) manual and most likely most of the bug and feature reports there as well as CEO of King Airways, #1 airline in lots of gameworlds and manager of SkyConnect, Elite and -X-.
1) City based demand.
What is most likely the most complex thing to develop is also the feature that isn't implemented in any of the known games yet in a good state.
City based demand does not just include connected pax. City based demand is the idea to form the world. I love to describe this feature in an example:
It's 1946, World War II just ended. Take your home town or your favorite place. To make things easy for this example, let's say this is Columbus, Ohio, USA (I chose this city right now randomly from Google Maps!).
Columbus isn't a huge city, but decent, and in real life the airport is small.
With a few bucks some old USAAF C-47/DC-3 are purchased and the first connections start. Why would people fly to Columbo? Of course because it's not their destination, but it's a hub. In the early era, without mid- and long-range aircraft, coast to coast flights aren't possible anyway, so our airline concept is to make people connect between the coasts but also between north and south during Columbus.
The city of course prospers due to this, like in real life Atlanta did and still does.
As ranges of aircraft get longer, and we have to wait long for that, mostly for the DC-8/707 era before more efficient 727-100/ and later 727-200Adv took over, we not just built up a good airline reputation, a nice fleet of aircraft and a cash stockpile. But also Columbus is a way bigger city than it was actually in real world at the same time and the airport expanded several times to meet demand of our airline and others that try to take shares of our cake.
We now either can open a hub at a coast city to get in the nonstop coast to coast business, forming a triangle with Columbus, or we skip that and just try to get coast to coast pax and cargo with cheap tickets, very good service, or just our overwhelming image - whatever suits the strategy best we had developed the 30 years before this.
As soon as international flights start we can do that, too. Yes, from Columbus, Ohio. Of course our pax have to change flights most of the time, but that's life. Hub systems are still the most common system in the real world.
So, how would that look in 2016? Maybe Columbus would not have 835k inhabitants as it has in real world, but maybe 4 Millions. Why not? Atlanta basically made the same, not speaking of several Arab cities/airlines trying for that. And you could reach every point in the world from there. Nonstop flight to Auckland, NZ? Of course! Nonstop to Moscow? Why not.
In the same time in our game there was no airline in Atlanta. So Atlanta has a small airport with a single runway and less inhabitants - who wants to live in a city that is just connected to a few other cities?
And now scale this down and up. You can start in a small airport in the Pacific (I made a similar example in the AirwaySim Forums with Tahiti, no link because reasons, but it's easy to find) and just keep your airline little while making your "home island" the hub there.
Or let's get a step higher. Think about founding the same huge airline in New York City. Or Los Angeles.
Or think about expanding Frankfurt, Germany, before the Green party basically made expansion impossible and even prohibit the night flight ban.
THAT is city based demand. YOU create the world, or at least the game makes you think so.
AirwaySim and other games get boring because it is the same. Everytime. I even have a spreadsheet for Los Angeles that, and I'm 100% sure about that, can even get the biggest noob a #3 airline because it's step by step for building routes and which aircraft to use when.
City based demand creates a new experience everytime and this experience is build around the player.
2) Manufacturer Image
Many games simply ignore the fight between manufacturers. In real world airlines get benefits if they decide to change the manufacturer or, other way around, get penalized if they ignore a manufacturer.
PanAm for example had huge influence for a very long time with Boeing and Douglas, not only giving us aircraft like the 747, but also making sure PanAm was the premium customer for those aircraft (ok, it didn't help PanAm, but that's not the point
Another example, as I love them so much:
1960, you start your business, and go for Douglas because they offered some cheap aircraft the second you looked for some. You earn a bit money and start to purchase more used and new aircraft from Douglas, they recognize you as a loyal customer and give you benefits, like better discount. You keep growing your Douglas fleet and one day a Douglas dude shows up at your office. They want to introduce a new aircraft, but
a) they need initial orders
b) they need information about specifications (you like 100 or 120 seats more?)
c) they offer premium delivery slots for their premium customers, meaning more aircraft soon after release for you.
At the same time Boeing in Seattle gets mad. They tried to offer you some obscene discounts last round you were out looking for aircraft, but you went again for Douglas. Now they announce their 747, Douglas can't compete.. and Boeing is not really willing to help you out. Yes, of course, you can get 747. No problem. Prices are in the book. Discount? lol! Premium delivery? Never, please wait 3 years before even East South Bangladeshi Crash Airlines received their single 747.
But what if you keep purchasing 747 anyway? Some day they will offer you a small discount for their new 737. And 30 years later maybe you guys are best buddys, not just premium partners, but also having nice pool parties together.
That's a similar dynamic system. It gives the player at least the idea the game is about and around him - not he has to fill out a static world that is the same every round.
3) Dynamic Airports:
This is also based on the idea in #1, therefor it is not important how an airport is today, important is
a) what was the airport in 1946, at least somehow
b) ignore the real world data and simply start 1946 with generic airports for city sizes, like: huge city 3000m concrete runway+1 real Terminal, smaller cities 2000m concrete+1 real Terminal, towns 1000m grass+no real terminal (and therefor way slower handling) or whatever. Keep it simple but make it modular and dynamic.
Airports then can be, 1) and 2) options included, expanded in several ways:
I) Player based.
I have an airline in Oklahoma and I need more than 2000m runway for my new 727 aircraft. So I go to authorities and tell them: Hey, gief! I either have to pay the whole sum or it's shared between me, the city, and maybe other airlines HQ'd there.
II) City based.
City says we expand the runway or build a new terminal. They do so. Enjoy.
III) Other airline based.
Maybe they just pay for it and you enjoy. Maybe they ask you to pay a share of the cost and if you decline it is either built anyway (as they just tried to keep their costs down) or you gambled too high and there is no expansion.
This should only be limited by an either hard coded limit (that should be visible at the start and all the time) or diminishing returns, maybe later also due to politics.
It's obvious this airport on the Galapagos Islands never will have 10x 5000m runways. It's also obvious Hong Kong will never have an airport of 10x 5000m, at least until very late in the years when we have technology for artifical islands. But New York City could. Why not make JFK some kind of huge behemoth airport thing?
4) What Airports should be in the game:
Something more basic.
I have no idea about coding, but I can imagine a system like this:
Most important xxx hundred or thousand airports of the world. For my tase AirwaySim has way too many "crap nobody ever will use that"-airports, just to give an example.
However, I think it is crucial to give the player the possibility to add an own airport, like you can create your own sports team with town in some games or your own racing car team. If the player adds the name of the place, the name of the airport, the population, the wealth level (as long as it isn't pulled from the country or region list), the coordinates and the metropol population and infrastructure (highway, rail, port), the game should be able to handle it perfectly.
My home town for example has no actual airport but it would actually make a very nice hub for a German or Europe (domestic) hub airline, especially Cargo.
Also I think it's crucial to decide how deep one wants to go. What I find in AirwaySim are often two situations:
a) There are enough airports in a country but not enough demand, for example Papua New Guines.
b) There are not enough airports implemented into the game to make a domestic airline fun, like Germany or Argentinia.
I don't know the saying in English, but I think it's either full or nothing. Nobody needs 10 airports in Argentinia as they serve no purpose internationally, even with city based demand. For a domestic airline we need way more airports, otherwise it would be enough to give the 5 biggest cities their airport (simplified, maybe Argentinia has 7 worthy cities).
5) Easy way to mod, at least names of aircraft and airports:
I guess you want to use phantasy names for the game. That is fine, as long as the names can be changed easy and fast. If there is an editor it should be possible to change a manufacturer name as it is, for example "Loolheat" to "Lockheed" without changing every single of their 80 aircraft models. Or at least in a format that easily supports "change all"-options...
I actually like the easy text files Paradox uses for their games.
So, however, those are some of my ideas and I, as a new guy here around, won't spam too much. If there's interest as well in my suggestions as in the game project itself (ref: http://www.ventdev.com/forums/showthread...85#pid7385
) , I would be happy to contribute more. Here or in a more private environment.
That of course includes my offer for testing and things, I did (and still do) this for other games, too. Some say I'm just a cheesy bastard always playing on the edge, I call it bug and exploit finding.