Game Design

Sneak preview: Airport Cards

Collecting stuff is fun, but collecting airports is mega fun (we think). In Skyjacker you can divert airplanes and if you keep control of the airplane and make a successful landing you get to collect that airport. We want the card you win feel as 'collectable' as possible. We've built a simple claim flow, where the airport card (and any others you might have earned during the skyjacking) get revealed to you, with some beautiful graphics and key info about the airport.

 

Using photography
For the airport card, we thought using images of each airport, a bit like the amazing www.airportcod.es site put together by Lynn Fisher and Nick Crohn. They have three-letter IATA codes along with images from almost every major airport in the world. However, after discussing with Lynn over email (thanks Lynn), it would have been a huge job to contact each photographer and licence every image. The other downside was that the images are of varying quality and style and not every airport in the entire world would have had an image by the time we launched. 

 

Airport diagrams
We then thought about using airport diagrams from around the world for each airport and isolating the runway and taxiway graphics. This would a big job to find, vectorise or isolate but it would give an authentic aviation feel to the game.

 

 
 

 

Rob mentioned MapBox could create custom maps, and so we made a very stripped back version of the world map, with the only layers being runways and taxiways - the results were really encouraging and in fact give a more consistent look than the airport diagrams which would probably have to be sourced from different aviation bodies worldwide. The result is that the Skyjacker airport cards feel unique to the airport, they feel like a consistent set to collect and they give you some real insight into the size and value of the airport.

Here's what the airport cards design looks like: 

Skyjacker_Airport_JFK
Skyjacker_Airport_LHR
Skyjacker_Airport_KUO

 

The numbers at the top of the card show the number of times you've landed at the airport and that airport's rating.

To calculate rating, we analysed worldwide route data to see how how many scheduled flights per week land at each individual airport. Taking that information and adding other weighting values, we created a (top-secret) formula to rate each airport against each other. Choosing which airport to fly to will be an important part of playing Skyjacker, so no-one but myself, Rob and my Dad know how it's done! :)

 

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The sketchbook - don’t leave home without it

When you’ve got no time (due to the day job) or money (because you’re an indie) but you’ve got a seed of an idea, the sketchbook is a wonderful tool. Before we started building Skyjacker in January, it had been an idea for about 2 years. Rob and I would catch up every few months in a pub in London, get excited about how we could build it and then the next day return to our jobs designing and building stuff for other people. However, the sketchbook was always in the bag. The sketchbook is handy for a one-person brainstorming session (usually done in 45mins over lunch with a Chicken Katsu) and for taking the brain’s musings and late night trips and putting things down on paper. 

We’re now into actual design and development of Skyjacker and I still sift through the old sketches and find it surprising how many little ideas thought up over the past 2 years are actually making their way in the game. 

Here are a few spreads from the Skyjacker sketchbook:

 

Skyjacker_Sketchbook
Skyjacker_Sketchbook
Skyjacker_Sketchbook
Skyjacker_Sketchbook

 

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