I'm a big fan of aviation, one of my favourite shows is Air Crash Investigations. Around 2017 I started watching a few youtube channels that animated interesting interactions between pilots and air traffic controllers.
While watching these videos I realised this could be a pretty fun video game where you play as an air traffic controller. There already are a lot of games where you play as an air traffic controller, typically you draw a path for planes to fly and guide them into the runway. One was really popular when the iPhone first came out. So it's not a new idea.
Here's the new idea. Only allow players to input commands with their voice. Like a real air traffic controller. I actually created a prototype in 2017, but mid way through the project I went to work for a bank and stopped working on it.
Side Note: Hi Jeremy!
Audio Only Controls
I think this is the most interesting part of the project. Forcing users to input commands via speech is really unique. It could cause a bit of a scene as well. You'd notice if someone on the bus, train or airplane was playing this game. Some friends have suggested providing touch controls for users who want them. No.
Speech to Text Processing
This is a little bit tricky. There are a lot of Speech to Text APIs available, many of them require a network connection and cost money to use. Some platforms like iOS and Windows provide free offline Speech to Text APIs. That's more like it, but it does mean coding a different interface for each platform.
Ideally I'd use one offline speech to text service for every device. Less ideally I'd use one online speech to text service for every device. I have a feeling the best result would come from using a different offline speech to text service for each device.
Learning Air Traffic Controller Commands
I'd like the commands in the game to be 100% accurate, that requires me to understand the lingo of air traffic controllers. That could require quite a lot of work. It would be interesting though.
I imagine the game would be a series of levels, perhaps with story segments between levels. The levels would get harder and put you in charge of more interesting air craft and airports. I think it would also be possible to create a endless play mode with random aircraft appearing.
How do you make money in the games industry anyway? The most lucrative model seems to be freemium. It doesn't really seem like a freemium game the way I have it in my head though.
Lately I've been unhappy with Google Play and the App Store. I've said to myself "the next thing I make will not be on those platforms". However, I think this game would be best on Android and iOS devices.
The most fun thing with this game would be recording different accents for different airlines. It would also be fun (aka not woke) to assign stereotypes to different pilots, for example the Australian pilots could often be drunk. This is sort of why I hate the app stores, they could one day decide this game is reinforcing negative stereotypes and ban my game.
Text to Speech?
Recording audio for all of the pilots takes a lot of time, it would also use up a lot of disk space. One way to get around this is to use text to speech services to read out some of the dialogue.
This would be a major effort right? You might even have to use different services for different languages. In a way you can get around this by saying "Actually all ATC communication occurs in English". This is sort of like saying "I'm not interested in localising it."