I am very impressed by the work that you have put into the airports that are already in the game, and the NewGRF ports branch. I will really urge you to continue the development!
I do, however, not believe it is the final solution to airports in OTTD. The fact that this discussion comes up from time to time, indicates that there is an interest in modular airports, and, I am quite sure, it can be done. A lot of effort is indeed needed, and it is not easy to split the work into small incremental steps, as modular airports are not interesting unless made totally complete.
For simplicity, it will be best to only consider the 4 directions used by e.g. road vehicles first, but adding the 4 other directions will definitely be possible later (at least by using blocks larger than a tile). Blocks smaller than a tile will not be practical in any way, and I don't see that as a problem.richk67 wrote: User Interface - you wont be able to just "drag-and-drop". There will be decisions to be made - like what entries onto a tile are permitted, what exits are permitted (remember that the current airport system can move pixel by pixel, not just tile by tile - and in 8 directions - arguably 9 if you include takeoff points). And somehow all this needs conveying in a simple clean way to the player.
Yes, you need an engine that can detect potential locks. In my solution, you will need to close an airport (including waiting until all aircraft are gone, or in a hangar) before doing any changes to it. When construction is finished, you will then need to click a button to "open" the airport, a pathfinder will then calculate all possible routes, save them (to make a state machine) and if some routes cannot be found, a very specific error message will be given.richk67 wrote: Logic engine - if you restrict the whole system to tiles, then it is not as bad; but it still needs an engine that can detect potential locks and prevent them. Basic pathing is already built into the NewGRF_ports system - so aircraft should never cross a requested path (if properly encoded in .nfo). The logic engine would need to handle that and re-analyse the airport every time a piece is added.
When no more error messages occur, you can be 100% sure the airport is not brokenrichk67 wrote: Support - when problems crop up, many users badger the developers for a "fix", when the problem is really them and the nonsense airport design they have created. If such a system were introduced, then I bet none of the developers would want to support it; it might be a stock "if your self-designed airport is broken - that is your fault. Scrap it and try again."
Now, this is interesting. With my system, it is also possible to make airports a lot more efficient than the intercon and probably also the international (I cannot test them in OTTD, but I consider this quite obvious, the intercon is very inefficient). This because blocks are smaller (one tile), so that more aircraft can move simultaneously. You are right that you can do some more load balancing when you do it manually, but I would be surprised if it gives very significant results. My system tries to balance the load on takeoff runways (by considering how many aircraft are queueing atm), and does that very fine when the airport design is good. Balancing on landing runways is not done yet, but that cannot be too difficult. It is not possible to make airports that will not work (and still pass the tests), but it is possible to make very inefficient, or very efficient airports, so putting an effort into the design (of large airports especially) will be an important part of gameplay.richk67 wrote: Design efficiency - it is not the number of runways that make an airport efficient, but the speed of transfer in the runway-to-terminal, and terminal-to-takeoff taxiing. In the static designs within NewGRF_ports, I have heavily optimised these, and can get nearly the same throughput on a (new design) International (with 2 runways/6 terms), as an original Intercontinental with 4 runways & 8 terms. (I created the Intercon + Commuter btw). My brand new design "La Guardia" is a 2 runway airport in 26 tiles with 4 terms... and yet it is only just short of the throughput of a (current) International (49 tiles, 6 terms). My point being: without the programmed power of the state machine system, you will never get as efficient airports as you wont have access to some of the load balancing tricks that can be done in the FSM.
Sure, and this is why I would be very happy if you finished your project. It is not impossible to keep both systems anyway It seems, however, that most people play more with trains than with aircraft, and I am not surprised if this is partly because playing with aircraft is not challenging enough.richk67 wrote: You may want to micromanage airport construction, but many players just want to slam an airport down and get on with setting up the transport services to/from it.
I am definitely listening to you, though, and any useful comments or ideas are very welcome