ATL was the first game that I designed for a contest. The Game Crafter held a contest to design a game using their vehicles. The game couldn't have been published before and it had to cost less than $20 to make. After a few days of thinking about this I decided to adapt a game that I had been designing in my head for a couple of years into ATL.
The original version in my head was called Scarborough Fair. The idea was this:
There is a fair going on where vendors are selling their various types of goods. The vendors (players) would rent a tent and make their goods available to the public. Some tents would be in better, high traffic areas and some would be more removed from the action. Players could make high or low quality goods... the higher quality goods cost more to make, but some customers wouldn't settle for poor quality. Then its just an economy game where location, quality and price are the variables that players have some control over. Goods were bought by simulated customers that had a minimum level of quality, a maximum price they would pay and a route that they would take through the fair. The customers would buy the first good that met their criteria.
It was relatively simple to morph this game into ATL. The various types of goods became the various destinations that a traveler could fly to. The tents became the flight times. The quality and price pretty much remained what they were except that I called quality "Level of Service." The ariport theme did bring out some other aspects of the game. For example, having both coach and first class levels of service and having different passenger behavior based on domestic or international flights..
Unfortunately, ATL did not win the contest. Oh well, perhaps I'll win some future contest!