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Mars Colony - Elon Musk's Vision

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by Saladon, Oct 1, 2017.

  1. Saladon

    Saladon

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    Hey everyone.

    This is basically my first time inside the design forum so I do apologize if my thoughts are too lofty.

    I got super inspired by Elon Musk's latest talk about the colonization of mars, which can begin as soon as 2022! See image below. I want to start looking at building (maybe open-source) a pseudo-realistic colony manager. Using the science that Elon talks about, which goes over my head most of the time, so research is in order. It can be made simpler and more fun ofcourse.

    I know this is a bit bare bones but I thought this might be the platform to start discussion. Maybe get a few like-minded people on board with different skills. I believe I could handle the programming but I'm really lacking in 3d modelling skills (besides my bad-ass low-poly trees). Of course there are many of these idea posts so I don't expect a smashing response.

    Look forward to hearing from fellow space nerds!

    Cheers


     
  2. JoeStrout

    JoeStrout

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    Well, I'm definitely among your fellow space nerds! And yeah, I too thought that growing-colony bit looked very much like SimCity on Mars.

    It's not a very realistic vision, though. People living is shown in there would be subjected to a constant stream of cosmic rays (plus occasional high-radiation events from the Sun). That means high rates of cancer, infertility, cataracts, and other health problems. Cosmic rays are really hard to stop — the only ways we know of are a planet-sized magnetic field (which Mars doesn't have), or shielding several meters thick.

    So, realistically, any Mars cities are going to be underground. (Musk probably knows this, and it's probably the real reason behind The Boring Company.) So it leads to a very different game design, much more like Dig-Dug or perhaps Dwarf Fortress than SimCity.

    But hey, a Dwarf Fortress game on Mars... that sounds like something fun to play!
     
  3. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    Well, it's realistic if NASA agrees NAD+ based treatments work well :p
     
  4. RockoDyne

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    I would throw in Oxygen Not Included as a bit more accurate example.
     
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  5. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    Well this just led me down a 45 minute rabbit hole exploring quantum entanglement...

    But anyway. You've introduced a premise, OP, but you've made no suggestions yet as to the design of such. I'd certainly be willing to talk about it, but go ahead and introduce some specifics for discussion.
     
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  6. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

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    Cool idea. What would be the goal for the player? Make the place green?
     
  7. Kiwasi

    Kiwasi

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    I always enjoyed the Dune 1 colonization experience. The end game was to make the planet green. But this killed the spice, and thus destroyed your economy. Make the planet green to early was an easy way to run out of resources and loose the game.
     
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  8. BIGTIMEMASTER

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    I never played that game -- never played much in the strategy genre -- but that sounds like an interesting series of choices the player would need to make.

    I suppose that Musk's vision for Mars game could go any direction, but since it is something being discussed right now, a pseudo-realistic adaptation would be my preferred vision. Something along the lines of a Michael Crichton novel in which some unforeseen thing goes terribly wrong. For instance, a bizarre epidemic of disease effects the colonist on Mars and they are quarantined from Earth -- completely cut off for fear of the disease -- and so the player will have to manage a small society in disarray while trying to work towards some solution. Of course this means some people will become bandits, some will be willing to sacrifice a lot for the salvation of the community, some will only be useful if you play to their individual needs...

    So it would be like a high stakes management game. I never played the Sims but maybe that was similar. Make the wrong decisions and maybe down the line everybody dies, make the right decisions and chaos is mitigated and the people are able to save themselves.

    Whoever was gonna make that particular game would need to be a very good writer.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2017
  9. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    The Sims was definitely nothing like that. it's just kind of a life sim where you give people simple goals like "become a banker" and watch them eat and sleep and yada yada until they do it.

    That sounds interesting though. For it to be Crichton-like though, you have to delve moderately deep into the technical side of things. And you have to have the strong independent woman who shows up the slightly bumbling male protagonist but gets with him in the end. And you have to have the older male who constantly talks in cryptic phrases and knows everything that happens far before it happens. And the person in their "party" who doesn't believe in what they're doing and gets eaten near the end. And the infodumps, oh Lord the infodumps.

    Sorry, read too many Crichton novels.


    I actually was thinking something more along the lines of a strategy-survival type of thing myself, though I'm not sure what focus you would give it. I like the idea of having to create a planetary atmosphere somehow.
     
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  10. Habitablaba

    Habitablaba

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    This would be more interesting if the choices weren't clear cut right and wrong choices. Each option should have a degree of wrongness and rightness, which in turn could change the amount of chaos or order by the end
     
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  11. BIGTIMEMASTER

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    Oh yeah, of course. Anytime we are dealing with human relations there won't be easy choices. I mean, if it's catered to a younger crowd you might have obvious good guys and bad guys, but a good writer going for an adult audience should even be able to make the character empathize with the bandits and cutthroats (to some degree).
     
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  12. LeftyRighty

    LeftyRighty

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    sounds a bit like a cross between "Surviving mars" (haemimont/paradox - tropico series) and the dark choices from "Frostpunk" (11 bit studios - this war of mine)
     
  13. angrypenguin

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    Is this necessary? I know it's a video game, but do you genuinely need an enemy or active resistance to make it challenging or interesting?

    I'm a fan of stuff like The Martian where the characters are overcoming challenges that arise from the environment or from ambitious goals rather than from some overt threat entity*. If you're playing with something like Musk's vision for planetery colonisation as your base inspirtion I'd personally like to see it go in an optimistic direction rather than a pessimistic one.

    That doesn't mean the game has to be easy. It just means that the challenges are around forcing humanity to be at its best, rather than overcoming something else at its worst.

    * Though personally, while I loved it overall, the scariest part of The Martian to me was world governments spending billions to save one person, instead of spending the same billions on saving potentially tens of thousands of people closer to home.
     
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  14. Kiwasi

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    This

    If one looks at the Sim City type games, there generally is only passive opposition. The biggest danger in Sim City is running out of money. And in most cases you can just sit and wait a few decades for your funds to build back up.

    Factorio is slightly more aggressive, but even there with some basic defenses the player can ignore the enemy for most of the game.

    If you have an enemy agent actively trying to stop you, you've moved into RTS territory.
     
  15. Kiwasi

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    My favorite example of this was Vertical Limit. Half a dozen people die on a rescue attempt that saves one person. That's Hollywood logic for you.
     
  16. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    Well, I don't want to take this too far off, but do you feel the same about those coal miners trapped a few years back? And many other situations where exorbitant amounts of money and energy were spent on saving just a few people?

    And if we have a problem with that, in all honesty we should have a problem with the very idea of going to Mars, because we could be spending those truly horrendous amounts of money to better our world.

    And if we're going to be utilitarian about it and say letting him die to save others is acceptable, we can turn even colder and say that his life, the life of an extremely intelligent man with completely unique experience, is far more valuable than the lives of the others they could have saved.

    I hope I'm not coming off aggressive, but that's a rabbit hole it's very, very easy to slide down.

    That said, I agree with you and Kiwasi about not needing to turn it into a Crichton "humans are messing up everything" tale. One game I played a bit of was Tropico 5, but the uprisings and protests and such made the game so unpleasant I eventually stopped playing. I don't want to play a city builder to keep a populace from rebelling. I want to build cities.
     
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  17. BIGTIMEMASTER

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    No, not necessary. I just like stuff like that.
    I think the game having a gentler nature like a SimCity game probably would be more appropriate now that you mention it. Human factor problems could be seen from a much broader perspective and thus little drama would arise from that, and the player could mostly focus on long term plans and balancing of resources.
     
  18. angrypenguin

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    "A few people" is already tipping the scales far away from the one represented in The Martian, and the cost side of the equation is pretty different in those cases, too.

    You could, it would be cold indeed. There's also the risk aspect to consider. Despite the huge expenditure and effort, there are many ways it could have failed anyway. In fact, there are many ways it could have just got the rest of the crew killed, netting a negative life return on that investment. So all of that was spent on the (small) chance of saving one life...

    That's a short-term vs. long-term thing. Short term, yes, the money could definitely be better spent here. Long term, spreading humanity over multiple planets and, later, multiple stars makes us much more likely to endure for much longer. Right now one rock or one significant environmental (or man made) disaster could cripple us or wipe us out. If we have self-sustaining colonies elsewhere, we're basically "backed up". Even assuming we'll be fine here, considering our exponential growth potential post-colonisation I think that, long enough term, those costs are probably easily justified.

    That could all be the subject of a game in its own right.
     
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  19. jamessalmons001

    jamessalmons001

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    Of course its a great idea to make Mars suitable for human habitat. Who knows Earth would get destroyed in next few hundred or thousand years.
     
  20. JoeStrout

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    But most likely, in the future, we will no longer need planets to live on.
     
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  21. D3Duck

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    Though I'm usually more on the 'realistic' side of things, I do like the idea to be able to create an atmosphere on Mars that would allow humans to walk outside without any protection or oxygen masks. For example it could be a restriction in earlier gameplay and later on different barriers could take it's place while giving more freedom in terms of mobility.
     
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