Race To Mars – the gameplay

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A few days ago, the Race To Mars game project was announced. This game is planned to be published in Q1 of 2014. What will be the first steps for the player in this game?

The Race To Mars game is created by the INTERMARUM company from the city of Opole. Kosmonauta.net is helping in this venture as a science and technology consultant. The aim is to create a game, which will present the current space sector and its possible development in the future.

The following description is preliminary – many details may still change.

Race To Mars is a turn based space company manager. The player takes the role of the CEO of a start-up from the space industry. The long-term goal of this game is to create a Mars colony before the competition. Before this goal is reached, there will be many years of R&D activities, contracts, missions, random events and failures.

In the beginning it will be very modest. The player will choose one of two or three basic technology branches, in which his or her company will start the activities. Due to low available funding the player will at first be able to focus only on a small rocket or satellite platform technologies. Of course, a proper engineering and scientific staff will be required to develop any of the selected technologies.

When basic technologies are ready, the player will be able to compete for contracts and to offer them as well. Most of available contracts – as in today’s space sector – will come from commercial companies (for example a new Earth observation or telecommunications satellite). Other contracts will be obtained from the national space agency and/or the military sector. Some of available contracts will require a higher technology level. These will not be available until the player masters and demonstrates all required technologies.

During the game the player might also suffer setbacks, which could have various effects on the development of his company. For example, a failed rocket test flight may add experience to rocket technology development, because the engineers will identify and correct a serious design error. On the other hand, a rocket failure with a commercial satellite onboard may complicate the player’s situation on the market. The player will often have to choose one of two options – introducing a new solution, which may contain unknown errors, or to continue costly development work to reduce risks.

Sooner or later the player will start working on manned spaceflight technologies. These (except suborbital tourism) will be more expensive and complex. In many cases the player will have a few technology options to choose from, but funds will allow to select only one. Which way will the player go? An answer might come from observing competing companies and reading market analyses, which may (or may not) predict the right direction.

The player will not have to develop all technologies and solutions on his or her own. Some products will be available for sale, as well as technology licenses. For example, to conduct a demonstration flight of a new satellite, the player might simply buy a launcher from the market and execute the mission. In this case the game was also inspired by the current state of space industry, where many companies compete with each other in one sector, for example launch rockets.

The unique feature of the game is the connection of the player with global situation of the modern space industry. So far many games concentrated only on USA or Soviet Union/Russia. In the case of Race To Mars, the player will be able to choose the country, which his or her company will be located. This should have an impact on some local elements in the game, but player’s company will also have to compete on the international level. Choosing the region could influence the difficulty level, as due to legal and financial issues some companies have different access to the market (e.g. in the US and China). This will be especially seen when competing for military payloads.

This description may change in further stages of the Race To Mars game development. If you are interested to know more details on the game, please contact the project leader – Szymon Janus by his email.

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A screen from the game / Credits: Intermarum

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