Mars Colony Simulator: Lavapolis

Global Nominee

Mars Colony Simulator: Lavapolis received a Global Nomination.

Journey to Mars

Develop a game that simulates conditions in an off-Earth located permanent or temporary colony. The game could be a sandbox that offers the possibility to simulate various facilities that would support a reduced gravity environment far from earth’s atmosphere and magnetosphere. Users could be given power allowances, atmospheric conditions, and in situ resource options (using resources available on site for life support or other needs). The game could include a variety of scenarios including:

  • Arranging a GPS-like system on the Moon or Mars to support navigation for the human inhabitants. The simulation could allow the users to explore different solutions such as a constellation of satellites, a network of masts or other Earth based methods at the challenger’s discretion.
  • Players could build a habitat that could withstand the Lunar or Martian environment while also taking into consideration that its inhabitants need to have adequate power and supplies, be able to produce food, have locations sleep, live and work.
  • Build a Virtual Moon telescope. The simulation could allow the user to conduct a research mission using a telescope on site near their habitat. Explore what instruments make sense for the location of the telescope (and what the user wants to observe). Game players could explore settings such as exposure times or wavelengths to observe. Observations could vary based on the position of the telescope on the Moon or Mars, and the relative position in the sky of the pointed object. After each simulated capture, show an appropriately generated image reflecting the exposure and wavelength settings.

Note: The game is not finished.

Game Concept: A top-down, 2D colony building and resource management game.

Objective: Build a colony on Mars in preparation for colonists who would arrive later, under the constraints of a predetermined location (and its environmental constraints) and a limited supply base.

Inspiration: The ideas for the mechanics, structures, and look of the game came from a conversation with David E. Ways, who explained the concept of the Modular Assembly Reusable Structure (M.A.R.S.) System and the possibility of using caves carved out of the martian surface by volcanic activity as natural protection against harsh surface conditions such as fluctuating temperature and harmful radiation. His name for this concept colony was Lavapolis.

A M.A.R.S. is an inflatable cylinder with an outer metal framework that is meant to be reusable and portable in its collapsed state. A M.A.R.S. can be connected to another M.A.R.S. without the need to depressurize them, can have multiple floors installed in a single cylinder with the use of insertable platforms, and can have radiation protection by installing panels on the outer frame and filling the space outside the cylinder with martian regolith (dirt).

Game Mechanics: The player starts with an empty map that contains a base module and a set of basic supplies. Building structures has an initial cost of building supplies and oxygen. If a M.A.R.S. structure is built outside of a lava tube, there will also be a cost in regolith. Some structures are required to be out in the open. M.A.R.S. facilities will connect to each other if lined up. Certain structures produce resources such as water, energy, oxygen, hydrogen, and food. Most structures will also take resources in order to continue functioning over time. A structure cannot be placed in an area if there is an obstacle blocking it. Likewise, connections between M.A.R.S. facilities will be blocked if there is an obstacle preventing them from connecting.

Resources Used

Unity 2D, Paint.NET for spriting

Made inSarasota, FL USA
from the minds of
How they did it