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Jedi Phoenix

Planet Colonization Game


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I'm currently serving an internship at a small IT company in Germany. Unpaid.


My task is to create the prototype for a 3D planet colonization game within the next three and a half months.


The 'team' consists of my supervisor, who will not actively contribute towards the project, my female collegue, who has no clue of anything related to science-fiction and who will be responsible for most of the artwork and 3d modeling and, you guessed it, me, doing all the programming.


The general idea my boss had was to make a game where you launch a manned mission to mars, constructing a basic base and to expand it from there by establishing oxygen, water and food supply, as well as living quaters, mineral extraction, power generation, etc...


Now since it is pretty much up to me to design this game, I require some help.

I'd like to do some brainstorming with you so we actually get a somewhat useful -something- out of this.


My boss does not care about what we create. So far, all he is interested in is a game set in the near or distant future that is all about creating a base on a distant planet, whether it be the sol-system or another solar system.


I'll be writing down some ideas here soon and it will help me greatly if you drop some of your thoughts on it aswell or even come up with something completely different.


Let me summon up the restrictions again:



  • Tycoon-ish
  • peaceful survival strategy



  • 3D
  • typical strategic view and camera controls



  • Science-Fiction (near or distant future)
  • preferably Mars (Tutorial: Moon)


Cheers, Dark.


Edit 1:

Just found pretty much the 1:1 version of what I think my boss wants us to do

Colonisation: Moonbase

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I am all up for this. Sound design and music are my thing so if you need anything sound wise or music wise, you know where to come.


What elements of the game would you like brainstormed?




When you say "oxygen, water and food supply, as well as living quaters, mineral extraction, power generation, etc..." I know how you think, Dark, and I'm interested just how broad and detailed the system will be as to what that "etc" means? On the one hand there are games where resource and population management can go unchecked and are fairly underdesigned that focus instead on building as much and as vastly as possible, and others where the system is rather intricate and requires constant attention where the aim is to have the best economy possible. Knowing where you want the main emphasis to be (design and building / resource management) will give an idea where the game might go.

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Sounds interesting, what sort of scope would this project have? I might be able to help with keeping it physically realistic, the Wikipedia pages on programs such as Aurora provide some basic detail for that too though.


In terms of new ideas, colonising Mars isn't exactly the most novel of concepts. However, if you're looking for some way to introduce external objectives in a non-superficial manner, you could set this game on one of Mars' moons as a resource gathering base for an already established main base on Mars. This is one of the current actual proposals for colonisation of Mars, but it doesn't look like anyone's agreed on any of the details yet. Your tutorial could then be setting up an auxiliary exploration base on the Moon somewhere away from some main base which supports the main Mars base.


EDIT: I'm moving to Vienna in about a month so our time zones will finally line up.

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So we've basically set up two ideas now.


Idea A:

This features a 3-Stage based gameplay from your typical god-like 3D strategic-view.


Stage 1:

You control a small group of human colonists that have just arrived on Planet Mars. Your task is to set up a (realistic) base, supplying your people with oxygen, water, food, living space, entertainment, energy/power/heat.


Every living human counts at this point and a single loss will hit you very hard. This means that micro-management will be needed quite a bit. Sending one of your citizen to construct solar panels outside the secure habitats just as a sandstorm hits your base can screw you over really bad. Planning ahead is key at this point.


Stage 2:

As your base grows, you will need to turn your micro-management into macro-management. Setting up hotels for human tourists from planet earth will be your first step to making making money in order to pay back your debts from the imports that helped you to get to this point.


Here you will focus on building up a stable economy, rather than trying to comfort your citizen and baby-sit every one of them. Hydrogen- and Carbonextraction will enable you to construct newly designed, much stronger and larger structures than your basic habitat.


Stage 3:

This stage features a heavy twist in your gameplay. A meaningful event causes to stop the supplies that come from Earth.


Example Cause A:

The advancements in medicine and vaccines have created a super-virus that exterminated 99 percent of the human population within a couple of months.




Your imports carried a marsian-virus to Earth, killing everything.


Example Cause B:

The corporation you are working for is becoming very greedy, trying to exploit everything you've been working for.


You now have the choice to give in and pay the extra tributes which will highly upset your citizen and lead them to revolt with the goal to break Mars off the Earths influence,




You decide to break your allegiance to Earth yourself and create your own civilization.


Either way, you are now on your own.


Similar Work:


Idea B:


This features a dynamic map that allows you to just zoom in and out from a galactic scale, to certain solar-systems up until sole planets in 3D view.


You take control of a race (currently called Pioneers) who lost their homeplanet to their aged star. In an attempt to save their civilization, they have sent hundreds of ships into all corners of the galaxy in order to seek a new planet and to re-build their civilization. However, your ship was the only one to survive and it is up to you to carry on the legacy.


Crash-landing on a procedurally generated, three-dimensional planet (much like Spore, Planetary Annihilation or Kerbal Space Program) you will need to fight life-threatening conditions like acid rain, temperature fluctuations, toxic or non-existant atmospheres, high or low gravity, and more.


Setting up a temporary base for your Pioneers, supplying them with oxygen, water, food, living space, entertainment and energy/power/heat will be your first priority. From there you can explore your newly aquired home and start working on your economy and research of technologies. The distant goal is to terraform the planet into a nice, live-thriving planet.


Once you've reached a certain point in your technology-tree you can start to work out a way to colonize nearby planets within your solar-system.





I've had a small discussion with my supervisor about getting other people to work with us and he instantly said yes. So yeah, I'll gladly work with you on the audio aspects of this project :D


We are yet uncertain as to what the look and feel should be like. We generally need some thoughts on where we could go and how it could look like (Interface, Artwork, Architecture, Style, ...).




Since we merely have a little more than three months left to complete at least the prototype there wont be much complexity in it. If we feature a tech-tree, it'll be a template. If we feature procedurally generated planets/terrains, it'll be very minimalistic.


My team and I want something that can be presented sort of like a proof of concept, but still be workable later on.

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Hmm with Idea A there is room for economic development in the early stages as you said with gathering resources from Earth that will fuel the initial colony that can later be paid off with tourism income. With tourism influx it is hard to believe a situation could arise that a virus would kill the entire population of Earth and not affect the Mars colony in any way, but whatever the situation is your borders are now closed to any external involvement. Naturally that means tourism would stop, which as far as being a game changer in itself suddenly you will have to find a new way to get money or develop new research / equipment. Finding a way to transition those two sections of gameplay would have to be the immediate challenge to tackle. The first section of the game focuses on the main resource being money. The second section makes that resource defunct. That being said, it is a nice change of pace from the usual tycoon game because of that, and if a smooth transition can be worked out it will work as a very good way of defining the game differently from similar games.


As for Idea B you don't have to worry about that initial tourism idea of income. In fact, it would probably be a good move to scrap money altogether (because who exactly would you pay that money to anyway?) It is much more of a resource reliant concept, gathering resources and using those resources to expand and research... Much like some other games. In that sense it wouldn't be very unique in gameplay, BUT because it is an alien culture that gives you much more room to expand on technology and artistic designs, as well as world design. Artistically it would be more interesting.

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I've been watching lets plays of Banished and playing a bit of Agrarian Skies, so I was subconsciously combining them in my head for a quest based progression system where each objective is something like "gather x amount of y" which in retrospect doesn't necessarily bear any relation to what you've thought of =P


As an alternative for stage 3 in the first idea, you could have a Earth in a dying state anyway (which may be why your colony was started) due to human influence (global warming etc), and then at some stage there's total collapse of civilization on Earth. This would probably involve a more gradual slowing of resources from Earth, and a large influx of refugees so it may not be ideal. Alternatively, complete political collapse resulting in global nuclear war; this would fit well with a sudden drop off of external resources and wouldn't result in many refugees. The second idea also looks interesting, but a hell of a lot of work; procedural generation is hard.


Also, what I meant by "keeping it physically realistic" is from a physicist's point of view, we seem to have covered quite a broad range of topics during my degree so hopefully some of it could be applicable.

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First of all, thank you for your feedback


The background stories are ofcourse subject to change but I'm sure that we can work out something interesting together.


On the realistic part, I'm a hobby physicist myself and have put in quite a bit of thought on the topic before and yet couldn't figure a way of actually maintaining a autarchic base on Mars. Ranging from problems like dealing with the extreme temperature, the lack of oxygen, hydrogen, construction materials (carbon and various metals), the marsian weather, seasons, sandstorms, the lack of a magnetic field or a sufficient atmosphere to protect yourself from the cosmic radiation ... The list is quite long.


This was one of the reasons I suggested the more unrealistic Idea B where you can actually think of anything without the bounds of reality.


Here are some references:


Official Topology Data of Mars and other celestial bodies:


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As you said you'll have a lot of explaining to do on how to get a base work on Mars. But I'm pretty sure there is a workaround like having a completely sealed off base which is fully operational in terms of oxygen reprocessing and an established supply line which allows supply ships from earth to enter and exit the base through specially designed sluices and so on. This might take out some complexity of the game but should be handled carefully as it also may cause things to be too easy...

For the background story I too think the issue with any virus killing off the whole population of the earth is a bit unbelievable (espescially the mars virus affecting humans. I mean, for all we know, life as we know it is not possible on mars, which means it's unlikely that even if there exists a virus-like lifeform on mars, it probably wouldn't be able to affect our human systems :p). I liked the idea of Scorch though, concerning the 3rd stage! Sounds like a more interesting approach to me.

Idea B instantly reminded me of Spore too somehow... Anyway, this idea leaves way more possibilities open for you. You could e.g. start up similar to Age of Empires collecting supplies which are used to survive at first until you are able to develop more technology in order to colonize bigger parts of this planet or even other planets. Also, instead of implementing a whole KI as enemy, you could place some scripted events as threats for your colony, e.g. natural catastrophies, some other intelligent lifeform already living on the planet, aliens checking out the planet, etc). The possiblities are as far as your imagination goes which is of course the challenge here too. The workload could explode easily...

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Yeah. Well. It's kinda embarrasing to say this but we changed the setting.


We're now going for a medieval-ish game.


Basically, it's Banished + Spellforce 1 + Crusader Kings





Command your group of survivors/refugees

Built up and manage a sustainable village for your citizen to live and die

Gather resources and ensure your people survive the winter



Spellforce 1:


Control your personal Avatar

Run around

Talk to people



Crusader Kings:


Wage war

Create a dynasty



My own addition:


There are no preset classes. If you want to create soldiers, you build a barrack, talk to your instructor, enter the unit-editor and create your own warrior from a simple peasant. Equip them with a Longbow, leather armor and a short sword instead of a dagger and clothes and tell your instructor to train ten men. Or would you like to have a super heavy infantry? Go ahead and give them the strongest chest plate your smith can create, give them a giant ass shield and a heavy bastard sword. But pay the price in both resource cost, upkeep and training time. Any equpiment your hero can be equipped with, can be used to create units in any shape or form (which would have made Mount&Blade the most badass game ever created.)



Shame on me for not coming up with something innovative but frankly, we don't have time for that. 3 fucking months left of a 5 month intern and we're at 0 again.


We'll be using Unity3D as our engine but I'm currently using as much of my spare time (that i dont spend on making the game) on getting into DirectX 11 3D Programming, cause in the end I want this to run on my own engine. It's a tough topic but there's nothing that can stop me when I am motivated. Ok maybe there is but you get the point.


Wish me luck or call me an idiot for applying here in the first place. This will be a fun experience.

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Yeah. Well. It's kinda embarrasing to say this but we changed the setting.


We're now going for a medieval-ish game.



Just kidding ;)


Okay, so with the change in setting I'm not entirely sure if you're still planning a Tycoon game. Now it sounds like a RTS game. Obviously aside from that you're looking at a very different scenario with different obstacles to overcome. But by the sounds of it, other than working out the exact settings you sound like you already know how you're going about the game. Is there anything you need to work on brainstorm wise with this new setting?

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my own engine




Other than that, sounds like it could be fun, possibly like a Total War game with intense micromanagement.


Will this be set in pre-medieval Europe by default? Could also be fun to have it on the bronze age / iron age boundary AOE I style, with the discovery of steel as a major milestone mid-game. This would give you much wider variation in possible units whose production and applicability are limited to certain periods of the game, not just in what your blacksmith can produce but also which materials he can use, so you're not just producing the same things from start to end. Of course there would still be a lot of similarities to the same game set in medieval Europe resource wise, e.g. hunting and foraging for food and skins, basic agriculture, mining etc.


Also, apply for places where they pay you next time =P

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Coded the basic framework in 480 lines within one hour yesterday :p


We planned to make the game medieval-ish, not being set in a certain period of time or location for that matter :)

But you are completely right on the pre-medieval kind of setting. Bronze/Iron-age looks pretty interesting to me. I'll definetly bring that up on our next meeting.


On the progression kind of thing, we don't really want innovative inventions like going from bows and arrows to gunpowder. There should be some minor improvements like being able to craft a plow to increase farming efficiency etc.


And yeah I should have accepted the other internship approval :pokerface:

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