Race to Mars Pre-Alpha Preview – Ain’t Easy Being a Space Tycoon

Whether you love it or hate it, Kickstarter has given many small game developers the opportunity to realize an idea and bring it to life. One such developer is Intermarum, who is looking to raise $45,786 (£30,000) to further develop their game Race To Mars.

The beginning of a new age of space exploration!

Race To Mars is a “turn-based, realistic space company tycoon game” that puts you in charge of overseeing development of a large space program. The developer was looking for feedback to help drive more funding to the Kickstarter promotion, so they provided preview build to help ensure Race To Mars can successfully make it into orbit.

The first thing to point out is that this is very early code, and as such some features were missing or not fully completed. You start out by answering questions from the press about the goals you wish to obtain with your newly founded space corporation, bearing in mind that your budget, research, hiring staff, and public relations all need to be balanced to achieve success.

Managing all the games systems provides a good deal of challenge

After the press conference the game transitioned into research and development phase. The company getting into the space race is small, so it seemed like a good idea to just stick to launching orbital satellites rather than trying to go for a Lunar or Mars landings. To research you need to hire engineers. This process may sound simple, but you have to take into account the salaries  of each engineer, which will count against your company’s financials. Once you have successfully hired a team of engineers, you can start to build the components needed to set up your first launch.

With everything ready, its time to launch.

Race to Mars uses a turn-based system to pass time within the game, so moving the satellite from its assembly area to the launch platform takes one turn. Building construction takes longer and each turn represents one month of game time.

Launches are not always successful, and it’s not uncommon to see your newly commissioned rocket explode into a million pieces. It wasn’t clear if this has any real negative impact other than having to wait until you can set up another satellite, so it will be interesting to see how Intermarum handles public relations when things go wrong.

Even the best preparation can end in disaster
Even the best preparation can end in disaster

Again this is very early code, and that cannot be stressed enough. The potential for a really fantastic tycoon game is clearly evident and it would be nice to see this game get the funding needed to fully flesh it out. Currently they are $32,524 (£20,000) short of hitting Race to Mars’ funding goal, so if you fancy being the first to colonize the red planet, head on over to the Kickstarter page and make a pledge.

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James Payne

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