Having said that, what are the advantages of having a dedicated server and 30+ users in the simulation at the same time? The biggest one is the social aspect. Many online games have a draw due to the interaction with other real people. They make friends and form social groups, hang out, tell jokes and make the interaction a form of entertainment. When we go to Mars and form our first colony the social aspects will be an important part of our survival.
So is this version a simulator, a game or an educational tool? Short answer is it can be any or all of the above. It will be a simulator in as much as we are trying to replicate what you might face having to be on Mars and having to face the fact that your existence is totally dependant on how well you manage the resources.
It will be a game because it has an objective of survival and we want to add in an economy where each player can earn credits and the colony as a whole can earn credits. The game part of it will also face the possibility of failure. This will be a new model for online games where the entire server can fail. If the colony fails to survive the server will reset the game back to the start.
The educational skew of the game will come in the form of the sciences. The Psychology of the social activity and who will be boss and who will get sent back to Earth because we just can’t stand them anymore. Team management comes to bear here as well. Who will do which job and when and how do you cover your ass in case someone fails.
Farming and the agricultural science will be a big part of the game. Users will have to plant seeds, water and fertilize the soil and maintain a suitable growing temperature in the greenhouses to produce plants that can be used for food.
Geology and Mining will be required to find minerals we need for survival and we can convert the raw rock into a product to make game credits.
Since we are in the early stages of development we can offer to educators and scientists the possibility of altering a version of the game to suit your needs. The game has a SQLite database system and that database can be setup to extract any data you would want. This would be a great classroom activity that students could run at home and discussed in class. The architectural layout of the habitation, farm and mining modules can be altered to test different theories on what this colony should look like and how humans would react to the confinement.
The first colony is being built right now. We have the modules on the ground and the advanced mission crew is busy hooking up all the equipment. Come join us and be a part of the first Mars Online Colony. You can get more information by joining the forums and following the web pages. Go to www.hyperkat.com and stay in touch. See you on the surface……