All is well, time for a break…

I just completed a drive from Austin, Texas to North Central Kansas and back, in three days, alone. Funeral trip, but not the point of this post… at best, I averaged 60 mph and the trip, just under 800 miles took about 14 hours each way. Never mind that I drove straight through – it was a bit cathartic and frankly I enjoyed it.

But here’s the question, what to do in the down time isolated on a planet? Never mind the travel there and back, but is music or television programming enough? How many hours of entertainment can be packed and stored in a space constrained vehicle? What kinds of entertainment are necessary?

I love to drive with books on CD. Listened to the entire unabridged “Deathly Hallows” Potter book for the second time this last trip. It was entertaining, but I still found myself drifting between the “zone” driving the car, emotions surrounding the funeral and family, and the material, being read read to me. Remember that I am driving, so must stay concious and aware, alert for road hazards and traffic jams (there is STILL a log jam South of Oklahoma City on I-35!). And, when I needed to – I grabbed the phone and chatted with Howard and my wife. Helped to keep me focused and awake, as well as let people know generally where I was. For myself, the key to successfully driving long distances are keeping my mind sharp, having something as “company” – in this case the CD book, and short breaks every couple of hundred miles to stretch, hydrate and consider the next leg.

When you are done for a day, or sitting out a horrible storm, do you sit there and twiddle your thumbs? Break out a book and pass the time? Take a nap? or are you alert, monitoring systems at the console hoping that the incoming 50 subzero C weather front won’t freeze up your water supply?

There is an issue here to address: keeping your mind sharp and alert while relaxing and enjoying yourself, on a volume/mass/energy budget imposed by your circumstances. We take it for granted that we can jump onto the internet and access news, YouTube, etc. or come home to the Television. We can grab a cell and be instantly connected to loved ones, friends or the contractor that cannot seem to finish his job.

While this is not a necessary mechanical element of the simulation or game, it is necessary to bring in the context of these elements into the artwork, to make the simulation feel more real, more homelike. We can break this down into a few categories:

1. Casual entertainment: music or news in the background, short games to break up the time, but don’t require 100% participation or can be left easily to deal with an issue.

2. Focused entertainment: Entertainment that requires concentration, like reading or a favorite television series or movie.

3. Casual Social outreach: Things like IM, or quick phones calls

4. Formal Social outreach: Church, Work, News, etc.

What are the analogs to these issues that are important for survival (mental and emotional) for a long term stint in planetary isolation?

Status Report and Countdown to release…

Hi friends,

We have been a bit bogged down in details, trying to sew up a demonstration version of Colony ETS. Without giving away the surprise, mission control has changed our target landing site just a little bit… and the results should be fairly exciting. Look for an update in the next few weeks, and a possible announcement.

To that end, we are going through our preliminary launch checklist and stepping through things necessary to make the mechanical simulation and systems all work… some of it is a bit touch and go as Howard has bought some cheap aftermarket fittings that just don’t fit properly… let’s hope they don’t break at a critical moment and leave some poor explorer stranded out on… well in space, all alone, with just broken lander. No dogs allowed BTW.

Features up and running so far:

  • A working environment and planetary system with weather and resource gathering simulations
  • Lander power grid and life support systems
  • A biological model to grow a space garden, as well as support life (oxygen generation, CO2 removal)
  • A computer system to tract status and determine tasks
  • A task based scenario model to help direct activities and survival
  • Basic art assets to support the above…

Again, in the next few weeks, we should have some additional screenshots and hopefully, an announcement of the Countdown to Launch…

Simulation: The Colony Scenarios Phase 1

Below are a few high-level scenarios as you enter the game and learn the basic systems required for survival.

Scenario: You are hired by a corporation to do exploratory analysis of a potential site for colony installation. This will be the initial onsite phase: selecting the proper landing area, securing the basic materials and resources necessary to sustain life, and local resources that make colonization a potential profit center.

  • Select the planet and landing area
  • Select the required landing craft elements to establish a base camp installation
  • Add-on any proposed required elements (modules) for exploration, analysis or mining/harvesting

Scenario: You have landed. Now you need to setup a procedural mechanism that brings up and sustains the life support systems of the base landing craft. This includes adequate water supply, oxygen scrubbers and generation, power systems, all preparation for EVA exploration.

  • Run systems and communications checks. Automate maintenance of these services
  • Install CO2 scrubbers. Regularly check status – alerts if failure or maintenance required
  • Additional systems and services as required.
  • Check lifesupport supplies, ensure adequate quantity until sustained sources found.
  • Prepare suit for EVA

Scenario: First EVA. Suit up, check systems. Customize HUD and synch onboard computer with base craft. Set timers to indicate safe life support functions. Step outside.

  • Site survey: look around landing area for proximity sources of water, power, etc.
  • Inspect landing craft for problems, locate and detatch modules.
  • Analyze local air and soils, looking for trace minerals/gasses that can be utilized for life support
  • Look for “low spots” as good targets for water/moisture harvesting
  • Layout locations for additional “buildings” or installations based on information.
  • Pay attention to suit HUD information for dangerous conditions, lifesupport status, etc.
  • Decide priority requirements for service installation: Power supply, Water Source, Bio/Garden Installation, Resource Gathering and Analysis, Mining and Refinement of Resources.

Scenario: First return to base craft, sych computer information with suit and base computer.

  • Check computer for messages, craft system status, checklist of systems maintenance
  • Upload preliminary update to corporation
  • Analyze any preliminary resources gathered
  • Log plan to install solar power systems, extra vehicular

Scenario: Second EVA, power system installation

  • Suit up and exit vehicle.
  • Locate module with power grid system. Follow instructions to install, connect and test system.
  • Return to vehicle, run maintenance tests and check power storage, generation estimates. Determine if additional power is required for additional modules and activities.

Scenario: Locate water. EVA

  • Suit up and exit vehicle.
  • Use charts and visuals to locate likely areas to harvest water or moisture
  • Visit sites and sample local soil and minerals to test for water sources
  • Identify most likely source. Check suit HUD for status, return to base ship if necessary.
  • Locate and detach moisture harvest module and storage facility.
  • Transport module and storage to site, begin installation
  • Carefully monitor lifesupport HUD for danger
  • Finish installation, noting rate of harvest and estimates on quantity
  • Return to ship
  • Run estimates in computer to determine need to new installation or additional water supply for needs.
  • Send log update to corporation, check for messages

Scenario: Locate specific mineral or gas resources

  • Suit up and exit vehicle
  • Use charts and visuals to locate likely sources, particularly vents or areas of color difference in soils, surface rocks
  • Use rover to do soil and ground penetrating radar analysis to determine optimal site.
  • Carefully monitor suit HUD for danger – return to ship if required.
  • GPS tag all samples and sites
  • Return to ship, detach mineral or gas harvester module and storage
  • Transport module and storage to most likely location.
  • Begin deep drilling to target resource… (wait for feedback at ship), facilitate drill extensions if required.
  • Analyze core samples at intervals through the process
  • Remove drill at successful destination, install well head assembly if required.
  • Return to ship, synch computers and report to corp

Screenshots of planetary environments!

I added a picasa widget that will feed a random image on the right panel. If you want to see more, either refresh your browser, or click directly onto the image, hyperlinking you to a higher resolution view in the Picasa service. Feel free to comment!

Other Colony (like) games…

I must say I haven’t been very impressed with the quality of the other space colony / settlement sims out there. They tend toward the cartoonish or focus on a particular element and that becomes all of the content quickly. As for the graphics – it drifts from pretty raw to downright rough, understandable in one sense, but given the vast possibilities, I am amazed how open this market might actually be.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ha2KA_RHInM

The video above is the most promising title that apparently is out there – although I cannot find the game itself, and would be interested in it – even to learn what NOT to do. Also – this is a cut sequence and doesn’t show any in-game play, or I missed it. This is getting a lot closer to the Colony concept, but far further advanced in technology.

The rest, either don’t work, are isometric, or in something like java that highly limits the immersive graphics environment.

Seen any good colony – space exploration games?

Storyline: The Ride

Brutus arrived in orbit, queueing a release of a slow spinning satellite that would remain asynchronous with the landing site. With a silent dance, small rockets oriented the satellite, as solar arrays and antennae opened and closed, testing the systems. In a few minutes, Brutus would receive the first string of communication exchanges, high resolution photography and radar scans of the landing surface, weather information and the queue to start the “The Ride” phase, or atmosphere entry.

Gerome woke up. It was the 4th and final awakening on his trip. While his head was fuzzy and his mouth felt like he had been eating insulation, he was fairly certain this time he would be preparing for entrance. The stasis bunk clouded with a blast of mist that smelled faintly of apples, and when the fog cleared, so did Gerome’s brain. He was hungry.

“Brutus, ETA on entry please.”

Welcome Gerome, I hope you had a pleasant sleep. The time is 21:08:47. Entry will occur in approximately 2 hours. You will find refreshments in the cooler. All systems are go. Please run entry protocol tests.

“Fine.” Gerome wondered about the wisdom of speaking to a computer. It seemed odd, but the computer had been programmed to use natural speech patterns, and he had the ability to change it’s voice, language, even accent and sex. Yet he had given it a fairly electronic voice, just to remind him this was NOT a person.

His legs were quite stiff, as was just about every other muscle in his body. The last stasis session was nearly 200 hours, and while his body was provided with nutrition and mild electrical stimuli to help prevent bone and muscle loss, he still felt somewhat plastic. Protocol required a short period of calisthenics, followed by a quick checkup at the medical station. It only took a few deep bends with bungies cables for sweat to break. With no gravity, Gerome still fought the nausea that most people felt, but his training had helped to keep his bearings, and he knew it would pass in a few minutes.

As Gerome sipped a cold protein drink, he stroked the control panel which immediately brightened to life. The lights hurt his eyes a little, but he quickly adjusted. Protocols were running and ship statistics indicated that everything was a go. He looked through the video streams showing the position of the ship and satellite in geosynch over the landing site. The planet glowed a golden orange and the dark shadow was shrinking away from the large crater that was his destination. The truck, the train of resource modules that were being towed into position, created a long line of tubular “boxes” behind the lander. A count down timer started.

Prepare for truck release in 30 seconds…

When the count down finished, a muffled clunking sound indicated the release of magnetic and vacuum lines that held the modules behind the lander. Silently, the modules fired small bursts of gas, moving the containers into a formation preparing for entry. Short bursts of rockets launched each module into a decaying orbit. These modules would sling around the planet and enter at a lower orbit than the landing module. The monitor showed the modules, flying into the planet like fighters ascending for a bombing run, glowing slightly as they broke the upper atmosphere. Visuals would be lost as the modules raced behind the planet.

Palettes are away. Trajectory patterns are correct. Expect parachute deployments in 6 minutes. Please prepare for entry in 30 minutes. Module confirmations expected in 12.3 minutes.

Gerome powered down the non-critical lander systems, per protocol, and carefully buttoned up all of the loose gear. He kicked back over to the stasis bunk, and slid back in. This time, as he belted into the seat, a number of air cushions inflated, pinning and stabilizing his head and torso. The pressure would keep him safely in place and provide pressure to help to mitigate the effects of shock on his internal organ and sensors would monitor his vital statistics. Should something go terribly wrong, the bunk would be released like a torpedo from the lander, and very slowly descend to the planet surface via redundant parachutes and air brakes.

All palettes are down, skids deployed and leveled. Please brace for entry in 5…4…3…

There were three things that Gerome remembered from the ride to the surface. First the incredible noise that seemed to build and build, creating both an aural pressure and panic that lasted until the an incredible jerk indicated the chutes had deployed. The second was the amazing shaking, which he was sure would leave him broken and bruised. It felt like being dropped into a blender. The third was the heat, an immediate flash over of energy that raised his bunk temperature by 45 degrees C. A cold mist deployed again providing some relief.

Suddenly the shaking stopped and the noise dropped considerably as Brutus snapped against the cables holding several parachutes. These were designed to slow the lander enough to properly deploy landing skids and allow the heat shield to come away from the lander. As the shields broke off, Gerome’s ears began popping as the pressure of the capsule equalized with the atmosphere.

A low growling roar sounded, and the lander dropped away quickly as the parachutes released. Then the lander seemed to float as the rocket skids engaged. Gravity seemed to pull immediately, rather than the slow transition that was proposed in the training. It took Gerome’s breath away. In all of the confusion, he realized that Brutus was speaking…

… deployed. Airspeed slowing to 12 meters per second. Touch down to terra in 3…2…1…

The roar ramped to an explosion and the lander touched down.

Welcome home Gerome.

Gerome felt like he had ridden an explosion.

Colony Architecture and Building Materials

Construction on an alien world is a difficult challenge. It involved signficant engineering expertise; understanding of materials, loads and structural challenges, and perhaps most difficult, a standardized mechanism for transporting materials and the tools necessary. Most games make large leaps in assumptions, providing complete “kits” that self assemble – usually to avoid coding complexity and dealing with any tedium that would be perceived as not fun.

A simulation must either provide a complete construction system or make the same abreviated assumptions as above. Coding for flexible colony layout and modular building construction is VERY COMPLEX, dealing with surface deformation, exterior surfaces and details, and the all important interior details, with functional elements such as doors and windows. In addition, a interdependent system that deals with facilities, air processing, water processing, power systems and even biological and medical systems.

Aesthetics are also a necessary element. Again something that is typically dealt with in games that have established cultures and franchise artwork. Think Star Wars or LoTR… all with deep and established cultural and racial systems. For a pure colonization simulation – the architectural consideration should evolve into something that allows a certain aesthetic sufficient to create a comfortable and homely feeling, particularly as the colony grows and brings more village elements into play. The practics will dictate a significant amount of both 3D and 2D artwork asset creation and a complex building and layout system. The alternative (more likely) is an industrial cookie cutter solution, and definately the solution for the initial landing and establishing of a seed presence.

One of the possible solutions is the ability to take apart modules or panels from the landing ship and reconfigure them to create walls, dividers and ceilings. Also the ability to provide or create forms (perhaps out of thin but strong plastics) that would allow a exanded foam solution to fill, would allow a colonist to mass produce building blocks. Having access to a materials that can use the local soil and stone as aggregate would also be an interesting possibility. All of this material must be very lightweight if being ported onsite, even the machines and processors necessary to manufacture.

One must also deal with how these constructs can be sealed from the environment, support the power and data systems, sensors, etc. that tie the facility together.

At odds are the systematic requirements of a database and rendering system and the desire to add creativity and personalization into the system. Player created assets uploaded to a server for validation will require a player tool, standardized to ensure assets are properly optimized for the engine, and typically a large learning curve, as well as additional gaming technology that allows such a mechanism. This also introduces a large variable for failure… both for the server/client engine and for the player who may not properly understand the balance between sustaining systems and living space needs.

For a production simulator, it is likely that massive compromises will be made, but hopefully with enough rational guidance to provide an immersive and enjoyable simulator that will attract participants and provide a compelling experience.

Storyline: Outbound

Gerome slid exhausted into his bunk. Since arriving at the Delta Space Offloading Station, Gerome had spent seemingly limitless hours reviewing procedures and policies of claiming the homestead. He was still adjusting to the slightly less gravity of the space station. Tomorrow would be another big day, introduction to his new home, that just rolled off the manufacturing line. The bright and shiny lump of lander would be loaded onto a “truck,” attached to the series of modules containing gear, a rover, analytical material and even a drill and extraction device. So much to learn… Gerome slipped into a deep sleep.

The lights in the bunk cabin slowly lit, simulating the rise of the sun. Even the temperature rose in the room, as if the artificial sun was bringing its warmth. 8 men in the cabin all climbed out of their beds and cleaned up. A few, Gerome included, finished packing their few personal items into a ruck sack, prepared to take “the Ride.” The station was moving within the window to shoot the next few rides into deep space. A quick breakfast and some bitter black brew that posed for coffee and Gerome found himself in the briefing room for SigCorp’s send off.

“Congratulations. You have completed the necessary training and prerequisite engineering skills necessary to survive for a year and half mission. Upon completion of your mission, you will be granted full rights to your homestead, including mineral and gas rights. Many of you will fail, some will succeed. You have been fully briefed on the dangers and risks and have indemnified SigCorp from responsibility.

In a few hours, you will be put into a cryostatis state for the journey. Upon approach to the planet, your truck will deploy a series of drops, as well as deployment of a communication satellite in stationary orbit. This will allow the satellite to link communication and data streams to SigCorp, and determine the proper drop times for your lander and modules. Modules will enter first, followed by the lander. During the lander sequence, your statis will start to lift. This can be very disorienting, so we will administer some drugs to ease the transition to conciousness. Your stasis chamber will act as an escape pod in the case of catastrophic failure, and automatically deploy in such a case. A survival gear kit is found under headrest.

The lander and the modules, powered by their rocket skids, will land on auto pilot. The modules will intentionally stear a minimum of 100 meters clear of the lander. You will start your setup protocols immediately.

It is also important to note that you will need to manually set the circadian cycle clock on your lander. This will coordinate with your satellite to optimize the daily cadence, and transition your body clock into the necessary time frames. Once we determine the proper working schedules for your planet, taking into account any environmental effects, a work schedule will be laid out.

A list of tasks will be loaded into your master computer, and can be loaded into your EVA suit. The lander and modules will automatically level, run through basic pressure and bring up tests without your guidance. These tests should be run regulary to ensure the proper working of your craft and provide a maintenance schedule.”

Gerome sighed. It was hard to pay attention to the droning voice. At the least, SigCorp could have sent a human representative for the briefing. He was sure this was all prerecorded. He was ready to go – the Ride sounded like fun.

Finally, several lights above the large monitor blinked, and a synthetic “ding” woke Gerome out of his day dream. He wasn’t sure how much he missed, but was sure it was boring. It was time. The monitor asked him to report to Bay DCA-1009B immediately.

The short walk was brisk, and the nervous pioneers around him were silent. All were jittery. A collective hum of awe sounded when the hanger bay doors slowly slid open. A massive bay stood before them with no less than six Lander modules, all shining chrome in the bright lights. Robots on big rubber wheels slowly rolled around each Lander doing a last inspection of the exterior and detaching cables and hoses. Gerome walked up to his Lander, sitting on a padded grid laid out in bright neon green paint indicating 1009B. He grinned as he saw hand lettering that spelled out “Brutus” near the entry door in hand lettering that reminded him of the lettering he had seen on fighter jets in the movies.

“Brutus” was the name he had chosen, bucking the convention of giving female characteristics to a craft. There was little that could be called womanly about the hulking two story brute in front of him. It was a massive tube of aluminum alloy fitted with large rockets and equipment, all wrapped in a foil looking material that helped prevent radiation damage. The pad it was sitting on would fold up – providing an entry heat shield that will fall away after the primary chute system is deployed. So “Brutus” was ready and capable. The question now would be, could Gerome survive the trip, the landing, and ultimately survive and find valid resources sufficient to sustain his homestead, perhaps ultimately a colony.

The door hissed and the cabin pressurized as he stepped inside. “Welcome Gerome” displayed on the laser driven HUD before the controls panel and a voice said, “Please stow your personal belongings, launch sequence and truck load begins in 30 minutes. Please enjoy your flight.” A motorized sound came from behind the control panel that opened a door into the top “Quarters” of the Lander and the statis module whirred to life. Gerome testing the glove like fit, snuggled into the bunk compartment. He grinned, and taped an old photo of his mother to a bare spot where he would see her first thing on waking.

An Art conundrum…

Developing a game such as colony, that is seeking a customer, begs the question on the art “skin.” Unfortunately, most potential customers see the artwork and quality of animation and content as the sum of the game, despite the innovations “under the hood.” Most developers and engineers can quickly shed their bias based on art and see the fundamentals that are exciting, innovative or just broken and give a more objective qualification… so the conundrum is creating a demonstration that meets enough of the art needs (without hiring a full team of artists) to sell a conceptual product.

The first questions that come to mind are the intended targets for players. Are they kids, young enough to need super simple and stylized graphics? or hard core simulation space fanatics that want the n-th detail and very complex and realistic simulations? Art plays a key role here…

Additionally, it is untenable to create a “real” mining experience, as an example. Most MMOs simplify resource gathering into single tools to harvest single nodes of resources. While a dwarf with a pick-axe can do a lot of damage, a man in a pressurized suit would have difficulty with a manual tool… not to mention the risks and limitations on strength. Do you take an analog, such as a moisture harvester and make it really simple to operate? How does the player interact with the object… and does it FEEL genuine enough to be a simulation?

Flight simulators have set a very high bar for “simulation.” Players can even fly only by controls and the models and interactivity have been worked out over the last 12 years. So what is the paradigm for a futuristic simulator statement? We know that the sum of activities to survive on a colony in space are highly complex and require many specialized engineers to implement. What can a single person do, what are the baseline parameters, mechanics and so forth… and if you solve that, what should it look like?

We have been doing a lot of close analysis of the results of the Mars missions from JPL and NASA. Certainly that is a good start, but is the complexity and “alien’-ish imagely too difficult for a 8 year old to grasp? Should the simulator have strong mechanics underneath, but feel more like a video game? How does the art reinforce the complexity and dependency of the systems?

I have two pictures in my head… one of a grimy space pioneer with very realistic and complex models and animations that even simulate gravity and environmental effects… and another of a cartoon space man that bebobs around the colony doing his thing…

<Insert the proverbial “?” popup over my head> 🙂

Storyline : Chartered

Gerome walked briskly out of the office. A large sign flashed behind him, clearly stating “Office of Colony Management, SigCorp” and that the land rush still had plot of land available in a variety of off-world fringe locations. His fingers were turning white grasping the small packet of material that guaranteed him a 36 clik square homestead with a guaranteed 20 kilometer buffer, all mineral and gas rights as well as guaranteed pricing for 2 years on sell back of resources. Gerome could only hope this was the turning point for his future, one bathed in the sewers of the underworld and a plea bargin to avoid imprisonment on public nuisance charges. At 24 years old, the next few years held little promise, with no credits for education or trade apprenticeship. His friends were sure this was yet another scheme and failed to doom as Gerome was viewed as a quitter. There was no turning back now, and this seemed a much safer option than joining the Merc-Militia in securing and policing underworld or scraping a subsistence in dead end jobs. Petty crime paid little and with the heat on – heavier stuff would land him a long term stint on a prison planet.

The exterior of the packet was labeled with a scatter code, date and location; CNY-945673-A2, 08Jul2027, Hanger 12B, Chang-Clinton Aerospace Portage, Overworld. After carefully packing a few reminders of home and personal treasures, Gerome stepped onto the transport sled and scanned the packet. Personal cabin 1247 beeped and the door slid open. The inside was a padded chair that rotated to view a curved data monitor that was running another space station resort advert. The door slid shut and a variety of options were offered for the long trip to aerospace port, as well as instructions to place his thumbs into the authorization pad. The monitor indicated that the travel time would be approximately 6 hours, they would be travelling at a speed approaching 800 kilometers per hour and that the personal cabin would provide all of the conveniences necessary, even a toilet should such accomodations be required. Large icons on the monitor HUD blinked as he was told of the selections. As part of his contract, the details and plans for settlement would be reviewed momentarily. He would be tested on the requirements to ensure his understanding. Additionally, on arrival to his transport to a space station, training and overview of survival techniques would be provided. He must successfully complete those steps as well as file the proper “Settlement Proprietarship” paperwork and business plans or risk losing everything, likely to work for SigCorp as a manual laborer to pay off the debt he just signed up for.

“Business class is something…” Gerome mused. This was the first time he had been on a speed tram of this quality. Normally he just stayed around his neighborhood, occasionally jacking a scooter or hitching a scoot behind a taxi.

With a shoulder harness strapped on and sitting comfortably in the seat, Gerome’s ears popped as the door sealed. The cabin was little larger than a cabinet, but could “roll” back to a reclining position, allowing him to relax. With a touch of the monitor, he started the introductory materials for his new job and adventure.

 The monitor filled briefly with a spinning SigCorp logo:

Contract Review: Gerome Taggart, Social ID: GA-443-68-3880, Registered Resident of Earth, New York City, Underworld. Resident at 33485 Madison, Sublevel 4. Your contract terms extend to:

  1. Homestead contract, offworld colony. Site size 36 cliks, all mineral and gas resource rights approved. Please review EPA/Offworld specs 35764/6 subparagraph G governing proper procedures for extraction, process and cleanup.
  2. Colonial Home Lander model 12A, 40 meter living space, self contained truck. Supports 6 storage modules as described below:
    1. Rover/Bot workshop model 36746 – prebuilt rover deck with attachments for earth moving, sampling, site analysis. Parts and mini-machine shop in kit.
    2. Evaporator/Atmosphere processor with 1 year filter kits and storage for 500 gallons of H2O. Algae and chemical innoculators included.
    3. Mineral Resource Extractor Unit model X64
    4. Hydro/Thermal power unit. Photoelectic backup. 1800 Kilowatt hour batter storage. Maintenance Kit included.
    5. Site Construction Toolkit, includes all tools necessary to construction Phase II facility, plasti-foam injectors and alu-crete blender.
    6. Emergency Escape module
  3. Mr. Taggart has agreed to exploit mineral and gas resources on behalf of SigCorp for a period of 2 years. Weekly reports on progress, to include potential volumes and quality of resources, current health and facility status are required. SigCorp will purchase all mass produced resources at a 50% reduced cost from commodity pricing, with the reduction going against the purchase of Colony package. Mr. Taggart has agreed to a price of 12,764,887.75 credits, with an anual compound interest rate of 11%. All rates will be adjusted for inflation quarterly.
  4. Mr. Taggart has also agreed to participate in deep space exploration study that will include the testing and utilization of specific techniques and equipment outlined in the data package load on his Lander. He further agrees to follow all procedures and report gaps in procedural documentation to SigCorp as part of the weekly update.
  5. SigCorp reserves first rights to purchasing homestead from Mr. Taggart should resources prove worthwhile for exploit. The purchase would freely absolve Mr. Taggart from any remaining debt credit on this contract, less any supplied and consumables provided throughout the 2 year contract period. Mr. Taggart may choose to remain insitchu and negotiate a new contract on resource sales and consumables with SigCorp.
  6. Should Mr. Taggart fail to meet required quotas, the Homestead property will be executed as lien against his debt and removed from premised to be returned to a location to be determined. Mr. Taggart will be responsible for all travel costs associated with his return to Earth or other location.

Please touch the screen to indicate your understanding of the above terms. This summary is provided as a proxy to the contract (Colony Contract: Homestead CNY-945673-A2) signed in person by Gerome H Taggart on 07Jul2027. Thank You.

Gerome hesitated. It was easy enough to overlook the more disturbing terms in the multiscreen contract he imprinted at the office yesterday. Now the reality set in. He was racing toward his destiny and failure would utterly bankrupt him. Well, even bankrupt trumped pushing rocks on a prison planet. He tapped the blinking button on the screen, and spoke toward the microphone below the screen.

“I, Gerome Taggart, accept the terms. Thank you”

The transport sled sighed with a transfer of hydrolics and lurched. Another batch of space pioneers were risking it all to feed earth and hopefully strike it rich.

The monitor blanked for a second and responded with:

“Acceptance acknowledged. Thank you. Please watch the following introduction to the processes and procedures for your arrival to the Chang-Clinton Aerospace Portage Facility and the Delta Space Offloading Station where you will board your personal Lander and prepare for your journey.”

Gerome suddenly wondered how the toilet worked, and reached up to tap the facilities icon.