Author Topic: Gameplay  (Read 12806 times)

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Hyper

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Gameplay
« on: August 09, 2013, 07:43:49 PM »
Another hard topic to tackle. This thing started as a simulator, I tried to game it up a bit but after 90k runs it's a bit of a chore and boring. How do we spice things up a bit and make it more interesting / fun ?
Guns and aliens ?
Mystery
Disasters

etc.....


profit004

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Re: Gameplay
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2013, 09:07:42 PM »
You forget that most of the successful games are simple psychological tricks... The most common one being nothing more than a skinner box.   For example Diablo was a dressed up skinner box where you played through once to see the story (One reward) and kept playing to get better equipment and play harder levels (another reward)  with the advanced equipment being harder and harder to get every time.

You actually said one of the best things in another thread, using the success points to open up new equipment/challenges.    That simple dynamic would add a constant goalpost that people can see they are closing in on, and it will fire up the reward centers of their brains.. (Kinda crude, but it does work surprisingly well)   Toss in some randomization, toss in some missions, toss in some disasters and you would be surprised how effective it can be...       The only problem is the isolation..     The mars experience in real life may be extremely isolated, but a game I dont believe can really be successful anymore with such a method..      I do not know exactly what is needed but every major game of this type has at least simulated humans in it.   The ones who give you orders, the ones who give you feedback and reports, some games even simulate the humans to make a city, but in all the cases it feels like the world is there pushing back against you,  giving you feedback on your actions..    When you do not have that world you have multi-player games where the other players are the reactions to you and what you do.     I mean no one would play team fortress if you walked onto an empty map and had a gun but no opponents.  Few people would play simcity if it did not feel you were in control of a city.. No one would play space trading games if they felt like they were alone in the universe....   The isolation as I beta tested was just one of those things that I could never shake as much as I love mars and the thought of being there.   I felt alone, and like no one cared what I did, and the score at the end of the mission just did not motivate me.... Honestly my only motivation looking back on it was I wanted to find bugs for you and I wanted others to embrace space exploration through a simulation.

I know it really is hard being a small company and sitting here I can rationally say well those things would be hell to program and we probably would have never saw a release if the time was taken to program them...   But... If I sit down and look at this from the perspective of someone who does not love space, why would they play this if even I who really really loves the science and the tech not really feel engaged with it.

Maybe just a little more feedback would fix a lot of this.. maybe not.... Maybe just a bit of emotion would make it more real...    Maybe something like this would engage players.. I dont know for sure but I know this would grab my attention.  :

Right after you get your first modules set up and you walk in the habitat for the first time when it has a breathable atmosphere you hear a voice over the intercom system, you hear a man pleading for help and he says if you are there go to your base computer.   If you do not he keeps pleading for a while, and if you continue to set up your base he starts sounding more and more desperate.  Have a hidden timer run in the background and if you ignore him he finally gives a last will and testament over the intercom system and you hear nothing but him give low murmurs after that until nothing.
If you do decide to help him you hear him become grateful and he will give you instructions on what you need, he will tell you he is trapped in an emergency shelter and he needs O2 and a ride to somewhere that can take the shelter (perhaps your base perhaps somewhere else)   
When the quest starts if you forget a step like not bringing the O2 cylinder he can say things like "No, please fill your O2 canister in your garage and bring it to me at these coordinates" and if you take too long he can start pleading for you to hurry.   
After the mission is done and a small amount of time has passed maybe you can play a short clip of "him" projected on your HUD thanking you personally for saving his life. 

That for me would help humanize the experience.  I would not feel as my actions do not have consequences but I would feel like I am really making a difference.  I think something like that could even work as you would only need a voice actor for most of it and only a short clip of him thanking you or maybe just his picture with speech played over it and it would not even have to use any video.   The art assets for the emergency shelter could simply be something like this, so you never had to create an animate human -> http://www.designboom.com/weblog/images/images_2/2011/jenny/noah/noah01.jpg

I dunno, just a thought, but someway to break the isolation would help make playing feel better.

rditto48801

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Re: Gameplay
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2013, 08:30:05 AM »
Ah, yes, the isolation... used to drive me nut on the beta version of Minecraft... (first mod I got was to add NPC villages, and then was happy as it stopped feeling empty/lonely...)and to a degree MC:C.... I felt the need to RP radio chatter in my head just for something to do other than do stuff alone in an empty base. Maybe that's why I can't get myself back into MC:C easily, because it is kind of depressing to be wandering around in an empty base with nothing else around.

It would be nice to hear radio chatter in the background.
Even if brief stuff, like someone asking for a status update, and someone replying.
Perhaps 'linked' in some way, so that that the first part will have multiple valid replies to be selected at random, to allow extra variety without needing individual sound files for each type of conversation. Each of the messages and the replies can have 'tags', when it randomly selects the first part, it also randomly selects a reply with the same tag (or tags).

Of being able to use the radio communications equipment for basic interactions, like sending status updates and stuff, maybe relaying intercepted transmissions that indicate they are not being picked up and relayed by the main relay network. Maybe even voice for the colonists, to actually hear them speak a basic reply based on something like a 'multiple choice' selection on the comm screen (or on a HUD pop up)
Of picking up radio chatter for a brief period when out of normal radio contact, due to signals bouncing off of a satellite in orbit that is overheard for a short bit.


Having a radio in base, it could have radio chatter, or play music. For music, perhaps there could be option for players to add in their own music.

Other things to add a sense of other things going on.
To see a rover occasionally driving by in the distance on part of a convoy/transport route. Even if it is just following some per-programed path like a slot car on an invisible track.
To see some neighbor 'driving by' on an automated rover designed to carry some cargo or a single passenger.
Or just an automated Mars rover... give the main base psychologist something to do because of watching video a stray lone colonist at some remote outpost trying to talk to a rover and wanting to name it George...
A brief glimpse of some Mars equivalent of an LEM flying by, maybe with radio chatter of some emergency situation.


Rewards.
I agree, we need rewards.
A Supply/Logistics tree (unlocking stuff to get or the ability to get/have more of something, like Hyper mentioned in another thread)
A Tech Tree, to be able to unlock new things, and to improve existing things.  Maybe some things start of inefficient or not to reliable and initially in need of regular repair/recharge/resupply. Maybe improving GPR shot range, allowing augers to operate at a slightly higher speed without damage, having the ore processor squeeze a tiny bit more out of ore, allowing the seperator and sabatier to work a little faster, 3D printer tech that makes it a bit quicker and more efficient for the main base to fill orders for parts/building materials/equipment, or rigging up a heat transfer system to allow waste heat from the RSGs be used to reduce the amount of energy needed to heat the base, and many, many, many other possible improvements.
Maybe even getting a bigger, better rover, something on par with the MMEV.

Maybe a modified Rank system could have some effect on what gets unlocked when, of maybe of how many 'reward points' are gotten for doing/completing different tasks.

The biggest reward I can think of is to get NASA to assemble an MTV and get some more people to mars, or taking that huge pool of 'Enthusiasm' putting it to good use and have them prep a huge cargo lander to ship one heck of a lot of equipment and pre-fabricated base components to jump start construction of one or two future bases. (said cargo lander requiring an Ares V for the payload, and another for an NTR equipped fuel/engine section)
The above inspired by the now defunct Mars Constellation concept.


Looking at the OP...
Guns?: Maybe the officers got a side arm 'just in case', but otherwise, there  should be no need for guns of any sort.

Aliens?: Um... no... not really... not living anyways.... maybe something as an easter egg or mystery type thing?

Mysteries?: Yes please.  Maybe we can toss out a monolith reference (one of 1:4:9 dimensions roughly 11ft tall...), off over some hill... or maybe on top of the comm tower one day. Or finding a blue British Police Call Box on a hill one day (more easter egg than anything), and it is gone the next... or having discover the player finds a missing rover or automated lander (perhaps right outside of the base for a rover. For added effect, make  it an automated lunar rover/lander... can't get more mysterious than being on the wrong planet...). Maybe a broken down rover is found, but no one is listed as missing. Maybe some piece of equipment ends up someplace else, like a tool kit going missing, and turning up at an auger in the middle of nowhere...Or other unusual stuff, like why the outer door to an airlock is open when no one else is around and the player is inside. Or mysterious radio signals that  only occur on certain parts of the map and/or at certain times of day. Or to turn logic on its head, finding a meteorite outside of the impact crater it created.

Disasters?: Peaceful can be boring... make it optional with several options from None, rare, uncommon, common, dangerously common, and  'insane'. Secondary options for severity, from 'minor' to 'moderate' to 'deadly'

(Please pardon any sleep deprivation induced slip of sanity... pushing 20 hours...)
Boldly going forward, 'cause I can't find reverse.

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Hyper

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Re: Gameplay
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2013, 11:14:57 AM »
New version will have dedicated servers. I think you can start a competition, break up in to 2 or 3 groups and try to take over. This would add some interest as the groups would have to claim land, sell each other parts etc. Looking into an AI version like Sid Meyers Civilization or Railroads games
Other subjects:
In game games we discussed early on, 2 players can have a chess game.
Biology disaster, sickness find a cure
Build and race rovers ( you know they will, I would )
Gambling at the main base.
Programmable bots / rovers 

rditto48801

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Re: Gameplay
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2013, 05:06:25 PM »
I was thinking of one thing related to 'previous' version, Mars Colony Online, of which I saw a video or two of a while back.
As usual, I failed to trim this post down much...

A 'Phase 0'.
A mission to survey a potential building site.
Time would be limited by supplies, and there would be a 'base camp'.
An advantage to doing this would be the chance to uncover more than might be revealed from just building a base on an area already surveyed and prepared ahead of time. Another advantage, if player(s) help to survey an area, they can have 'first dibs' on if they will setup a base there, or hand it off for an 'NPC base' to be built (or for another team of players, considering mention of dedicated servers).

Survey Camp
Base camp composition. 2+, 2 'self propelled rover trailers'.
Rover 1 & 2: Each carries 1 core sample drill, 1 'surveyor tool (proper name?), 1 GPR, 1 Plibs.
Trailer 1: Has a portable shelter/ELS. It includes some basic oxygen, food, water and medical supplies. It will have a step ladder, along with several side pylons extended to the ground for stability and to anchor it down during a storm. It has solar panels on the tops and sides for basic power recharge capacity. It also has a retractable radio antenna boom that swings up and extends, with a small 'radio mast' on the end of the boom.
Trailer 2: It carries additional equipment, including a full sized LIBs, 'storage equipment' to store oxygen, methane, power, some storage lockers with extra equipment (oxygen and menthane containers, 2 tool kits, 2 Plibs, case of 'contingency supplies)). Either that, or 'storage racks' that are 'open' (have doors that look like they could close over it), with items 'snapping' into place when put on the rack. A 'canopy' over it is made of solar panels. A power cable would run along the ground to the first trailer/portable shelter. Some oxygen and methane will be used up from the trailer 2 storage at start of the mission, to account for the rovers and the 'trailers' being refueled after the base was setup.


Survey Mission Objectives
Try to locate an idea location for the initial water pumps (ice quality/density affecting initial number of wells that can be drilled), taking core samples of the ice to ensure the water is of usable quality.
To locate which hill or hills nearby are best suited for the main inter-base relay towers, surveying them to make sure they can support the weight of a tower and ensure there is line of site to other radio communication towers in the area.
After the goals are achieved, remaining supplies can be used to survey for other possible resources in the area.

For an 'acceptable' mission, the player(s) need to find the following.
An ice deposit that can support at least 1 well, survey at least 1 hill suitable for a radio relay tower.

For a 'successful' mission, the player(s) need to find the following.
An ice deposit that can support 2 or more wells without need for additional filtration, and survey at least 2 hills suitable for relay towers.

Survey Mission Secondary Goals.
Gives a 'bonus' to those taking part in the survey mission.
For each additional well beyond two that can be supported by the best found ice deposit (small bonus)
*Ending a mission (with at least acceptable results) without accessing 'contingency supplies' (small bonus, moderate bonus for successful mission)
*Ending a mission (with at least acceptable results) within 5-10 minutes of starting to use contingency supplies (tiny bonus, small with successful results. The small window allows time for others to return to camp and prepare to pack up and depart so as to return to base with sufficient supplies remaining, shows at least responsible management or at least not trying to put the team in danger)
*For each type of resource detected  via Plibs samples, and for GPR hits (negligible bonus)
*For each resource type/deposit confirmed via core sample and LIBS testing (tiny bonus)
*Each rover that has not suffered severe damage (small bonus, not countered by repairs at camp, so rover condition never enters yellow)
*Mission is successful with at least 25% of supplies (life support, fuel, etc) remaining. (small bonus)
*At least 5 resources confirmed by core samples and LIBS testing without using contingency supplies (small bonus)

Survey Mission Penalties
Be it due to bad luck, or poor planning and and taking actions putting the survey mission and survey team lives 'at risk', which can result in penalties reducing rewards from bonuses.
Some can include 'fines' that will take out of the player(s) existing resources/currency/points.
*Using up at least half of the 'contingency supplies'. (small penalty, negligible fine)
*Rover fuel storage emptied, but rovers have at least 80% fuel each (tiny penalty).
*Rover fuel storage emptied, at least one rover is at or below 50% fuel (small penalty, an extra rover needs to be deployed with fuel supplies, medium penalty if a rover ran out of fuel, large penalty if both rovers out of fuel. Can result in a small fine if there are insufficient bonuses/rewards to counter it)
*A rover is damaged enough it condition becomes yellow (small penalty)
*A rover is damaged enough it condition becomes red (medium penalty)
*A rover is crippled (major penalty, massive penalty and a fine if contingency supplies are also exhausted)
*Not finding and confirming a suitable site for a well before initial supplies are used up (medium penalty, as it should be a primary goal. Penalty is only small if ice has been found, but not confirmed via sample drilling.)
*Not surveying a hill top suitable for a radio relay tower before initial supplies are used up (small penalty, as it should be a primary goal)


Failure possibilities.
Bonuses for other goals are halved, a small fine can be applied due to needing to send out another survey team.
*Not finding and confirming an ice deposit capable of supporting a single well before mission end.
*Not surveying at least one hill top suitable for placing a radio relay tower.

Mission Abort possibilities
These don't make the main base command staff happy at all.
*All rovers become crippled (all bonuses lost, even if the mission is otherwise successful, due a 'rescue mission' needing to be deployed. A fine is incurred if the team has already started to use contingency supplies).
*All standard and contingency supplies exhausted, and a single player drops to 50% or lower in food, water or oxygen levels. (bonuses halved if primary goals achieved, otherwise no bonuses for secondary goals. Fines are incurred if a rover is below 50% fuel or is in red condition, as it requires a 'rescue mission' to ensure all survey team members make it back safely)
*Player(s) get into contingency supplies, without a single hill top surveyed for a radio relay tower site and without a single ice deposit confirmed via sample drills (main base recalls survey team, and will dispatch another team to finish up the survey mission without wasting supplies doing 'other things'.)


Player Funded survey missions.
If the player(s) have enough supplies, perhaps they can fund survey missions themselves. No penalties or fines are incurred if the player(s) have sufficient backup supplies. For example, there is no penalty applied for running out of fuel if the player has a spare rover and fuel supplies to send out their own fuel supply mission. The player(s) could also resupply the survey with their own supplies, or even deploy an extra rover with  additional supplies at the start, to extend the time they have to survey the area. The main base will still toss around penalties and fines for things that put the team at potential risk, such as continuing the mission after getting well into contingency supplies (even if resupply was sent afterward, as there was a window where things could have gone 'horribly wrong' had the extra supplies had been delayed and not arrived in time).
If available (and requested/dispatched/'paid for' in advanced), perhaps automated rovers could be present in the area, having already taken a few random PLIBs samples, or perhaps even there carrying a few extra items/supplies.

Relating to player funded survey missions, perhaps include the option to revisit previously surveyed areas. Maybe bad luck meant an area with good resources did not have suitable areas near the camp itself, but might still have some part of the map that needs the basic needs for a base. Or perhaps an area was not suited for a 'normal' colony, but might still have some potential to consider a base will need outside resupply due to lacking everything needed to be fully self sufficient.


Backup Plans.
Player(s) can setup backup plans for survey missions.
The most important will make the main base happy, but it costs a little extra fuel.
A 'personnel transport rover'. It is a rover that has an enclosed rear area with multiple inward facing seats, with a rear 'hatch' that doubles as a loading ramp. It cannot mount heavy equipment like augers. If it is present during a survey mission, it will house the container of 'contingency supplies'. It also mean the player(s) can opt to use their own supplies to have a second container of 'contingency supplies'. It also contains a small secondary 'emergency supply' of oxygen and power that cannot be accessed in a survey mission. If this rover is present in the camp, is over 80% fuel, and is in green condition, it counts as emergency transportation. In this case, should the survey team need to 'evacuate' the area, such as a mission abort condition, it means a 'rescue mission' is not needed. The very expensive 'rescue team' is replaced with a much less expensive 'recovery team' that can come out at their own leisure to recover equipment.


Unsuitable areas.
There could be an option for 'higher difficulty', in which an area is actually not suited for a colony for several reasons, such as none of the sufficiently tall hills being stable/firm enough to support a radio relay tower, not being able to find an ice deposit, or finding an ice deposit that contains to many contaminates to be of use.
These could be overcome with sufficient developments and resources. Such as a ground level tower that is built tall enough to be higher than the nearby hills. Or having to install a larger and more energy hungry well system with additional filters needed to make the tainted water from 'dirty ice' usable. Or perhaps even needing to have water (and supplies derived from water) shipped in.
Even if an area lacked signs of other resources, a large enough ice pocket that could support 3 or more wells would make it a good location for a base focused on farming and fuel/oxygen production.
A location that had little or no water resources might be well worth it for supporting a mining operation if the LIBS spits out results indicating one or more useful resources have unusually high ore quality/density.
It also gives reason to re-survey areas, a gamble in and off itself, to confirm if an area really is unusable, or to see if there is a 'mother-lode' of ice or mineral resources just outside of the area the original survey(s) had covered.

Secondary Rover cargo/storage idea.
Since the rovers appear to have storage containers on the side, give them extra storage. Basic idea. the side storage having 1x1 storage slots, items stored there would not be visible (fitting 'inside' of the side storage spaces, if they cannot be made to 'disappear' while stored). The cargo bed could have a single larger 1x4 slots, but each slot is actually be twice as 'tall' as a 1x1 slot. Stuff like tool kits and parts would be 1x1, and fit in the side storage. Larger equipment like GPRs and  sample drills would be 2x1, and only fit into the cargo bed. Big equipment like augers would be 2x2 in size, and so take up half of the cargo bed. This would make rovers a little more flexible in what all they can carry, and not cause hard to believe situations of having two augers on a rover and having other stuff still fit in the cargo bed. If carrying capacity is not a concern, then the cargo bed could have more simple 2x4 grid, so it could carry 8 small, 4 medium or 2 large items. At the very least, it would make it easier for two rovers to carry all of the equipment needed for a survey mission.
For the 'personnel transport rover' idea, two of the side storage would be 'occupied' by the emergency supplies that cannot be accessed normally, on account they are for emergencies.


Secondary ideas
If we do have 'gambling' at the main, base, might as well have a basic 'market' there.
Secondary gambling could be stuff like who can produce the most of a specific material or grow the most plants (or food from plants) in a set amount of time.

For racing, one thing comes to mind. A base  that was one of the first setup (after the main base), which was mainly for mining, but ran out of minerals (deposits turned out to be smaller than expected). Due to diverse terrain (from fairly level to hilly), the area was setup with several 'test tracks'. The tracks would have been originally meant to test out modifications for rovers, and for prototypes built on Mars. A few extra garage/maintenance areas for rovers being 'tested' on the tracks. Just the thing needed for people to then want to prove whose rover is the fastest or gets the best range out of a single load of fuel. Oh, and of course, if there is gambling, being able to met on the 'races'... The main base would have a good reason to allow the racing, as it is in and of itself contributing to rover R&D efforts, as some 'modifications' could be applied to improve all rovers in general. For added effect, two 'special' rovers could be present at the 'racing base', one setup like a tow truck, the other like an ambulance... maybe also an MMEV type vehicle, even if just 'scenery'...
Boldly going forward, 'cause I can't find reverse.

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Hyper

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Re: Gameplay
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2013, 09:29:26 AM »
The survey mission will be a part of game start. Main base established and you get a rover and some testing equipment. Go out and find a suitable area to build your base ( i.e. find a likely place for water to exist under the ground). If you decide to claim that area then you drop the flag as it were and return to the main base. A hub with an airlock and a garage gets placed at that point. When you return you decide what sections of the base to build or add next. Place the construction flags and go explore, search for resources etc.
I will supply AI delivery vehicles to drop supplies to you as needed / ordered.
In the mean time we still have the issue, is this the game? Dredging up resources / sell / buy more modules? Of course shit happens along the way but it needs more interesting actions.
 

rditto48801

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Re: Gameplay
« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2013, 02:11:23 AM »
I can understand the need to stir things up.
Random events (and missions) of sorts to spice things up and break up the monotony.

A dust storm.
Nothing as bad as the original storm, just something that greatly reduces visibility. Could be common in some areas, rarer in other areas.

Random malfunctions and breakdowns.
Since stuff in the base could break down, might as well have stuff outside of the base break down.
*Maybe one of the wheels on a rover 'locks up' due to a failure or some piece of rocky debris getting wedged into an odd place, slowing down rover speed but not its fuel usage (so effective 'miles per gallon' is reduced). If it is just debris, then having a tool kit allows for a quick fix in the field. If it is a more serious thing, the motor can at least be 'disengaged' so it no longer drags, so while speed is reduced, fuel usage is also reduced (so default 'miles per gallon')
*Maybe a sudden 'silence' on some radio channels, and/or 'worried' or 'confused' radio chatter on other channels, offer hint that one of the relay towers stopped working. Maybe the the battery went dead, or the solar panels got disconnected so they could no longer power it or recharge the battery, or maybe some idiot found some way to park a rover vertically up the side of the tower in question.
*Maybe an auger breaks down and requires more than just sharpening the drill bit.
*Heck, why not have augers require power? Rather than just leave them out there all the time, they would need to have battery packs swapped out for fresh ones, with the spent ones recharge. If an auger is left running to long without recharge, the battery could slowly drain even if it is idle. If the battery goes dead, it needs to be replaced if there are no spare battery packs available.
*To up things a bit, have things in base that normally don't break, have a chance to break. Like the workbenches. Might be as simple as using a tool kit on the main repair bench (to re-sharpen an important tool or something), or needing to re-make certain parts (a precision tool getting bent), or order some cheap yet easy to make item needs to be replaced (like flasks, vials, etc). Let's hope someone notices if the fridge isn't staying as cold as it should be.
*On a related note, it seems recycling should be a bit thing. If something breaks and cannot be repaired, it should have the hole 'reuse and recycle' thing applied. Take out anything that can be used for spare parts, and recycle whatever is left.

Recovery missions.
*Maybe an automated rover broke down nearby, or maybe a convoy passed through the area, and they discovered the 'tail gate' was not secured and some vital piece of equipment is now sitting along the caravan trail (player(s) get a 'path' drawn on the map, and have to explore its length to look for the missing item).
*Maybe recent orbital photos showed that, by some freak of nature, a sky crane from a recent mission landed roughly intact, meaning it could possibly be recovered and used for some other practical purpose.
*Or perhaps a rover delivering an order broke down. The player(s) need to find the rover, get the stuff to base, and also provide the driver with supplies, and patch up the rover enough to get it to base so proper repairs can be done, so the driver can get back on their way. Assuming the rover is not broke down period, in which case they have to stay at the base until a recovery rover is able to pick them up and tow (or carry) the broke down rover back to base.

Photo album curiosity.
Investigating things of interest as the main base goes over highly detailed maps/photos made by orbiters before the Colonization effort was fully started.  Maybe an old impact crater, or just a large rock that looks like a specific thing when looked at from a certain angle, or even debris from one of many probes and such sent to Mars previously (re-entry shell debris, remains of a failed landing, or of an impact type probe, etc).


Triangulation missions.
Something is lost or broke down someplace, a position is not known, but the thing in question has a beacon or a radio or whatever. The player(s) get to do a few directional radio readings to better find out its location. It may or may not actually be near the base, but the extra triangulation efforts help whatever base is closest to find and recover whatever is missing.

Hard hat zone.
When a supply lander arrives, having a chunk of re-entry aeroshell (or chunk of the disposable transfer stage) land uncomfortably close to the player(s) base (or one of the players).

Wild turkey chase.
Tracking down a radio signal of some rambling astronaut who seems more interested in random rambling than doing their job. Player(s) track down the radio source, and find a small automated rover hooked up with a recording device... after the 'mission' is complete, the main base reports finding the real astronaut, shirking his duties to take a nap by taking advantage of a small automated rover he  had deployed earlier that day... or he's taking a nap in a portable emergency shelter not far from the automated rover... or maybe it turns out to be something more serious, like a malfunction meaning a stray astronaut was not getting enough oxygen and was so being a little delirious.

Missing equipment...
Base A is minding their own business, having an auger off in the middle of nowhere.
Base B finds some ore they can really 'profit' off of, and so they decide to 'drop by' another base and 'borrow' an  auger...

A 'great demand'.
A base needs something, now. For a short period of time, they are willing to offer a lot more than normal for a certain item or material. It lasts until they receive enough to fulfill the demand, or if to much time passes (allowing them to having to get it themselves, or a time window passing)

That's no bird...
Seeing a 'test flight' of some aerial vehicle. Be it akin to a retrofitted lander testing out locally sources fuel, or even some sort of 'hybrid airship' of small size (which might double as a nice radio relay with proper upgrades in the future). Or a retrofit 'sky crane' being tested as a sort of emergency courier vehicle or some such thing.

Tumbleweeds, in space.
Some light weight item (like piece of discarded thermal blanket material?) seen blowing by.

Martian 911.
Some sort of emergency has occurred, and the player(s) are the closest. Be it a suit malfunction requiring urgent oxygen resupply (more urgent if they lack proper patching options), or a rover broke down while the crew were already low on power/oxygen, or perhaps they are stranded because a storm caused them to crash into a rock and trash their rover.

Rovercross
The player(s) catch sight of a few 'modified rovers' racing (or at least driving) through the area. Or perhaps catching sight of a 'super sized' rover the main base is testing for large scale projects.
On a related question, would a vehicle with caterpillar tracks be viable on Mars since manpower would be available for any needed repairs?

Random radio noise.
Some NPC decides to play the part of radio DJ... or do karaoke... it would be on a secondary channel not needed for communications, so players can safely 'turn it off' without turning off 'important' radio transmissions.

Battle rovers.
A pair of small automated rovers spotted seemingly 'fighting' over which one is going to sample a small rock. (tug of war? bumper cars?). A sign someone somewhere is not paying attention over which automated rovers are sent where, or two different bases 'arguing' over who has the rights to survey that particular area (in which case both loose since they are near the player(s) base).

Utter boredom catapulted to new heights.
A construction team got bored with some extra resources, and so built a small working catapult on top of a hill. (with the excuse of wanting to compare how far a rock of equal mass/size will behave on Mars compared to one on Earth...)

Not so little green man.
An astronaut, on a dare (or due to a lost bet), has painted a spare EVA suit green, and put 'antenna' on it the helmet, and must go for 'a silly looking walk' on a hill within sight of a neighboring base... like the player(s) base.

"We claim this planet for... wait, what are YOU doing here?!"
Random off the wall idea...
Another nation/space agency has colonized Mars, thinking NASA/ESA/JAXA/whoever was just pulling the biggest hoax of all time with colonizing Mars... (you know, like how some think the moon landings were just an elaborate hoax). they are surprised to find out someone is actually already on Mars, and that they were not just launching stuff into deep space while sneaking astronauts into retirement on remote paradise islands on Earth.


Wrong address.
The base is given a new piece of equipment that turns out to break easily. Closer exam shows it was due for deployment to the Moon, not mars, and so was not suited for the 'heavier' gravity (or the atmosphere or dust) of Mars.
Or as I think I suggested elsewhere, due to (good or bad) luck, the player(s) have a cargo lander from a supply mission land at (or near) their base, instead of the designated landing area at the main base.

R&D goals full of not so hot air
Spotting an odd test... seeing an astronaut on a large wheeled 'snow board', pulled by a very large kite designed to work in Mars' thin atmosphere... may or may not achieve any respectable speed.
Or baring that, seeing a 'walker' being tested near the player(s) base. Like the big 6 legged walker some have considered using for logging on earth. Maybe with wheeled feet like the ATHLETE concept... Something that could handle terrain a wheeled vehicle might be hindered or stopped by. (a walking 'self propelled super auger' idea pops into mind...)

Buying and Selling for fun and profit
The main base has to take some manufacturing systems offline for major maintenance work. This leaves the other bases to have to pick up the slack... assuming anyone can make certain things, some parts, equipment and processed material could be worth a fair bit more trade value until the main base is able to start producing the stuff in question again.

Not so green thumb
Players who check up on their farms and/or bio labs might catch signs of something being wrong. If action is not prevented, it could result in a reduced harvest, or even a complete loss. Maybe a watering system has a leak and is drowning plants. Maybe the circulation system in the fish tank has stopped working and puts the fish at risk of soon floating in stagnate oxygen devoid water. Maybe the algae tank has a leak and is loosing nutrient rich water into the drain system.
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outzoner

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Re: Gameplay
« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2013, 01:50:51 PM »
well- it depends on what you want this thing to become:   still a simulation thats near to reality or another buildup game in space.

i would like to have a base that i can configure myself.  not so much excessive running-around work for every detail.
still a base to build and  get to work-maybe with better equiptment that is able to work much more autonom.
but its always cool to get more technical upgrades.

first we had to drive around an check out everything with the rover.   there should be a flying drone to to get an overview about the unknown terrain around the base. it could be used as a small transport-drone too (only for small equiptment or whatever.

and programmable unmanned reasearch-rovers. from time to time we have toget the data, do some mechanical repairs,load batteries and so on.  data can be analysed at base and maybe a new place with ice is found.  so you go there by rover to check it, build up a small outpost where you can stay for short time.  if the place is okay for a new base, you have to get equiptment and building stuff there. maybe you order it and it gets dropped there. you have to build up the parts and build a kind of small monorail for a vehicle that can travel from base to base to transport supplies and humans.  that way you have to think about building up, check out data,use more and new equiptment, and so on....

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rditto48801

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Re: Gameplay
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2013, 06:19:41 PM »
One idea for an aerial drone is an aerostat. Basically a small unmanned 'air ship'. Hydrogen from a sabatier would be the source of the lifting gas.
A tethered/anchored one would be useful for an eye in the sky and a radio relay.
A free floating one might be handy, but it comes into question of if whatever propulsion they have could handle whatever type of wind and dust storms are on Mars.

<HYPER> A super high tech glider would have to travel 250 mph just to barely stay in the air.
Flight on Mars would be severely limited.


Due to photos and such from Mars orbiters, the basic geography of Mars is probably already well known/mapped in some areas.  By the times Mars is colonized, even more data will likely be available.
There would still be the need to actually figure out what all makes of rocks and soil in different areas, and possibly account for stuff like shifting dunes of dust if such things are present on Mars.


Stuff like Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity would be a good basis for research rovers.
The down side is they are dreadfully slow. However, with people around to do repairs, more complex stuff could be used.
Like a basic/compact MMRTG for Spirit/Curiosity types for backup power and prevent them from freezing up at night.
An ASRG for the larger Curiosity type, which would be more effective than it MMRTG, in addition to the fact it is big enough it could probably have its own sample drill, and be able to collect core samples ready for LIBS testing back at base.
To speed things up, oxygen/methane fueled generators could be used to generate extra power for transportation purposes, when the rovers are changing locations.
So, rather than batteries, fuel would be needed, plus spare drill bits, spare parts for the ASRGs, etc.
Although, for longer distances, it might be quicker to just pick up the rovers and move them manually. Due to the size of the Curiosity, a design based off of it can probably pack a generator the same size as the manned rover, and so it could be able to cover a fair bit of ground by itself. Although, a some 'remote control' option could be used to speed things, since it might otherwise be constantly stopping to stare at every last rock in its path to decide if it needs to go around or not.
For a curve ball, an automated (or perhaps remote monitored) rover based on NASA's ATHLETE, since they can just 'step over' rocks and such, and could likely carry a hefty supply of equipment to boot.

Monorails are out of the question in the scope of the game.
As mentioned by profit004 in the Base thread, the manpower, resources and power needed would be huge.

About the remark of building up a small outpost for a 'short stay'. If you mean permanent structures, that sounds like a potential waste of time, effort and materials. No permanent structures should be built unless intended for long term habitation, or as use as an emergency shelter in key areas, like along a convoy route. Otherwise, a portable/mobile shelter would be a better choice.
A few 'self propelled trailers' pulled/lead/guided by a manned rover could be used to carry everything needed for a short term stay someplace. Something twice the length of the present MC:C rover might be needed for a portable shelter, but should be doable, and be comparable with stuff NASA appears to be working on for the Moon and such.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2013, 06:39:59 PM by Hyper »
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Hyper

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Re: Gameplay
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2013, 06:46:04 PM »
I think portable life support units would be the norm. Actually the rovers would serve that purpose. Most all things would be run on batteries, Oxygen limited as it is and more likely fuel cells. More than one of you think the current rovers use a compustion engine but it's a battery / fuel cell set up
I am still not seeing more fun in the game, obstacle to overcome to create a good result. We are missing something here.

rditto48801

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Re: Gameplay
« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2013, 05:20:11 PM »
Ah, so a hydrogen based balloon wouldn't be of much use on Mars?
What if it was combined with effective lifting rotors/ducted fans of some sort?

So rovers are technically hybrid electric vehicles?
It would be nice for them to have a displayed battery power level would be nice. Such power would not just be useful for recharging a EVA suit from, but also to help heat the cabin (useful for storms) or  to allow rover lights to be used without using up fuel, and to be able to travel a short distance at reduced speed using battery power only (like in the off chance a rover runs out of fuel). On top of that, options to improve or otherwise expand the batteries to allow more power to be stored.

Would caves be possible?

Would it be possible to expand the skill system, to make things a little more diverse?
Perhaps breaking down the present skills into categories for sub-skills.



Challenges

An idea for 'side goals' could be challenges, which may or may not offer some sort of reward, and also add to some sort of scoring system. Sort of like how many games these days have some sort of 'achievement system'.

Perhaps several types of groups of challenges.
Local challenges, independent to each base. E.g., Building a fully functional basic farm setup, or having successfully repaired a broken down piece of equipment, or generating a certain amount of rover fuel.
Global challenges, connected to the instance/save overall. E.g., such as having delivered X amount of a resource to the main base, or completing Y amount of 'side missions' issued by the main base.
Universal achievements, connected to the player profile in general, such as built X amount of structures, repaired Y amount of broken parts, etc.
There could even be some 'negative' challenges, such as as wrecking and needing to recover a few rovers, having lost so many plants due to neglect, etc.

Hidden collectible items.
One basic idea, Mars being in the path of a meteor shower, of which one recovered meteorite was shown to contain some rare or otherwise very useful element. So there could be little 'mini craters' scattered about the map.
Maybe before the colony was setup, a bunch of impact type probes were sent to Mars while looking for a good spot for the initial base. Each base/outpost could have been built near such a site, so there might be a reward or something for finding and recovering the impact probe, along with any ground material it has broken up and exposed.
Or perhaps there are simply certain types of rocks that are of interest. Or maybe somewhere underground, there is some 'motherload' of high quality, high density ore (Plibs could show poor quality on the surface), that will cause a GPR to spit out some very unusual results if it is stumbled across.

Easter Eggs.
Little things paying homage to other space themed movies. Such as the previously mentioned Monolith. Or perhaps items from movies involving Mars. Maybe it is some improvised 'air can' from a movie, or the damaged head of some quadruped Mars exploration robot that went bonkers because someone thought it would be a good idea to re-purpose military experiments and not properly refit it for Mars use. (a movie from a decade or so ago, I forget the name)
Or a little rover camera (or astromech droid 'periscope'?) sticking out of the ground.

Alternate goals/gameplay modes
Other ideas for possible optional modes to give extra variety and provide different challenges.

Isolation mode.
A base has access to greater amount of starting supplies, and equipment (like a 3D printer) that can (slowly) produce building materials and parts, if given the proper elements. Otherwise the base is mostly on its own.
Be it due to some disaster at the main base, or a lander missing its mark by a large margin, or perhaps another space agency wants in on the Mars colonization efforts. Whatever the reason, the base will have to keep itself going. Other bases will simply not be 'available' (not there, or belonging to a rival space agency), or so far away that even basic supply shipments would be prohibitive and take a very long time.
A variation could be the option of setting up the main base in the first place. More for a little extra variety. Maybe involve a rival space agency colonizing Mars.

Abandoned mode:
The worst possible scenario.
For reasons that may be unknown, all contact with Earth is generally cut off. There are no more supplies coming, no more colonists being sent.  The only good thing is the last craft from Earth had an unscheduled arrival of extra colonists.
The player(s) have to work with what they have, and an initial goal to increase food output to handle the unexpected extra mouths to feed before reserves run out . Research will be a lot slower, and need to focus on developing a means to produce stuff previously shipped from Earth.
A long term goal is to build up enough interest on Earth to either get a space agency (even if a different one) to resume 'support' of Mars, or to even get a private/public space company involved, which will involve needing to deal with possible restrictive deals, such as needing to provide resources and such to be sent back to Earth.

Private Mars
Mars is no longer supported by a space agency, and some 'suit with thugs' now lives at the main base, with word that some wealthy group/company/corporation now 'owns' the main colony.
The added challenge is not just needing to provide resources to support the colonization effort, but ever increasing and possible restrictive (or even absurd) requests to fill orders and setup structures that otherwise make little sense or are even counter productive to the colonization effort. Pay no attention to the fact they seem unsure of 'how' to get stuff back to Earth in the first place, but they want the stuff ready and stockpiled anyways. Welcome to the world of Corporate Meddling.


Rival colonies.
Be it another space agency, efforts from a private space company, or even full blown 'rebel colonists'.
Two (or more) main bases on opposite sides of a large region. Resources are up for grabs, and a new 'gold rush' is starting.
There are only two things agreed upon.
First, no open conflict, both sides are made up of educated people, and they don't care how much their agencies/nations of origins hate/distrust/despise each other, they know well enough that open conflict can quickly lead to disaster and quickly result in there being no one left alive on Mars.
Second, planting a flag is not a legitimate way to claim an area, the first side to build a fixed shelter capable of housing 4 people (so akin to the MC:C phase 1 base setup) is the one that 'gets' an area.
Will the two sides end up parking outposts in each others' back yards trying to poach valuable resource deposits? Or is there a chance that a mutual understanding with 'fellow Martians' will result in some sort of collaborative efforts, trading, and even a cooperative project bring the two sides together for the benefit of Mars colonization as a whole? Lives are valuable. If someone from the rival colony is stranded near the base and at risk of dying, what is done? Does one listen to the people in charge on Earth and 'ignore' the distress calls, or does one tell the superiors were to stick it and help a fellow human being, for an at least temporary reduction in tensions between the two colony groups?
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rditto48801

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Re: Gameplay
« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2013, 08:39:27 PM »
Another big post.
I was looking over some ideas I jotted down after I first started playing MC:C, which kind of fits in better with stuff to be done with v2.0.

First, Rovers should have their own 'energy storage' shown in the  small rover GUI, to reflect that they are apparently hybrid electric vehicles. The rover lights should drain these batteries rather than rover fuel when possible. There should be an option to set if the rover will automatically use the generator to keep the batteries topped off when only the lights are being used.

Perks and Upgrades
The main idea I had might fit well, basically, Perks.
They could be connected to acquired skills, overall rank, and maybe other factors also. Maybe each rank allows the player a few 'points' to assign Perks for a mission

These perks can represent different things. Maybe the player's colonist has developed a skill in a way that can be adapted to improve things, or perhaps they have earned enough favors and such with the main base to have a modification to some sort be made to some sort of equipment, or perhaps they have been 'selected' to 'field test' some sort of improved version of something.
Overall, they would reflect some sort of R&D effort or locally made improvement in the form of an effective upgrade.
These are basic just a slew of ideas I tossed together, and hopefully will at least provide some sort of inspiration for things to be added. I tried to not wander to far toward sci-fi with the ideas. (although I might have overshot that mark in some cases)


There could be 4 general types of perks.
Personal: These only affect the player with the perk.
Support: These affect the player, and also affect others at the same base.
Command:  These are more powerful perks, they are better. They affect the player, but if the player is host/commander of the base, it functions as a Support perk and affects everyone.
High Command: These Command perks that also function as a Support perk, and so will affect everyone, even if the player with it is not host/commander of the present base.

Another option would be having variants of each perk. For example, a Support type could have a cheaper variant that is Personal, or a Personal one having a more expensive variant that is a Support type.

The only real obstacle I can think of is how to utilize it effectively. Would perks that improve equipment be permanent, or only take affect so long as the player with the perk is present or is the commander of the base in question?

Another thing is if they should be called Perks, or if it might just be better to call the Upgrades.
Just for 'flavor', I tried to give them some scientific or technical sounding names.
But then again, most of these ideas would probably be better suited for R&D type stuff.

Basic Upgrade Ideas
Perhaps there could be an option to choose from several types of EVA suits, starting with the basic default one. The EVA suits could have 'upgrade slots', some modular (proper upgrades can be add or removed as desired, such as carrying extra power packs on a utility belt) or fixed/permanent (such as having extra insulation added or a modified EVA pack). Later suits could have more  upgrade slots, or otherwise have certain upgrades already 'built in'.

Similar could be done for rovers. A basic rover might not have many options, while one built later on with better tech might have extra 'slots', both temporary and permanent, for assorted upgrades, on top of having one or more 'built it'. Stuff like solar panels (supplement energy for heating the cabin, recharging power used by lights, and recharging EVA suits), regenerative breaks, extra storage options, alternate cargo/passenger configurations, secondary (backup/emergency) power sources (like multiple ASRGs under the cargo bed for a 'massive' 1-2 horsepower of effective 'better than being stuck here' mobility)

To link in perks, perhaps some upgrades are only available with certain perks, or perhaps allow 'early access' to some upgrades, sort of like doing field testing before a design goes into full production.

Further upgrades could relate to other pieces of equipment having new options/needs. Such as augers needing to be powered and being able to be upgraded with better power supplies (or connections for portable generators like an ASRG), improved drill bits, etc.
The portable relays could have upgrades that extend their height so they get a little better coverage. They should probably also have power requirements and have small side mounted solar panels that will normally keep them charged unless they get used a lot in some conditions. Such as if the player is staying connected to the base via a relay at night, meaning the relay cannot immediate recharge until morning, and meaning it could go offline. Upgrades could includes a mini RTG systems, or a secondary power unit (separate carried case) with a larger battery and additional small solar cells.
Perhaps one perk allows 'upgrading' the base communications to be able to handle an additional portable relay.

A major upgrade could be entirely 'new and improved' types of equipment unlocked via upgrades/perks.
Such as a GPR that has much greater coverage, but uses two charges at once, on top of needing a secondary power source to handle extra sensitive detection and analysis systems, yet early on have a risk of 'burning out' (and providing possibly unusable readings and drain its power supply), to offset its advantages..
Or a much larger and more capable portable relay that is deployed in two parts, one being the basic framework (including a fifth leg that doubles as an extendable spike to anchor it into softer terrain, and hefty weights on 4 broad feet for max stability), the other being a large case with components (several section extension boom, antenna pack housed in a large 'disk', small solar cells, a battery/equipment module that is installed in the frame, and a small RTG system to keep it 'warm' at night, and also to power a backup beacon that 'pings' every minute should the main battery be drained due to to much use or simply because a dust storm has greatly impaired the solar cells). It could cover a far larger area due to the much higher set antennas, and can last much longer under heavy signal traffic, but require a good deal of R&D and specific materials to make them in the first place.

Also, upgrades for replacing existing base equipment. (or as some would put it, bragging rights... there will always be people who want to get stuff simply because no one else has it yet, or because they want to show that they are doign better than others in some way...)
Why bother with simple solar cells when one could have a sun tracking parabolic dish made of hybrid mirrored photovoltaic cells that both absorb some forms of light and reflect the rest onto a central unit for making the 'hot side' for driving a Stirling Engine run generator?
Or having an ASRG cluster that not only generates more power than the initial RSGs but also is able to utilize waste heat from its shunt to help heat the base and take a load off of the heating systems?
Or having a bigger extended frame 6 wheeled rover that has a sizable cluster of ASRGs under the cargo bed to help take a good chunk out of its fuel usage during normal usage, on top of having improved passenger/cargo capacity and having a better heated/insulated/radiation shielded cab that is the next best thing to an actually structure when a storm roles around?


Specializing R&D
Extra flexibility of design, yet also a 'reward' for doing a little specializing with local efforts. Perhaps make it to where someone needs to focus on one particular 'branch' of a tech tree to get some of the best upgrades available, meaning it could take a good bit of time and effort before able to then get equally far in another part of the tech tree.
It could also lead to having different players work together not on the same bases, but on different bases meant to support each other.
One person could focus on having their base be the best at producing resources, another focuses on maximum output of food, water and oxygen supplies, while a third has optimized rovers they regularly provide to help move supplies and materials needed to keep other bases moving along nicely.
The main obstacle comes down to what the primary R&D efforts should be focused on, and which ones (if any) will be able to further improve their specializations. All three  might agree on a line of research all three might benefit from, but what if only one would benefit from it, how do they convince the others to agree on it also? Of which lines of R&D get voted on and win said vote, or if Earth or the Mars Base just up and chooses the next line(s) of research to pursue themselves due to concerns other 'important' areas are not sufficiently receiving R&D time/effort.

On a side note.
Although a 'glider' would need to go 250 mph just to stay in the air, what about a hybrid airship design? Would they be adaptable for Mars' thin atmosphere? With being designed to carry a lot in the first place, and removing the heavy payloads from the equation, would they even be able to get off of the ground on Mars in the first place?
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profit004

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Re: Gameplay
« Reply #12 on: August 26, 2013, 08:52:37 PM »
On a side note.
Although a 'glider' would need to go 250 mph just to stay in the air, what about a hybrid airship design? Would they be adaptable for Mars' thin atmosphere? With being designed to carry a lot in the first place, and removing the heavy payloads from the equation, would they even be able to get off of the ground on Mars in the first place?

Short Answer: No, not really but an ultra lightweight super thin Mylar balloon might float.

Long Answer. Airship's create lift by displacing air,  the weight of the air they displace is their lift... On earth living at the bottom of a sea of air this is not too bad and we can have ones that go very high.   Mars though the atmosphere is thinner than the atmosphere at the edge of what we would consider space... about 35 kilometers up you would get roughly the same pressure here on earth   .  There will be almost no lift and even getting the balloon envelope off the ground will be hard, much less a payload.  Remember the weight of the atmosphere it displaces is it's  lift.   With an atmospheric pressure of about .087 PSI there is not enough there to really do anything with.

Addendum: The Red Bull Statos, briefly crossed into the mars territory for atmospheric density, so an ultra light weight craft could in theory float on mars.  It would be close but with the backing of a massive earth based industry it could be possible on mars.. No propulsion, single person, 60 minute Oxygen canister, pathetic tin can.. But it is possible. 




« Last Edit: August 26, 2013, 09:07:11 PM by profit004 »

rditto48801

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Re: Gameplay
« Reply #13 on: August 26, 2013, 10:10:18 PM »
So a hybrid airship would not be possible for Mars use unless someone could get it to fly 35km up on Earth? Well, it was an idea, anyways.


Here's a slight variation of the idea.
A basic 'balloon' using carbon fibers for a basic frame, under it would be suspended a small electronics package with some light weight ducted fans powered by small electric motors. The package would house some sort of radio antenna(s), maybe a small optics system.  It would have small red LED beacon lights (perhaps in thin semi-opaque bubbles to help make the light seem 'larger'?) to help mark its position (and the position of the ground unit) at night.
Power and control would be provided via wires in the tether/anchor line, which could be no longer than a few dozen meters, and hooked up to an anchor, control system and battery on the ground.
When it doesn't need to keep 'stable' for the optics, it could switch over the small electric motors to a 'regenerative breaking' type mode, to generate a very tiny amount of power from any stronger winds, just to squeeze out as much operational time as possible before the battery on the ground runs out. Perhaps a fin like tail would help keep it pointed into the wind to help for a little extra stability as far as where it is pointing, and aid with the meager power generating aspect. Or just ditch the electric motor thing in general and use a second thinner anchor line and 'tail fin' to help stabilize where it is pointed.

A fixed system could have a larger balloon deployed via a longer tether from the top of a basic tower, basically just to give radio relays a bit more height. Perhaps such towers are equipped with two or more. A second balloon is filled up and readied, the first is brought down and deflated in prep for maintenance work, and the second one is deployed. That way there is minimal down time for the extended coverage, and if a storm wrecks one, there is a backup to deploy.

It might be one alternative until the resources and means become available to construct taller relay towers, or until someone convinces space agencies deploy multiple communications/GPS type satellites to Mars for more constant orbital communications relaying.
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Re: Gameplay
« Reply #14 on: September 29, 2013, 10:36:19 PM »
Mission to Mars style mystery would be pretty cool in my honest opinion. The idea of having guns on mars seems silly unless of course someone is an appointed security force to ensure no one tries to vent the base and kill everyone inside.

Mars has always been a mystery to us all, and a beautiful one at that. I would personaly think spicing it up with archaeological dig sites and popping in caverns with puzzles and stuff would be kinda cool and would add a challenge to people as a overall team. IE look at the old game from Lucasarts called The Dig. That game was amazing for its time, and I think it is still playable today. But Mars I think would have a lot to offer on the table of puzzles and such. Take a audio challenge for example like on Mission to Mars. You find a odd rock formation and need to setup a specific frequency in order to open up something that may lead to a random event inside? If you screw up however well either nothing will happen or a defense mechanism starts ripping things apart.

Some ideas for challenged - Audio Puzzle like above, Mechanical, Technological, Biological Code, Star mapping, Deciphering, Lost

Mechanical - would be the standard put this odd shaped object in this hole and spine this wheel while you adjust a pillar to send a signal to blah blah blah. The more boring type of puzzle but still has its place.

Tech Challenge- Would be like mechanical but far more challenging where you would have to set up a how an ancient system works. For example. You have five relay towers hidden away, in order to activate them to find the secrets you need to wire them correctly and set up the correct frequency bar per relay to make a ripple effect to win it. This however would require you to start utilizing mathematical understanding with electrical flow once you repair an ancient generator with scrap parts you must find.

Biological Code Challenge- You walk into a vast room and there is nothing but a holo display with a DNA strand floating up. You have to finish it by sampling your own blood and filling in the comparisons. Kinda like a color coder challenge.

Star Mapping- Need I say more, this would require some understanding of constellations but from a different perspective. This would probably be boring for most people however since it would require researching and a lot of mistakes to get to the final outcome of what martian skyscape looks like. Unless you decide just to look up in the game and go off of that sky.

Deciphering- Oh look some weird hieroglyphics laser etched into an unknown metal on a electrically charged platform. I hope I brought enough meds for this.(3 hours later) Yay finished. now i know the code to unlock this door that now has a new set of glyphs..F***!.. Yeah, pretty much the hardest and possibly deadliest of challenges.

Lost- Self explanatory very hard. You was off gathering resources and taking ground samples then you fell into a cavern. This would have to be extremely rare however, like only once in a single game and only has a 1% chance to happen every game day due to the possibility that a cavern could have amazing resources and lead to amazing things IF you have enough oxygen and power to look around before hopefully finding a way out. Granted if you complete this and find a way out, the cavern can then be used as a exploration site for the whole team. If you die in there however it resets to another location with a lesser chance to happen.
I do not fear death, for I was dead many times over billions of years before I was a human being, and I will die like everyone else again to ascend to be something more in the universe.~Samuel Blantz