Welcome, Commander!

It appears you requested an update on how we developed the new Below and Beyond project. The name’s Elmer Lexmond designer on the Below and Beyond planning and development team, nice to meet you! I’m here to give you a peek behind the curtain. On the agenda today is Mining Asteroids!

Let me start you off with a quick summary. We have developed a new building, the Recon Center which lets us track Asteroids that pass in close proximity to Mars. You can visit these tracked asteroids with our brand-new Asteroid Landers, rockets designed to land in conditions that would be impossible for our standard Supply Rockets. Once there, we have a limited amount of time to mine as many resources as possible and leave the asteroids before it is too far away from Mars to make the return trip. We will need specialized Micro-G Auto Extractors at first, but we can eventually get permits to send the personnel that can populate our more efficient Micro-G Mining Stations.

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Why the asteroids you ask? First off, because 86% of colonists think asteroids are “very cool”, and secondly because creating these short-term mining bases in an isolated location is a completely different challenge from anything we have done on the surface of Mars so far. You will have to work with limited resources, irregular building space, and a specific time window, but the reward is also different. You invest resources on a mission to get access to an abundance of materials, such as the newly discovered Exotic Minerals that are exclusive to asteroids. This makes visiting asteroids a perfect opportunity for when you are developing a project on the Martian surface that requires some time to finish. To make our vision come true, we started by developing the asteroids themselves. Our goal was to make each asteroid feel unique. We created various asteroid types based on existing classifications of asteroids. Each type has a different spread of resources available and a different rate at which they can appear. A C-type asteroid for instance is much more common than the elusive X-Type. We also created different looks for the asteroids based on the main resources available on them. Combine this with various pre-authored maps to get a diverse mix of asteroids that require different strategies each time around.

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But an asteroid on its own doesn’t get us very far. We needed to decide what new buildings we needed and which existing ones we could reuse. For new buildings, we focused on the ones with specialized functions such as extractors and small-scale living space for colonists that wouldn’t require a full dome. For the existing ones we eliminated the buildings that wouldn’t function in the micro-G environment, this meant that we had to introduce a substitute for the MOXIE if we wanted our colonists to be able to breathe, which led to the new Electrolyzer.

5bLzzXDwC3dwIr9UBi91fJovrjen2E2U6PVcBvxB0qB0oMAoQbbOS_0eqUaviH6PqKdAoL2zFtBM_RQj76ygbz3AGS3r6ipA6LOWpXdlGhSvpUAsBX0zeCpsLW53TBy_YpamjtLf=s0


With all this in place, we called upon our test commanders to run simulated missions. We got a wide range of results, but most prominent of all was the sentiment that managing multiple locations at the same time was quite taxing for most commanders. After investigating further, we learned that one of the biggest problems was setting up the Asteroid Landers for their trip back to Mars. To be successful our commanders needed to update the cargo request on the Asteroid Lander frequently to get it loaded before the time on the asteroid ran out. To remedy this, we created an AutoLoad function where commanders can set their preferences and let the rocket AI update the cargo request continuously based on the specifications and what is available on the asteroid. The second problem was the need to launch the rocket manually. To relieve some of the stress of trying to launch the rocket at the perfect moment, we gave the rocket an AI subroutine to launch automatically when the time limit on the asteroid was reached, regardless of whether the current cargo request was fully completed. You should thank our testers, commander, they saved you a lot of stress by running these simulations before we rolled the project out to you!

Do you want to know what was my favourite part of creating the asteroids? I must say I had a lot of fun working on the naming convention for them! We took cues from how they are named and classified on earth and tailored them to be more appropriate for our purposes. You will find that our team added some creative new names to the vast list of existing asteroid names already out there!

Well, I’m sure I’ve covered pretty much everything, not to mention I’m in dire need of a coffee break. But worry not, there are more dev diaries on the horizon! According to the schedule, the next one will delve deeper into the development of the Martian Underground. I highly recommend you’ll join us again for that one, there will be some very interesting things explained there. It’ll go into further detail on why Exotic Minerals are worth all this trouble. In the meantime, please watch our instructional video on Asteroid Mining, it might help you to not lose some of that pricy new equipment to the dark void of space.

Until next time Commander and I hope to see you on our first real asteroid mission soon!

 

DominusNovus

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Cool. Some questions, though!
- Whats the main reason you decided to include a mechanic of asteroids coming in range and out of range? Will there be any asteroids that stay in range?
- What happens to colonists on the asteroids after they're out of range?
- Will Phobos and Deimos feature in any capacity?
- How moddable are these asteroid missions?
- Flavor-wise, why would the rockets that land on Mars have a harder time landing on asteroids?
 
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LuminousSlug

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Sounds like fun. To extend the special projects dynamic, a Below and Beyond project could be “A New Moon” - to move an asteroid into a stable orbit, so you can colonise it indefinitely.
 
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DominusNovus

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Sounds like fun. To extend the special projects dynamic, a Below and Beyond project could be “A New Moon” - to move an asteroid into a stable orbit, so you can colonise it indefinitely.

Mars already has two.
 
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adil3tr

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Why is this not on the front page?

Here's my comment from the announcement

The key issue with Green Planet was that as soon as you terraformed once, that was it, you had experiences it. There was no content for doing something like adding water super fast to down other colonies or heating the world up super fast and getting some change to the gameplay loop or terraforming being part of a tourism-only run. It had no replayability, and this game revolves around playing again and again and doing different paths. I hope this expansion understands that and if possible, that you can fix green planet because it was great on a technical level and could be fixed gameplay wise.

I really want this to change as much as possible in the main game, rather than feel like it's on top of the main game. That's how a game like this really shines because you can't imagine playing without the new content. Like with stellaris. "Exotic materials" as the only new resource somewhat concerns me.
 
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Morbus Bubbonicus

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Yeah...well...but with Mohole mining metals is kind of...worthless, so only reason to get there will be anomaly hunting for breakthroughs and exotics.
Oh and please do not repeat Green Planet's mistake with doubling every DLC research costs and thus making with completely worthless.
 
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DominusNovus

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Yeah...well...but with Mohole mining metals is kind of...worthless, so only reason to get there will be anomaly hunting for breakthroughs and exotics.
Oh and please do not repeat Green Planet's mistake with doubling every DLC research costs and thus making with completely worthless.

I have to agree with the basic sentiment here. In particular, the idea of being able to access an asteroid only for a limited time seems very underwhelming to me. If its a balance issue, then have the exotic minerals be in very short supply, and let you keep your asteroid base as long as you want. If its a performance issue (I could see maintaining multiple permanent asteroid colonies being a drain), then just limit the number of permanent colonies you can maintain.

I'm still excited to play with these new layers.
 

Mauer

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Loving what you've shown so far.

I also wonder if there's plans for Phobos and Deimos either in this expansion or a future one, research focused semi-permanent colonization perhaps?

Hoping this DLC does great so we can see even more content further down the line as well. For my part I'll be getting two copies of the game for friends!
 
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Aiwyth

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Cool. Some questions, though!
- Whats the main reason you decided to include a mechanic of asteroids coming in range and out of range? Will there be any asteroids that stay in range?
- What happens to colonists on the asteroids after they're out of range?
- Will Phobos and Deimos feature in any capacity?
- How moddable are these asteroid missions?
- Flavor-wise, why would the rockets that land on Mars have a harder time landing on asteroids?

Hey DominusNovus! Thanks for sending up all those questions. Will try my best to satisfy your craving for knowledge.

- Whats the main reason you decided to include a mechanic of asteroids coming in range and out of range? Will there be any asteroids that stay in range?
We wanted the experience to be very different from those on the surface. Smaller and focussed bases that deal with the challenges of that particular asteroid for a limited period of time. Having them move out of range also lets you experience more asteroids on a single save. No Asteroids will stay in range tho, they have a tendency to just disappear in dark space.

- What happens to colonists on the asteroids after they're out of range?
They will go on an exciting journey into the unknown, never to be seen again. Not sure I would recommend such a trip to anyone...

- Will Phobos and Deimos feature in any capacity?
In the early stages we considered including them, however, they didn’t make the cut as they didn’t work with the gameplay we had in mind for Below and Beyond (they would have been too similar to your base on Mars).

- How moddable are these asteroid missions?
Through Lua scripting the random map presets can be changed however it is not possible to create custom maps.

- Flavor-wise, why would the rockets that land on Mars have a harder time landing on asteroids?
The biggest problem is the difference in gravity between Mars and asteroids. The specs on the landing and take-off systems would have to be very different.
 

DominusNovus

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Hey DominusNovus! Thanks for sending up all those questions. Will try my best to satisfy your craving for knowledge.

- Whats the main reason you decided to include a mechanic of asteroids coming in range and out of range? Will there be any asteroids that stay in range?
We wanted the experience to be very different from those on the surface. Smaller and focussed bases that deal with the challenges of that particular asteroid for a limited period of time. Having them move out of range also lets you experience more asteroids on a single save. No Asteroids will stay in range tho, they have a tendency to just disappear in dark space.

- What happens to colonists on the asteroids after they're out of range?
They will go on an exciting journey into the unknown, never to be seen again. Not sure I would recommend such a trip to anyone...

- Will Phobos and Deimos feature in any capacity?
In the early stages we considered including them, however, they didn’t make the cut as they didn’t work with the gameplay we had in mind for Below and Beyond (they would have been too similar to your base on Mars).

- How moddable are these asteroid missions?
Through Lua scripting the random map presets can be changed however it is not possible to create custom maps.

- Flavor-wise, why would the rockets that land on Mars have a harder time landing on asteroids?
The biggest problem is the difference in gravity between Mars and asteroids. The specs on the landing and take-off systems would have to be very different.

Thanks for the answers - even if I do't like them very much.

I do think there's no real problem with the gameplay being fairly similar to the surface base, with bases on Phobos and Deimos. That said, I can't help but feel like there's a great opportunity there to use those moons as places to build some megastructures that are only buildable there. For example, you could require a Space Elevator to connect to one of them, or you could use them as hubs from which to build a power satellite network - or the various orbital terraforming projects. There's a lot that could be done with them! Or, in the exact opposite direction, you could flip the entire script of the gameplay experience, and have the option of landing on the moons be your initial steps, building up resources before descending to the surface.

And, other than the fact that modders won't be able to make new maps, I hope they'll be right on it!
 

Jon_Smith

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Thanks for the answers - even if I do't like them very much.

I do think there's no real problem with the gameplay being fairly similar to the surface base, with bases on Phobos and Deimos. That said, I can't help but feel like there's a great opportunity there to use those moons as places to build some megastructures that are only buildable there. For example, you could require a Space Elevator to connect to one of them, or you could use them as hubs from which to build a power satellite network - or the various orbital terraforming projects. There's a lot that could be done with them! Or, in the exact opposite direction, you could flip the entire script of the gameplay experience, and have the option of landing on the moons be your initial steps, building up resources before descending to the surface.

And, other than the fact that modders won't be able to make new maps, I hope they'll be right on it!

I think it makes sense from a publishers perspective as they need to apply to a wider audience and I think its a more niche, dedicated fanbase that could want a similar base, but on Phobos/Deimos.

That being said, I think the updates make it feasible for a modder to consider this.
There is a second and third map you can view whilst playing (the above and beyond) and it seems your colony on Mars is running in real time next to it.
I could see a possibility here another map layer is added to represent Phobos/Deimos and, just like the underground layer, there are custom buildings that can only be built there.

It would be a rather large modding undertaking, but I would say your dream is reasonably possible with this new update.
 

DominusNovus

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I think it makes sense from a publishers perspective as they need to apply to a wider audience and I think its a more niche, dedicated fanbase that could want a similar base, but on Phobos/Deimos.

Perhaps, but its not like we’re talking about WOW here. This is already a fairly niche game.
 

OxfordNik

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  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Sengoku
  • Cities: Skylines - Campus
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Imperator: Rome Sign Up
  • Hearts of Iron IV: La Resistance
  • Stellaris: Necroids
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Imperator: Rome Deluxe Edition
  • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
  • Surviving Mars: First Colony Edition
  • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
  • Victoria 2
  • 500k Club
  • Tyranny - Bastards Wound
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
It would be a rather large modding undertaking, but I would say your dream is reasonably possible with this new update.
Hope modders do make it happen - and regardless, hope that this expansion begins a new chapter for Surviving Mar,s which one day brings Phobos and Deimos into the main game through a future DLC :)