Existing on the edge between two genres, Surviving Mars tends to attract both players that like survival games and players that like base/city building. While these two gameplay aspects usually work in harmony, sometimes they can step on each other's toes. Since day one we received many requests for some kind of more relaxed game experience with a focus on city-building and aesthetics, instead of survival. Sometimes you may want to quickly create a huge colony for an awesome timelapse video, to experiment with different base setups or just to experience the mysteries without worrying about pesky survival threats.
Creative mode offers this and more! It is implemented as a set of eight new game rules:
- Easy Maintenance - buildings never malfunction due to lack of maintenance
- Easy Research - the tech tree is revealed, and base research is greatly increased
- Fast Rockets - rockets travel ten times faster
- Fast Scanning - sector scanning is much faster
- Free Construction - buildings don't require resources to be constructed
- Iron Colonists - Health and Sanity can't be lowered below 50 and Colonists never become Earth sick. There is no Founder stage
- More Applicants - start with 500 additional applicants
- Overfunded - start with $100,000M additional funding
Starting a game in creative mode will activate all of these rules, but they can also be used individually and are combined with other rules and game sponsors normally. Note that while many bad consequences do not happen in creative mode, the game mechanics still function "under the hood" so it can be useful for experimentation and learning. For example, when you want to check if a particular base setup is self-sufficient - if any resource stays low, this Colony will probably struggle without help from Earth in a normal game. And if you have Colonists at 50 Health or Sanity, they would probably be under the risk of dying or having a breakdown in a normal game.
Creative Mode can be a great way to explore the game mechanics and learn the ropes in a relatively safe environment. Since many achievements are trivialised by the significantly reduced threats, activating some of the new game rules disables achievements for the playthrough.
We improved the controls for managing resources and storage buildings. You can now set a custom Desired Amount for resources in any particular storage. Drones and shuttles will try to maintain the desired amount as a reserve in each storage building (or all allowed resources in case of Universal Depots). This can really improve the efficiency of large colonies and is very useful both when planning a large project and when you know that a particular resource is often needed at a particular location in the colony, but gets there late due to logistic issues.
We were never entirely happy with the controls for customising types of resources stored in Universal Depots - it was too obscure and even experienced players often failed to notice it without being pointed there explicitly. We revamped these controls in Da Vinci, making them more visible and easy to use.
Prior Da Vinci, each building, had to be connected to the electrical grid with an individual Power cable. Our reasoning behind this decision was that we wanted to make the Power infrastructure more visible and complex to manage. Still, it proved to be more "complicated" than "complex" and too different from the expected practices for a city-building game.
This is why we are changing Power connectivity in Da Vinci, allowing each power producer or consumer to connect to the electrical grid automatically when placed adjacent to another building of the grid. Power cables are still used to extend the grid, but individual connections are not required for each structure.
The follow camera is a minor feature, but I feel it deserves its own highlight in the dev diary because it was requested often. It can be activated for any Drone, Rover, Colonist or Shuttle. The camera tracks the movement of the selected unit and has no effect on gameplay but can be useful to create some nice close-up footage of your colony. It also gives you another way to enjoy all the little details in your colony. Last but not least, following shuttles around feels pretty rad!
Here are some highlights from the new free update:
- Pacing - increased drone speed, reduced building costs, reduced rocket and shuttle fuel consumption and adding a Stirling Generator to the starting setup all contribute to a more dynamic gameplay experience and less downtime.
- Survival - Health and Sanity threats from disasters have been increased and are now randomized per colonist - you should expect more deaths and mental breakdowns when things go bad. Pipe Leaks and Cable Faults now only happen because of disasters, increasing the demand on your grid during Dust Storms. Solar Panels now don't work at all during a Dust Storm.
- Quality of Life - You can now cycle between the unemployed, homeless, free residences and free work slots by clicking on the corresponding icon in the Infobar. Turning off a Dome manually now automatically turns off all buildings within, conserving power and resources. Placing a construction outside drone commander range is now indicated more prominently. Several on-screen notifications about colony problems have been improved.
p.s. The new Patch is coming (very) soon, so keep an eye out for the Patch Notes!