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Dev Diary 9: Opportunity by Boian Spasov from Haemimont Games

Hi everyone!

Surviving Mars was always planned as a game that we will keep improving and supporting post-release. The upcoming Opportunity patch is our first... well - opportunity, to add significant features to the game and evolve it in response to your feedback. In this dev diary, I will provide a brief overview with the shiny stuff in the upcoming patch and our reasoning for adding them to the game. All the features I am going to talk about are free and will become available to every owner of the game as the patch releases in the very near future.

Passages
The one issue where player expectations differed most from our own was Dome connectivity. We imagined Domes as isolated from one another and the gameplay centred on carefully rationing the available space and customizing each Dome as a separate mini-city. The overwhelming amount of feedback we received on the issue proved that the majority of players imagine Domes differently - as elements of a larger interconnected system.

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Luckily, we had already received some signals about this issue and have been working on a solution for a while. Allowing free unrestricted travel between all Domes on the map was never an option that we liked. It would create major problems on two fronts. First, it would trivialize planning, since every building is going to become immediately available to every colonist, regardless of distance. Second, it could never work with our individual simulation, since it would take many, many hours for a colonist to reach a bar in a distant Dome and then go to work in another distant Dome, causing him to miss his work shift and most likely suffocate on the way.

Still, a more limited solution was possible - allowing colonists to work and visit services in nearby domes, directly connected with the residential Dome of the colonist. Thus Domes become something akin to districts in a city, instead of each one being its own mini-city.

How do you connect Domes? With new constructions called Passages that can connect any two nearby Domes. They are placed similarly to cables, but can't be interconnected and have a limited maximum length. Each Passage takes a single hex both in the source and in the destination Dome for the entrance/exit on both sides. We experimented with other ways of connecting, such as joining the existing airlocks, but aligning and connecting Domes felt much more unpleasant in these experiments and sacrificing a useful hex for each new connection turned out to be an interesting tradeoff in the small Domes.

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But what if you want to create a system in which some Domes only receive visitors and workers from connected Domes? New policies in every Dome info panel allow restricting work and visits in connected Domes - these are similar to the birth control policy that we added in our previous patch.

Before we move to other new features, here are some additional details about passages that might be interesting for experienced players:

  • Passages are equipped with moving walkways that accelerate pedestrian travel in both directions.

  • They are not normally traversable for drones and Rovers, but you can place Ramps over them to facilitate traffic.

  • They connect both Domes for purposes of Power and Life Support grids.

  • Meteor strikes on passages cause fractures and might kill colonists inside.

  • If one Dome has a Power or Life support issues for a long time, passages leading to it will be disabled until the issue has been resolved.

  • Work performance and service comfort in connected Domes is slightly lower, so it is still more optimal for a Colonist to use workplaces and services in his own Dome
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Game Rules
I still remember how excited I was when Game Rules were added to Crusader Kings II. It felt only natural to add something similar in Surviving Mars empowering the players to further customize their games.

You can turn on game rules at the start of a play session but they affect the entire playthrough. We are shipping 13 game rules in Opportunity, most of them focused on customizing the game difficulty since we received lots of feedback about players demanding a more challenging experience. We are certainly not planning to stop there - we can imagine game rules changing entire game elements according to individual taste (alternative Wind Turbines, anyone?) and we can't wait to see what the modders will come up as well.

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Here is a complete list of the Game Rules coming in Opportunity:

  • Prefab Colony - start with enough prefabs to build the basics of a Colony and the first Dome

  • No Disasters - disables all disasters, except the ones coming from the Mysteries

  • Hunger - can't import Food from Earth

  • Inflation - import prices increase over time

  • Long Ride - rocket travel time to and from Mars is three times longer

  • The Last Ark (a.k.a. The Quill Challenge) - can call a Passenger Rocket only once

  • Amateurs - no specialist applicants

  • Rebel Yell - colonists periodically become renegades. Crime is more severe

  • Chaos Theory - tech fields are fully randomized

  • Winter is Coming - Cold Wave rating set to a new Max level for all locations on Mars. Cold waves increase power consumption even more

  • Armageddon - Meteor rating set to a new Max level for all locations on Mars

  • Dust in the Wind - Dust Storm rating set to a new Max level for all locations on Mars

  • Twister - Dust Devil rating set to a new Max level for all locations on Mars
Storages
Opportunity introduces new storage buildings for Water, basic and advanced resources. Storing large quantities of processed resources was a huge problem, especially in large colonies and the new storage facilities have been created to address this issue.

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The new Large Water Tank holds up to 1000 units of water (1500 with an increase from tech) while the new Storages hold up to 4000 resource units of the corresponding basic or advanced resource. These facilities are locked behind research. Unlike Depots, Storages consume Power and require a certain amount of construction materials.


Workshops
The final new feature we are introducing is a cycle of three researchable buildings called Workshops. But wait, wasn't there a service building named Art Workshop already in the game? We always wanted to have a dedicate place in which the colonists can be creative and make their own works of art, but the old service building was a poor choice for this and should've been named otherwise in the first place.

To prevent confusion with the new buildings, especially since one of them is a true Art Workshop, we are renaming the old Art Workshop to Art Store. This name is more similar to the names of the Electronics Store and the Grocer with which it shares functionality.

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With that out of the way, let's talk about the new buildings. The Workshops, called "vocation buildings" during development, are completely optional end-game buildings that consume advanced resources and allow colonists to pursue higher life goals once the colony has become self-sufficient and has an excessive workforce. All people employed in Workshops receive Morale and Comfort boost, as long as their Workshop is supplied with resources. They are also counted towards a new challenging milestone that requires 40% of your population to be employed in Workshops.

We know that many players will opt to ignore the Workshops and the corresponding milestone, opting for more practical benefits for their Colony. Still, we felt that it was important to provide a cycle of buildings allowing the colonists to pursue self-realization, to climb to the top of the Maslow's pyramid, signifying that the colony has grown enough to support that kind of lifestyle. The fact that this provides a new optional endgame goal is an added benefit. Hint - to reach 100%, just make sure that your last starving colonist is employed in a Workshop.

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Note that both the Workshops and the new Storages are locked behind new technologies and thus will require a new playthrough to become available in your game.

What do you think about the new features coming in Opportunity? Which one excites you the most? What game rules and buildings would you like to see added to the game?

We will announce when Opportunity will be released in the near future.
 

Chaon

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Fantastic news and I love the upcoming additions.

Thanks.
 

Eled the Worm Tamer

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Cool, thats, actually going to go some way to adress a lot of my concerns and is a really good step in the right direction. Can't wait.
 

PaulMClem

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Looks good. Personally I think Domes are far too small to be regarded as even min-cities. Therefore some form of connection was a must. Yes, there should be restrictions, but connecting 2 or 3 neighbouring domes is a no-brainer for me. As you say you can then view a dome as a district/neighbourhood.
 

FeiXue

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So now when I connect to a dome with university I'll have even more non-specialists abandoning their jobs and learn specializations I don't need? :p

It should be min one hex, not one per dome. Or better still, if we manage to align two domes so their airlocks "click" that should also count as connection but with a trade off that units can't exit, effectively losing two airlocks. This way we could pack domes as close as possible where we felt like it.

Will this solve outside workplaces being assigned to one dome? Let's say there are two domes with same comfort, both thumbs up on engs, one with MP Factory, one with Elec. You just researched Reactor. Logic dictates you place it smack in between said domes. Unfortunately, game will pick one dome as Reactor's owner and every eng and their dog will go live there. Up to a point of being homeless while 4 hexes away there's an airlock to a dome with bazillion vacant residential spots.

For any chance of meaningful end-game you need to solve finite resources problem. Even with Breakthrough dice of 50k Metal and 25k RM mines it's still finite. And no, single Mohole is not a solution. 20 Elec/day will not feed particularly large settlement.

Greatly appreciating mentality though. Both building features look good. Game rules will have to be played through but good idea.
 

kebzero

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Very much looking forward to this. I assume some of the game rules are mutually exclusive (i.e. 'No Disasters' vs. the last four ones).

Will there be a new achievement for completing all milestones on any map with all the negative game rules activated (i.e. everything except the first two)? Such a combo would make Mercury and Venus look positively friendly. :p

If a Storage runs out of power and/or maintenance, what happens? Does it a) stop collecting resources, b) make stored resources inaccessible, c) spoil stored resources?

Passages bring a lot of questions;
- Can Passages only be built in a straight line?
- What are the length limitations on a passage (both shortest and longest)?
- Do they have to connect to a square next to a pathway and airlock, like all the examples in the screenshot?
- Do passages require maintenance?
- Can they develop pipe leaks or cable faults?
- Can buildings that need power/water access be built alongside the passage and get power/water from them?
 

LogicMage

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Two quick thoughts. I know right away I will want a big Oxygen tank, and a waste rock storage for 4k waste rock. I don't know if I will use passages, since I never have empty space in a small dome. The game rules look good, I would add a creative mode one, where you have unlimited cash.
 

Boyan_Haemimont

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Very much looking forward to this. I assume some of the game rules are mutually exclusive (i.e. 'No Disasters' vs. the last four ones).

Will there be a new achievement for completing all milestones on any map with all the negative game rules activated (i.e. everything except the first two)? Such a combo would make Mercury and Venus look positively friendly. :p

If a Storage runs out of power and/or maintenance, what happens? Does it a) stop collecting resources, b) make stored resources inaccessible, c) spoil stored resources?

Some game rules are incompatible with others - currently only the No Disasters and high disasters ones. No new achievements for now.

If a storage runs out of power or malfunctions a large part of its resources become inaccessible but there's a small pallet of up to 30 resources that remains active even then (basically the mechanism that moves the pallets doesn't work).

- Can Passages only be built in a straight line? - No, they can curve so you can connect any 2 nearby domes.
- What are the length limitations on a passage (both shortest and longest)? - passages can be 16 hexes total length max
- Do they have to connect to a square next to a pathway and airlock, like all the examples in the screenshot? - no they don't need to be connected to an airlock. I just have a knack of building them that way.
- Do passages require maintenance? - Currently passages don't have maintenance though we're still deliberating on this.
- Can they develop pipe leaks or cable faults? - They can't develop leaks or faults but they can get fractures like domes if hit by a meteor
- Can buildings that need power/water access be built alongside the passage and get power/water from them? - No, you'll need to connect your buildings to the dome.
 

Rnadmo

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I can't wait to try these out. I'm pretty stoked for the passages and the workshops would have been awesome for my first colony where I just had no idea what to even do with the massive amounts of electronics and machine parts I was putting out.
 

Lykanion

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Passages sound great, Game Rules too. The given rules look great, looking forward to try a few of those. Storages will be a nice addition.

I still don't really understand what these workshops do, apart from entertaining their 'employees'? Forty percent of the population indulging in painting and piano playing eight hours a day seems ... strange? And quite over the top for a newly built colony that's still heavily reliant on local and quickly depletable resources (well, any part that exceeds the Mohole production, anyway, and not relying on triboelectric scrubbers cleaning each other, which feels like an exploit).

Anyway, thank you very much for your great work, and I'm really looking forward to all of this :)
 

JohnyT

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The passages are a great idea cant wait to give some of the Game Rules a try.
 

jalopy

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It'd be fun if the workshops had a chance of creating great works of art that had some impact on happiness or other things.
 

Sir Leningrad

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A rare breakthrough that lets you automatize the rest of the jobs and allows you to create an entire job-free colony full of artists and the like served by an automated workforce would be extremely cool.

Also, roads for rovers and droids are the next logical addon after passages.
 
Last edited:

Eled the Worm Tamer

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All we need now is something for the polictical / cultural side how do myMartians grow? a Free love comunist utopia (It is the red plannet) or a sex segrigated randian Galt's Gulch where the right to bear children is only held by the wealthy and all the miriad variations between.
 

jaycatt7

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I'm excited about passages! And maybe some day I'll need end of game additions or ways to make it harder. Maybe.
 

Wenla

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Looks and sounds good.
 

Lt Loco

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Really happy to see all these features coming. I especially like the Game Rules - some of my "house rules" are already on the list. I would request some additional game rules:

1) Higher Comfort Requirements for Births (I use a mod that adds +25, it really changes how the game plays out - you have to build a Diner/Infirmary/Art Shop just to get your founders to consider maybe having kids
2) Reduce the value of exporting rare metals by 50% or so. Currently it's too easy to get shipments of goods every time you send a rocket back
3) Reduce Starting Rockets to 1 or 2 (Disabled on Hard Starts, since they already have 1/2 rockets) - gives the Normal/Easy starts more difficulty, since some of them basically are "Do you need a thing? Send a rocket!"
4) Reduce Starting Cash by 50%/2B - some starts just have too much money to be challenging.
 

Smiles_

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This all sounds pretty good, I've only just started playing so I am pretty new at it all.

Do tunnels always cost the same amount of resources? I was playing around with a few different colony locations, and there was a start where I was high up on a plateau, and I was thinking of making a tunnel down to the bottom level. When you zoom in, it is quite clear that the scale of drop is pretty immense, but building a tunnel was a bit too easy. I know when I played Banished, the medieval colony sim, tunnels had variable cost depending on length. Maybe a game rule for something like that.


Smiles