Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Prototype Walls

I've finally gotten a set of prototype walls that I'm happy with. These are cut from wood, but in the end I will probably do them out of acrylic. I painted them quickly and assembled them in the rough arrangement they will be in the final product. I now know I have the right design and scale and can ramp up production of the whole station.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Station Development

I did a full mock-up of the station in the 3D design studio Blender. This way, I can see how the walls will interact with each other, how lighting will look, and if the design I have thought of will even function in reality. Here is the latest render.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The People

In the first post I talked about how I wanted this game to be non-combat focused and multi-cultural. This has a direct impact on the miniatures I will be using. Turns out that finding figures that match these requirements was very difficult. I had to scour through hundreds of miniature sources. I got many really good figures and had to do modifications to figures that were close. I have ended up with about 30 usable characters. I think fewer than that will actually end up being in the game due to how they will fit into the plot and game play.

As of now, each player will have control of one character. Characters will have a pre-defined set of skills that are not visible to the players. Character background descriptions will contain hints as to how good they are in particular fields. There will be straight forward challenges that use obvious skills. Such as injuries that need a doctor or computer issues that need a technician. But what about more complex issues that may have multiple solutions? Like a room full of a toxic gas. Do you grab your chemist or HVAC specialist?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

First looks

I'm going to begin by describing some of the basic reasoning for the existence of the station and describe some station functionality. A lot of this kind of information won't directly affect game play. What I hope to do with background information such as this is frame the setting in such a way to make it seem more real.

There and back again

Mars Station is intended to be a permanent research station with the end goal of terraforming Mars to be habitable by humans. The station is supported by a geostationary space station in orbit of Mars. Small shuttle craft are able to ferry personnel from the surface to the station and are rarely used because of the large energy expense. However, all people and material going from the station to the surface travel in drop pods. The pods descend with parachutes to slow most of the velocity with the final touchdown made softer by air jets. The pods are designed in a such a way that they can be deconstructed to use in other parts of the station. Waste is minimized as much as possible. Any thing that cannot be used on the station and determined precious is sent back to the orbiting station on the next crew rotation.

Open the pod bay doors

Station concept 3D render
The station itself was designed as modular as possible. Each section can be replaced or upgraded without disturbing the other modules. Each module, however, is dependent on power and air from engineering. A central computer cluster in engineering also controls all functions of each unit. From engineering an authorized person can adjust lighting, open doors, toggle air flow, and control any location specific equipment. These function can be overridden locally by skilled technicians in extreme circumstances.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

New Frontiers

Mars Station is my attempt at putting together many of my talents and interests into one project. Namely, miniature painting, miniature set construction, robotics, programming, video gaming, board gaming, science, science-fiction, and storytelling. I have a grand design in mind that will require a lot of work and money. I intend for Mars Station to be a fully interactive game featuring a 28mm scale space station set on Mars. Upon taking up this goal there are a few points I will be making sure are included.

Hard Sci-Fi

I hope for every element in the game to be as grounded in reality as possible. This station should be able to exist. It needs to feel real. Granted, this is very hard with the current availability of miniatures, but I will do the best I can to keep this in mind with every design decision.

Multi-culturalism and gender

I am a white male aged 18-49. So is nearly everyone else in the board and video gaming community... or so many of us believe. This completely is false. Every walk of life enjoys games and should see their people or culture represented in these mediums. The sad part is that most sci-fi prominently features white males. So much so that I have had a hard time finding miniatures of non-white people. Why don't you just paint them whatever color you want? Many times I do but ethnicity is far more than just skin color. Facial structure can play a much larger role. Nothing looks more awkward than Captain MidwestUSA in black-face. Also, there are more ethnicities than white and black. Many sculptors are not capable of this subtlety at such a small scale. I have had some success in finding a few non-white miniatures.

Furthermore, representation of women in sci-fi is terrible. Though, there are lots of good examples out there. Finding miniatures of females in sci-fi type clothing and settings without sexualization is very difficult. Again, I have made head way thanks to some very good miniatures companies out there.


Nearly all sci-fi games revolve around combat. Hell, nearly all games revolve around combat. Sci-fi seems to be worse though. The easy stories are those that involve killing all the aliens, zombies, robots, or human bad guys. I aim for this game to be more puzzle based.

Science and Technology is not bad

If the enemy is not a horde of creatures then the enemy is mankind's over use of technology. I hate this trope in popular sci-fi. Science and technology are the ways in which we overcome natural obstacles. Our clever manipulation of our environment is what has lead us this far and will propel us further out into the universe. Mars station, a real Mars station, is our next step. I want to show exciting that can be.