Race To Mars Kickstarter Preview – Space Stuff Made Easy

Race to Mars exclusive PC pre-alpha preview

Polish developer Intermarum currently has a Kickstarter campaign to collect funds for its PC title Race To Mars. It’s looking for £30,000, with still 2/3 of that to acquire in the last week of the event.

With Race to Mars, they want to create awareness for the troubles of space exploration through a simulator game. Players will try to manage a team and a budget, to eventually break through the boundaries of space and successfully send a mission to Mars. Its goal is set on realism, with a modicum of simplification to bring in more than just a core audience of space aficionados. We received a prototype from their promotional department that made sure we knew it’s a “totally-not-finished” code of an idea in progress. Now you know that’s what we worked with as well.

Race to Mars exclusive PC pre-alpha preview

Getting chummy with press.

So, the game starts simply with a name input and then off to the first press conference to schmooze with the papers on where the company is going. This popularity contest will eventually lead to new funds, by a popularity raise that will gather fans willing to shed some financial support or a more significant attraction of contracts for new programs. In order to commit to these responsibilities, the main screen of the game is set up with a few buildings that run a basic space agency. There are buildings for research, administration, assembly and a launching pad necessary to actually get that thing you’re building in space.

Visually, this static outline of just one screen is already pleasing enough to stay viewable for a while, though a few additional splash screens could help down the line. We’re thinking of animated press broadcast screens, maybe viewing the insides of buildings and so on; in due time, of course. Day and night flow organically through the screen with sunlight getting warmer to the point of ignition, where its reflection turns the rippling sea white with luminescence. Some added details, like the waving water and passing helicopters, further show an attention to the creation of a pleasant hub from where all activity comes. At least it’s clear that the artistic design through the Unity engine is already handled well by Intermarum. At some point, we even experienced huge storms taking over the entirety of the screen, obstructing the view and crackling through the speaker. Perhaps it will be possible to calculate those in later, to manage when to best launch a rocket. No one’s getting to space with a giant metal object when there’s a lightning storm out.

Race to Mars exclusive PC pre-alpha preview

Where the magic happens.

On the gameplay end, most will be managed through clear and basic menu screens. Clicking on a building yields the options available with that department, which works in combination with other structures. For instance, a general building manages anything from finances to recruitment and so on. Another building can discover new things, but in order to do so, players will need to meet requirements. Unlike other titles where research just comes with time, here there is more emphasis on acquiring an ample workforce and have adequate resources to work towards the new goals of better panels, additional satellites and so on. New tech is usually linked with other plans as well, as it all molds into one at some point. Auxiliary buildings like a museum or an agency building can be built to draw funds and attention to the company’s benefit, though these come with financial strain as well. Everything is an investment in life.

Eventually, the financial struggle will lead to the creation of a rocket of a given size, fitted with satellites or other additional equipment, after which a launch is scheduled. First, the unit is assembled, then it is brought to port and shipped out to sea onto a nearby platform where it is safe from any hazards that may occur. Since this is a realistic simulation, it is well possible that the culmination of all the work and funding leads to a rocket that either blows up halfway due to technical malfunction or just never takes off in the first place. Still, eventually it should be possible to at least move into the Earth’s orbit. From there, the sky is the limit, if you’ll pardon the pun. Once a base is set up outside of the planet’s crust, expeditions can become more elaborate, move to moon missions and eventually lead to the pioneer status of a conquered Mars. Thanks to the elaborate research department, players will also get their pick of just what way works best to accomplish that goal.

Race to Mars exclusive PC pre-alpha preview

Research is definitely one of the more complex designs so far.

Consider this like building the space race in Civilization games, but with an entire game built around it, instead of just tidbits here and there. On that note, it’s just as easy to perceive firsthand as that example. It’s a simple matter of viewing what needs to be done and then managing this to go as well as possible, seeing that there’s enough attention for this to come through and push on for that final countdown. Again, we’re sorry for the European pun. What we mean to say is that for such a complex idea in spacefaring, Race To Mars does have a good eye on taking away some of the more technical aspects, while still giving players a chance to gratify their sense of megalomania. Instead of a pun, we’ll leave on a cliché: It’s easy to get into, but tough to master.

Race to Mars exclusive PC pre-alpha preview

We did it! (technically, this was an orbit mission, but still not as easy as it looks)

Those interested in Race to Mars can pledge to their Kickstarter page, where a minimum of £12 is good enough for a digital copy of the game. For Beta access, the price starts at £18. Physical tiers start at £50, which for once start with a shirt, instead of marking those up somewhere at the triple digits. That alone makes us a fan. Money will go towards working in even more detail into building models and expanding the technology trees further beyond the intricately intertwined research schemes present now. Additionally, more concepts might be filtered in to enhance the realism in an approachable way even more.

You can donate to Race To Mars here.

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