Dev Diary 6 – The Seven Wonders of Mars
Let’s talk about the Wonders in Surviving Mars. But first, let’s take a quick trip down memory lane, back to 1999 when, in the words of Douglas Adams, games were real games, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri.
I adore sci-fi games of all kinds, but my single favorite of all times is Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri. I remember fondly so many things about this game, but in the context of today’s dev diary I want to talk about the so-called “secret projects”. They were an inspiring and very thematic adaptation of the Wonders of Civilization, that proved to me that the concept could work very well in a sci-fi setting.
With Surviving Mars belonging to a totally different genre, our Wonders ended up nothing like the secret projects in Alpha Centauri, yet for me, that was the very first inspiration for them. We wanted to create a set of special late-game buildings that evoke a sense of grandeur and epic scale, each of which feels like both an achievement and a reward on its own.
Each Wonder is a unique building, representing the pinnacle of achievements in a specific tech field. They are visually impressive, monumental buildings that quite naturally become visual landmarks in your colony once constructed. Wonders are locked behind high-level research, and each of them may be constructed only once per playthrough. As a whole, they feel much more “fantastic” than our regular buildings, based on futuristic sci-fi concepts and possibilities. Wonders are very expensive in terms of research, resources and time to construct, but once operational they provide unique and powerful benefits to the entire colony.
For a while, we experimented with the concept of not having all Wonders available in every playthrough but ultimately decided against this because the wonders ended up both too crucial for our end game and too cool to be available only incidentally.
As tradition dictates, there are seven Wonders, although I imagine many more will be created as mods or official content in the future. My favorite one is a highly experimental fusion generator called the Artificial Sun, but I already talked about it in an interview a while ago, so I plan to tell you about a few of the others this time.
The Mohole mine is inspired by the Mars trilogy of Kim Stanley Robinson. It provides a constant supply of metals and rare metals from the depths of Mars – something invaluable late game when more and more resource deposits are becoming depleted. It also heats up the surrounding area negating all negative effects of the Cold Wave disaster for any building positioned close-by.
The Space Elevator is a wonder that speeds up cargo shipments to and from orbit. It can be used both to export precious metals to Earth and to receive resupply materials and prefabs from Earth at preferential prices. Once you construct it trade with Earth becomes much less restricted, not depending on individual rocket capacity and refueling. Since our space elevator is not equipped with life support, you will still need the rockets to get new colonists from Earth, but you will be able to order materials and prefab buildings in huge quantities, as long as you can secure the funding for them.
I feel very tempted to spoil all seven wonders now, but it is probably best to keep the wraps on at least a few of them until release. It will be fun to see how many you will guess correctly at the very least. And the ones that you don’t guess correctly are even more welcome as ideas for the future. So let the speculations commence! What kind of wonders would you like to see in the game?
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