Dev Diary 9: Opportunity

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.

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.


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.


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


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.


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

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.


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 the research. Unlike Depots, Storages consume Power and require a certain amount of construction materials.

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.


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.


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.


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