Category Archives: Update

A brief or simple post, updating what I am thinking about or working on that day.

Sands of Mars update

Since I missed updating last week, I’m going to dive into some updates to the rules for the Martian colony game that’s being slowly worked on.

Spent part of today rethinking my rules for Sands of Mars. There were some parts I liked and some that felt clunky. On the clunky side, there wasn’t the meshing I wanted when it came to playing become action. There was plenty of action, but I felt that it wasn’t as complete as it could be. Something about what we were doing and what our goals were didn’t quite get there. This, I felt, affected how much fun we had. Therefore, I went and looked at what streamlining could be done as I reviewed my notes from the playtests.

I felt that it’s been long enough since I first put things together that going back to the beginning and reviewing my thought process was the place to start.

So, for successful habitation of Mars, humans need oxygen, food, water, and shelter


Shelter can consist of additional items, namely stuff that makes the shelter nice to live in. we now have electronics, appliances, and furniture.

To translate into game terms: Devices needed to generate O2, and H2O, and provide an environment for living, and an environment for growing. humans on a colony are going to want to communicate with each other and with the earth; therefore additional items are needed. some sort of satellite communication gear and terrestrial system to do the same. And to run it all, power generation. Change this up, it can be nuke plants or solar panels. 1 Nuke plant == 5 Solar Panels <– That may change. will have to play with it some more.

[this is about as far as i got last time, feels incomplete]

Okay, so the premise is that the players control robots which go about building these things; shelters, o2 generators, H2O generators, communication gear. each of those are comprised of smaller components, namely mechanisms generated by nanofactories.

The players search the map for places to put these items (stable locations), places to get materials to build the mechanisms.

Collapse minerals and iron into a single field. That’s the ticket. Add the third type as Soil that has to be moved. A nanofactory will move it from current location, if it’s not Stable to a location that is. That takes a certain number of turns. Once moved (some token will have to be used here) then a Farm can be built.

Get rid of everything but the designated Radio spot. Collapse it down, make it simpler and easy to put on a sector.

Stable — supports one structure on it
Soil — martian surface that can be easily converted into a arable earth
Minable — There are raw minerals close enough or in the surface that make this an excellent location for planting a nanofactory to produce material
Bedrock — Supports two regular structures on it or one tall structure (E.G. satellite uplink, Nuke Plant, or Radio Tower)
Non — while the surface is stable enough to traverse regularly, there is insufficient support under the surface for building.
Unstable — Player makes die roll when traversing, 1-3 nothing happens, 4 & 5 loses 1 action this turn, 6 turn ends
Players can plant a nanofactory on an unstable or non region if it has soil or minable, but that factory will be destroyed in X turns due to the instability of the ground. There might even be room for a card that will allow for the temporary or permanent stabilization of a sector but at the cost of production.

How long would this new game last? 1 turn == 1 month, 12 turns == 1 year.
Each robot gets 4 actions per turn. Actions are Move, Probe, Start Nanofactory, Start Building

Nanofactories and Buildings are done the same way, utilizing a machine colony that the robots have tucked away inside of them. Each turn, the robots can produce enough new colony material to divide it once — starting a new building or a new nanofactory.

Nanofactorys produce only one thing now — materials — therefore end goals have to be changed up. But more than that — Building require a certain amount of material PER TURN to complete. (More cards in the deck that alter/enhance/detract from this function of the game)

Material (Mat for short) is a

Buildings — Shelter, O2 generator, H2O generator, Farm, Solar Panel, Satellite Comm, Nuke Plant, Radio Tower

Build times:

Shelter: 2 Turns :: 2 Mat/Turn to complete
O2 Gen: 2 Turns :: 1 Mat/Turn to complete
H2O Gen: 2 Turns :: 2 Mat/Turn to complete
Farm: 2 Turns :: 1 Mat/Turn to complete
Solar Panel: 1 Turn :: 3 Mat/Turn to complete
Satellite Com: 3 Turns :: 2 Mat/Turn to complete
Nuke Plant: 4 Turns :: 3 Mat/Turn to complete

Enhanced by ZemantaMake the Nuke plant optional and there we go. Materials have been reduced to a single resource, getting rid of something I felt was too complicated. Locations continue also be a resource, but this time, they’re generalized giving the players some freedom in planning but also giving me the ability to mess around with the game tiles and the distribution of usable sites across them. Some playtesting is needed now to see how well these ideas work and so I can get a feel for the number of items needed for a “win”.

A quick catchup

I have not been in the best of positions to be making posts lately.

Last week was a bit of an off week to begin with. I mean, I like long weekends but there is that outside chance that it will completely put off any rhythm you have built up. This is especially true when you’re not currently employed. Rhythm is very important in that it keeps your feet moving and your hands busy and your mind from wandering or getting too caught up in things it shouldn’t be. And last week my rhythm got off.

That’s okay though. I’m going to make up for it this week.

First I’m waiting on a tech interview to happen. That should be pretty easy. The job description is pretty open about the requirements and hopefully this is not going to be a quick trivia contest. For those of you recruiters out there. Take note: Trivia contests do not make for an interview. If all you can do is play “stump the techie” you’re doing interviewing wrong. Given that it is only supposed to take a half of an hour, I am hoping that I’m going to be asked about past projects and how I approach projects / problems. I could be wrong but then again that’s why I’m looking over my list of interview questions.

Speaking of all things Tech. I am getting to the point where I want to have a better phone. I have been watching my wife run around with her iPhone and I have to admit I am getting a bit jealous of the things she can do with it. There are a lot of other phones out there to check out, Blackberries, the new Palm one, and of course, Android phones. Once I get to be employed again I am going to check them out. Wonder if google docs are accessable on any of them. All the better to take notes with.

It's Thursday Again

It’s Thursday which means that it is also Application day. The day I set aside to go over my list of companies and apply for any jobs they might have. This time I have been hitting various banks around town to see if they might have anything available. It looks like there might be one or two but I have also pinged my recruiters to see if they have an in on either one. Learned that lesson a couple of times already so I am trying to be patient on that front.

In tech news, I am researching some php chatrooms. This is in furtherance of the idea of trying to make my own online game room chat. Sort of like what GleeMax promised to be but has since died. Spent part of yesterday after finishing up the federal KSAs thinking through the functionality of such a thing. It was good. I got a few ideas down and was able to come to the conclusion that I need to look at some chat software before continuing. So that is on the back burner today.

Otherwise it is another day of being patient and combing through everything online that I can job wise.