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Surviving Mars' latest expansion lets you terraform the Red Planet

By Polycount · 13 replies
May 16, 2019
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  1. Bulgarian game development studio Haemimont Games has finally released the latest expansion to its popular Mars colonization strategy title "Surviving Mars," and it's a juicy one. Dubbed "Green Planet," the expansion takes an already compelling gameplay loop involving careful resource management and adds a new element into the mix: terraforming.

    In the basic Surviving Mars experience, players start off by laying the groundwork for human colonization. They use a wide array of drones, rovers, and other semi-intelligent machines to gather resources and construct all the necessities for human life on mars - giant climate-controlled domes, oxygen production machines, hydroponic farms for food, and moisture vaporators for water (as well as several buildings designed to fill their social, luxury, and educational needs).

    In time, humans will land on the planet, and your priority switches from preparation to full-on survival as you carefully handle your colonists' needs amidst escalating problems (related to resource shortages, mental breakdowns, and more).

    All of that is reasonably entertaining to manage by itself, but Green Planet's terraforming tools create an added layer of strategic depth. The DLC tasks you with slowly but surely raising several new planetary attributes: atmosphere, temperature, water level, and vegetation. The end goal of the expansion is to turn Mars into a harsh, but habitable second home for humanity.

    You'll raise these attributes by capturing ice asteroids to melt down for water (the higher the water level, the more oceans, lakes, and ponds that will appear on Mars), using seed spreaders to grow lichen, trees, bushes, and grass, and constructing greenhouse gas-emitting factories to raise the planet's temperature.

    Over time, your terraforming efforts will lead to various Mars hazards becoming less frequent or dissipating entirely. For example, as the Red Planet's atmosphere grows, meteors and asteroids will burn up before they crash into your vital structures and dust storms will eventually stop wreaking havoc on your colony. With enough time and dedication, you can even restore enough of Mars' atmosphere that your colonists can live without the domes, breathing in clean outside air.

    Courtesy of a code provided by Haemimont Games, I was able to take Surviving Mars and its latest DLC out for a test drive. As a result, I can confirm that the expansion is just as fun (and challenging) as it sounds. Seeing what was once a barren, orange wasteland slowly change into a lush, green, forest-filled paradise (of sorts -- Mars is still a tough place to live) is extremely satisfying; particularly given the effort required from the player to make it all happen.

    With that said, the process is also quite slow, and it may turn off more casual players from ever reaching the end goal of a dome-free, vegetation-rich colony. The many crises players will have to deal with (ranging from the previously-noted natural disasters to bizarre alien mysteries) during their playthrough probably won't help.

    During my own Green Planet run, I spent roughly 21 hours over a week building up my colony to the point where I could open up the domes -- for some players, that may be an unreasonable amount of time to sink into a single goal.

    If you're not one of those individuals, though, you can take Green Planet out for a spin right now. The expansion and the game's new, smaller sub-DLC "Project Laika" (which adds animals) can be had for $19.99 and $5.99 respectively. If you don't already have the base game, Surviving Mars itself will run you $29.99 (though it's currently on sale for about $10.22 through the weekend).

    In terms of platform availability, Surviving Mars and its DLC can be purchased for PS4 or the Xbox One on console (complete with mod support) and Linux, Mac, or Windows for PC users.

    Permalink to story.

  2. QuantumPhysics

    QuantumPhysics TS Evangelist Posts: 1,240   +900

    The warmest parts of Mars are still below 80°F and the gravity is 38% Earth's. If Humans ever do colonize Mars they still won't be able to come back to earth. Evolving in low gravity and then being in space for long periods of time in micro gravity would make the human body taller and unable to withstand returning to Earth. The physical stress of just trying to walk on Earth would kill you. That's why the scientists pay people to lay in bed for months so they can guage how the muscles will fatigue when not being worked at by Earth's gravity.

    Then there's the water issue. You can't take significant amounts of water from Earth to Mars. It's too expensive and heavy. I don't doubt Mars could be turned green using Algae or "weeds" which grow with very little food, but they certainly won't be getting as much sunlight and they'll certainly have to be adapted to cold. Perhaps runner plants would be good.
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
  3. OutlawCecil

    OutlawCecil TS Guru Posts: 679   +495

    Expanding on the issues you pointed out. Lack of atmosphere is a huge issue for multiple reasons but one major one is... how would you ever stop impacts from space? Earth is bombarded with both man-made debris as well as small-ish meteors. These would go straight through any domes or air-tight buildings we'd ever build.
  4. ShagnWagn

    ShagnWagn TS Guru Posts: 731   +559

    How would extra gravity "kill you"? There is such an exercise called weight lifting. Or, just have a rotating ship to increase gravity gradually.
    DaveBG likes this.
  5. QuantumPhysics

    QuantumPhysics TS Evangelist Posts: 1,240   +900

    there is no weight lifting you could do to counteract the difference between 9.8m/s^2 and 3.8m/s^2.

    Your body does a significant amount of weight lifing just walking your own mass around.

    Going to Mars would cause your muscles to do far less work and your body would shrink simply because it didn't need such large muscles anymore.

    If you lived on Mars long enough, you would not be able to come back to Earth.
  6. ShagnWagn

    ShagnWagn TS Guru Posts: 731   +559

    Do you have any articles you can reference? I have never heard of this.
    DaveBG likes this.
  7. QuantumPhysics

    QuantumPhysics TS Evangelist Posts: 1,240   +900

    The Human Body in Space - by NASA.
  8. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,124   +1,617

    I understand what you're saying, but I'm having problems with it passing the sniff test. As mentioned before, there are all sorts of exercises you can do to enhance body muscle mass along with special diets. Long-duration astronauts are doing it now. And by the time something like this can happen, there will be high-tech stabilizing and support prosthesis devices available to assist in movement until you can support yourself.

    As far as stopping debris from space, initially there is minimal you could do. But the whole point of terra-forming Mars is to build an atmosphere similar to ours. That's what plants do when they release oxygen. And when that happens, you'll have the same atmospheric protection we have.

    No one is saying it'll happen overnight, but with decades of terra-forming, there's no reason to believe an atmosphere couldn't be developed.
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
  9. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 4,478   +3,036

    Pleasant science fiction. Not in our lifetime.

    If our history teaches us anything, the first building there will be a bank to provide loans for the construction of everything else :)
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
    Polycount likes this.
  10. QuantumPhysics

    QuantumPhysics TS Evangelist Posts: 1,240   +900

    Lower gravity effects everything from your muscle size and strength to the actual strength of your heart and blood pressure.

    Do you realize that living on Mars for a long period of time would reduce your blood pressure, your heart strength and your blood vessels themselves would change?
  11. ShagnWagn

    ShagnWagn TS Guru Posts: 731   +559

    The same thing happens to sedentary people here on Earth. You don't use it, then you lose it. So, you are disagreeing with me when I said gradually increasing artificial gravity via a rotating ship for months on the way back to Earth would not help? I guess every science article and movie based around it need to be changed.
  12. DaveBG

    DaveBG TS Maniac Posts: 413   +155

    Except there is water on Mars. Both poles have large amounts of ice... Sorry to burst your bubble.
  13. QuantumPhysics

    QuantumPhysics TS Evangelist Posts: 1,240   +900


    Reading is fundamental
  14. DaveBG

    DaveBG TS Maniac Posts: 413   +155

    Yes it is.
    "Abundant water ice is also present beneath the permanent carbon dioxide ice cap at the Martian south pole and in the shallow subsurface at more temperate conditions.[8][9][10] More than 21 million km3 of ice have been detected at or near the surface of Mars, enough to cover the whole planet to a depth of 35 meters (115 ft).[11] Even more ice is likely to be locked away in the deep subsurface."

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