here is a transcript of my presentation of Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager at Historicon with illustrations. Enjoy and please feel free to comment and ask questions!
Historicon - July 18th, Fredesricksberg 2pm
Hi guys, today I want to focus on one upcoming game that we are particularly excited about. Buzz Aldrin’s Space Program Manager is our highly anticipated space management sim for PC, Mac, iOS and Android, in development at Polar Motion.
Having Buzz involved has been a wonderful opportunity for us as he is a wealth of information on anything related to space exploration and his enthusiasm and energy for the subject is still obvious. Now I’d like to show you the intro movie for the game.
Watch the Space Program Manager Intro Movie on YouTube
Buzz also had a few words to share with everyone about the game.
Watch Buzz discussing Space Program Manager on YouTube
Space Program Manager is such an enormous game we have had to split it in to 3 episodes to get it to a manageable size for us and the player! The Road to the moon is the first episode and ends at the moon landings. Episode 2 takes things forwards and culminates in the international space station. Episode 3 takes us on in to the future and is the Mission to Mars.
The game puts you in charge of the GSA, the Global Space Agency, formed in 1955 as a joint international organization to explore space. We wanted to allow the player to explore all of the technologies and missions available, but not restrict them to just US or Soviet missions. Creating the GSA allowed us to do this and we have included missions from all the major agencies including ESA and JAXA. Let’s start off by investigating the Space Complex.
Watch a time lapse of your space complex developing on YouTube
Your Space Complex is where you control your space program. You will recruit personnel, research technologies, build rockets and launch them. You will develop from a small complex in to a global space program. There are 8 building complexes with up to 4 levels of upgrade and you’ll see these upgrades visually as you develop. Upgrades allow more staff, more missions to be in progress contiguously and allow more advanced programs. You must choose wisely when to upgrade as the larger structure have significant maintenance costs so the player must balance their budgets to succeed.
• The astronaut centre is where you recruit and train your astronauts
• The Public Affairs Office (renamed from Gov Relations) is where you’ll manage your funding and PR
• The Headquarters is where you open new programs and set high level goals.
• Mission control is where you manage your flight controllers.
• The Museum shows historic data on launches, badges and lists every historic news item by turn.
• The observatory gives lots of stats and information about the solar system.
• The SET centre is where you manage your R&D personnel - Scientist, Engineers and Technicians.
• The Vehicle Assembly Building is where you put together the components and assign mission personnel.
The missions are grouped together in to programs and program categories. In the Road to the moon there are 12 program categories containing 35 programs which have 50 mission configurations. Planets with available missions will be displayed and as you progress more options will open up. We are at the start of the game and looking at Earth.
Currently the Earth orbiting Research Satellites and Space Planes are the only categories that are unlocked. As we acquire badges new programs will become available.
We are looking at the Earth Orbiting research satellite category. It contains 5 different programs ranging from basic earth satellites in group A to more advanced satellites in group B. In general programs will be listed with the simplest ones at the top.
We can see the Scientific Research Satellites A Program only has one mission configuration but others such as the Mercury Program have multiple configurations.
On the mission configuration screen you can R&D the mission components, schedule missions and find out more about the mission, the real history behind it, what your advisors think and what badges you’ll be awarded for successfully completing it.
R&D is a critical part of the game and each component in the mission must be researched. Components can be shared between missions so once you have improved the reliability of your Jupiter C rockets, any mission configurations using them will benefit. This screen also shows how many times each component has been used and if it succeeded or failed.
R&D is performed by your SET personnel, Scientists Engineers and Technicians.
Personnel must be recruited from the pool of staff applying to join your GSA. SET are rated in 5 areas – rockets, human rated rockets, space probes, crewed spacecraft and EVA(Spacesuits). They also have an ability to learn, age, cost per turn and can be sent for advanced training. Their stats will develop over time and as they get old they may retire and leave the agency. You need to assign the right staff to the right tasks for best results.
Each mission is made up of a number of steps. The player can view each step and this lists the components involved and their reliability. This lets the player understand and plan which is the most essential component for any mission and plan their R&D accordingly.
Once you have planned the mission and R&D’d the components it is time to put theory in to practice and schedule a mission. When scheduling a mission you have to construct the components and assign the flight controllers and if it is a manned mission, assign the astronauts.
Here we see the flight control assignment for a simple X-15 space plan launch – currently it has 4 slots but we are planning to reduce to 1 or 2 as it is effectively a tutorial mission and we want to keep things manageable for new players. Flight controllers are rated in 5 areas, propulsion, guidance, spacecraft systems, crew systems and mission operations.
Each step of the mission requires different parts of the flight control team and each makes use of different skills. Recruiting and assigning the best personnel is an important part of a player’s success. There is also a Flight Director who oversees the launch and he requires a mix of skills and affects all mission steps.
Later in the game, complex missions like the Apollo moon landings will require as many as 12 flight controllers and a flight director, and even a CAPCOM (Capsule Communication - an astronaut in the mission control team to communicate with the astronauts on the mission). Astronauts are rated in 5 areas - Leadership, Piloting, EVA, Science and Fitness
The most exciting part of the game is obviously that moment when you give the “Go” for launch. Let’s take a look.
Watch the mission launch movie on YouTube
If your mission is successful you’ll receive prestige, the components will become more reliable and you’ll achieve mission badges which unlock later missions or make them easier. If a component fails then it can be disastrous. A minor systems failure could mean some goals fail to be achieved and less prestige is earned. A serious failure likely means the mission is lost with all personnel and equipment on board which is a major setback in component reliability, prestige and personnel so judging when it is safe enough to launch is a tricky business.
You’ll be able to launch both historic spacecraft such as Sputnik, Gemini and Apollo XI, but also many missions that never even left the drawing board. There is extensive background information for each program and mission. The in game historian provides facts about the real missions and their success or failure.
With the help of Dr Aldrin we’ve also designed many what-if missions that never occurred, but which could have happened if not for a small decision that took things in a different direction and could have changed our whole history of space flight.
The game contains literally thousands of renders of spacecraft and their components, all researched in extreme detail based on historical documents from the archives. Dr Aldrin has personally reviewed many of the renders and pointed out inaccuracies to ensure the game is as realistic as possible and his knowledge of the Gemini and Apollo missions is unparalleled.
These are just a tiny sample of the many images of what-if scenarios such as alternative Gemini mission configurations and the direct moon ascent.
There are 2 ways to play Space Program Manager – in Sandbox mode and in Campaign mode. In Campaign mode you’ll be set a number of short and long term goals. Your short term goals are set and reviewed every 4 years. Long term goals are set and reviewed every 20 years. Short term goals can be a variety of things such as earning a specific mission badge to attaining a reliability % on a specific component, earning an amount of prestige or banking a certain amount of money.
Long term goals will tend to be linked to achieving a specific “flagship” mission badge. Every 4 years your performance on your short term goals is reviewed. Achieving goals is rewarded by prestige and failure results in lost prestige.
Your prestige affects your funding so the higher your prestige the higher your funding. Long term goals are much more serious – if you fail your long term goal you will be fired from your job as Director of the GSA and it is game over.
You must decide which short term goals to complete and which to ignore as some may not be compatible with your long term goal or you may feel you can earn more prestige by completing other missions.
These long term goals will dramatically change the way the game plays each time and ensure the player explores the entire tech tree and no one route to victory emerges as the way to win.
Layered on top of this we have a random event system which throws bad weather, R&D success and failure, brain-drain with loss of personnel to other industries, star recruits, economic booms and depressions and much more in to the mix to really add replay value. Players will also be able to compare their prestige scores and see who performed best.
While we think the goals are great for gameplay we know some people prefer to play at their own pace and for this reason we have a Sandbox mode. This plays exactly the same as the Campaign mode but without the short term and long term goals and is an ideal way to learn the game.
Each turn a news report will give important information about R&D progress on each component, new staff, staff training, mission launches and various other pieces of useful info. This info is stored and players can review the news for the entire game. While this might not sound very exciting it allows player to use the news history as a way to write AAR’s. Writing AAR’s is very popular with our community and this is an ideal game for it, so we wanted to provide tools to the player to help them.
The Public Affairs Office is where you manage relationships with stakeholders and public.
You’ll be able to run advertising campaigns to temporarily boost your prestige, or to improve the quality and quantity of the recruits applying to work at your agency. You’ll also be able to review the historic funding levels, and expenditure. In campaign mode it will also list your short term and long term goals.
The public affairs office will evolve in episodes 2 & 3 to add more commercial activities such as launching and deployment of commercial satellites, manufacturing in micro-gravity for the private sector, space tourism, etc.
Early Access Program
We are pleased to announce we are launching an early access program that lets eager players pick up the game for just $19.99 compared to the usual price of $29.99 and more importantly help shape the way things develop.
The early access program will be launching for PC and Mac in September this year. We expect there to be a period of 2-3 months before we have the full final launch on PC, Mac, iOS and Android.
We are offering 3 tiers in the early access program
○ Mercury Tier - $19.99 for the digital version of the beta supplied immediately and updated throughout, private beta forum access to report issues and discuss the game with the dev team and other early adopters and your name in the beta tester credits
○ Gemini Tier - $34.99 includes everything in the Mercury Tier plus a boxed copy of the game at final release (usually $44.99) which includes a personalised disk with your name and serial number plus a full colour manual/art book with a collection of gorgeous renders for the game.
○ Apollo Tier - $99.99 includes everything in the Gemini Tier plus your name and photo in the game as one of the SET personnel, a flight controller or an astronaut and the game sound track in MP3 format. Instead of a beta tester credit you will be listed as a contributor. This option will not be available post release.
That brings me to the end of the presentation and I’d like to open the floor to any questions.
< Message edited by Iain McNeil -- 7/24/2013 2:34:45 PM >