Exploring Mars Colonization Challenges
SimMars 3003 is a Mars survival simulator that tests optimal conditions for colonization and crowdsources aggregate data on interactions within the Martian environment.
Built by my team of 5 at the Space Apps Challenge in Irvine, CA, the game allows players to learn about factors needed to sustain their Martian colony, while planning for emergencies. I created a mockup of the game interface using Photoshop/Illustrator and researched 3D assets for implementation into the game. I also created content for the SimMars 3003 project page and gave the final presentation.
About the 2016 NASA Space Apps Challenge
Since April 2012, NASA has hosted the annual Space Apps Challenge for engineers, designers, and storytellers to collaborate on open source solutions that address challenges facing Earth and space travel.
In April 2016, over 160 cities across the globe participated in the 48 hour challenge, known as one of the largest international hackathons in the world.
Objective: The SimSpace Challenge
From the Space Apps Website:
Develop a game that simulates conditions in an off-Earth located permanent or temporary colony. The game could be a sandbox that offers the possibility to simulate various facilities that would support a reduced gravity environment far from earth’s atmosphere and magnetosphere. Users could be given power allowances, atmospheric conditions, and in situ resource options (using resources available on site for life support or other needs).
Inspired by The Martian, my team embarked on a quest to create a game that would simulate the development of a colony on Mars. I began by researching the needs of a space colony on Mars and assessing risks to colonists.
As part of the process, I explored metrics that measured colony health, such as oxygen, food, water, atmosphere, and happiness.
The lead developer and I established the game’s objective and discussed the resources required for development. The purpose of this game was to educate the general public and allow scientists to study survival patterns and data generated by players to determine the best way to survive and thrive on Mars. We decided to create a desktop game where players use their mouse to collect, input, and output items, with the main goal of balancing resources to help the colony stay alive.
From my initial findings, I continued to analyze the ways that variables, such as resources or random events, affect survival metrics, and integrated them into the game mechanics.
- The level of water is affected by the number of people and plants in the colony, as well as oxygen produced.
- Random events include dust storms, satellite disturbances, births, or injuries.
I sketched a rough wireframe of a dashboard that displayed survival metrics, an announcement news feed, and current colony resources at a glance.
I created mockups demonstrating various states of the game, with one screen showing the map, and another screen showing analytics for the Martian climate. Though our team did not complete the UI implementation, I was able to present the game demo.
Watch the Game Demo
- Won the Galactic Impact Award
- Was 1 of 5 projects (from the Irvine location) nominated to be showcased on OpenNASA’s Innovation Space
- More Info: https://2016.spaceappschallenge.org/locations/irvine-ca-usa