Race to Mars Q&A, with Szymon Janus

ea628dec4e69fbbbccb3b223ca0bca11_largeInspired by tycoon games and the classic Buzz Aldrin’s Race into Space, indie developer INTERMARUM is raising funds on Kickstarter for its upcoming turn-based strategy game, Race to Mars. RTM will task players with helming a private space company, with the end goal of establishing a base on Mars. Read on for my email interview with INTERMARUM CEO Szymon Janus:


Peter Sahui: Hello, and welcome to the site! Could you please tell us more about your team & your previous experience?

Szymon Janus: Hello Peter. My name is Szymon and I am the owner and founder of INTERMARUM, a game development studio in a small little city called Opole. Right now there are 12 people working on Race To Mars with different levels of involvement. Up until now we did mostly contract work and this is our first independent production. We cooperate with many different developers from known Polish companies though.


PS: How will the typical Race to Mars campaign will play out? It looks like the basic “flow” of gameplay will be: (1) accept simple contracts, (2) use the profits to develop new facilities and technology, (3) use the new capabilities to take on more ambitious contracts, and so on, until you finally have enough money and technology to settle Mars and win the game.

SJ: Roughly speaking – everything is correct ;) . Adding to that is making sure the tech has a good enough degree of quality or the safety level. It will also be important to deal with random events or training your team.
What it will definitely NOT feature is being able to choose just any contract – we will compete with different companies and, for example, we will not be able to compete with them on price at a certain stage, which will force a change in expansion strategy.


PS: Will spaceship design be an element of Race to Mars, and if so, how in-depth will it be?

SJ: It is hard to say at this point. The ships themselves will not be completely freeform, but there will be a certain modularity to it. How in-depth will we allow to customize, we are not sure yet.


PS: One of your stated objectives is striking a balance between accuracy and playability. I have to admit, after seeing the tech tree, I’m nervous about this – I think you guys have your hearts in the right place, but this is one area where I see so many strategy games go wrong. How do you plan to achieve this goal, and what are some games that you think got the balance right?

SJ: We are aware that balancing the game will probably be the hardest thing to do, which is why we would like to start beta-testing as soon as possible, so that player feedback will allow us to tweak details more easily.


PS: Could you give us some idea about different strategies and paths to victory in Race to Mars? (e.g. in Buzz Aldrin’s Race into Space, you could go the traditional Mercury->Gemini->Apollo route, you could skip Gemini and go straight to Apollo, you could develop a space plane, etc.)

SJ: We are planning to allow the players to try all of the currently thought out development routes, so in theory it will be entirely possible for the company to focus entirely on one segment of production, buying the other needed technologies after making enough money (but at the cost of a lower safety level). The final goal is to establish a stable colony on Mars, so to “win”, just getting to Mars first isn’t enough, though it will, of course, help a lot.


PS: How long will the typical game be – both in real-life time (x hours) and in the number of turns?

SJ: We consider a real-life flight and colonization of Mars could take 30-35 years, so about 360-420 turns. These are our little targets towards which we will balance the game itself.


PS: Any final message for our readers?

SJ: The development itself, as is its potential success, depends a lot on our fans and their support. We are very thankful for your feedback and all of the ideas you keep sending, and for trying to promote our project. Keep it up and we will definitely create a great game for all space fans out there!


The Race to Mars Kickstarter will remain open until 27 July. Race to Mars images in this article were taken from the game’s Kickstarter page.

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