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Planetbase - a mini review


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#1 nick68k

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Posted 11 June 2016 - 08:24 AM

Last night I did something that I haven't done in years.

No, you're quite wrong; I sat up until 2 am playing a computer game.

Older readers may remember Space Colony, a 2003 space-themed RTS/builder sim. Planetbase from Madruga Works, is reminiscent of that, except without the laughs, and with a good, hard dose of strategy and and impressive realism.

You start off with a colony ship on a Mars-type world, the friendliest of the available planets (more of which - which are increasingly challenging - are unlocked through in-game achievements). You have seven colonists, initially a mix of workers, engineers, biologists and medics. You have a couple of bots, to aid in construction and resource management.

Your first job is to construct an oxygen generator, otherwise the game will be over rather quickly. The O2 generator requires water, so you'll need a water extractor too. Both of these devices need a power source, and you have a choice between solar panels (which aren't great at generating electricity at night), or wind turbines (the wind being a cruel and unpredictable mistress). You'll also need some way of storing the electricity, particularly for use at night. Better build some power collectors (i.e. big-a** batteries). Set those colonists to work!

Now, of course, your brave pioneers will need somewhere to live and something to eat, and the supplies on the colony ship won't last forever. So you construct living habitats and canteens using the resources you generate in-game, primarily ore, dug from the ground, and bioplastic (more on that later). Food is provided by plants grown in biomes, which also provide raw materials for medicine (don't let your medics die!), but also provide a raw construction material in the form of starch, which is converted to bioplastic. Choose your crops wisely; some species such as potatoes and rice produce more starch than edible produce. You'll also need to keep your biologists happy as they tend to the biomes. Meat can also be synthesised from starch in your lab to keep the colonists diet varied.

You'll need to produce spare parts and components in your factories for maintenance purposes. You can also produce more bots to help in construction (these little guys don't suffer from morale problems). You'll need to keep a very close eye on water, power, food and O2 production. Balancing these resources is quite difficult at first, and it's very easy to lose colonists to starvation or asphyxiation. There are also environmental hazards to contend with, such as sandstorms and solar flares. New colonists periodically appear on colony ships, and trading ships too, for resource management.

I'm having a lot of fun with the game. The graphics are quite lovely; reflection and transparency is employed very effectively, and the colonists are very nicely animated. Micromanagement is essential in the early stages, but given a few hours your colony will become essentially self-supporting. And it's hard, at first. I've moved on from Mars to a Europa-type ice world, with plenty of wind, but lower solar flux. It's more 'The Martian' than 'Space Colony', but I'm having a blast.
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#2 Thain Esh Kelch

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Posted 11 June 2016 - 09:33 AM

Wind0ws only it seems. Looks interesting though.
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#3 nick68k

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Posted 11 June 2016 - 09:38 AM

View PostThain Esh Kelch, on 11 June 2016 - 09:33 AM, said:

Wind0ws only it seems. Looks interesting though.

OS X too. I'm playing it on my iMac :teehee: (from GoG, if you're wondering).
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#4 the Battle Cat

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Posted 11 June 2016 - 10:54 AM

View Postnick68k, on 11 June 2016 - 08:24 AM, said:

Last night I did something that I haven't done in years.

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#5 Spike

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 12:42 PM

So it looks like the developer does not support the Mac. GoG probably just put it in a wine wrapper themselves.

#6 nick68k

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 01:05 PM

View PostSpike, on 12 June 2016 - 12:42 PM, said:

So it looks like the developer does not support the Mac. GoG probably just put it in a wine wrapper themselves.

I dunno. The developer talks about the Mac beta version here
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#7 Janichsan

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 02:36 PM

View PostSpike, on 12 June 2016 - 12:42 PM, said:

So it looks like the developer does not support the Mac. GoG probably just put it in a wine wrapper themselves.
It's also a Mac/Windows SteamPlay title, so probably not.

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