Title Game Type Management Sim Company Wesson International http://www.wesson.com Players 1 Compatability Kickstart 1.2+, 512k memory submission email@example.com Review This is a very unusual game, quite apart from the run of the mill. It is one of my favourite Amiga Games. The game is not by a software company as such, but by a Construction Company, predicting a near future Moonbase, and showing how it can be technically, and more importantly economically feasible, the Programmers consulted NASA experts. The concept gels well, and seems plausible, but one decimal point in the wrong place for commodity prices, and it could all fall to bits. The game rightly predicted that there was a high chance of finding water deposits on the Moon, in the form of crashed meteorites. Since the real life discovery plans for a Moonbase have been revealed, showing just how critical it is. In the game you don't allways find water, it is winnable without it - just! But a walk over with it, as it is needed for drinking, growing food (it is highly costly to ship in), and for making oxygen and rocket fuel (H2O -> Liquid Oxygen and Hydrogen). You also get a big manual, which is a story, with technical and game information scattered through it, most novel (pardon the pun). The story involves, not surprisingly, the foundation of a lunar colony, with another Chinese colony on the other side of the moon (again very plausible in today's world). Among other thing they have to prevent a melt down of a fission reactor, see to a crashed lander, break a strike, and trade solar power with the Chinese, as one side of the moon is in darkness, when the other is light, with a lunar might lasting 14 earth days, this makes a lot of sense. As with most resource management games there are several resources to balance, you don't want more than you need of any, otherwise this will lead to extra costs and inefficiencies, but if you buy in bulk, start-up and maintenance costs are cheaper, so you must work out the optimum balance. You begin with an Annual NASA Grant, that decreases over time, and may stop all together when Earth is at War, or in Recession. It is a finite resource, so invest wisely, or your Colony's going to be a turkey. The resources are Money (you can never have too much of this!), Power, Heat Dissipation, Food, Scientific Research, and Commodities. Some small modules have their own solar panels, and cooling radiators. Modules also need to be connected to roads, power lines, and heat pipes before they function. Also if there is a shortage of power, or cooling production efficiency will reduce. Commodities are: -Tourists (so to speak). If you build a Hotel, and connect it to the power & cooling system. Tourists will arrive, and pay big bucks (by their standards). Tourism doesn't pay that well, but doesn't cost much either. It is a steady income though, effected by Earth's economic state. -High Quality Computer Chips (made in low gravity). This means they can be made to run at higher clock speeds, and have less rejects in each batch. Current techniques have a 70% failure level. This means they command a high price, specially for Military, and Corporate applications, justifying the expense of going to the Moon. You can research a scientific breakthrough, to greatly increase chip quality, which will greatly increase it's commodity price. -Helium-3, an isotope blasted off the Sun, blocked by Earth's atmosphere, and buried by weather, but found in quantity on the Moon. If Fusion Reactors are ever developed this will be the fuel they use. Fusion reactors can be researched in this game, and not only make Helium-3 mining economically feasible, but mean you can build your own safe reactor, with a vast cheap safe power output. -LLOX, Lunar-derived Liquid Oxygen, this is made from mined moonrock. -Materials, these are usually solar panels for your colony, other colonies, spacestations, satellites, and Mars missions, as it is a lot cheaper to lift stuff off the Moon than the Earth, due to reduced gravity. Massdrivers, using magnetism driven by electricity can launch stuff into orbit. Estimates say it will cost $6600 to transport one kilogram of stuff from the Earth to the Moon, a lot less the other way though. -Water can be sold to other colonies, or used internally. It is a good idea to have as many Commodities as possible, so if the bottom drops out of one market, you can stop production, or run at a slight loss if you have excess capacity, and make up the short fall somewhere else. The stock market simulation is very realistic, and is effected by over/under supply, war, recession, and scientific breakthroughs. There are also a few events that happen: -Now and again solar flares occur, anyone not in an outpost will die, and new workers will have to be brought in or production efficiency will be reduced. If you have built an astronomy module, you will get advance warning, and everyone will be saved. This module also increases the tourist trade. -The miners may also go on strike, as mining is usually your first industry, this can cripple your colony, so make sure, they are not overcrowded, overworked, underpaid, and have a recreation habitat. Crew wages, usually only amount to 1% of the budget. -Landers may crash, so build lander pads, away from built up areas, to reduce the chance of this happening. -Exploration, you can send explorers to check different squares in the map they may discover: alien artefacts or a historic survey probe which will increase tourist revenue, high concentrations of regrowth making mining more efficient and profitable, or water. Water can only be discovered in craters. - Scientific Breakthroughs, providing you build and fund at least one science lab, there is a chance each turn that you will discover, low-gravity electronics (better quality chip manufacture), lunar materials processing (cheaper solar panel manufacture), or a nuclear fusion (a lot safer to research on the barren moon, in case something goes wrong). The more money you invest the greater the chance, but if you invest to much, you might go bankrupt. -The power and cooling systems can become overloaded, which reduces production efficiencies, and leads to strikes. -Fission reactor explosion, rare but deadly, build it in a crater to reduce damage. -The LLOX plant may be sabotaged and destroyed. The crew live in habitation modules, these come in several sizes, the larger ones being more efficient, but only when fully occupied. Remember most modules require crew, so once built you must ship in extra workers from Earth, or production efficiency will be reduced. Spare parts have to be shipped in from Earth, so you can build maintenance/repair facilities to cut down on shipment costs. There running costs are high, as they have to get specialist engineering equipment from Earth themselves, so you must work out the optimum number to build, to reduce maintenance costs, but not make a bigger running cost. They are very useful though, especially when you are running on a tight budget. At the end of the year you decide a percentage for resupply, if this is below 100%, due to lack of funds, or you saving for something, more things will break, and productivity will be reduced. A greenhouse can be built which reduces food costs, but only if you have a lot of workers as it requires a lot of water, power, and cooling. It's very cost effective if you have discovered water. A communication module can be built, but this isn't much cop, only giving you commodity prices scrolling across the screen, which can be found in a menu anyway, which only acts to severely slow the game. Buildings can be bulldozed, if no longer required, or uneconomic. Bulldozing buildings and clearing rubble takes a long time, and happens while real time was passing, probably not such a problem on faster Amigas. The game's only major drawback is that once completed a few times it gets rather repetitive, and you end up with piles of money with nothing to buy having bought everything, or in permanent bankruptcy, unable to claw your way back. Perhaps they should bring out a sequel , where you start with a fully functional Moonbase, and have to construct a Spacestation, or a Mars mission, or compete with other Colonies. This game is more challenging than most, and is not a guaranteed win, but is easier with experience. A minor drawback is power and cooling can only be connected in one corner of most buildings, to a 3 way connector. As two connections are always used, and all building must be connected it makes for a bit of a topological problem, and repetitive city planning. The game ends after 100 years, with the aim that you will be self sufficient.