Moonbase, Lunar Colony Simulator

Game Type 	Management Sim
Company		Wesson International
Players		1
Compatability   Kickstart 1.2+, 512k memory

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
-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
-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

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

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

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