Money, Trade and Commerce

Money plays a large part in this game, in fact, it is really in essence a business/entrepreneurial game.

Before going into the details of how players use money in the game, a brief mention of currency is necessary. An early Martian colony would likely use a mixture of Earth currencies, as most settlers would (a) be wealthy, and (b) be using Earth's financial institutions. However, for simplicity, it is assumed that by the time the game starts, a Martian currency has been introduced. For the sake of discussion, the currency units are called stars and the symbol is *, for example, *100. (It may be more likely that one of the common Earth currencies becomes the defacto Martian currency. However it would be difficult to pick one without causing arguments - a Martian currency is simpler and more fun)

There are two basic ways that a player can accumulate money within the game. The first is to convert real Earth money into game money - and this is the whole key to the unique payment system this game uses. The exchange rate could be as follows: one Australian dollar buys one hundred thousand stars (A$1 = *100,000) (This rate can be adjusted during the game's lifetime, depending on profits and playability). Within the game environment, a star would have roughly the same purchasing power as an Australian dollar.

So, a player only needs to pay A$10 with his credit card to become a millionaire in the game. This scale of finance within the game environment is necessary for the players to do anything fun, like buying land or vehicles, or building bases. Naturally players cannot convert Martian money back into Earth money.

Money is required to do most things within the game, for example, purchase a marssuit, some land, base components such as habitat modules or greenhouses, robots, vehicles, substances like water, food, metals, etc. However, it should be possible that potential players can visit the game environment without having to invest any money - this is a good way to recruit players. They could be allowed into one of the big bases and allowed to explore it, but if they want to rent or buy a rover and drive around outside, or buy a Marssuit or whatever, then they have to convert some money.

Players can earn money by being entrepreneurial - and this is really the soul of the game. A good player will discover ways to create money, and therefore never have to pay to play (beyond their initial investment). The most obvious example is for a player to be a property developer: purchase some cheap undeveloped Martian land, build a base on it, and sell units or parcels of land back to new players. Another example would be someone who sets up a water mine at a polar ice cap and sells water to bases. Another player could construct an iron mine and steel factory and sell steel girders to habitat builders, who can then sell hab modules to property developers.

Players can set their own prices, compete with each other for business, and thus the game environment develops its own economy. The game controllers only set the prices of land and other basics that cannot be provided by players. Once all the land is sold to players (which will take a very long time) then the prices of land become determined by the internal economy of the game.

As you can imagine, some players will get very addicted to the game as the environment and the game itself evolves. If they are very good then they will not have to invest more money. If they are not, then these players will be continually spending money on the game.

SolSys Developers' Site