“Pssst… Saving the Colony isn’t Actually the Point”

I just found this short comment about Mars Colony, by the user SevenSidedDie. I think it’s worth sharing here:

Mars Colony doesn’t have a reward cycle. You either save the colony, leave a false saviour, or leave in shame. Only your character’s fiction changes — status, emotions, personal relationships — none of which is reflected in the mechanics.

Arguably this is the point of the game. The mechanics are about the successes, failures, and moral compromises the saviour can make trying to save the Colony. The mechanics stay away from how the saviour might be changed by their struggle, leaving it up to the players to answer how their actions and moral compromises trying to save Mars Colony should change them.

SevenSidedDie’s conclusion is accurate. I tried to design a game that emphasized the personal struggle of a very public figure. People often tell me that they wish Fear Cards or Kelly’s Sympathy had a direct mechanical affect on the core conflict mechanic. But that wasn’t my design goal. The point of Fear Cards and Personal Scenes isn’t to feed into Progress Scenes. Rather it’s the other way around. Progress Scenes are meant to feed into Personal Scenes. Conflict and Deception are meant to inspire the use of future Fear Cards. In other words, a Progress Scene creates tension that the players are then able to explore on a personal level via the rest of the game’s mechanics.