Space Colony


posted 12/22/2003 by Charles Husemann
other articles by Charles Husemann
One Page Platforms: PC
Maxis has made a ton of money over the last few years with their SimCity and Sims franchises (the fact that there are well over six gajillion expansion packs for the Sims illustrates this) so you had to figure it was just a matter of time before someone took the concepts and ran with them. This is exactly what the folks at FireFly Studios have done. They’ve blended concepts from The Sims and SimCity along with some new concepts, tossed in a bit of British humor for spice, and voila you have Space Colony.

Space Colony takes place in the future where you represent Blackwater Industries, a semi-stereotypical conglomerate that is looking to make money in the space business. This is done by setting up mining or tourist operations on planets. It’s your job to setup shop on the planet and get things running (i.e. all of the grunt work). This involves finding items to mine, setting up the mining equipment, controlling the indigenous populations of the planets, and building the infrastructure to attract tourists. Sounds simple right? Well, the folks at Firefly have added the challenge of having to manage the workers.

Each planet will require you to manage the people who are working on your colony. In most SimCity type games, you don’t have to deal with the actual workers who build and maintain the place. They are simple, well-balanced people who do their jobs and go home. You just don’t have to deal with them. This is not the case in Space Colony as the HR department of Blackwater Industries seems to be rather erratic in how they hire people. Space Colony forces you to manage the needs and wants of a rather diverse crew of people and I have to hand it to Firefly for creating such a diverse group of personalities to deal with.

Each colonist has a skill set that allows them to operate the equipment in the colony. These skills are rated as to how well they can perform that function. Colonists can learn new skills later on in the game but it requires additional time and money to accomplish this. This skill mix is critical to ensure that you are using each colonist effectively.

Along with the skills, each colonist has a unique set of wants and needs (socialization, food, sleep etc). These impact how happy they are and you want happy workers since happy workers are better and harder workers (I would note that this is a pretty basic management concept but it’s amazing how many companies fail to grasp that concept). Unlike real life, you can easily see what’s on each workers mind and what they need to make them happy by pulling up their status screen. Workers have a clock icon in their profile, which shows their workday in the form of an analog clock icon. The happier they are, the longer the workday. Firefly has also included a base level view so you can quickly see which of your workers is happy and which ones are not. How you react to these situations is the real meat of the game, as what may be good for one worker may not work for the next.
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