Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager Announced!

Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager (SPM) Road to the Moon is the ultimate game of space exploration.

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Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager Announced!

Post by IainMcNeil » Thu Feb 07, 2013 6:16 pm

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Next Destination: space.
Buzz Aldrin’s Space Program Manager first look

"We are going to the moon, we shall go to the planets, we shall travel to the stars just as today we go from Liverpool to New York, easily, rapidly, surely, and the oceans of space will be crossed like the seas of the moon".
Jules Verne, From the Earth to the Moon, Ch. XIX (1865)

Epsom, 7th February 2013 - Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager is the ultimate game of space exploration. Releasing on PC, Mac and iPad in June this year, this exciting title will take players on a journey of exploration and space conquest from the dawn of human spaceflight to modern space exploration vehicles and on to the future.

To ensure the accuracy and authenticity of the game it is being developed in consultation with Dr. Buzz Aldrin, former U.S. Air Force combat pilot (66 missions in Korea) and NASA astronaut, who took part in the first Moon landing mission and became the second human being to walk on the Moon.

"Working with Buzz Aldrin in this project is a fascinating journey", said Ignacio Liverotti, Lead Developer at Polar Motion, developer of the game. "As a fan of space exploration, it's a dream to be able to work on such an exciting title and having Dr. Aldrin as a consultant".

In Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager players are in charge of carefully managing the agency's budget by opening programs, spending R&D funds on improving the hardware, recruiting personnel and astronauts and launching space missions. Road to the Moon is the first chapter in a series of three engaging games that will take players on a fantastic journey.

"We have been branching out to new platforms and settings recently", said Iain McNeil, Development Director of the Slitherine Group. "Games such as Commander: the Great War and Battle Academy on iPad prove we can expand our audience by widening our range of titles. Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager is certainly a great example on how we can attract new players, but stick to our roots of intelligent gameplay and in-depth, well researched content".

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Game Features
• Manage all aspects of your fledgling space agency from the 1950’s through to the Lunar landings in the first episode. Later episodes will add a permanent space station in Earth orbit all the way to the ultimate goal – a Manned Mission to Mars!
• Create space programs and launch missions inspired by real programs such as the X-15 Space plane and the Sputnik satellite through to the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo manned spacecrafts and more!
• Research and develop hundreds of mission components from 40 different program categories.
• Develop your facility with advanced structures and upgrades including the Vehicle Assembly Building, the Mission Control Center and the Observatory.
• Recruit and train astronaut candidates and assign them to missions.
• Assemble an elite team of Scientists, Engineers, Technicians and Flight Controllers for the best chance of success.
• Manage your agency's extensive budget.
• Components can cause catastrophic failures. You must decide whether to abort or push on with each mission.
• Vast amounts of research ensure the huge database includes missions that launched and many more that never left the drawing board!
• In Campaign Mode, manage your agency while pandering to the requirements of government to keep your position as Director!
• Play in Sand Box mode to manage your budget with no politics involved.
• Hundreds of components built in 3D and rendered out in exquisite detail allow you to follow the progress of your missions.
• A historic advisor gives background information on the real missions and astronauts throughout the game.
• Designed in consultation with Dr. Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 Lunar Module Pilot and the second human being to set foot on the Moon.

For more information, check out the product page.

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Re: Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager Announced!

Post by Barnacle_Bill » Tue Feb 12, 2013 7:31 pm

Is this game any relation (other than general subject matter & celebrity tie-in) to Buzz Aldrin's Race Into Space ("BARIS") from 20 years ago?

That was a great game, with for its time inovative use of video. I used to participate in the Dev's board on the old Genie service back in the day. It was based on a board game called "Liftoff!", and the board game designer Fritz Bronner was the lead developer for BARIS.

Some of the screen shots here look like the mission is divided into steps, which is how BARIS worked. Each step rolled against the reliability of the applicable part of the hardware (booster, capsule, etc.,.), modified by applicable crew member skill. This looks like it could be similar.

Edit: The "prestige" thing on the screen shots looks similar to BARIS as well. You gained it for successful missions, especially "firsts" (achieving some milestone before your opponent), lost it for failed missions (big time for fatalities), and it controlled your budget.

I ran into Fritz on-line a few years ago in another context & exchanged a couple emails. He was hoping to get a BARIS 2 off the grouynd that was taking the race past the 1960's moon landing to something in the future exploring the solar system, with more nations added. The statement about later episodes in this game sounds similar to that as well.

It would be great to hear Fritz was involved in this project.

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Re: Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager Announced!

Post by doc99 » Tue Feb 12, 2013 11:40 pm

All right if my "Little Joe" booster blows up on the launch pad again with the escape tower..I'll....I'll..................I'll start over

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Re: Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager Announced!

Post by IainMcNeil » Wed Feb 13, 2013 9:41 am

Yes it is heavily inspired by BARIS but the code and design team are completely new. We're working with Buzz to ensure the missions we have are accurate and we're even getting an inside look at his plans for the manned Mars Cycler missions and building that in to the latter stages of the game.

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Re: Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager Announced!

Post by NickMUK » Wed Feb 13, 2013 5:14 pm

This looks fantastic, love the graphics and the scope of the game seems to promise huge amount of varied strategy. I especially like the idea of being able to complete projects that were scrapped by NASA and the RSA, I'd love to be able to successfully land Beagle 2 or complete Space Station Freedom or orbital weapon platforms.

Will the player be able to play as other nations/agencies such as ESA and JAXA? Maybe even as nations such as the Chinese or Indians or private initiatives like SpaceX and Virgin Galactic? I wonder if there will be scope to define parameters or research areas for development, i.e. a modular system to build our own space stations.

I'm a lover of strategy games and I remember "wasting" many of my teenage days playing BARIS, although I'm pretty sure I never beat the computer. I dug it out again a couple of weeks ago and am no closer to winning now I'm grown up. I would love to get an opportunity to beta test this when the time comes if there are places available.

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Re: Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager Announced!

Post by Barnacle_Bill » Thu Feb 14, 2013 1:29 am

NickMUK wrote:I'm a lover of strategy games and I remember "wasting" many of my teenage days playing BARIS, although I'm pretty sure I never beat the computer.
Baris was a notoriosly hard game in single player. The AI was really good. That is one of the most common complaints by SP players in the gaming industry, but not with BARIS 8)

I won some, but probably lost more than I won. You were definately hosed if you played it safe - no balls, no blue chips. NOTHING guaranteed a win, but caution pretty much guaranteed a lose.

I was 11 when Apollo 11 landed on the moon, and remember staying up way past my bedtime to watch Armstrong step off that ladder. If you are younger than me, you probably can't wrap your mind around what a big deal all this was. BARIS was huge to me, and I'd love to be a beta for this new game.

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Re: Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager Announced!

Post by Barnacle_Bill » Thu Feb 14, 2013 2:49 am

I just noticed this in the write-up...

"It is the mid 1950s and the biggest nations in the world, in an effort to conquer outer space together, have established the Global Space Agency (GSA). "

Don't you think this is kinda bogus? Totally not the spirit of those times. The space race was a contest between East & West. This sounds like PC crap. BARIS captured this clearly, with a high-tension race between the USA & USSR to get to the moon first as proof of their ideological superiority. Both sides were fun to play, but not jaringly out of tune with history. This competition was what made it a game, as opposed to a sandbox simulator.

For a taste of the spirit of the era, go watch "Countdown" (1968, staring James Caan and Robert Duvall).
Last edited by Barnacle_Bill on Thu Feb 14, 2013 2:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager Announced!

Post by doc99 » Thu Feb 14, 2013 2:50 am

....and another thing, I could have launched Vanguard in 1956 if I went with Werner and the boys and shifted funding.......all kidding aside I spent many many happy hours with BARIS but it was buggy and never got the support it deserved...and it was far too intelligent and ambitious for the computing capability in a niche audience that was way geekie before its time ...this looks like it will finally get its justice due....now where the hell is that damn monkey I sent up?

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Re: Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager Announced!

Post by Barnacle_Bill » Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:04 am

doc99 wrote:....and another thing, I could have launched Vanguard in 1956 if I went with Werner and the boys and shifted funding.......all kidding aside I spent many many happy hours with BARIS but it was buggy and never got the support it deserved...and it was far too intelligent and ambitious for the computing capability in a niche audience that was way geekie before its time ...this looks like it will finally get its justice due....now where the hell is that damn monkey I sent up?
Yeh, this will no doubt bring all us old BARIS geeks out of the woodwork, but I'm pretty worried about this post-Cold War global kumbaya jazz turning it into a historical farce. It's a race, dang-it!

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Re: Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager Announced!

Post by doc99 » Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:11 am

..could not agree with you more: the subtle tension of the Super Power space competition for those of us who lived through and recalled the Space Race made this game have a competitive edge that must not be lost or it will be dumbed-down to an abstract that will lose a lot

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Re: Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager Announced!

Post by NickMUK » Thu Feb 14, 2013 2:02 pm

I just noticed this in the write-up...

"It is the mid 1950s and the biggest nations in the world, in an effort to conquer outer space together, have established the Global Space Agency (GSA). "

Don't you think this is kinda bogus? Totally not the spirit of those times. The space race was a contest between East & West. This sounds like PC crap. BARIS captured this clearly, with a high-tension race between the USA & USSR to get to the moon first as proof of their ideological superiority. Both sides were fun to play, but not jaringly out of tune with history. This competition was what made it a game, as opposed to a sandbox simulator.
Yeah, having read the GSA bit, it sounds like the game will be very sandboxy. I'm not sure where the competition will come from, maybe there's a competing "World Space Organisation" or Private sector competition.

I wonder if maybe there will be a mechanism where extra funds could be obtained by the commercial marketing of your research or selling seats for tourists?

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Re: Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager Announced!

Post by IainMcNeil » Thu Feb 14, 2013 2:11 pm

There will be a sandbox mode where you can try out stuff but in Campaign mode you'll have targets set by government to achieve and penalties for failing them or possibly being fired if you fail badly. We're still working on the details of this but we'd like to get some sort of influence score in there which rises every time you complete a task, goes down if you fail one and can be used to divert government from its plan to another target you think more suitable. If it drops below say 0, you are fired and its game over.

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Re: Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager Announced!

Post by Barnacle_Bill » Thu Feb 14, 2013 5:55 pm

IainMcNeil wrote:There will be a sandbox mode where you can try out stuff but in Campaign mode you'll have targets set by government to achieve and penalties for failing them or possibly being fired if you fail badly. We're still working on the details of this but we'd like to get some sort of influence score in there which rises every time you complete a task, goes down if you fail one and can be used to divert government from its plan to another target you think more suitable. If it drops below say 0, you are fired and its game over.
Why not simply make it historical, with rival US & Soviet space programs, instead of introducing a completely ahistorical (in the game's timeframe) global space agency that somehow the rival superpowers support instead of their own space programs? Not only ahistorical in that it didn't happen, but implausible in that nobody would spend all that money in that era for any reason unconnected to the Cold War. You can save the utopian internationalist fantasy for the sequel about going to Mars, which hasn't happened any which way yet so anything goes (although I would still prefer Fritz Bronner's concept of a 4-way race with the US, Russia, China & India/Brazil/EU/somebody - I forget exactly who #4 was).

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Re: Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager Announced!

Post by NickMUK » Thu Feb 14, 2013 7:15 pm

I like the idea of having targets or requirements rather than simply doing everything before your competitor as was the case in BARIS. That said, I'm not convinced the audience will react positively to the absence of an opponent, it's fine for SimCity but . If maybe there could be an online mode to play against others that would appease peoples reservations?

As far as AI goes (either government or opponent) perhaps "pesonalities/doctirnes" could be employed i.e. robotic (cheaper but limited capabilities) vs manned (vesatile but costs more for training/R&D) vs balanced space exploration, this is something that is being debated a lot in the space industry at the moment. Maybe using a system along the lines of adopting policies in Civ5 to shift the focus of the government toward your playing style.

Choice of launch sites, either a remote equatorial site making it cheaper to launch payloads but costing more to transport from industrial complexes near the more developed cities or a launch site near industrial cities making production/transport cheaper but costing more to launch into orbit?

Anyway, it's your game not mine. Hope that maybe these ideas could help you improve the game if it's something which hasn't been thought of.
Last edited by NickMUK on Fri Feb 15, 2013 1:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager Announced!

Post by doc99 » Thu Feb 14, 2013 8:15 pm

If one were to study the politics of the Space Race it was competitively based. The International Geophysical Year of 1956 was defined as launching a satellite into earth orbit simply as a scientific endeavor. But when Russia made it a completion of ideologies the Space Race was born. This the "juice'--if you will--that made early and subsequent space exploration challenging. To leave it out of this game IS A BAD MOVE.

So, I would like to see the "historical" module where the player can play both the Russian as well as the US side .

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Re: Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager Announced!

Post by Barnacle_Bill » Fri Feb 15, 2013 3:03 am

Absolutely! The competition was the reason for it. W/O that factor, pretty sure there would be no human footprints on the moon today.

And no, a competative mode only in multi-player doesn't fix it.

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Re: Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager Announced!

Post by IainMcNeil » Fri Feb 15, 2013 10:10 am

We understand some people would like a space race but this is not the current game design. The game is about letting you build any mission from any nation and we didn't want to limit you to just US or Soviet missions. We may make a space race game later but this is not a remake of BARIS - it is a new game.

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Re: Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager Announced!

Post by Barnacle_Bill » Fri Feb 15, 2013 4:45 pm

I think you are missing the point. Forget about BARIS. The idea of a global space agency in the 50's & 60's getting Apollo-level funding and highly classified militarily useful technology from the rival superpowers is ridiculous. This was the Cold War. Without the Cold War, nobody would have invested that kind of money in space. A lot of the launch vehicles started life as ICBM's. Such an agency would have been impossible in the international political climate of that era. A different enough international political climate to make it politically feasible would also have eliminated the motive for spending all that money. You really should reconsider that aspect of the game's premise.

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Re: Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager Announced!

Post by IainMcNeil » Fri Feb 15, 2013 5:15 pm

I understand but what we're saying is the game is not a historical simulation based on the Cold War. This is an alternative history and it is a key part of the design to allow you to build any of the projects from all of the nations so is not going to change.

We may do a Cold War Space race game later but this is not that game.

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Re: Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager Announced!

Post by doc99 » Fri Feb 15, 2013 9:43 pm

Ian--thanks for your response and clarification

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