Take On Mars Lands On Steam Early Access

By Jim Rossignol on August 2nd, 2013 at 4:00 pm.


Bohemia’s Mars-exploration sim, Take On Mars, has appeared on Steam’s ‘Early Access’ service – where early-version releases can be purchased and updated as development goes along – for the handsomely Martian sum of £8.99. Bohemia are hoping that a stint on early access will let them iron out bugs via exposure to the unblinking gaze of the internet’s infinite vigilance.

See the trailer below to figure out if you want to explore Mars in a simulation.

I’m almost tempted to pick this up as a sort of celebration of Curiosity’s first year on Mars, which I suspect this release might have coincided with quite deliberately.

Oh my God that video went as fast as the actual year I just had. Doomed.

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44 Comments »

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  1. CaidKean says:

    From the moment this was announced I knew I had to have it, bought it from the BIS Store on the 25th and have been playing it since yesterday.

    If you’re a Mars-lover like me, and I’m not talking about the chocolate bar, then you owe it to yourself to buy this game.

    It’s still kinda rough around the edges due to early access but the developers are remarkably active on the official forums and very helpful and open to suggestions.

    TL;DR: If you like Mars, I demand you purchase this here title.

    • mcgormer says:

      my buddy’s step-aunt makes $72 every hour on the computer. She has been laid off for seven months but last month her pay check was $16823 just working on the computer for a few hours. Here’s the site to read more ……………… http://xurl.es/wep6

  2. mwoody says:

    Valve have been quick to badmouth their Greenlight system, but I think the real failed experiment for them of late is this Early Access. I’ve yet to see one of these games that doesn’t have a Steam forum absolutely filled to the brim with people angry at the unfinished and buggy state of the game in question; the vitriol is astonishing. Sometimes the posters even have a point, too; for example, Planet Explorers shows features in their Steam video that the currently available build isn’t even close to exhibiting. For a Kickstarter or some early alpha downloaded from the devs, sure, that’s not a big deal; but when you’re paying good money to an online store and the version of the game you download doesn’t match the advertisement? That’s a problem.

    What’s more, the prices on these games are ridiculous. I love Kickstarter, but I despise the idea it’s given us that early access is a premium that should command a high toll rather than, like for example Minecraft, an agreement to help test and support early in exchange for a discount.

    • Tyrmot says:

      ‘filled to the brim with people angry at the unfinished and buggy state of the game in question’

      What exactly were these people expecting when buying access to an Alpha – i.e. unfinished version – of the game? It sounds rather more like they are the fools here, not Valve. No-one is obliged to buy it, if you would rather wait for the release version, then of course just do so.

      • mwoody says:

        It’s a problem of audience, and venue. Steam is not perceived as a place to support early Alpha games.

        Look at it like this: if you went to Best Buy and picked up a box that said “Early Access! Try out the game before release!” and took it home, only to discover that you’ve paid a premium to get a “game” where you want around an empty landscape and do nothing for ten minutes and then it crashes, never encountering anything on the box art… Well, I don’t know about you, but that would piss me off.

        Put another way: Steam is a store. Stores shouldn’t be selling unfinished, buggy products, “Early Access” emblazoned on them or not. Even if the difference is entirely in the users’ mind – and I agree, it really is – there’s an expectation here that’s not being met.

        Perhaps if Early Access was in a cordoned off section of the site, NOT advertised on the main steampowered page. It would need a different look, possibly even a different client, or at the very least put these early versions in a completely separate tab of the main client. They need to absolutely scream that these games are not complete at every step of the process.

        • Leb says:

          While I agree Steam isn’t the best media outlet for early access, they plaster early access all over the store page.

          People are just fucking nitwits.

        • fawker says:

          On the other hand, as someone who is well aware what Early Access means, I find it nice to have something new to look at and possibly play on what might otherwise be a no release day on steam.

          I do agree that if it’s not “playable,” it has no business there. I can’t think of the title, but all it had was the tutorial. Unacceptable.

          • Kuschelwampe says:

            Maybe Folk Tale? Looked very promising. But you could only play tutorial for like 20 minutes.
            Well,not for 15€.

        • Monkeh says:

          Buying some Alpha at a store wouldn’t make sense and isn’t comparable, since when you buy on Steam Early Acces you get the Alpha right away, but also updates and eventually the finished product. It’s just a shame that some people are too stupid to understand this.

        • Dominic White says:

          As others have been mentioned, this isn’t a problem with the store in the slightest. The early access store is VERY clearly labelled that these are unfinished games in various stages of development, and that if you want a finished, polished game, you should wait for them to finish it.

          If you buy an unfinished game that’s clearly advertised as such, you don’t get to complain about it being unfinished, because THAT’S WHAT YOU PAID FOR, GOOFUS.

      • PatrickSwayze says:

        Angry internetters gonna keep on angrying

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      I think that depends where you look: the Prison Architect early access seems very successful in that regard.

      • DigitalParadox says:

        That’s arguably part of the problem. People have become used to the couple of games that do have fairly non-buggy early access with many features, such as Prison Architect or Don’t Starve, and so when they pay for any ol’ game which isn’t out yet they expect it to be of the same standard of quality when its so often an actual beta filled with bugs. Which really should be expected.

      • Premium User Badge

        JiminyJickers says:

        Yeah, I agree. Kerbal Space Program also have a lot of praise for good reason. Some Early access games are definitely not ready yet compared to others but that is fine.

        I think early access is working just fine.

        • mwoody says:

          Perhaps that’s a better description of the problem: some games – and, to be fair, some genres – do better at presenting early versions to the public. Something like Don’t Starve doesn’t need a lot of complexity to be initially amusing, so it was fun early on, and the added features felt less like finishing the game and more like taking a simple but complete base game and adding content.

          Perhaps the lesson here is that Early Access is for betas or, at worst, very playable and stable alphas. It shouldn’t be used when the product is too early in development to engage the user and maintain their interest somewhat.

  3. Turkey says:

    Is there a metagame where you get reprimanded for clipping off the solar panel of the $10 billion probe that took a decade to make? Cause I winced a little when that happened.

  4. XhomeB says:

    I don’t know what happened, but I seem to have developed an obsession with such… weird, unconventional games. Kerbal Space Program, Take on Helicopters simply fascinate me to no end. Take on Mars is among my top 3 most anticipated games this year. No idea why or when this obsession started, but it excites me. Can’t wait.

    • Zenicetus says:

      You, Sir or M’am, would seem to be a candidate for a modern civilian flight sim like X-Plane. The helicopter models in that sim are much better than in Take on Helicopters. You can get as complex as you want with the systems modeling in modern airliners, or just tool around in light planes and vintage aircraft (my favorite).

      • XhomeB says:

        Thanks, will give the demo a try! Just checked the website – the game really looks like THAT? The level of detail on the ground is insane.

      • Premium User Badge

        Matt_W says:

        X-plane is very tempting to me, but a $70 price tag and having to keep a DVD in the drive to play it (not to mention being distributed on DVDs) are big turn offs. I think I might try DCS, which at least doesn’t time-lock their demo.

  5. razgon says:

    unfortunately, coinciding with BI’s decision to launch ARMA 3 without a campaign, most probable due to financial issues, this smacks of desperation. The game has a LOT of holes in it currently, and the developers have numerous times said that they hope the internet will produce some interesting things via modding, leaving me to think that all their “Might be” plans will never come to fruition and the game will remain bare-bones as it is.

    Hell, Carrier Command STILL isn’t fixed and has no Multiplayer, even though it was “in the cards” for over a year ago.

    Its a shame, because there was a real possibility of a good game here, but I doubt we will ever see it completed.

    • XhomeB says:

      Awwwww… It’s THAT bare-bones? Like a shell of something that could be grand in scope?

      • Cleave says:

        Yeah there are only 2 locations and a handful of things to do so far, but there are several different types of vehicle and I would imagine there’ll be a lot more content eventually, particularly the maps. I was hoping you’d be able to land anywhere you want but that’s obviously not realistic.

        It’s well worth the asking price at the moment though just as it’s so interesting. For all intents and purposes you’re actually operating a remote vehicle on the surface of mars driving around and doing science :)

        • CaidKean says:

          Wrong. There are three locations on Mars that can currently be explored, the Victoria crater, the Kaiser crater and the Gale crater. If you can’t access the third one in the campaign then that is most likely because you haven’t gotten a high enough tech level yet that lets you send a rover or lander there.

    • CaidKean says:

      Do you have any basis for your statement of BIS’s financial trouble, other than pure speculation?

      ARMA 3 was certainly not launched with early access out of any form of desperation from what I can see. Instead it was more of a way to reach out to the community, which after all is what makes the titles so successful, and allow them to start working on modifications for it before launch and fiddling with it. It also allows BIS to collect a lot more feedback in a far more open manner which allows for more tweaking of the game before it has a final retail launch.

      I will not disagree though that Carrier Command seems to have been handled quite poorly in most respects, especially when it comes to communication with the customers.

  6. faelnor says:

    It’s not really a sim right now, or rather it’s an extremely shallow one. There’s only so much you can do driving around, avoiding rocks and drilling samples and barely any challenge at all.

    At this point, I think BI haven’t exactly decided what the focus of the game should be, whether it should be a sim as far as a rover operator from earth goes ie. managing launch parameters, designing rovers, managing landings and subsequent component failures, making decisions about paths to take to maximize energy and instrument conservation, sending and receiving data etc. ; or a sim as far as the rover itself goes ie. “playing the rover”, navigating carefully, looking for good samples to analyze, precisely adjusting the cameras and instruments to take good pictures, etc. As a consequence, it does neither really well and feels like it’s missing something important, something deeper.

    That said, I find it particularly engrossing, especially when using the early, crude rovers with low-res and monochromatic display. Forcing yourself not to press “C” (the cheating external view) and just roaming Mars’ surface to get a good angle for a shot is rather pretty and rather fun.

    As several other people have said, as an Alpha it has a lot of potential. Several game mechanics are well in place, but I remain skeptical as to whether the developers will find the good balance in what the game should simulate and what its focus exactly should be.

    For less than 10€ I’d say it’s worth a try if you are a fan of Mars science missions but *do not* expect anything even remotely as complex as KSP.

    • Dominic White says:

      I’m really not sure what you were expecting in a mars rover simulator. It drives slowly about and drills rocks and does basic sciency things. If you’re not interested in doing that, you’re probably not the target market for a piece of software simulating such things.

      • faelnor says:

        It’s not a mars rover simulator because it barely simulates anything at the moment. There is no checklist for coping with hardware failures, no boot/reboot procedure, there is no way to tweak the internals of the instruments, motors, etc. etc. And what’s actually in there is very streamlined (press forward to go forward). At the same time, it’s not a mars mission simulator either.

        Right now, it’s a sandbox which isn’t really satisfying on either a scientific, a gameplay or a simulation level, and shouldn’t be treated as a sim. That’s the whole point of my post, which you should re-read. Also the part where I say I’m still enjoying it because it’s aesthetically pleasing and its heart is well-placed.

    • CaidKean says:

      You make valid points, however I do not really see how you want them to do landing management? As far as I know the entry-descent landings of rovers and landers on Mars have always been done using pre-programmed commands that are then carried out automatically by computers at specific points. Would you prefer to force the player to sit and do math every time they want to launch a mission in order to calculate the correct trajectory and so forth? By the way, a hard mode is in development that will among other things disable third-person and free fly cameras, will reduce the speed of the rover to make it more realistic and I am guessing include other tweaks. You will also be able to program a route for the rovers in a future update.

      • faelnor says:

        I have to agree that there isn’t much to simulate about landing, although I would enjoy being able to engineer the lander stages themselves. I was more thinking along the lines of offering an interesting challenge if a landing goes awry, maybe dynamically change the mission objectives if some part of the rover gets damaged (which I’ll agree you can already do to some extent), try to re-establish communication and make the best of what’s working.

        Anyway my whole rant is very much seated in “what it could be” right now, which isn’t too fair. I really hope the modding scene will have its own take on Take on Mars.

  7. ScubaMonster says:

    This is how you price early access. I’m looking straight at you, Planetary Annihilation. Not saying PA should cost that small of an amount, but certainly not $80 or $90, whatever it was.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      While I agree with you, I think both companies did what they did as a plan.
      TA did not want a rush of players, but a rush of “whales” funding development. Though I’d have wanted £30 or so at the most, so I could join, and it would be more reasonable.
      TOM wants a rush of funding, and so prices lower. Though with the lack of content it seems to offer, I’d prefer the price to be even less. While £8 is not a lot, it is for something with less features than the free Alpha/free demo/paid beta that KSP offers for slightly more.

      • CaidKean says:

        And you should not forget that with regards to PA they also have to be fair to their backers who paid the high price for early access. If they suddenly put it on Steam’s Early Access for a lot less then surely all those backers would feel like they just gut punched in the crotch.

        You also forget that KSP used to have a lot less features than it does currently. TOM will much like KSP have features expanded and added continuously. The lead developer is extremely active in the community and seems very intent on squeezing out as much potential as possible from TOM.

  8. dE says:

    I want this… but with alien structures under the surface. Gradually uncovering their purpose, their story and meaning. Please? :(

    • 12inchPlasticToy says:

      You could mod it in! If this is anything like the other BIS games, it should come out mod-friendly. Or you could port it to ArmA 3, and create a tactical sim version of Red Faction.

      …I reckon one day BIS’ engine will reach a singularity, upon which they will blend all their games together and release the ultimate BIS goop from whence mods ooze and evolve. To play the game you’d have to step both feet in the goop, and it would ogle back at you garbling an adorable “I SEE. APC. THREE HUNDRED METERS. NORTH.”… d’aww.
      ArmA 3 is not even released yet, and boy does it ooze already.

    • CaidKean says:

      Well, I saw a hint in the game that suggests you can find life on Mars. Whether that is in microbial form or an advanced alien civilization I have no idea.

    • newton says:

      Then you should definitely give Waking Mars a try, if you haven’t already.

  9. Ross Angus says:

    Curiosity is silly: it’s holding it’s iPhone the wrong way around.

  10. BooleanBob says:

    First the live report of that feller having a vasectomy on Women’s Hour this morning, then a highly regrettable incident brought about by the current Shorts Weather™, which left an irreparable gulf of trust between me and any garment tighter in the crotch than ethereal pantaloons, and now – now – this screenshot. Is the universe trying to tell me something? It’s all getting a bit ominous (scrominous?).

  11. SuicideKing says:

    So all NASA does on Mars is poke the ground?

  12. rndmplyr says:

    I want this just to take the map and play ArmA 3 on it. “Unknown. Rover. just. front.”

  13. Maret1954 says:

    what Patricia responded I didn’t know that a stay at home mom can make $6555 in one month on the internet. did you see this web site http://www.blue78.com

  14. Mario112 says:

    I was looking at this one on steam today. It comes with a better price tag than some other games given early cough, Planetary Annihilation at 69.99. Looks like a neat sim none the less.

    http://www.gmretro.ca