Life On Mars? Yes. Albeit Blue.

Men are from Mars.

While we bitterly watch Jim have adventures at GDC via the medium of excitable text-messages, the rest of RPS sit forlornly and watch the news feeds. We need a holiday. Which is one reason why this caught our eye – Avatar Reality are showing off their Crysis-engine powered Blue Mars over there. It’s set in 2177 on a terraformed Mars… and, no, come back. This isn’t an UnRed Faction Mars-based FPS. It’s actually an online environment ala Second Life where developers can build casual games to amuse everyone else, with Crysis’s fancy aesthetics on tap. Unlike Second Life, this is more about actual developers making stuff, but… well, we’ll see, eh? They’re suggesting a Public Beta before the end of 2008. And until then, some fancy screenshots.

Women are from Venus.
Wrong. Martians are from Mars and Venusians are from Venus. Humans are from Earth. Idiots.

We’ve added watermarks to this set of ultra-large ones, as last time we put up some large screenshots, since we let people hotlink, some other site with proper advertising actually hotlinked them all and nabbed our bandwidth. The cads!


  1. matt says:

    It does look pretty nice. The Crysis engine is really some piece of work, i’d say.. i’d be pretty interested to go in and check that out, unlike Second Life, at least it looks good :)

  2. kwyjibo says:

    Just block hotlinking.

  3. Kieron Gillen says:

    Zuffox: Thanks. I did a quick check, but my check failed me. I thought something was iffy.

    kwyibo: Yeah, but we’re fine with amateur bloggers or people on forums or whatever linking.

    (Well, at least at the moment).

    But when someone who gets paid money does it, when we *don’t*, it kind of grates.


  4. Neil says:

    This game isn’t based on the Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson is it? One of them is actually called Blue Mars if I recall correctly. They were pretty good books about the terraforming of Mars but I don’t know that they would be that suitable for the background of a Second Life like game.

  5. The_B says:

    You should’ve just sneakily changed the image links to huge “GOTO ROCKPAPERSHOTGUN.COM” images, and put them up under different names here.

    That or references to ‘their Mommas’ or something.

  6. trioptimum says:

    @Neil: I was wondering that, but Kotaku are reporting that it’s unrelated. I’m somewhat relieved…

  7. Zarniwoop says:

    Gah! The trees would be much taller than that on Mars. And the water would be more vapourey. *Grumbles*

    But the premise of this game sounds really interesting. The chances of me buying it are slim, however, until components capable of running Crysis properly become reasonably priced.

  8. Meat Circus says:

    Dear RPS people:

    You can create mod_rewrite rules for your images that blocks access for people whose HTTP referer is not set to That should strongly de-encouragise external hotlink bastardry.

    Assuming Posi have your webserver set up as they used to, it should be simply a matter of adding them to your .htaccess file.

    I’m sure a Posi redshirt could do it for you.


    It would look something a lot like this:

    RewriteEngine On
    RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} .*jpg$|.*gif$|.*png$ [NC]
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !rockpapershotgun\.com [NC]
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !google\. [NC]

  9. Meat Circus says:


    Goatse, surely?

    We can configure mod_rewrite to serve up goatse to any external image linky if needed.

  10. phuzz says:

    It’s been done, with very entertaining results…
    link to
    (the image being linked to had been included as a ‘kit’ for making myspace pages, without even bothering to host the image themselves, cue entertainment as ten thousand teens find their myspace backdrop has changed to goatse…)

  11. trioptimum says:

    The drawback of measures like this is that someone innocuously surfing Google Images for screenshots (not to steal, just to look at) will find themselves looking at something rather different when clicking through for the full size image.

    Such hotlink vigilantism provided me with my first exposure to tubgirl (DON’T INDULGE YOUR CURIOSITY), which after searching for pictures of Scafell Pike came as something of a shock.

  12. drunkymonkey says:

    Those landscapes look shit hot. The detail on the mountains themselves is scarily impressive.

  13. DigitalSignalX says:

    First thing I thought of was the Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson too – not much room there for a game unless you include some hydrogen blimps to fly around in, and taking core samples for XP and SP is your thing. The politics though.. well, that’s another story, but you don’t use a super-bang world size FPS engine for a talking political thriller… OR DO YOU?

  14. Yhancik says:

    Mhh.. not really convinced so far…

    – The CryEngine 2 isn’t very “casual” in term of system requirements. Of course in a year or two, it will seem less spectacular than today. But Second Life can run on a 6 years old PC…

    – Who will be those “actual developers” ? One of the interest of Second Life is that anyone can bring his own content to the game. For the worst, and the best, of course.

    – It also mean that with a little bit of talent, you can live freely, building your own stuff. It doesn’t really sound like it will be possible in BM, so how much will it cost ?

    – And even if, they’d need a great tool à la Spore to allow people to build complex things at least as easily as in SL (where such complexity isn’t required).

    – It sounds like it will be mostly “realistic”. SL can be (well, within its own limits), or not (not possible irl), and that’s another of its appeal (to artists OR furries :p)

    So yes, I realize that BM will have higher quality contents (not especially more interesting, though), and that will the selling point. I’m just not sure it will be enough, for now…

  15. Ging says:

    2177 certainly falls within the Blue Mars timeline, so it’s possible it’s a homage rather than a licensing thing.

  16. Kadayi says:

    So is the beta just for developers or players as well? There doesn’t seem to be any further details at their site unfortunately.

  17. Ed says:

    The Crysis engine is impressive and it ran fairly well on my MacBook Pro for the most part but (for me at least) seemed to have much more trouble rendering indoor scenes than outdoor. I gave up on the game near the end (I assume) on the boat as it seemed to fall apart as a game, both technically, story-wise and fun-wise…

    I guess a second life style game could work and I think good graphics will be what makes ‘second life’ go main stream, but the CryEngine is overkill, at least for the next year or so.

  18. Mongychops says:

    Haha, stealthy editing there!

  19. Rock Vacirca says:

    Blue Mars now has its own independent forum.