What is TerraGenesis about?
TerraGenesis is a building game, a little bit like SimCity. You land on a planet, let's say Mars, and you build a Hab for your colonists. You can mine for resources, and start building facilities to expand your colony. These facilities can have various effects on the planet like warming the surface, thickening the atmosphere, adding oxygen, increasing the sea level, etc. All of these changes are rendered on the globe using data from NASA, so as the sea level rises, you're seeing what it would actually look like as the water fills in canyons and craters, etc.
Eventually your planet becomes habitable for plant-life, and you can start building an ecosystem. Keep all the factors improving and eventually your colonists will be able to live on the surface freely, without building Habs.
Meanwhile your culture has been developing, and you gradually work toward independence. By the end of the game, you've got a fully colonized and terraformed Mars with beautiful blue oceans and green land and white fluffy clouds, with towns and cities glowing across the surface, and a fully developed culture with its own values, economy, and government.
Do you have a tutorial?
We do actually have a tutorial for the game. When you are starting a new game, after choosing a new world to play on and which faction you’d like to represent, you are brought to a “Game Details” page where there is an option to toggle “Tutorial” to the on position.
That said, we are working on a better system for the tutorial but this might help you for now while we work on that.
Is this game Pay-to-Win?
TerraGenesis definitely isn’t pay-to-win. We have received tons of 5-Star reviews and good press about how we handle our in-app purchases. Genesis Points only exist for convenience, you can do everything in the game without them, AND you can get them for free when you start a game, when you watch videos, or when you reach various in-game milestones.
There are planets available for purchase too, but you get 5 worlds for free and given that the average world takes about 10 days, that’s over a month of gameplay completely free.
I'm an indie developer and I'm trying to make a living, so obviously I'm hoping you choose to spend some money, but it was important to me that it never be required or forced. :)
Can you only get income from mines?
In the early game your revenue will come from mines, so it’s a good idea to invest heavily in setting up multiple mines and research more profitable resources to mine for. But as your society grows and your culture develops, you’ll start to make more and more money from your culture itself. By the end of the game, you’ll be doing very little if any mining at all, because you’ll be making so much money from your culture itself!
Can the population grow forever?
Yeah, the population control issue is something I'm definitely working on. To be honest, it just comes from realism: nobody's come up with a good way to stop population growth, beyond horrifying ideas like genocide or plague. That's why it's still a problem in real life, and that's why I haven't come up with a good in-game solution.
That being said, there is a solution to the die-offs: in the Satellites section there's something called a Sky Farm. This removes the Biomass requirement for population growth. It's still not terribly realistic, as it allows populations to grow infinitely into the quintillions and beyond, but at least that way it's funny instead of frustrating.
I'm definitely working on a better solution right now, but in the meantime, hopefully the Sky Farm can help you get past that frustrating block.
Can I pause the game?
Yes! You can absolutely pause the game in the startup menu.
But the game doesn’t pause everything…
That's a bug I'm working on right now, actually. When you pause the game it pauses all planetary effects, but any timers (like research, construction, mine depletion, etc) continue as if you never paused. I'm hoping to have a fix in an update soon, but in the meantime it mostly works to your advantage: you can research techs while paused, allowing you to make progress while preventing anything bad from happening until you're done. A lot of players use that trick on the harder worlds, like Earth.
I'll hopefully have it fixed by the time of the big 5.0 update soon!
…um, do you have a bit of a flat planet in this game?
That's a known bug that happens when you place outposts near the edge of the map: the minimap tries to grab a square area around your outpost, but it's so close to the edge that the square overhangs into nothingness. I'm working on a fix right now, so it will wrap back around to the other side of the world.
What is happening when I experience several ecological collapses?
That's actually a bug I'm working on fixing right now, actually. What's happening is that most of the game cycles every 2 seconds, but the Biosphere might take longer depending on how many species you have. That opens the door to the possibility that your oxygen, which should be balanced, is actually plummeting and then bouncing back 1-2 seconds later, as the Biosphere effects get added to the rest of the game's cycle.
I'm hoping to fix it in the next big update, but in the meantime it shouldn't impact games that use Biomass instead of Biospheres.
My plants are all dying! Help!
Has your population dropped too? Population consumes biomass as it grows, so it's possible for your people to eat your biomass away completely, but your "Human Consumption" numbers are super-low. Could it be that they ate your biomass away, and then there was a big die-off so their consumption numbers dropped too?
Yeah, so that's what happened. Your population grew so much that they basically ate your ecosystem to death, when then caused the population to collapse. You can boost the biomass growth by building Biomass facilities to compensate for the consumption, or you can build the Sky Farm in the Satellites section to eliminate consumption entirely.
Salt in the soil?
Salt content isn't currently a part of gameplay in TerraGenesis, though I'm considering adding it in the future as you're not the first person to mention it. The biggest reason I left it out is that, while we have some data for Mars, for most of the other playable worlds (there are 38 playable planets and moons in the game) we don't know about their salt content, so I would have had to make it up and I try to keep the game as scientifically accurate as possible. :)
That being said, there are a number of potential solutions to the problem, ranging from the industrial (e.g. soil processing plants to remove or break down the salt, or concentrating it and storing it underground like a reverse salt mine) to the biological (e.g. engineering microbes to eat the salt and break it down as an early step in terraforming).
And of course, on a more long-term scale, once enough water is introduced onto the surface it will start to wash that salt out of the soil and into the developing oceans. There's an AWFUL lot of salt on Earth, too, it's just largely suspended in our massive oceans. Once you get regular rainfall and significant bodies of water on Mars, it will make a big impact on the salt content of the soil on its own.
My water is dropping but my seas are rising.. is this a bug?
Yeah, that's confusing I admit, but it's actually not a bug. Here's what's happening:
Water can exist in three states: liquid water in the oceans, ice on cold worlds, and vapor on hot worlds. That "growth" number is the total amount of water change, between all three states. The "current" number is your sea level, the amount of water that currently exists as a liquid. You'll also notice the "Frozen in Ice" number, top left: that's how much water is currently in solid form because your planet is so cold. If you warmed your planet up fully, that amount of water would be added to your "current" sea level.
At the moment, you're reducing the overall amount of water on your world very quickly, but you're also warming up your world very quickly. So while the total H2O levels are dropping, the ice is melting so fast that your sea levels are rising anyway.
To prevent it, slow down the rate at which your planet is warming (and the atmosphere is thickening, which adds to the warming effect), until you can get your ice levels under control. Once the "current" and "Frozen in Ice" numbers combined are near your "goal" number, it will be safe to warm up the planet.
I'm currently working on a better way to display that relationship, but in the meantime, that's what's happening.
Why would my plants require oxygen?
First off, because plants can only perform photosynthesis (converting CO2 into breathable O2) in the sunlight. Even plants consume O2 and "exhale" CO2 at night, just like animals, so without sufficient O2 in the atmosphere all of your plants would suffocate after sunset.
Second, oxygen is a component of carbon dioxide (it's the "O" in "CO2"). When people say "plants release oxygen", they don't mean that plants are literally creating oxygen molecules from nothing, they mean that plants are releasing the O2 molecules that humans can breathe from the carbon (C) molecules during photosynthesis. But without any oxygen on your planet, there wouldn't be enough "O" to make all that "CO2" that your plants require for photosynthesis.
So when your plants in TerraGenesis require oxygen, it's both for the CO2 that they photosynthesize during the daytime, and for the O2 that they breathe at night.
HELP! My planet is flooding!
If you've built the Soletta (in the Satellites section), you can crank down the temperature and freeze out the water. You can then rebuild on the newly-dry land, and slowly re-warm the planet as you lower the sea level.
If not, you may just need to start over. You can tap the top bar and return to the Main Menu, and start another game on that world, or another one.
Can I sync the game between my devices?
Syncing games between devices is a feature I’m working on right now, actually. It’s not currently available, as I’m working on some bugs regarding what happens when the same game is open (even in the background) on two devices simultaneously, but it’s definitely something I want to add soon! :)
One other thing to note: if you’ve bought playable planets on one device, those CAN be unlocked on your other devices by tapping “Restore Purchases” just below “Select World” when starting a new game. Stay tuned for the game syncing, though!
Can I see my colonies up close?
We’ve had a lot of requests for the ability to see the colonies and outposts in detail, and I would LOVE to include it. But to be honest, I simply don’t know how. I have been a one-man-band on this game, designing it and building it all by myself in my spare time when I wasn’t at my job or planning my wedding, and that kind of complex 3D animation is simply beyond me.
That being said, we have just hired one additional developer to come work on it, so spread the word and help me keep the game growing, and soon I might be able to hire an animator to bring your colonies to life! :)
Do I really need a magnetic field?
A magnetosphere is important, but not mandatory. Remember, Venus doesn't have a magnetic field either and its atmosphere is 9,000% as thick as Earth’s. And even if solar winds did start to strip away the atmosphere, it would be a process that happened over millions of years. TerraGenesis assumes that if people can create an atmosphere on Mars, it would be relatively easy to maintain one as well. Plus, recent findings have shown that the whole “solar wind” thing might not actually be a problem at all: https://phys.org/news/2017-12-mars-atmosphere-solar.html
Of course, the magnetic field also protects life forms against radiation. Cancer and mutation rates would no doubt be higher on Mars than on Earth, it’s true. But there are ways to shield against that sort of thing with architecture and material design, ways to simulate a magnetic field like NASA’s recent proposal to orbit a smaller field generator between Mars and the Sun, and ways to medically mitigate its effects when it happens. The lack of a magnetosphere is an obstacle, for sure, but not a total barrier to progress.
And, after all, TerraGenesis is a video game. Jumping on turtles isn’t a reasonable response to a kidnapping, but that doesn’t stop Mario. ;)
How can I change the language on my game?
On your Apple device, go to Settings > General > Language & Region, and remove any unwanted entries from the list of acceptable languages. TerraGenesis will switch languages as soon as you reopen it!