Offworld Trading Company Journal: Privatization of Space

Posted on Thursday, March 15, 2018 By Zultar327


Greetings Offworld CEOs! Work continues on Offworld, but we don’t have anything to show off just yet. However, with the recent launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, this seemed a good time to touch on an idea that’s core to Offworld Trading Company: the privatization of space back here on Earth.


It’d be pretty difficult to have an open, competitive market on Mars if we didn’t have companies there to do the competing. While we’re still a fair ways off from the Martian Markets we know and love, many steps have already been taken to get us closer to that goal.

The road to privatization began well before you may think, at least in the USA. It was back in 1962 that the first was step was taken, with the Communications Satellite Act (as you may expect, this essentially started setting the rules for commercial satellite use). Even so, it was still two more decades - in 1984 - before companies could consider launching these satellites themselves. Since that time, private companies have slowly but surely come to play a vital role in space operations, with the red tape of regulation gradually being peeled away. This eventually culminated in the passage of the SPACE Act. This update to US law allows US citizens to "engage in the commercial exploration and exploitation of 'space resources.'” This may sound familiar to some of our space capitalists.

Many companies are now looking to lead the charge in spaceflight. Some are seeking to establish tourism in space, allowing short trips to space if you have the cash to spare. Others want to begin mining the vast resources available elsewhere in the solar system. And perhaps the most ambitious groups are already looking to begin colonization of Mars, planning to permanently settle on the red planet within the next 20 years.

We’ll take a closer look at these companies and their goals in the coming weeks. To bring things back Offworld, we’re looking to get a small patch out in the next few weeks with some minor bug fixes. This will clear the way for us to focus on a more substantial patch later this spring, bringing some long-awaited changes to OTC.

Love the loading screens? Us too! Now you can have them as wallpapers for your desktop.

Posted on Monday, January 29, 2018 By Tatiora

A gift for our community:
Enjoy these Offworld Trading Company Desktop wallpapers 

Offworld Trading Company Keyart Jupiter's Forge Key Art
Diadem Trust Splash Screen Penrose Collective Splash Screen


Click the thumbnails to view the full resolution images. Download these HD wallpapers to your PC and enjoy!


Seneca Development Splash Screen Yoshimi Robotics Splash Screen Mars Terrain Wallpaper
New Meridians Splash Screen Offworld Rocket Wallpaper Reclamation, Inc. Splash Screen


Which faction do you like to play? 

Limited Supply Dev Journal

Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2018 By Zultar327

Offworld Trading Company has gotten a major patch and a brand new DLC this week, so we’re going to take some time today to break down what we’ve been up to for the past couple of months.

Limited Supply

Limited Supply is our new DLC, and it breaks Offworld’s rules in a way we haven’t done before. Featuring 17 new singleplayer scenarios, LS will allow players to explore what Mars was like in the early days of colonization. Gone are the free markets that rule Mars now, strict contracts and sheer scarcity will determine what (if anything) the player is allowed to buy and sell. Also gone are the modern stock markets. Rather than competing for a monopoly of any given Martian Market, players will initially be simply fighting to survive. Once they’ve proven that they can handle a business on Mars local colonies will begin asking players for help and support as they also try to find their feet. Each location has a different market and unique requirements. Because of this, the 17 scenarios play out like puzzles, with players being asked to find a path to victory despite some difficult restrictions being placed on them.


These puzzles aren’t too difficult at the beginning, but gradually as more and more is asked of the player they’ll begin to be truly challenging. The last few scenarios even take place on Ceres and Io, which everyone knows to be even less forgiving than Mars (these scenarios will be available without The Ceres Initiative and Jupiter’s Forge, though I would encourage you to look into those anyway). Thankfully if it all seems a bit too harsh three difficulty levels are available, so if you think you just need a little more time or maybe one extra MULE you’ll often be able to get just that. Alternatively if things are feeling too easy feel free to try Hard mode, and see if you can truly survive the challenge Mars has to offer.

If you want to find out more about the unique scenarios that Limited Supply offers, make sure to take a look at our news page.


This patch has quite a bit going on, but we'll focus on a couple key pieces (full notes available here).


First things first, let’s get right into the meat of what our competitors care about. Not much has changed since our next_version build in terms of balance (see explanations of these changes over at our previous dev journal). Optimizations were toned down a bit, and will take a little longer than seen on next, but overall are still much faster to perfect than they have been before. In addition, debt is now more punishing, with interest rates stacking even higher as corporations fall further into debt. Finally, founding has received a small adjustment in bonus cash awarded. The bonus will be cut in half each time a player founds. This is to encourage players to go ahead and land to start playing the game, rather than simply playing chicken to see how much cash they can squeeze out at the start.


Lots of little changes have gone in to make competing on Mars just a bit easier. Caves are now protected on found and highlighted like ice, the Scavenger logo has been changed (maybe now they won’t be confused with Robots so much), and the Ranked Queue has seen a variety of improvements. And of course the Infinite Map Challenge is now available in queue, so anyone looking to rank up on the ladder and while playing solo can now do just that.

Finally, modders have been given some new tools to play with. Head on over to the full patch notes for more details.

What’s Next

We’re always looking to improve Offworld in any way we can, and to that end we’ll be looking to improve the new player experience in Offworld. We’re still exploring the options we have for accomplishing this, so we have nothing specific to announce just yet. That said, this is something we’re committed to as we believe we have a great game for people to come to play, but we need to get rid of some of the barriers preventing new competitors from joining our community.

What are you interested in seeing as we head into 2018? Let us know below, and be sure to join us over on Discord to be a part of the discussion.

November Balance Testing

Posted on Wednesday, November 15, 2017 By Zultar327

We’re always looking for ways for improve the competitive experience in Offworld Trading Company. Toward that end, today we’ll be making a new patch available on the next_version beta (located in your Steam beta properties). This patch is focused on adjusting game balance, to make it so that players can consider all available headquarters when beginning game.


Transparent Aluminum


Transparent Aluminum was a relatively innocuous patent when it was added to Ceres Patent Labs. Scientists in particular might take it as a bonus for building a Lab, allowing them easier upgrade, but it was rarely the point of building the Lab itself. All of that has changed on Io, where the 200 glass cost of Space Elevators made the Patent feel like a must have tool at times, allowing for extremely cheap, powerful buildings. As Transparent Aluminum’s problem stemmed from allowing for this Elevator rush, we’ve decided not to adjust the Patent, but to change the cost of the Elevators, which now require 600 aluminum, 100 glass, 100 electronics. This both reduces the amount of glass a player is able to replace and increases the demand for aluminum in situations where players are look to take their goods offworld.


Optimization Centers


Optimization Centers are already widely used, but typically used in just one way, spreading out very cheap optimizations across a number of decent resources, rather than being able to focus on a few very valuable resources. While this was sometimes due to the volatile market of the given match, at other times it was simply because high levels of optimization were not worth the investment. Optimization Centers have been rebalanced to make it easier for to reach Perfect optimization levels, which we hope to allow the player more options as to how they’d like to improve their production. We also expect this change to buff the Elite faction, which will retain its optimization bonuses.


Other Elite changes


Elite have been in an odd spot since launch, but we certainly aren’t going to give up on them. In addition to the optimization changes, Elites will be getting their second starting share back and will have the ongoing chemical cost of their Pleasure Dome halved. The goal of this is to make it slightly easier for Elites to push toward the late game where they truly shine, without making it impossible for other players to shut them down if they seem to be getting out of hand.’


Other factions


Nomads have been a dominant force on the ladder since they arrived, especially in shorter games. It’s to be expected that faction will always remain a threat in the early game, as having easier access to hard to reach resources will always be strong. That said, Nomads often could find an easy late game too as their large number of claim returns would allow them to take advantage of auctions and black market actions in a way that no other faction could. Nomads will receive fewer return a claim actions for leveling up, making it a true cost for them when they want to spend one.


Scientists have been undergoing more changes than most other factions lately, due to the addition of Io and the need to balance them on an entirely new location with very different rules from the previous two. This has left them underperforming a bit, and so they’ll be given a little of their old black market protection back, in the form of a free goon squad upon founding. This bonus will provide a boost, without making a scientist who is in the lead feel like an unstoppable force no matter what is thrown at them. In addition, the basalt construction penalty has been removed.


No other factions are receiving direct changes immediately. This doesn’t mean they’re being ignored, and we’ll be keeping an eye on overall balance.


Nuclear Plants


Nuclear Plants are receiving no changes. One of the reasons for this is the intent that Solar Panels are weaker the further we get from the sun. Nuclear Plants being strong helps reinforce this idea without the player having to keep in mind number differences between locations. As with all decisions, this is subject to change if it persists as a problem.


Truncated notes are available below



  • Cave terrain is now highlighted when holding down the “z” key


  • Optimization costs have been adjusted
  • Improved (25%) from 20 Chemicals, 40 seconds to 30 Chemicals, 30 seconds
  • Efficient (50%) from 40 Chemicals, 60 seconds to 40 Chemicals, 40 seconds
  • Advanced (75%) from 60 Chemicals, 80 seconds to 50 Chemicals, 50 seconds
  • Perfect (100%) from 80 Chemicals, 100 seconds to 60 Chemicals, 60 seconds
  • Elites now start with 2 extra shares owned (up from 1)
  • Space Elevators now cost 600 Aluminum, 100 Glass, 100 Electronics
  • Scientists now start with a Goon Squad
  • Basalt construction penalty removed
  • Nomads receive one claim per HQ level (including HQ1), changed from two claims per level after HQ1
  • Elite Pleasure Dome now consumes .25 Chemicals per second (down from .5)

Going Off World

Posted on Monday, November 13, 2017 By Tatiora

“We make our world significant by the courage of our
questions and by the depths of our answers.” -Carl Sagan

 Sometimes, you just happen to be at the right place at the right time. Sometimes, the stars align (forgive the space pun) and everything falls into place just as it was meant to be. Sometimes, the universe slaps you in the face with an opportunity and cheerily exclaims, “Here you go!” This is exactly what happened to planetary geologist Kirby Runyon, the science consultant for Mohawk Studio’s first game, Offworld Trading Company.


“It was crazy,” said Runyon, his voice practically bursting with enthusiasm. “I met Dorian at church and we happened to start talking about what I did for work. When he found out I was studying for my PhD in planetary geology and that Mars was a huge focus of mine, he said they needed someone just like me for a big project he was working on. That project was Offworld.” 

Kirby has been interested in outer space from a very young age. Over the years, his passions fostered and grew, leading him to his final year of study for his PhD at a university in Maryland. Kirby’s knowledge of planetary geology, and in particular of Mars, is indicative of his years of extensive study and research. 

“Mars’ geology is incredible,” he said. “There are some things so wild that we couldn’t even put them in the game because we were afraid that people wouldn’t believe that they were real, actual geologic occurrences. For example, there’s something called ‘swiss cheese terrain’ on Mars’ south polar ice caps. Carbon dioxide ice sublimates and re-accumulates repeatedly over time, overlapping each other, eventually leading to this kind of formation.”

Throughout the development of Offworld Trading Company, Kirby’s insight has been crucial. While the game offers some random generation options for maps, many of the playing fields were designed by Kirby and emulate some very specific places on Mars. “Mohawk was really dedicated to a level of scientific realism,” said Runyon. “It’s great that space is being shared just beyond what is strictly “scientific.” It’s an awesome setting for this game, and I hope that it does a lot to draw people into wanting to learn more. I’m so excited to be able to watch science infused with art.”

Kirby believes that carving a life for humanity on Mars is entirely possible some day. When asked what humanity’s greatest challenge would be when trying to settle on Mars, the answer came easily to him. “Radiation,” he said. “Radiation exposure is the biggest obstacle to overcome right out of the gate. Earth has a magnetic field to protect us from it -- Mars will give you cancer. It’d take time to develop, but possible gene therapy, biological advances, or other ways of limiting exposure can make it work for a human.” 

There are dozens of factors to consider when discussing a hypothetical colonization on Mars. In addition to simply surviving the radiation exposure, future colonists would need to figure out where the best place to land would be, where to settle, how to mine and store resources, and a host of other challenges. According to Kirby, the resources used in Offworld Trading Company are absolutely available on Mars if there are the means to get to them. Alternatively, supplies could cycle from Earth to Mars in about 9 months time.  As far as where the ideal settlement would be, Kirby has a few ideas.

“I’d say the best place to set up a colony for living would be somewhere near the equator,” he said. “You’d have access to solar power, and you want as much atmosphere above you as possible, so somewhere near the southern hemisphere would be ideal. As far as landing goes, because you want as much time for those parachutes to deploy to slow down the vessel, somewhere like Argyre or Hellas would be good. Or, a favorite of mine, a really deep chasm called Valles Marineris. If I could go to live on Mars, that would be the place I’d want to see.”

There were more exciting details and facts about Mars than Kirby had time to relay, and you can read about them in the free “Game  Almanac” that comes with every copy of Offworld Trading Company. There are also several additional resources and places to look if you’re curious about Martian geology or want to learn more about Offworld Trading Company, which are provided in the links below. Kirby left with these parting thoughts:

“I love studying space and I’m so excited to see it being shared in all different sorts of media, and now in a game. I hope that people who play Offworld will enjoy it and become interested in the mysteries of space and want to learn more. Nothing would make me happier.”

Resources for the Curious: 

This article originally appeared on The Escapist's review of Offworld Trading Company on 05/12/2016.


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