Let’s Go To Mars: An Interview with Hunter, Founder of Colonize Mars
Ahead of their Mission Three launch in 2 days time, we sat down with Mission Commander Hunter to discuss his fascination with all things intergalactic, Mars colonization, and how you can get a taste of this not-too-distant future!
Space exploration has captivated us since the middle of the 20th century.
From reaching outer space and walking on the moon to the prospect of stepping foot on Mars, our final frontier serves to inspire and excite us in equal measure, and the promise of an interplanetary future is one which has grabbed the hearts and minds of many.
What if you could get a taste of what it would be like to settle on Mars? With Colonize Mars, you can.
With their Mission Three Supply Crates dropping this Monday at 17 UTC, this was a great opportunity to speak to Hunter, the enigmatic, visionary leader of the team, to reflect on the Colonize Mars journey so far, and discover what awaits us in 2022!
Scroll to the end of the interview for our free Colonize Mars Interview Card, dropping today at 18 UTC!
Pssst… there’s three claim links hidden within this article. Happy hunting!
Hydro: Hey! Could you tell me a bit about yourself, your background and how you got into NFTs?
Hunter: Hi! I discovered crypto in 2013, when a friend and I built a cryptocurrency exchange for Ripple. I was fascinated by the possibilities within crypto and was immediately hooked.
6 months later, I was recruited by Apple and started my career as a creative engineer in the marketing group in California. I worked on multiple products, most notably the Apple Watch, Apple Music, Macbook, iPhone and iPad Pro.
4 years later, I went on to join Magic Leap – a Florida-based spatial computing company with $2.6 billion in funding. I led an award-winning, results-driven design team focused on architecting the company brand.
Over the years I always kept one eye on crypto. I heard about NFTs for the first time in 2020, and after I left Magic Leap I decided to jump head-first into the industry.
I’ve always wanted to design interplanetary colonies and I saw an opportunity to blend some of the ownership mechanics of blockchain games with the visual storytelling capability of NFTs – which led to the start of Colonize Mars in early 2021.
Our mission is to tell the story of establishing a self-sustaining civilization on Mars in an accurate and visually compelling way, with the aim to inspire more people to become explorers and pioneers of the final frontier.
We’re building a blockchain-based simulation game that allows players to participate in growing their Martian settlement from a small base to a self-sustaining city, and then eventually giving them the ability to establish small outposts of their own.
Players start by collecting digital trading cards which represent the vehicles, equipment, buildings, and astronauts that would be useful on Mars. All of the artwork for these cards is designed and drawn by our team.
Each players’ trading cards come to life through our gameplay, which takes place on our website via an interactive 3D map. Players will be able to use their cards to help maintain items within the Mars base, organize expeditions outside of the base, and construct new buildings and equipment.
The base will continue to expand over time, and our goal is to use the latest aerospace technology to inform mission payloads and objectives so that players can be educated on the real science needed to create a self-sustaining civilization on Mars. We have architects and aerospace experts on the team that are helping us design all of our items.
We launched Mission One in April, Mission Two in July and we’re looking forward to releasing Mission Three on December 20th.
This new mission will expand the Mars base to bolster the power generation, food production, communications, exploration, healthcare and living space for the astronauts. 8 new astronauts will be arriving as well, increasing the variety of skills and experience on offer.
Cast your mind back – do you know where the origins of your fascination for all things intergalactic comes from?
I think that watching movies and reading about space (both fiction and non-fiction) was really the start for me.
I love thinking about how to design things for Mars, what materials to use, how it should look, and how it can contribute to a healthy lifestyle for astronauts. Visualizing these things is what I have always enjoyed, and probably my favourite part about Colonize Mars.
We spend a good amount of time on the details of the visuals to ensure that they’re both technically accurate and compelling. My hope is that the game inspires more people to join the mission of making a sustained human presence on Mars a reality.
The Martia token is central to Colonize Mars. Could you tell us a bit about it, and its uses for the player?
Once humankind has built a self-sustaining colony on Mars, there will need to be a medium of exchange to pay for goods and services, much like as on Earth today. We believe this currency would be purely digital. Martia Token is our representation of that digital currency, and is designed to be the foundation of the Martian economy.
Martia will have many uses in the game which will contribute to the expansion of the colony, such as Martia-exclusive drops. For example, Mission Three supply crates will be able to be purchased for Martia in a Dutch-style auction on December 20th, 17 UTC, hosted via our website, and lasting one hour.
These supply crates will hold NFT cards which represent new buildings, astronauts, equipment and vehicles to support the continued expansion of the colony.
Martia tokens will also be used to repair damage, which will occur if an item becomes affected by a hazard – such as a dust storm or mechanical failure. It will help speed up the maintenance process and protect the colony’s valuable assets. Martia that is spent on repairs will be burned.
We also plan on making Martia useful in gameplay activities such as exploration, land ownership, and construction. More details to come in 2022!
For many months this year, Colonize Mars held the record for the most expensive NFT sold on the WAX blockchain. Did it come as a surprise that the community took to your project with such vigour?
It’s awesome that our NFTs are valued so highly and we are very thankful to our community for their continued support!
One of our first Ownership Cards sold on the secondary market for $122,000 USD, which held the WAX price record for some time. Ownership cards are valuable because they match 1:1 with a unique item on our colony map, and they receive a percentage of all earnings globally from that unique item.
As the game progresses, more features will be added for Owners, such as the ability to customise their unique items.
The extreme scarcity of these Ownership Cards are a big contributor to their value. Currently, there are 74 of these cards, and we’re adding another 42 in Mission Three – 8 of them Astronaut Sponsorship Cards. We hope the collectability of these cards continues to increase as our player base grows.
The full release of Colonize Mars is slated for early 2022. What can players expect upon release?
We’ll be adding a few gameplay features that will add more dynamic and strategic gameplay elements for players.
The first of these are Hazards – events that disrupt normal operations on Mars. Dust storms roll in, volcanic activity and asteroid impacts send powerful Marsquakes rippling through the ground, and other randomized events befall the colony.
When affected by a hazard, Ownership Cards have a chance to be damaged, reducing payouts until repaired. Base Cards have a chance to be deactivated, and players will need to go into the game to reactivate them which, depending on the severity of the hazard, might require a reactivation delay.
This will require players to think strategically about how to protect their items. Should they join up with Owners that keep their items maintained, but charge higher fees? Should owners pay Martia to quickly repair items, or risk having supporters leave their item and go to another item of the same type? Decisions, decisions!
Then, there are Resources. Each item type will have a role in the colony, and some of these roles will both require and produce Resources – for example, an Ice Mining Rig consumes Power to produce Water.
Since each item is unique in its inputs and outputs, it will encourage players to build specialized card decks. A player that successfully manages their resources could see significant boosts in Martia token earnings, XP, and more.
There will also be some new ways to explore items on the map in further detail, a basic player progression system, and more items to be added to the in-game store. We’re working through our timeline and will update our roadmap when we have concrete dates.
It doesn’t stop there – we have many more features planned for the rest of 2022 and heading into 2023. In-game communities, expeditions, land sales, construction… it will all come as fast as we can build it!
Your NFTs are beautifully designed – could you tell us a bit about the design process, and how long they take to create?
We start our design process by planning out the payload for each mission. We choose items that would be useful at different stages in the development of a colony. For instance, our early missions use inflatable structures, which would be much easier to set up on Mars initially.
Later missions will use 3D-printed structures, since this technology will enable us to build larger structures on the Martian surface. We take a similar approach when choosing astronaut specialities, vehicles, and equipment.
Once the mission payload has been selected, we brief our architecture team and they begin creating CAD models of each item. These CAD models are comprehensive 3D blueprints that define all the necessary design details. Our aerospace advisors are involved in this process, and they make recommendations such as materials, size, construction, and any other relevant tech specs.
Next, the CAD models are handed off to our 3D art team who refine the textures and optimize each design so it can be used in-game.
Once the 3D art team is done, they hand over to our concept art team to create photorealistic renders of the items for the NFT artwork. This process is still primarily in 3D in order to maintain realism.
The process of creating one NFT from start-to-finish takes a few weeks, but of course, we create multiple NFTs in parallel. In future, we’d love to showcase a behind-the-scenes look at our design process!
Speaking of both the architecture and 3D art teams, how many people are actively working on Colonize Mars?
We currently have around 10 full-time and 6-8 part-time team members. The roles span across engineering, project management, architecture, 3D art, concept art, animation, sound design, UX, branding, marketing and gameplay design.
We also have regular conversations with aerospace advisors that specialize in ISRU, ECLSS, space-suit design, agriculture, architecture, and power systems.
WAX is fast-becoming the go-to chain for blockchain games. With the BSC bridge and ETH Virtual Machine on the way, do you have any plans for Colonize Mars to explore other blockchains?
We definitely agree that WAX is a great place for blockchain games, and want to continue working with the chain. We do agree that there are interesting ways to expand functionality with other blockchains, and are exploring if this would be suitable for us, and how it might work.
Beyond your release, what does the future hold for Colonize Mars?
The Mission Three (December 20th release) is the next payload from Earth to Mars, but additional payloads will arrive every 3-4 months as we expand the settlement further until it’s self-sustaining.
Each additional payload will bring new & more advanced items to Mars, so we’re looking forward to designing and releasing these new missions over time.
As mentioned, we’ll also be rolling out plenty of gameplay features next year – check out our Medium for the latest news on those!
Is there anything you’d like to add? Anything you’d like to say directly to the reader?
It’s quick-fire time!
What fuels you?
I love designing things for Mars and working with people who are excited about it too – it’s constantly on my mind!
One unusual fact about you?
I studied Accounting and Finance in college, but went in a totally different direction afterwards!
If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?
Find something that allows you to express your creativity.
With Mars colonization a hot topic thanks in part to companies such as SpaceX, could there really be any better time than now for this collection?
What stands out for me with Colonize Mars (other than Hunter’s phenomenal resume!) is both the level of research that goes into the art for each NFT and ultimately, how polished and refined each NFT is. Each and every one is packed with thoughtful design, remaining faithful to realism and giving us a glimpse of what our future presence on the Red Planet could very much look like.
As a Top 10 collection on AtomicHub, this drop will no doubt be snapped up in a hurry. See you on Mars!
To celebrate this interview, we have our free Colonize Mars Interview Card, dropping today at 18 UTC!