Saturday, 17 October 2009


I thought I would share a little about what I am doing in Blue Mars.

My City is based on the Valles Marineris, that huge gash across the face of Mars.

The Valles Marineris

Following the terraforming of Mars the Valles Marineris would be completely submerged, being a massive depression. Close up images of the VM from orbiting probes show that the terrain is very similar to a natural feature we have on earth, the Grand Canyon.

 The Grand Canyon

It was quite easy to get the heightfield data for the Grand Canyon from the US Geological Survey, and import that into the Blue Mars Sandbox to form my terrain. I then set the sea height so that the highest part of the plateaus surrounding the canyons were about 15m beneath the sea level, so there are some shallows, but also some gorges which are 150m below sea-level.

Into the cliff faces of the canyons and gorges are being built Volexes, these are caves, tunnels, caverns etc that can be built directly into the terrain. Some of the caves have a way in and a way out, some go for miles then result in a dead-end, and in some of the caves there is some company!

The idea behind this City is that it will be an attraction for those who like adventure both on the surface of the sea, and beneath it.

The build will consist of four blocks, each a mini-city, rising from the sea-bed on huge towers that will have marinas at sea-level, underwater viewing galleries, and glass-domed elevators riding in the flutes of the tower's column. Residencies will be at various heights up the column, each served by its own private elevator, and the main part of the city will be at the top level, where stores and entertainment venues will be present. The elevators also go all the way down to the ocean floor, opening into domed airlocks, where a resident can enter his submersible, open the external locks to flood the dome, then ride out to explore the canyons of the Valles Marineris.

The marinas will have all manner of craft, from tall sailing ships, to schooners, yachts, power boats, and jet-skis, some old-world, some futuristic. We are also looking into programming the sea, to give various wave heights, including storm and typhoon systems (that really will sink your boat if you get in the way of them).

The Valles Marineris is almost entirely Ocean, with just a few scattered islands. The names of the mini-cities give the clue to their actual location within the VM, i.e. Tithonium, Melas, Ophir and Eos, and we do plan in a later release to include maps.

Here is some work-in-progress on the first city, Eos:


There is an underwater viewing gallery to enjoy the incredible sea-life, and below that the domed airlocks where the submersibles will be moored, while at the surface is the beginnings of the marina. Elevators take you up the central tower to the apartment levels, while at the top will be the main city, with its stores and entertainment venues.

The entire structure is about 200m in height, and the total navigable sea area is 64sq kms.

Anyone interested in leasing one of the other 3 blocks to develop an oceanic city, just let me know.