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Video Game / TerraGenesis

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TerraGenesis is an indie mobile science-based Real-Time Strategy Simulation Game developed by Alexander Winsn and distributed by his company Edgeworks Entertainment, previously known for the Halo machinima The Codex. It is available for iOS, Android, and Microsoft Windows.

Set in either the near or distant Future, the player is given the task to terraform a planet, moon, or dwarf planet (called "world"), with help of one of the five Factions, each with different goals: Daughters of Gaia, Sons of Hephaestus, United Nations Space Administration, Horizon Corporation, and the Far-Future Institute, colonize and develop the colony's culture, and make the world the next habitable planet for humans to settle on. The player does so by controlling the world's temperature, pressure, oxygen, and water with the buildings they build in the world's cities. If they have Biosphere turned on, they can even piece new organisms from genes to inhabit and further influence the world.

The simulation is all based on real science, courtesy of data from NASA. It's full-time and runs when the game is closed, unless you have paused. The player can terraform Mercury, Venus, a climate-change-suffering Earth, the Moon, and Mars for free. The moons of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, the dwarf planets, the "speculative" planets of solar system TRAPPIST-1, the game's fictional planets, Earth's forms in the past (and future), and even a randomly generated planet are paid access.

This game provides examples of:

  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The terraforming of Mars starts in the year 2035, though it will take several centuries to completely do so. Earth starts in the player's current year, albeit with more threatening Global Warming and advanced technologies to combat that.
  • Allegedly Free Game: Subverted. Terraforming your world is something you can do for completely free, with you only probably needing to spend a little GP on harder rounds. You can get free boosts from watching ads. Paying for more planets is completely optional.
  • All There in the Manual: The lore behind the factions are located on the official Instagram account.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • You can pause and freeze the world's state and progress. No more tending your habitable world then leaving then waking up to a Death one.
    • There are no global floods on Easy mode, making the mode a casual cruise like it was intended. (There used to be floods on Easy mode, but it was widely disliked and eventually removed.)
  • Artificial Intelligence: The premise of the Historical Earths campaign has you to train an artificial-intelligence terraforming program called Project Ishtar by teaching it how to terraform through a simulation.
  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: For the sake of less frustration, some things are different from reality:
    • Planets close to the sun, such as Mercury, don't heat up constantly because players found that too hard to control.
    • Seawater levels are universal, not caring about topography of planets (when in reality flooding a broad plain would be different from a narrow canyon).
    • Atmosperic gases are treated as "oxygen" and "not oxygen" (instead of a bewildering mix of elements, mixtures and compounds that is unique to every planet) so that people without a Chemistry PhD can still play the game. For similar reasons, and to avoid having to play the game with a scientific calculator nearby, oxygen content remains constant if you pump/remove gases into the atmosphere.
    • Lampshaded in the archives, which states:
      After all, while this is a game rooted in real-science, it is still a game, and needs to be fun.
  • Colony Drop: If playing on Expert mode (or normal mode on Cretacea, duh), you may be notified of a giant asteroid incoming to your world. If you don't throw off or break the asteroid in time with your Planetary Defense Network, then your world is doomed. Most if not all of your cities and outposts are wiped out, most of the facilities in the surviving cities are destroyed also, the world's stats are severely shifted, and worst of all at least a third of your technologies are gone and have to be researched again.
  • Difficulty Levels: Worlds have their own difficulty level: Easy, Medium, or Hard. When creating a game, you can select Beginner, Normal, or Expert difficulty. Beginner, intended to be simpler and faster for new players to learn the ropes of the game, has no maintenance costs, faster research/construction times, no floods, and lack of access to satellites and Biosphere. Normal has all features (except for worldkiller asteroids) of the game for players with enough experience. Expert carries more challenges for those who have mastered it, such as worldkiller asteroids, events involving solar winds, fissure vents, and volcanoes, and Planetary Defense System as the only satellite to build.
  • Double Entendre: Watching ads to get temporary boosts is a well established and widely used mechanic in many games. However, the in-game explanation is that you're receiving a transmission from an incoming ship, and one of the possible boosts on offer is "a short video, and we believe that viewing it could boost our birth rate by 200% for an hour!"
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: No, you cannot build satellites (which includes space elevators or settling on moons) or switch to Biosphere to make organisms in Beginner mode. Justified as the mechanics are quite simplified for the use of satellites at all, and the complexity of Biosphere is a tad much for Beginner.
  • Endless Game: Once you've reached Victory, you can continue your world as long as you like, even for many in-game millennia, and even mess up your world after achieving Paradise. The only ways to end your game are to flood without having Soletta before (the definite way) or destroy all your cities/outposts and spend up all your credits (the self-imposed way).
  • Enlightened Self-Interest: Horizon Corporation's main goal is monetary gain, but if they can do so while simultaneously benefitting the community around them, they will do so.
  • Excuse Plot: The main story's a little bit more than to excuse why you're terraforming a planet or moon. There are backstories to the factions and governor descriptions that are nice to know, but don't extend much beyond the excuse. The individual premises for Earth and Lethe and the story campaigns are aversions of this trope.
  • Flat World: Flat Planet Mode/Conspiracy Pack turns your world from a sphere to a flat disk, though it still spins, like a coin. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: If you let Earth's global warming get out of hand, it will result in Earth drying up and turning red like Mars.
  • The Great Flood: On Normal or Extreme, if you're not careful with your world's stats, your world will flood. And the only way to continue is if you have the Soletta satellite, which can either freeze or vaporize the flood.
  • MegaCorp: Horizon Corporation, one of the four playable factions, is this. They are the modern, more positive take on the trope, as some of their governors do something good in the meantime of getting rich, such as stabilizing the Earth's fluctuating oxygen levels, helping flooded communities, or restoring and promoting cultural heritage sites.
  • Money for Nothing: Credits become this after you've successfully Terraformed your planet (and reached your faction's goal). You still keep earning them either from still-running outposts or cities with nothing else much to do other than to rebuild facilities if one is destroyed.
  • Multiple Endings: The Historical Earths campaign has different endings based on whether you sided with Daughters of Gaia, Sons of Hephaestus, or both equally. The Hephaestus ending has the Sons proudly plan to overtake the Daughters and their "dangerous" mission of "paradise" with the failure of Project Ishtar. The Gaia ending has them simply thanking the player for making their triumph over the Sons possible. The Neutral ending is a "Ray of Hope" Ending, in which an anonymous person's (probably the player) actions result in both factions going down and Project Ishar going crapshoot, messing with the environment and killing people in the process. They do consider the choice of reprogramming Ishar back to normal.
  • Nature Lover: Daughters of Gaia hold this mindset. Their goal is to terraform a world into a lush green paradise just like Earth. Sons of Hephaestus may also qualify if you count extraterrestrial nature.
  • No Ending: Unfortunately, at the end of the TRAPPIST-1 campaign, the last piece of the myth of the Tresuunak were lost, meaning we'll never know the fates of Dvintek, Qelsetk, Kivuunal, Metuurein, and Vuuresal.
  • Not So Extinct:
  • Paradise Planet: Invoked and Exaggerated by the Daughters of Gaia, who want to make every planet "paradise".
  • The Plague: In the Fictional Planets set, the reason Lethe's colonies of 50 million people were wiped out was due to the Lethe Plague which attacks people's brains and wipes their memory. The Plague can strike again to your population until you spend 20 Culture Points to cure it.
  • Professor Guinea Pig: Zora Ikhwezi Michel, one of the governors, is a geneticist who is willing to experiment on herself. She has cat-like eyes and some fur on her body as the result.
  • Randomly Generated Levels: You can generate a random planet and, by paying a one-time fee, keep and raise one you like. It may have living alien civilizations(!), which pre-existing worlds lack.
  • Rival Science Teams: The factions Daughters of Gaia and Sons of Hephaestus are head-to-head rivals against each other over the ethics of terraforming, which is also a real world debate. Gaia believes every other planet should be turned Earth-like, while Hephaestus believes they should be left what they are and just colonized. Heck, the Historical Earths campaign has them hacking each other!
  • Settling the Frontier: Besides terraforming, your goal is to colonize the world with humans. Especially if you are with Sons of Hephaestus.
  • Shown Their Work: The game strives its best to be very accurate, with real scientific data from NASA to ensure such events could happen in real life.
  • Silliness Switch: Flat Planet Mode introduces hilarious events resulting from the shenanigans that result for a world being flat. For example:
    Cat-Astrophe: In a shocking turn of events, millions of cats from all across [world] have spontaneously come together to push our [level] [building] in [City] off the Edge of the World!
  • Single-Biome Planet: Your world can flood, turning into a water world. With the Soletta satellite, you can freeze the flood, turning into an ice world. You can heat your world into a lava one. Some randomly-generated planets are single biome.
    • In the TRAPPIST-1 campaign, Ruaumoko is a water world and Aranyani is an ice world.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Alien: The TRAPPIST-1 campaign has you discovering remnants of such alien civilization, a spaceship capable of interstellar travel and holding five MacGuffins of very great planetscale power. The mythological alien figures even run into Clarke's Third Law, such as Qelsetk being described as both a chemist and sorceress and Metuurein as "almost a necromancer".
  • Terraforming: The main goal of the game. Except if you're part of Sons of Hephaestus, who believe that the world should kept in its natural state.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: If you feel like being a jerk, instead of building a habitable world for humanity, you can toy around with your world and be cruel to your population, such as heating up the world and turning it all lava, or turning Earth into a Mars-like planet.
  • Violation of Common Sense: A city will still earn revenue from a trade route if the other city is abandoned or destroyed.
  • We Used to Be Friends: In the Historical Earths campaign, it is revealed Neil Jansson of Hephaestus and Alana Lee used to be friends and worked together in a salvage group before Lee along with Gaia left to terraform.