Prototype to Kickstarter - The story of Mars Horizon: Blast Off!

It’s funny how things work out at times. When you start working on a project you think you have a clear idea of where it’s going and how it’ll pan out. It’s not often though that a pen-and-paper prototype can get so much interest and good feedback that you end up running a Kickstarter for it. But here is the tale of how that came to be...  

A playtest that made us think twice


So for those who follow our content will have heard of Mars Horizon. That game is still progressing well. (And is looking pretty slick so far. We’ll have some more news from this is coming very soon!)

Now it’s quite common for when we’re testing a gameplay idea for us to revert to good old fashioned pen-and-paper. This project was no exception. There were many prototypes that we built at various points to test different ideas. One of these ideas though, shone out above the rest.

Would this work as a standalone game? Could we make a full card game out of it? And so it began…

Fail-Safe Testing

The video game has always been intended to be an authentic look at what it would be like to run mission control. So we have been working with the UK Space Agency (UKSA) to make sure that what we were saying was correct.

We decided to pop along to their very nice offices and take along the prototype. There we met their informal lunchtime boardgame club (I know… very cool!). To our delight we had the some great feedback, including how great this would be as a physical game too.

That idea stuck with us, so we went away and did some more work. We also decided to demo the game at two boardgame events - just to sanity check our thinking. City of Games in Bristol and Dragonmeet in London. Both times we had the same sort of feedback.


What is the game like?

The game puts you in the hot seat of a space agency as it attempts to get a mission to Mars.

You managing your resources and invest in buildings, technology and vehicles to get there before anyone else.

The more missions you complete, the more research, money and prestige you can get. But, bigger missions need more funding and getting there before the rest of the players requires some calculated risk taking…

What does it share with the digital version?

The key thing it shares is the theme - getting the first crewed mission to Mars. It shares an art style and the missions listed are actual space missions - past and future. It also shares a bunch of gameplay ideas on the way rockets, vehicles and facilities work.

But, over time the card game has created its own life that has emerged from the extensive testing and iteration. So each is its own thing.

They are sister games both proudly carrying the Mars Horizon title and logo.

How can I get my hands on it?

So we are going to be Kickstarting the game. If this is your first time to the concept we’ve come up with a handy guide to explain everything as simply as we can.

If you are already on Kickstarter you can follow our page now! You'll get all the latest information as soon as it comes out.

When is Mars Horizon digital coming out?

There is a ton of really awesome stuff going into the digital game at the moment (including some awesome reveals, like the one below) and the development team working on it is bigger than ever.


We are getting loads done and it is looking more and more like it’s ready for some serious testing soon. So we hope to have a firmer date for you soon… keep an eye on the Steam page where we will update everyone with the latest news!

Auroch Digital

Marketing and Community Managment for Auroch Digital in Bristol, UK.

Find us on Stream or more regularly on @AurochDigital