"Ask an Astronaut" - Lacuna Passage Contest Winners

After reading through 30 excellent entries in our "Ask an Astronaut" writing contest we came to six finalists that really impressed us. Of those six we had a difficult time narrowing it down to only three winners, so... we are happy to announce our FOUR winners and two honorable mentions!

Each of our four winners will have their message included in the game as well as responses from the in-game characters they chose to write to. We settled on these particular entries because each of them presented unique ways for us to respond that will allow for great character building opportunities and entertaining side narratives. Join us in congratulating our winners by reading their entries below, but you will have to wait to hear the characters' responses in the final game! Here they are in no particular order:


Entry by Douglas Bonderud

To: Anton Bolshov
From: Vladimir Bolshov
Subject: была не была


One of your friends came by the farmhouse today. It seems you are finally going. What assurances have they made of your return? The fields you seek could be fallow, or burning. What can you know of where God steps alone?

Your mother worries, wondering if they feed you enough and what you will eat on that forsaken rock. I am held captive by memory; your beardless face gray and pallid as I pulled you from the car, battery long dead in the storm. Three miles from the farm, and nearly lost forever—what happens at three million? Who comes for you then?

I would rather disagree with a son than bury him. Return home, and all is forgiven. Leave, and let come what may.

Entry by Barry Neville

To: Devi Chawla-Stuart
From: Louise Godrey
Subject: UK Female Today Reader Questions

Greetings Commander,

Being an award winning UK women's magazine we have taken a keen interest in both your mission and in particular yourself,  the sole UK national and sole female crewmember..

We intend to run an in-depth article hoping to discover more about you, your struggles to balance your UK upbringing with your Indian heritage, the impact your educational and career choices had upon your family and friends and to explore the moment you discovered your hard work and sacrifice had paid off and that you had been chosen to represent the UK and women everywhere on this legendary mission.  

In the lead up to this we have recently run a competition giving one lucky reader the chance to ask you 3 hard-hitting questions!
Our randomly chosen winner is Ms Audrey Neville and her questions are:

1. Do you wear special space bras?
2. How excited are you to be cooped up with 4 fit foreign men for so long?
3. How will you maintain your complexion in such a dry place so far away from the sun?
Kind Regards

Louise Godfrey
Editor of UK Female Today

Entry by Mark Biswas

To: Hermes Crew
From: Davis Jamies
Subject: (None)

Dear Hermes crew,

I’m an eighth-grade science teacher. I just wanted to first say thank you. None of you have ever met any of my students, but you have no idea how you motivate them. Just the fact that this mission exists makes science real and exciting to them, in a way that I could never impart. They all have a year-running science project where they track your progress and report on the news, which we do at the end of every week. They always want to talk about it––sometimes making it difficult to transition to other subjects!

I believe science education in the United States and elsewhere is too neglected, and it is important that children are able to be inspired to pursue STEM careers, as each of you were, if we are to solve the coming problems ahead. Unfortunately, we can’t have missions to Mars running all the time to capture students’ imaginations, so I’d like to ask you, what do you think should be done to improve science education and foster science literacy?

Kind Regards,

Davis Jamies
Guy B. Phillips Middle School
Chapel Hill, NC

Entry by Joseph Peterson

To: Hermes Crew
From: Samantha Beiswenger
Subject: "Ask an Astronaut" Question

To the Crew of the Hermes:

My name is Samantha Beiswenger from PS37 in Worthington. I am in the 5th grade. Ms. Bittles our principal assigned the entire school this “Ask an Astronaut” task. Lots of people have really good questions, some people have really stupid ones. Since I was sick the day it was assigned, I had a hard time coming up with a question that someone hadn’t already asked. Mr. Marginess is keeping a log so that way we don’t have copies :)

So, because Jane and Kip both wanted to know, and it seems I’m the only one brave enough to ask:

What do you do with all your poop?

Samantha Beiswenger


Entry by Jon Parsons

Entry by Kevin Heyse

Thank you to all who entered. Keep an eye out for other contests we might open in the future!

Lacuna Passage - Devlog #16 - From The Forums #1

 This week we are starting a new intermittent devlog feature called "From The Forums" where we will highlight some of our favorite questions posed by fans on our official forums. Check out some of our answers from the previous month.

1. Forum user mcchic45 asked if there will be actual previous or future/planned Mars mission equipment to discover.

Tyler Owen: This is definitely something that we have considered, however, there are two sides to the blade of realism. Mars is very large and our previous rovers are spread out over vast distances on it's surface. If we want to be pedantically realistic then it would be impossible for us to reach those other man-made structures from the region where Lacuna Passage takes place (namely Holden Crater). We will see how we might be able to find a balance here since so many people have expressed a similar desire.

2. Forum user JosephineC asked about system requirements.

Owen: It is still very early, but generally we would like to have the game run well on low settings on a 2012 MacBook Pro. That is the Mac we have for testing so that is our goal. I think if you have a desktop that is less than 5 years old you should be okay, but even older might be reasonable. We really want the game to scale for many different machines.

I don't want to really quote any real system specs and get caught with my foot in my mouth later (but hopefully in the near future we will have more details).

3. Forum user orpheus asked if anyone from Random Seed Games will be attending any gaming shows in the future.

Owen: The first show that we are planning to attend is GDC 2014, but we may hit a few more if the budget and scheduling allows for it (potentially PAX East).

4. Forum user orpheus asked if the game will be exclusively first-person and if you will be able to see your body.

Owen: Our goal is to never cut away from the first-person perspective. I look to games like Half Life for their ability to tell a story entirely through a first-person perspective.

As far as body awareness goes, it will be difficult for us to achieve an animated body with the limited resources we have.

5. Forum user masookerguy asked about the dynamic elements of the game play (weather, survival resources, etc).

Owen: Since the story of the game is almost completely non-linear we have quite a bit of freedom to have lots of randomly generated events and little details. It's more about what we have time for than anything. We would like to make lots of elements unpredictable so that everyone will have different survival experiences and so that the game is more replayable.

6. Forum user orpheus asked how saving will work.

Owen: We are still experimenting with a save method that we think will fit the gameplay best. Our intent right now is to save the game every time you "sleep". This adds a bit of danger to exploration in that you could lose your progress if you don't keep track of your resources. This could change though. It depends on what feels best for gameplay.

7. Forum user synchromesh asked if habitats and stations will be exploreable and if vehicles will be driveable.

Owen: Almost all of the habitats and capsules will be exploreable. We have not confirmed any usable vehicles however. There are some limitations for us to consider.

8. Forum user ItchyVagoo asked what survival elements we are focused on.

Owen: Here are the survival elements that we are currently working with:

  • Starvation

  • Dehydration

  • Exhaustion

  • Stamina

  • Oxygen levels

  • Battery levels

And here are a few things we are considering or currently testing:

  • Body temperature

  • Injuries

  • Illness

9. Forum user orpheus asked if we will be including controller support.

Owen: This is something we plan to support 100%. I also play many PC games with a 360 pad so that's how I plan on playing LP myself.

10. Forum user orpheus asked if Lacuna Passage will contain any mature themes or content.

Owen: That is a very good question. I would personally like to have some of our characters react in ways that I find more realistic (swearing, discussing mature themes, etc), but we may decide to offer a "clean" version as well.

Most of these astronauts would probably be very professional in their conduct, but if you had all communication cut off from Earth with no way to return I think almost anyone would slip a little. We aren't looking to include mature content for shock value. We just want to avoid the "censored for TV" effect, where it's more noticeable when someone reacts inappropriately because they *avoid* swearing/etc.

11. Forum user orpheus asked if Jessica Rainer’s character development will be a primary element of the plot.

Owen: Jessica's character development is a huge part of your journey on Mars. We are going to be focusing a lot of time and attention on her motivations for becoming an astronaut as well as what keeps her going when it seems like all hope is lost.

12. Forum user orpheus (this person is seriously hungry for info about Lacuna Passage) asked what might be included in the Kickstarter Exclusive Bonus Content.

Owen: We haven't finalized anything for the Kickstarter bonus content ($25 level), but here are some ideas we are working with:

  • Blueprints for some of the habitats

  • Playlist of Jessica's favorite music

  • A mini-game playable on the datapad

  • A book/short story/poetry that Jessica brought with her

  • High-resolution maps of the mission area

  • 3D-model viewer of mission equipment and previous Mars rovers

  • Unique in-game HUD colors/reskins

This is NOT a list of what we have planned, just ideas. From that list though I hope you can see that we are trying to stay away from anything that could be consider direct "story" content relevant to Jessica's journey. We still have a year and a half to sort it out and get feedback/suggestions/think of more stuff. There is a thread in the Backers Only board where you can give suggestions and feedback for the exclusive Bonus Content.

13. Forum user synchromesh asked if we are considering releasing a walk-around demo any time soon.

Owen: I would like to at some point in the near future, but we want to pin down a few performance issues so that we put our best foot forward. I'm open to a simple walk-around demonstration though. Any bit of time we spend on extras takes away from development on the final game however. We will try to balance requests with requirements.

We love all the discussion that has been going on in our forums and we thank you all for your great questions. If you want your question to be a part of our next "From The Forums" feature then get on over to the forums now!