Going It Alone
The story of the design and production of 6 Billion™,  by David A. Coutts. Page 1
 Game Design

The idea first came to me back in 1996. I'd read The Millennial Project (Colonizing The Galaxy in Eight Easy Steps) by Marshall T. Savage. This book presents a vision of a future where humanity spreads throughout the Solar System, and then our galaxy - The Milky Way. I couldn't get the book out of my head. I'd also read a number of books relating to population growth, most of which were very pessimistic about our future. Indeed, I'd previously written poetry depicting our sad but inevitable demise. But this book was inspiring, very respectful of life, and very positive!

Now by this time I had already set up my own company Board Not Bored Games Pty Ltd of Melbourne, Australia. We import board games and retail via the Internet and word of mouth - we don't have a shop. The reason for this is simple - I also have a full-time job. I'm in software testing, either managing a team or environments.

So the idea slowly grew until I decided to take a few months off work at the beginning of 1997. It was a big decision really as, being a contractor, I only earn when I work. As for Board Not Bored Games other source of income, games, that was minimal at this stage - beer money. So, my savings and my wife supported me whilst I worked on the design. It was summer time here in Australia, and it gets hot (up to 40° C). I literally sweated over the design.

Initially I toyed with facts and figures relating to exponential population growth, both historical and projected. I tried to map these to the vision of the book. It became clear that the scale of the vision of the book could not fit into one game. So, I decided to restrict the game to our Solar System.  I began to read a lot about our planets. Now, The Millennial Project's first 3 steps are very Earth orientated, and step 8 was the big one - leaving the Solar System to colonize our galaxy. My focus was therefore on steps 4 through 7. However, in game terms, it was step 7 (Solaria) which focussed on exponential population growth. In particular, the predicted carrying capacity of the Asteroid Belt staggers the imagination. The Millennial Project predicts 950 billion by 2250!

Try finding a book on The Asteroid Belt - it's not easy. Eventually I did find one, Mining The Sky by John S. Lewis. The author is Co-director of the NASA/University of Arizona Space Engineering Research Center and Commissioner of the Arizona Space Agency. If that sounds impressive then listen to what the book suggests... 10,000,000 billion people living in our Solar System!!! Again it's the Asteroid Belt that is key to the whole thing - most people couldn't begin to imagine the resources available to us there. Space stations, Moon bases and terraforming Venus are all discussed. Uranus and Neptune also get a worthy mention, notably as the easiest source of helium-3 for use with terrestrial deuterium as a fuel for fusion power. 

 

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