Marsianische Bundesbahnen

Samuele Decarli Moritz Wettstein Sandro Marcon
Jesús Martín Berlanga Jonathan Granskog     

"Trains, but on Mars"

Marsianische Bundesbahnen is a 3D, single-player, strategy and management game about building a railway infrastructure on Mars. The player has to connect colonies and resources together with railways, allowing the cities to grow and develop.

Game Trailer


Changing, Dynamic Terrain

As time passes Mars is terraformed, leading to a changing landscape, with parts of the map becoming flooded or being hit by asteroids. The player loses when the research level of his civilization is not high enough to face aliens that defrost from the hidden glaciers of mars. Game terrains are procedurally generated.

Collect resources

Lack of H​2​O​, which is used to generate oxygen and necessary for the survival of humans, will increase the rate of death among the population. At the beginning of the game it is the most precious resource that can be extracted from ice glaciers before they start defrosting.

The Lack of Iron ​will not cause a city’s population to die but will prevent its growth limiting its maximum capacity since it is a material heavily used in city architecture and it is needed for its expansion.

Lack of Gold ​in a city create crisis and riots that limit the profitability of the transport company. If there is a lack of income the MBB company will not be able to build connections to other important resources that are also lacking.

Lack of Silicon ​in a city has negative effects on the research performance. On Mars it is found in Citrine silica quartz, which has a transparent orangish color due to small amounts of suspended hydrous iron oxide.

Escherium ​is a new radioactive material discovered on Mars and it is heavily used for energy generation. Its lack can affect the city’s station performance, decreasing the frequency of trains travels


To unlock new features in the research upgrades tree we need both capital and a certain research level. Research level is increased per unit of time according to each city population size.

Only one of the three upgrades can be chosen from those at the same row and it is impossible to have upgrades in both metallurgy and energy: the player has to decide if he is more energy or metallurgy based depending of availability and positioning of resources in the generated procedural random map. “Strong Walls” upgrade, for example, would be useful to exploit large metal deposits that are endangered by the possibility of being overflowed by water late in the game. On the other hand, areas in the map with a lot of craters might indicate that area is usually impacted by asteroids and the energy upgrades is theoretically superior.

The history behind the game

After years of effort, humanity has colonized mars. The first small cities have been founded, protected from the harsh Martian atmosphere. But as more and more colonists arrive, those cities hunger for resources. A team of researchers at ETH gets a brilliant idea: bring back Escher to life, so that he can do what he did to Switzerland many years ago, build up a strong infrastructure. They succeed, creating Cyborg Escher, who is promptly put in charge of the MBB, a newly created railroad company on Mars.

As Mars heats up thanks to terraforming, its ice caps begin to melt and strange rumours begin to circulate among the colonists. Rumours of alien creatures frozen deep beneath the ice, that might eventually be freed. A race against time begins as Cyborg Escher has to make sure that the nascent martian colony has the resources and knowledge to fight back against the alien menace before they are freed.

Original Soundtrack

We composed our own dynamic soundtrack for the game. It adjust the intensity and changes between themes based on how the player is doing in the game (cities dying or growing fast, lack of essential resource, asteroid storms, etc.). The use of synthesizers (Omnisphere) allows to obtain a sci-fi sound, this is combined with recorded heavy guitars (tools: Bias FX, Bias Amp) and drum samples (EZDrummer) for intense sections. Click in the playlist below to watch playthroughs or a demo of dynamic changing music.


This game has been developed during the Game Programming Laboratory 2018 at ETH Zürich Game Technology Center, with Jak Marshall from Studio Gobo as mentor for our game. The theme of the year was Alfred Escher, railway pioneer on Switzerland and founder of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Fun fact: the logo/name for the MBB is a spin-off of the Swiss Federal Railway (SBB). At the presentation ceremony our team obtained an award for being "the most expressive team" since in our Slack groupal chat there could frequently be found expressions such as "is such a pain in the ass".