39 Days to Mars is a co-operative steampunk puzzle-adventure game.

Step into the shoes of Sir Albert Wickes and The Right Honourable Clarence Baxter, two 19th century explorers who have chosen to pilot the HMS Fearful on its maiden voyage to Mars.

When the steam engine runs out of coal, the ship's cat shreds the navigation chart, and the tea gets cold, it becomes clear that interstellar transportation isn't a walk in the park. It will take the talents of two players working together on the problems that arise to get to Mars in one piece.


39 Days to Mars is a two player co-operative game.

The HMS Fearful is a masterpiece of unreliable engineering, therefore Albert and Baxter will need all the help they can get. Nothing can be done without the effort of both players, who have important roles to play in the adventure.


If you don't want to play with your friends, the ship's computer-controlled cat will keep you company.


The mix of action and thoughtful puzzles make it perfect for playing in short sessions. The entire adventure fits comfortably into an evening.


Be drawn into the world of Albert and Baxter by the unique illustrated artwork. 39 Days to Mars has a rich sound-scape and a beautiful piano score that is punctuated only by the occasional disaster.

The HMS Fearful embarks for Mars soon!

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Development is moving well for 39 Days to Mars. I've been working both on the game itself, and on all the related things needed to launch it on Steam (don't forget to add it to your wishlist!). In this update I'm going to talk about designing the achievements, bug fixing, and on some of the last bits of new content I'll be adding before it's finished!

What's new?

To launch a game on Steam, all you technically need is the game itself and the title artwork. However, there are a huge number of other features offered by the platform and which are both expected by players and that help make playing the game a better experience. I'll be supporting Steam Cloud, Achievements, and Trading Cards for 39 Days to Mars.

If you're playing on multiple computers, Steam Cloud allows you to continue the game from one computer where you left off on a different computer. It also works between Windows/Mac/Linux. I was expecting this to be difficult to implement, but after a surprisingly short amount of work, it's now supported by 39 Days to Mars.


The biggest Steam feature I'm supporting for 39 Days to Mars is achievements. I expected this to be a technical challenge, but to my surprise the hardest part was trying to come up with interesting and rewarding achievements.

The problem came because 39 Days to Mars is a fairly linear adventure game, and although there are a lot of challenges in the gameplay, I also put a lot of work into subtly helping and hinting the player so that they can solve the puzzles and feel good about their experience. Giving an achievement for solving each puzzle would mean that almost everyone would finish the game with all of the achievements completed - a nice feeling, but defeating the point of having them!

success unlocked

After a lot of searching, I came up with 23 achievements that fall into three rough categories. These are achievements that reward:
- Skilled players who solve puzzles quickly or without help.
- Replaying the game to explore the levels and follow different branching paths.
- Persistence, and managing to progress through the game even when everything goes wrong!

I also picked two achievements in particular and chose criteria that made them difficult (but possible!) to complete. Hopefully this should create a fun challenge even for expert players.

success unlocked short

After designing the achievements, and giving them names, descriptions and icons, I also implemented them into the game so that they unlock at the correct point - a task which was straightforward but took longer than I expected simply because there were so many of them! The next task is now to test all of them thoroughly.

As well as achievements, I'm also working on support for trading cards - which will let you unlock concept artwork, backgrounds, and custom emoji to use in Steam chat.


I finally implemented game settings that can be changed through the menu. These are things that are expected for most games, and that I'd been putting off because implementing this is often a fairly unrewarding task! You can now change the language (I'll talk more about this in a future blog post), sound options, screen options, and re-map the controls if you don't like the defaults.

Control Hints

On the UX (user experience) and interface side of things, I put in some small hints for the interactions. I feel that the menus and the start of the game are fairly intuitive and teach you the controls well, but in case you come back to the game after a long pause, or if you re-mapped your controls, these small hints should help you get back into the puzzles quickly.

Pulley Angles

In addition to all of this, I also managed to spend some time working on the game itself. I fixed a number of tiny problems with the animation so that gears, pulleys, levers and ropes animate properly.

Kraken Poster

I also drew a poster of a Giant Space Kraken.

Kraken Poster

I also worked on translations, art for the menus, additonal hints, and more, but this blog post is already quite long so I'll go over these in the next update!

What's Next?

Between now and the next update, I'll be doing lots of bug fixing; working on a gameplay trailer (the teaser trailer on the website is over 3 years old now!); more bug fixing; lots of platform-specific playtesting on Windows & MacOS; and even more bug fixing.

I'd love your feedback!

Please leave your comments or questions below. You can also follow me on Twitter @philipbuchanan where I post more regularly. And don't forget to add 39 Days to Mars to your steam wishlist!

Progress towards Mars

Progress towards Mars


Development has been ticking away, and there has been significant progress since the last update at the beginning of the year! I've added new screenshots...

Steam Page & Menus

Steam Page & Menus

News 2 comments

This month I worked on assets and descriptions for the Steam Coming Soon page, which is now live! This means you can now add 39 Days to Mars to your Steam...

Finished Ship Artwork

Finished Ship Artwork


This is the first development blog for the year, and it's been a busy Christmas break for 39 Days to Mars! The last months saw integration with the Steam...

Ship Artwork

Ship Artwork


After working on gameplay for such a long time it was refreshing to get back to some artwork and design. Over the last month I tackled the massive task...


This is looking very nice! Will support you once the game is out!

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PhilipBuchanan Creator

Thanks! I still don't have a release date, but it is getting closer!

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Are you looking for a composer by any chance? I really like the theme of the game and I would happily produce classical/piano style music for free...

If you are interested, you can reach me at cubecapitan@gmail.com

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Art sylie looks rad bro! Keep up the good work!!
Much Love.

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PhilipBuchanan Creator


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As I see, obstacles of game looks like Don't Starve (Somehow). Well, it's definitely interesting. However, what exactly must keep me playing?

For example, in Don't Starve I must keep lighted areas lighted, meanwhile my health, mind or hunger level can fall down and I should plan each day to survive without any loses. Otherwise, night will catch life of player.

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PhilipBuchanan Creator

I've yet to play Don't Starve, but the sense of pressure you mention is something I'm also hoping to capture in 39 Days to Mars. If you don't keep pushing forward with the puzzles & minigames, then problems compound and soon the ship is falling apart around you.

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Aaahhhh! Amazing visuals! Excited! The art style is going to be a huge selling point for this one. :) Keep it up!

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This is gonna be an awesome game !!!!!!

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Looks great! Glad to hear that it's coming to Wii U!

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