Managing Colonists' Needs
If you've ever played The Sims, then you know all about managing characters' needs. Space Colony is similar. Each colonist has 7 basic needs: financial, entertainment, human contact, food, sleep, hygiene, and health. These combine to determine the colonist's overall happiness level, which in turn determines the length of time he will work.
Click on any colonist to bring up his colonist panel. Here you'll see colored bars for all 7 basic needs, plus a larger bar representing overall happiness.
As game time passes, each need bar except health diminishes and changes color from green (good), to yellow (so-so) to red (very needy). Depending on the colonist, some needs will fall more quickly than others. (The health bar only drops if the colonist is injured or diseased.) Overall happiness is also shown by the color (green, yellow or red) of the colonists' faces in the row at the bottom of the screen.
Needs & The Shift Clock
Happiness directly affects productivity, as shown by the shift clock on the colonist panel. The colored part of the shift clock shows the time an operative will spend working at his assigned job. The remaining wedge shows his free time. As overall happiness falls, the work portion of the shift clock will get smaller and smaller. Help your colonists meet their needs and they will work hard.
If a colonist's needs go unmet for too long, she can go crazy. The section on Unstable Operatives explains how this happens and what should be done.
A gold star next to one of the need bars in the colonist panel indicates a special need. For example, Stig, has a special need for food. The bar for a special need doesn't necessarily diminish faster than other bars, but special needs do have a greater effect on overall happiness than other needs.
In Stig's case, his hygiene, sleep or other need bars could fall fairly low without having a major impact on his overall happiness level. But, if he is not able to eat and his food bar falls into the yellow or red, this will have a major impact on his overall happiness. (When one need is being felt especially strongly, you'll also see an icon for that need floating above the operative's head. For example, the burger in this screenshot.)
Sometimes operatives' special needs aren't the ones that diminish fastest. Hoshi and Kita, for example, have a special need for entertainment. However, this need bar drops much more slowly than their human contact bar. So they'll need to socialize more often than they'll need to play. But if either girl's entertainment bar falls into the yellow or red, it will have a much greater impact on her overall happiness.
The Personnel Roster on this site has profiles of all 20 colonists, including any special needs they may have and how quickly each of their 7 basic needs diminishes.
Meeting Colonists' Needs
Some needs are pretty straightforward. When a colonist needs food, send her to a mess hall or restaurant to eat. When she needs sleep, send her to bed. The personal hygiene pod is for cleanliness, and the medi bay restores health. The other three needs are a bit more complicated.
Financial need is managed using the cash machine. However, some operatives value money more than others. For example, Tami and Daisy are happy with even a small paycheck, whereas Barbara and Mr. Zhang require a larger salary to meet their financial needs.
Operatives give verbal clues as to how they feel about their salaries. You can also gauge this by how long they spend at the cash machine. Increasing wages through the Finance section of the Bridge Screen enables colonists to meet their financial needs more quickly, but it leaves fewer credits for building your base.
Human contact needs are met in a variety of ways. These are detailed in the section on Relationships & Romance.
Entertainment is the most individualized need. One person may enjoy sports, another studying, and yet another thrills like the virtuality chair or zero-gravity playroom. Some activities may actually be a turn-off, causing the entertainment bar to diminish. The Psychiatrist's Report in each person's colonist panel offers a few hints. The Personnel Roster on this site covers everyone's preferences in detail. You can also experiment to find out what each person enjoys.
Meeting all your colonists' needs can be a bit of a juggling act. Often it's best to concentrate just on special needs and/or the needs that have fallen the most. Also, some colonists are fairly self-sufficient, while others require more coddling in order to be productive. You'll get a feel for it as you play the game.
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