Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
NASA Space Entertainment Games

An Early Look at the NASA MMO 208

Posted by Soulskill
from the looking-for-more-to-raid-the-moon dept.
Big Download is running an article with details and screenshots from the MMO under development by NASA. The game makes use of Unreal Engine 3, and it's titled Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond. A demo is planned for later this year, and in 2010 they expect "the first episodic installment of the game" to come out. Jerry Heneghan, founder and CEO of Virtual Heroes, described it thus: "This game is going to be a fresh look at the future circa about 2035. ... The core of the gameplay is going to be people building up their characters and as you move forward, you will have more options unlock with new places to go, new equipment to use and new things to do. We are not so much focused on interstellar flight and all that entails... the gameplay is actually about being in a habitat on a planetary surface and doing things like mining Helium-3 for fuel, operating a hydroponics facility to grow plants and create oxygen and operating robots and vehicles."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

An Early Look at the NASA MMO

Comments Filter:
  • A game? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by clarkkent09 (1104833) * on Monday February 23, 2009 @05:22AM (#26955519)
    What's up with everybody using my money to make games these days. It's the latest fad in government agencies or what?
  • Re:A game? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by clarkkent09 (1104833) * on Monday February 23, 2009 @05:39AM (#26955579)
    So what's next, Dept of Agriculture getting in on the game with SimFarmer? It's wrong because there are very few ways for the government to spend taxpayers' money that is justifiable and sorry but this isn't one of them. It's wrong to the game companies too who now face a competitor with huge guaranteed budget obtained by force, and no expectation of profit, in fact who probably will be giving the game out for free.
  • 2035? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blackirish (794322) on Monday February 23, 2009 @05:49AM (#26955613)

    If it's set circa 2035, why is there a space shuttle docked to the ISS in the screenshots? Shouldn't it be an Orion capsule?

  • Re:A game? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23, 2009 @06:26AM (#26955737)

    Why is it wrong? It promotes education in the sciences; it's a way to get kids interested in something else besides the Power Rangers or whatever it is kids watch these days, something that might make this world a better place for a change.

    Education matters, you know, and getting kids to set their sights on things like these keeps getting harder. Specially in times like these, that are so harsh on people's dreams.

    From TFA:

    ...the ultimate goal of his team is to inspire generations of future space explorers...and encourage game players to pursue careers on science, math and engineering careers.

    As an aside, don't worry about the gaming companies. Free, government-sponsored competition [americasarmy.com] doesn't seem to have stopped production of FPS games.

    Off-topic: my captcha is "rectums"

  • Re:A game? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Skuld-Chan (302449) on Monday February 23, 2009 @06:28AM (#26955743)

    The game is actually being developed by Virtual Heroes and from what I understand is being offered as a educational tool for 9th graders and they are encouraged to use development tools to build content for the game themselves.

    If this isn't a good investment for our country - not sure what is - especially if its an educational game that is fun to play.

    Dept of Agriculture should do the same thing - to help younger generations get interested in working on and developing technology in the field of agriculture. If it works - I'd be for it - America needs more good farmers and people working in that field.

  • Re:A game? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TapeCutter (624760) on Monday February 23, 2009 @06:52AM (#26955831) Journal
    As someone who watched Armstrong step on the moon live on TV way out in the back-blocks of Australia I disagree. Every kid on the planet already knows "how fantastic being an astronaut would be", the aim here is to take that interest and redirect it to teach science. It may well flop but it's not taxpayer money so NASA have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
  • Re:A game? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jandersen (462034) on Monday February 23, 2009 @07:00AM (#26955859)

    What's up with everybody using my money to make games these days.

    If it was your money, it would be in your pocket and yours to spend, wouldn't it?

    Tax is the contribution of the citizens towards the cost of running the state. The state in return provides certain services, roads, schools, military and a number of other things. Only a very minute part of your tax is spent on this sort of light entertainment - although I think this may be more in the category of edutainment, which is not a bad idea; too many people in America have no idea about astronomy and space technology, and a game like this might bring them a little bit closer to reality - and who knows, maybe even inspire some to learn more.

  • Re:A game? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Yvanhoe (564877) on Monday February 23, 2009 @07:50AM (#26956017) Journal
    YA, RLY

    From your link, its missions were :

    * Determine whether Life ever arose on Mars

    An immobile probe that would have dug 5 meters under the surface would have had a far better chance to find living organisms (it could have reached water layers) than something that stays on the surface and scratches the rocks.

    * Characterize the Climate of Mars

    "Dude it's cloudy today". On the other hand, there are orbital observations that give a far better and deeper understanding of Mars' climate and weather.

    * Characterize the Geology of Mars

    That's the "scratching a rock" phase. From orbit we got a geological map of Mars and even of its underground, to some extent. The knowledge we have from the area where the rovers landed is probably only marginally better than what we scanned from orbit.

    * Prepare for Human Exploration

    How so ? Localizing water, minerals and so on was not made very efficiently by this rover team. It didn't build anything of use for explorers and I fail to see what new information it brought that the Viking probes didn't give us already.

  • 2035, huh? (Score:0, Insightful)

    by JockTroll (996521) on Monday February 23, 2009 @08:30AM (#26956153)

    "This game is going to be a fresh look at the future circa about 2035"

    So it will be a game about massive unemployment, widespread abject poverty, debt slavery and inescapable bleakness as the dreams of a thousand nerds are drowned forever in the Ocean of Feces, without even their precious interweb to keep them company since it will have long since ceased to exist due to economic depression forcing people out of it (can't justify paying ISP bills when you don't even have the money to put food on the table) and ISPs shutting down.

    Yeah, it's going to be a simple game after all: flip burgers, all day, the only job available to geeks with no marketable skills in the new world.

  • Re:A game? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GreggBz (777373) on Monday February 23, 2009 @08:38AM (#26956177) Homepage
    You know, I obsessively played a game called Starflight [wikipedia.org] when I was 11 or 12. That game was a springboard for a lifelong interest in space and astronomy. It also inspired a few years of bedroom programing [outerspacecrew.net] in an attempt to recreate it. It was pretty unique in that it was fairly hard-sci-fi with lots of accurate terms and ideas.

    Don't underestimate what capturing the imagination of a child can do for their adult life. We need better science education in this country.
  • Re:A game? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by LingNoi (1066278) on Monday February 23, 2009 @08:41AM (#26956191)

    Yet, you didn't mention one thing..

  • Re:A game? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by balthan (130165) on Monday February 23, 2009 @09:19AM (#26956411)

    Only a very minute part of your tax is spent on this sort of light entertainment

    By this agency, on this project. When you start adding up the hundreds of projects from dozens of agencies, it doesn't seem so minute. And when you factor in our short-term trillion dollar deficit and the long-term budgetary crisis that will happen in the next couple decades, maybe a space MMO isn't such a great use of taxpayer dollars right now.

  • Re:A game? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Monday February 23, 2009 @10:08AM (#26956819)

    Your speculation is rampant.

    "I can't imagine much science was done, not that I've investigated AT ALL, and I must be right."

    Welcome to Slashdot, where you are the king of kings.

    YA, RLY

    From your link, its missions were :

    * Determine whether Life ever arose on Mars

    An immobile probe that would have dug 5 meters under the surface would have had a far better chance to find living organisms (it could have reached water layers) than something that stays on the surface and scratches the rocks.

    * Characterize the Climate of Mars

    "Dude it's cloudy today". On the other hand, there are orbital observations that give a far better and deeper understanding of Mars' climate and weather.

    * Characterize the Geology of Mars

    That's the "scratching a rock" phase. From orbit we got a geological map of Mars and even of its underground, to some extent. The knowledge we have from the area where the rovers landed is probably only marginally better than what we scanned from orbit.

    * Prepare for Human Exploration

    How so ? Localizing water, minerals and so on was not made very efficiently by this rover team. It didn't build anything of use for explorers and I fail to see what new information it brought that the Viking probes didn't give us already.

  • Re:A game? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by socrplayr813 (1372733) on Monday February 23, 2009 @10:17AM (#26956927)

    The pictures from the orbiter are great, but pictures alone can't give you a complete view of anything, especially not when exploring a foreign planet. The orbiter can't give you a chance to interact with the environment. Maybe the rovers didn't find everything we hoped they would, but there's no way to be sure until you go down there and check it out.

    Honestly, I don't understand why people are so afraid to spend money on science projects. If there's one place/field where the status quo shouldn't be good enough, it's science. Of all groups, I would hope Slashdot gets that.

    People have lost sight of what science really is. Take the Mythbusters for example... A lot of people say things like "it's not real science." Well that's just plain wrong. Science is about exploring, forming theories, and disproving them through experimentation. (Oblig xkcd [xkcd.com])

    And of course, when the experiment doesn't work the way you want it to, you make something explode. The rovers have built-in planet-buster nukes, right?

  • Re:WHat? No PVP? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by InsertWittyNameHere (1438813) on Monday February 23, 2009 @10:56AM (#26957371)

    Didn't you read the article? This is "The Sims: Space Edition"

    Theres no place for PVP

    The core of the gameplay is going to be people building up their characters...the gameplay is actually about being in a habitat on a planetary surface and doing things like mining...

  • Re:A game? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by flyingsquid (813711) on Monday February 23, 2009 @01:15PM (#26958953)
    Libertarianism is the new Communism. It's an ideology that sounds nice on paper, but doesn't really work in real life. The idea that unrestrained capitalism can, by itself, lead to a fair and functional society is a fairy tale. It's a religiously held belief with no basis in reality- Free Market Fundamentalism. As you point out, the current economic meltdown is an example of why this faith in free markets is misplaced. The experience in Iraq over the past few years is another example of why free markets don't cure all ills. It's hard to run a business if your customers are afraid to walk across the street without getting shot or blown up by a car bomb, let alone drive across town. It's hard to run a business if organized crime and militias are trying to extort money from you. It's hard to run a business if the power, water, and sewage aren't functional half the time. It's hard to run a business if there's not a functional judiciary to enforce contracts and resolve disputes.

    The reality is that the free market needs certain things to be able to function. Infrastructure like roads, bridges, electricity. Security from internal and external threats. A judiciary that can enforce the rules that a market functions by. If libertarianism really worked, then Somalia- which lacks a strong central government- would be a thriving society, not a failed state. And frankly, I just think that Free Market Fundamentalism a repugnant ideology. It basically says, "the hell with all of you guys, I'm going to do whatever is best for me" and then attempts to rationalize this behavior and say that, in fact, immature, short-sighted selfishness is some kind of a virtue.

  • Re:A game? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ArsonSmith (13997) on Monday February 23, 2009 @07:19PM (#26963427) Journal

    At one extreme you have Anarchy/Capitalism at the other extreme you have Fascist/Communism.

    Everything in between is socialism.

Cobol programmers are down in the dumps.

Working...