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NASA Space Games

Demo For NASA MMO Coming In January 84

Posted by Soulskill
from the hope-you're-good-at-regolith-farming dept.
News of the upcoming NASA MMO, Astronaut: Moon, Mars, and Beyond, has been scarce since its announcement in 2008, but NASA recently revealed that a "mini demo game" is coming in January that will show off some of what they've completed so far. "Moon Base Alpha utilizes actual NASA Constellation program design details developed by NASA for mankind’s return to the Moon in 2020. Timelines in the much anticipated Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond MMO will be set even farther in the exciting future (2035+), but the ability to explore our own near-future moon missions is also planned for in the forthcoming game facilitated by the NASA Learning Technologies and Innovative Partnerships Programs." They're provided a slideshow and a brief video, and one of the developers spoke about the game with Edge last month.
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Demo For NASA MMO Coming In January

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  • by starglider29a (719559) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @02:34PM (#30537402)
    http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1485682&cid=30513270&art_pos=6 [slashdot.org]

    I wish that someone would make a game of this... where you need to send up a vehicle, bump and asteroid and watch the change. Give us all a chance to crowd source the various "solutions". Learn just how friggin tricky this would be, how long it would take, how little effect we can have. All of this talk about "capturing this asteroid" on this thread alone is sad. The amount of energy in an asteroid's kinetics is astounding. This topic needs a dose of realism.

    Make it so!

  • by TheLinuxSRC (683475) * <slashdot@pagCOWewash.com minus herbivore> on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @02:37PM (#30537440) Homepage
    For those attempting to view the slideshow on a non-windows machine, you can download [nasa.gov] the wmv file and play in mplayer (if you have the win32codecs installed).
    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by MobyDisk (75490)

      It always saddens me when I read about something that is the epitome of high-tech, then they can't do something basic like like put a slide show into a web page. They need to hire a 13-year-old kid to do their web site because clearly NASA engineers aren't capable.

      SRSLY: It's a WMV in an embed tag. Who came up with that?

      • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

        by Yvan256 (722131)

        Forget the embed, it's a WMV file... what about using a more standard format like MPEG-4?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by psydeshow (154300)

          Or just a series of JPEGs for crying out loud.

          It's a SLIDESHOW.

          • by Yvan256 (722131)

            A slideshow? Then yeah it should be a series of JPEGs or PNGs depending on the image.

            Who decided to make that into a WMV file? It's not rocket science!

          • I thought exactly the same thing...

            then realised my “better” solution would basically be the 10-page layout we always claim to despise.

            I guess I can’t win. I really would have preferred 10 jpegs on separate pages.

      • They need to hire a 13-year-old kid to do their web site because clearly NASA engineers aren't capable.

        Well Randall Munroe left NASA because his webcomic was more profitable. I work for a big aerospace company and they have some stupid game you can download and run through the intranet but none of our aerospace engineers had a hand in it because its a marketing thing and I can guarantee those people have never heard of operating systems.

  • That seemed to be the consensus of the Slashdot discussion after their sudden announcement [slashdot.org] that they weren't going to pay people to make it after all, but wanted proposals for someone willing to do it for free. Did they actually find someone willing to do it for free? Or was funding restored?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      From one of the articles "one of the developers spoke about the game [edge-online.com] seems to cover this. Virtual Heroes, the producer of American's Army, is providing this game. It seems like they have already produced a couple space sims ("Race to Mars" and "Virtual Astronaut"), but I might be wrong.

      • by dave562 (969951)

        If the producers of Americas Army are involved then we can pretty much count on it sucking. The original Americas Army was a great FPS, especially considering that it didn't cost anything for the player. AA3 was a complete mess and unplayable.

  • I can't want to go mining for 6 hours straight to buy flowers for my cubicle!
  • Ha (Score:3, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @02:47PM (#30537530)
    If thirty years of bullshit promises about moonbases and men on Mars are any indication, this game will never actually materialize.
  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @02:50PM (#30537566)
    I hear the PvP action in this game sucks...
    • You haven't really PvPed until you launch 0.8c rocks at your enemy's home planet from a neighboring star.

      • by Locke2005 (849178)
        Sure, but what do you do during that five year wait for the rocks to get to their target? Also, unless the rocks are traveling faster than the speed of light, is is likely they will see them coming with plenty of time to respond, resulting in mutual assured destruction, as well as a chance they might send Bruce Willis up to deflect the rock.
        • is is likely they will see them coming with plenty of time to respond, resulting in mutual assured destruction.

          No, that would be mutually assured indestruction. It essentially obsoletes the entire idea of sending the rocks in the first place, if you they will have enough time to notice and stop them.

    • Yeah, hand-to-hand combat is pretty boring. You just have to rip out their air hoses.

  • Will they emulate the entire soundstage that was used to fake the moon landings?

  • Change (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gearmonger (672422) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @03:01PM (#30537654)
    Now this is the America I've come to expect: NASA is starting to make games about going into space instead of actually going into space. I'm sure some self-proclaimed 'Gen-Y expert" marketer somewhere is nodding and chuckling to himself while stroking a white cat nestled in his lap.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Or it could enthrall millions of young minds and create a Golden Age of space exploration in the next few decades. I'd gamble a few million of my budget on that if I were NASA.

  • Are they going to have subquests, like where you have to escort foreign interns to the bathroom, or have to spot missing metric/Imperial conversions?

  • by s_p_oneil (795792) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @03:01PM (#30537664) Homepage
    After doing SimEarth, Maxis kicked around the idea of a SimMars. NASA was really excited about helping them (and helping build up PR on the space program), but Maxis killed the idea because they couldn't find a way to make a game about Mars fun without making it 100% fantasy. It's like trying to make a math game fun.
    • ...space pirates, and green skinned slave women.

      Nobody is going to wan to hop around amongst a bunch of giant beer cans with a wrench in their hand.

      • It's not a wrench, it's a sonic screwdriver!

      • Nobody is going to wan to hop around amongst a bunch of giant beer cans with a wrench in their hand.

        At least, not unless the giant beer cans actually contain beer.

        • At least, not unless the giant beer cans actually contain beer.

          Ah, but if that were the case, what you'd want in your hand would be a giant can opener, not a wrench.

      • by khallow (566160)
        BEMs are out. But you never know about the other two. Space pirates (and associated activities) may well be practical. I'll just say if no one tries to be a space pirate, it's because no one is playing the game.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by vlm (69642)

        Nobody is going to wan to hop around amongst a bunch of giant beer cans with a wrench in their hand.

        Beer and wenches always go together... Oh, you said "wrench"

    • by selven (1556643)

      Making a math game fun is hard? Have you seen the kind of calculations people do about World of Warcraft?

      • by Minwee (522556)

        Making a math game fun is hard? Have you seen the kind of calculations people do about World of Warcraft?

        To say nothing of the three hundred thousand players who log in to Excel Online [eveonline.com] every day.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Aladrin (926209)

      Depends on your definition of fun. Based on watching today's MMO player, I think I could make an accurate moonbase simulation where you spend 4 hours at a time sitting in front of a panel and watching the CO2 filter stats and occasionally pushing a button to equalize it. Add in the necessity to walk back and forth to the bunk and you've got a game.

      But seriously, give them some 'real' tasks like monitoring experiments and such and I think there's plenty of people who would play it, at least for a while.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by s_p_oneil (795792)
        Heh. Toss in plenty of delicate problems where a simple mistake could cause everyone to die (followed up by hours of corpse recovery to get your equipment back), and the old EQ fans would be right at home playing it. ;-)
    • by Nathanbp (599369)

      It's like trying to make a math game fun.

      Obviously you never played Number Munchers [wikipedia.org] as a kid.

      • by s_p_oneil (795792)

        I was too old when that one came out, but either way "fun" is a relative term when it comes to games like that.

        I made a math game for my son once that seemed cool to me. You're captain of the moon, which has several bases on it (the moon is a small sphere in the center of the screen in this game). Asteroid storms threaten your bases. The only way to stop them is to use a cannon to shoot rocks at them and deflect them away. The rocks are all the same size, but the asteroids aren't, so the amount of force you

    • by Phyvo (876321)

      I had an old bundle of mac educationware when I was young. It was loads of fun. Super Muncher, Math Blaster, Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego, even Klick & Play was educational.

      I mean, it was no replacement for a classroom but it was fun and more educational than the alternative.

  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @03:05PM (#30537684) Homepage

    NASA has far too large a PR operation if they're doing this. If they're doing a full-scale game for PR, their PR budget is too big.

    The promotional end of NASA may now be the most effective part of the organization.

    • If you read the article, you notice it says that they aren't paying the game developers. Rather than making a free game like America's Army, they opted to work with game developers to make a realistic MMOG that costs money. While you could argue that time is money, this isn't paying millions
      • by SomeJoel (1061138)

        While you could argue that time is money

        I certainly could, but it's not worth my time.

      • by physburn (1095481)
        Should this be making NASA money. MMO games if they are popular make big money, persummable NASA should be getting some cut of any profit the game makes.

        ---

        Space Craft [feeddistiller.com] Feed @ Feed Distiller feeddistiller.com [feeddistiller.com]

    • by internic (453511)

      NASA has far too large a PR operation if they're doing this. If they're doing a full-scale game for PR, their PR budget is too big.

      NASA is not paying for the development (read this or previous articles on the subject). The deal is more like the NFL working with EA to make a football video game (except probably with more control over the content), NASA contributes their name/marks/PR and the developer foots the bill for development in return for the profits they will reap later.

      Obviously what PR budget

  • can't wait (Score:4, Funny)

    by fred fleenblat (463628) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @03:15PM (#30537804) Homepage

    i'm looking forward to the part in the game where you put on adult diapers and drive 900 miles to shoot at your romantic rival with a BB gun.

  • 3D Realms? :-)

  • Ah, "Moonbase Alpha". What could possibly go wrong [space1999.net]?

    I had been hoping that all the promises about going to the moon would have involved actually going there, but I'll take what I can get.

  • by Myopic (18616)

    What is an MMO? A massively multiplayer online?

    • Take your pick. [wikipedia.org]

    • by brkello (642429)
      Aren't you being a little bit anal? If I was adding your laptop to my wireless filter, would you freak out if I asked for your IP? Would you ask me what an IP is? An internet protocol? It's a commonly used term now, get used to it.
      • by Teancum (67324)

        No, I would think that IP is "intellectual property". Well, I guess it would matter based on context and other issues as well.

        If I was a hardware designer, asking for your "IP" certainly would not be a numeric address, but a source code file.

  • I'm already dreading the grind. They better make the dailies fun.
  • I'm gonna be a Shaman!
  • Is that the one where if you do well unlocking their puzzles they hire you for the Stargate Program?
  • Launch a new MMO, titled "World of Mascraft", and make all XP gained off finding organic material - then wire the game into the Mars Rovers, and let the goldfarmers in.

    There's no malfunction possible, no task too tedious that will stop the goldfarmers in their mission, even if that rover can only move a half-inch per day on one working wheel.

  • This sounds like it will be a great opportunity lost. If they make the parameters real enough, they can get people to solve problems for them. Have a ship-building part, with real materials, real costs, and real constraints. Then let people use them to make ships. They will get interesting ships, and if someone does an optimal design that's unrealistic, they patch that out and get another round of ones more realistic. Use it to solve problems that people would run into. Just using it for PR is silly w
  • I think the true marvel of this game is if they can build simulation into the game play. If the missions are similar to other MMOs where one is railroaded into building X module Y times to accomplish the mission the game will be little different than any other MMO that requires you to grind.

    But if they simulate the actual dangers and pressures of entering space the possibilities of this game truly excite me. For example if a player needs to build a space ship to travel from the moon to mars they have to
    • I per Sieves to Grates.

      My questions are:

      1- What is their PvP model? Will it only be PvE? If only PvE how are they gonna get all the Guildwars guys?
      2- Is it skill or level (or hybrid) based character advancements?
      3- Are the classes limited to 'Ex-military Pilot' [wikipedia.org], 'Ex-school teacher' [wikipedia.org] and 'Scientist'? Will there be an expansion for Retired Game Developer' [wikipedia.org]?

      I heard it's going to be a Grind fest and a full of PKs/Gankers, and once they open up player housing, the moon will be covered by moon houses and moon tower

  • For the curious, a few years ago the 1990s game Buzz Aldrin's Race Into Space [wikipedia.org] was open-sourced to the "Race Into Space" project:

    http://www.raceintospace.org/ [raceintospace.org]
    http://sourceforge.net/projects/raceintospace/ [sourceforge.net]
    http://www.mobygames.com/game/buzz-aldrins-race-into-space [mobygames.com]

    It's pretty cool and now runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac OSX. Here's the description from MobyGames:

    Buzz Aldrin's Race into Space re-creates the thrilling endeavor of trying to lead your country's space program to the moon before a competing superpower does the same. As head of your country's space program you will need to develop all the hardware you need for your spacecraft and make it safe, choose the right persons to send into space and make sure they come back alive. Loaded with lots of historic video clips, and other historic correct items make this game reflect the "Cold War" situation as it should.

Heuristics are bug ridden by definition. If they didn't have bugs, then they'd be algorithms.

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