Space Game: Moonbase Alpha

The first game I’m going to talk about (Moonbase Alpha) isn’t a game that I play a lot.  It has pretty pictures and, as a simulation, it is very faithful to our current understanding of living on the Moon.  As such, I think that Moonbase Alpha is a game that best fits the theme of the Everyday Spacer blog.  It puts the player in as faithful a recreation of dealing with events off planet as I’ve found.  However, it just doesn’t have some of the features that I look for in a game.

NASA, with Learning Technologies, created Moonbase Alpha.  It is a simulation of what they think a Moon base will be like.  They also assume that NASA is going to be the one building the base (but that’s a different post).

This is what NASA/Learning Technologies has to say about their own game:

Moonbase Alpha is a NASA-funded multiplayer game scenario with 20 minutes of play set on a hypothetical lunar outpost in 3-D immersive setting. This is a proof of concept to show NASA content – lunar architecture in this case – and a cutting edge game engine could be combined to produce a fun game and inspire interest in STEM education.”

You are given missions like restoring critical systems after a meteor strike cripples life support equipment.  However, as they say, the hypothetical Moon base is given as a backdrop for the game.  That makes it an interesting simulation of being a worker bee on the Moon but it doesn’t really push my empire builder buttons.  I would much rather design the Moon Base myself from pieces of known technology.  Maybe someone who has experience building rockets and creating popular computer games…  …Carmack**…  …could write one.

I originally found this game while looking up info on Space: 1999***.  I think that NASA really should have come up with a different name for the game (though I wouldn’t have found as soon).  Unless, of course, one of the missions is dealing with an explosion of nuclear waste on the far side of the Moon which will knock the Moon out of orbit and send it hurling through the galaxy at faster than light speeds  (slowing, conveniently, when entering a star system).

The game is available on Steam.  This is both a good thing as it presents the game to a wide audience and a bad thing because it means that anyone playing the game has to deal with Steam platform (not my favorite but not the worst).

NOTES:
*Anyone with a computer that is less than 7 years old and is willing to load Steam on their computer.
*This game will probably be of interest to people of high school and above but intelligent younger kids who are into space tech will enjoy it too.
*Free

Sources:
* Main Game Page:  http://www.nasa.gov/offices/education/programs/national/ltp/games/moonbasealpha/index.html
* Moonbase Alpha on Steam:  http://store.steampowered.com/app/39000/

** John Carmack – Armadillo Aerospace: http://www.armadilloaerospace.com/n.x/Armadillo/Home
*** Space: 1999 – Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moonbase_Alpha_%28Space:_1999%29

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