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NASA draws inspiration from World of Warcraft to inspire next generation

The theme of space is one that is closely tied to video and computer games. Games such as Wing Commander and Mass Effect have the ability inspire gamers to pursue space exploration – something that NASA appears to already know.

Last week, the NASA Learning Technologies Project Office issued a request for information (RFI) on the development of a NASA-based massively multiplayer online (MMO) learning game. The goal of such a NASA MMO would be a training tool similar to what the U.S. Army intended to accomplish with the America’s Army game.

“Persistent immersive synthetic environments in the form of massive multiplayer online gaming and social virtual worlds, initially popularized as gaming and social settings, are now finding growing interest as education and training venues,” read the NASA RFI. “There is increasing recognition that these synthetic environments can serve as powerful “hands-on” tools for teaching a range of complex subjects, including STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics]-based instruction.”

“Virtual worlds with scientifically accurate simulations could permit learners to tinker with chemical reactions in living cells, practice operating and repairing expensive equipment, and experience microgravity – making it easier to grasp complex concepts and quickly transfer this understanding to practical problems,” the document continued. “MMOs help players develop and exercise a skill set closely matching the thinking, planning, learning, and technical skills increasingly in demand by employers today. These skills include strategic thinking, interpretative analysis, problem solving, plan formulation and execution, team-building and collaboration, and adaptation to rapid change.”

Trying to interest today’s computer game-savvy population is not a new step for NASA. The agency already has an island in the virtual world of Second Life for those to gather and share interest in the space program.

Parties willing and able to contribute to NASA’s request for information are asked to respond by February 15.

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MMO - Sort of on topic...
By wordsworm on 1/21/2008 11:13:38 AM , Rating: 2
Is it my imagination, or are MMO really bad? Can't they come up with something like Oblivion with an MMO that doesn't have terrible ping?

RE: MMO - Sort of on topic...
By ShadowZERO on 1/21/2008 11:38:35 AM , Rating: 2
Well I'm an MMORPG player, have been since before the UO/EQ1 era, back when they were only text-based MUDs, and I have a bias towards the genre. But I do understand a little when people look at them and say "now exactly whyis this fun?" From a technical perspective, they are at least 2-4 years behind single player games IMHO.

But, what you are talking about may actually be in development. ZeniMax(the parent company of Bethesda, developers of the Elder Scrolls series) have opened a new studio, dedicated specifically to MMORPGs. It's being headed by none other than the Mythic(now owned by EA :(...) founder and Dark Ages of Camalot producer Matt Frior(sp?)

Judging from the press releases, we will likely see an Elder Scrolls Online of some type. Since the studio that would be developing the game, ZeniMax Online, was just established last year, it would fit in my time-line of being 2-4 years behind its single player equivalent, ES:IV, Oblivion.

RE: MMO - Sort of on topic...
By tallcool1 on 1/21/2008 12:11:04 PM , Rating: 2
ES:IV, Oblivion, is a great single player game. I wish it had an online co-op mode of some sort. You could even do PvP matches in the arena, and allow spectators to bet on them! :-)

RE: MMO - Sort of on topic...
By EODetroit on 1/21/2008 2:03:55 PM , Rating: 2
I'm still kind of baffled about why they didn't add in even simple 4-player co-op. Honestly I never bought Oblivion because it was single player only. I've played EQ1 and still play WoW, before those games I was hard-core into online deathmatch style FPS games. And single player games just aren't nearly as fun, if only because the impression I get is that if I win its because the AI is dumb, if I lose its because the AI cheats. Only against another human can I truely feel that I out-played them or they out-played me.

And yeah in WoW I prefer PvP over PvE. Honestly I'm amazed I stuck with EQ as long as I did (though at least we could train the F out of other guilds trying to get our world bosses lol).

So anyways I'm nearly off-topic here. Bethesda would be crazy to make another game with no multi-player support. Consoles and PC can do multi-player now, not PC only. So there's no excuse left, and if they want people like me to buy their games, they will.

RE: MMO - Sort of on topic...
By Iketh on 1/21/2008 4:33:37 PM , Rating: 1
i hated oblivion... the level-based AI monster scaling completely ruined it for me

only time i loaded it was to show off the physics and graphics to a friend

RE: MMO - Sort of on topic...
By PseudoKnight on 1/21/2008 5:42:26 PM , Rating: 2
You can turn that off with mods... as well as a ton of other "enhancements".

RE: MMO - Sort of on topic...
By Ringold on 1/21/2008 2:33:13 PM , Rating: 2
back when they were only text-based MUDs

I do believe approximately one entire year of my childhood disappeared inside Federation Space Fantasy Game when it was still on AOL. A good chunk of it looking for that one guy so I could get that Captain rank.

At any rate, I never wonder why I lack superb social skills. When I should've been developing them, I was locked inside a world of text.

Much to my shock.. it appears to actually still exist..

RE: MMO - Sort of on topic...
By MatthiasF on 1/21/2008 6:18:03 PM , Rating: 2
Early online games were a lot easier to update, especially text-based, back in the day. So the worlds were changing almost monthly.

Nowadays it takes more than a year to produce an update, and in my opinion MMOs have lost a lot of their thrill.

Until MMOs can find a way to either allow gamemasters or even players to expand the game between major updates, MMOs will really only be boring grinding games and one extra level to me doesn't mean much if I just sat in one area for several hours to attain it. Leveling should require some adventuring.

RE: MMO - Sort of on topic...
By wordsworm on 1/22/2008 9:14:15 AM , Rating: 2
You know what? That's really brilliant. Wouldn't it be great to give potential gamers the chance to be a DM in a similar, or really the same way as we could with the Dungeons and Dragons with the books and some paper.

The DM lays out the dungeon or mission with the level of monsters. The thing that kind of sucks about *all* of the games I've found is that all the best weapons and armor, etc, always looks the same, it's got the same name, etc. Why not allow a higher degree of customization? Even Second Life really does a better job than than a game like Oblivion for choosing a character and the way they look. I really hate being forced to choose a race to get a particular characteristic. Instead of riding a horse or a dragon, why not a goat with super powers? Stuff like that could always be worked out in a fun way with D&D since we were really only limited by our imaginations.

Freespace !
By Fnoob on 1/21/2008 6:42:27 PM , Rating: 2
Someone needs to do a Freespace refresh with current gen graphics. What a fantastic game. Someone pointed out to me that the game still evolves and is played in some circles. Couldn't find them. I did find the demo, but it's so old that it won't detect current vcards. Anyone? Bueller?

RE: Freespace !
By Durrr on 1/22/2008 7:07:39 AM , Rating: 2
I still have All 3 originals, and it works with my computer... but that maybe due to the fact I still have a computer with a Radeon 9700 Pro :D

RE: Freespace !
By Fnoob on 1/22/2008 9:37:40 AM , Rating: 2
3 originals? I recall buying Freespace, Freespace 2, and the Silent Threat add-on. Was there a FS3 I missed?

BTW, I'm still running a 9800Pro in one of the boxes. Still a good card.

RE: Freespace !
By MrBlastman on 1/22/2008 9:11:27 AM , Rating: 2
There already is of sorts. Look no further than

They've done a lot of fantastic work with the series there not to mention several mods including a Wing Commander remake of sorts is in progress + there is a Battlestar Galactica mod in the works also.

The graphical improvements have to be seen to be believed for the FS1 (which was ported to FS2 engine) and FS2 campaigns.

RE: Freespace !
By Fnoob on 1/22/2008 9:34:08 AM , Rating: 2
Very cool folks, thanks for the help. Downloading now. Here's hoping it will play nice with Vista and an 8800GT.

I remember getting great graphics / framerates on an old Athlon laptop. Still, can't help but wonder how insane this game would be at 1080p with Crysis dx10 quality rendering.

To those who haven't heard of Freespace - it is simply the last good space-based FPS made (10 yrs ago). Don't know why the entire genre dropped of the map.

RE: Freespace !
By MrBlastman on 1/22/2008 10:00:52 AM , Rating: 2
It'll run great on your system :)

It takes a bit to get used to the mod/install scheme - there is an all encompassing torrent you can download or you can get the pieces piece by piece.

The launcher has several tweaks in it but be sure I believe to pick Open GL mode vs. Direct X I believe or it will act very funky. Also make sure you get all the media vp's and the ultra-high-quality effects ones. Shine maps are nice as well.

Give it a little time - it looks great, even the Shivans now pulsate colors :) I had to run through it when I first found out about all the work they've done on it.

If you have a HOTAS it is even better but definately not required. It adds a neat feel with a full stick/throttle/pedals setup. I'm waiting for the day they add Track IR support :)

RE: Freespace !
By fener on 1/22/2008 9:15:25 AM , Rating: 2
Here you go:
Look under Freespace Conversion for the port of Freespace 1 to the excellent open-source Freespace 2 SCP engine.

Brag to your friends...
By bighairycamel on 1/21/2008 11:00:51 AM , Rating: 5
WTS 70 Astronaut, Lunar specced 41/11/8, 375 engineering and 375 chemistry, epic Rover lander. $700 US

RE: Brag to your friends...
By JonnyDough on 1/21/2008 11:04:43 AM , Rating: 3
Trade you my DeathStar for your princess.

RE: Brag to your friends...
By TSS on 1/22/2008 3:07:30 AM , Rating: 4
to boldly go where no man has gone before....

... and again and again and again waiting for your blasted gear to drop.

maybe drop rates will improve once items with +X schwartz start popping up.

Wing Commander
By Denigrate on 1/21/2008 12:44:10 PM , Rating: 3
What a great game. I got quite a bit of fun out of a friends 386 with that game.

RE: Wing Commander
By xxsk8er101xx on 1/21/2008 2:23:02 PM , Rating: 3
Ya that was - second best space sim. Tie fighter being the first.

RE: Wing Commander
By Alpha4 on 1/21/2008 6:25:06 PM , Rating: 2
It is my life's regret that I can mod you up but once. So this is a blanket call to all readers to give this man the 5 he deserves!! ><

Incidentally my alias, "Alpha-4", is derived from Tie Fighter.

RE: Wing Commander
By dflynchimp on 1/21/2008 11:47:51 PM , Rating: 2
unfortunately if you mod him then comment then your mod point goes away...but y eah Tie Fighter was a kickass game (along with all the x-wing series)

RE: Wing Commander
By Alpha4 on 1/22/2008 9:50:10 PM , Rating: 2
Yea, I've not forgotten that participation in article comments removes mod points. I just thought that I'd sacrifice it for the chance to give more. lol.

I got it!
By SanLC504 on 1/21/2008 11:59:32 AM , Rating: 2
It will involve millions of people on a space station. All we can do is watch as objects float around, and everytime a sunrise comes in the window, Also Sprach Zarathustra plays. That'll be $15 a month, please.

RE: I got it!
By xxsk8er101xx on 1/21/2008 2:16:42 PM , Rating: 2
It would be free. Because it would be using tax payer money to build it just like Americas Army, the NASA based MMO would be free. You'd be able to download it and install it and play it for free just like Americas Army.

Why do the moderators...
By JonnyDough on 1/21/08, Rating: 0
RE: Why do the moderators...
By MatthiasF on 1/21/2008 6:13:13 PM , Rating: 3
I think the conversations are sorted by a geometric summing of it's post's rank as well as it's children and grandchildren.

What kind of MMO?
By TimberJon on 1/21/2008 12:07:21 PM , Rating: 2
What do you do in an MMO? You undertake missions and side quests inside a huge story.

It would be very interesting to create a character, go through NASA training, STEM coursework, and purchase (with in-game currency or perhaps live) additional or advanced courses in those fields. It could essentially be a College or University for field-related basics with testing. Then you could go fix this or that and tinker and such, or solve advanced problems.

I can see how SOME of these elements would work as a Game, but not all... As a method of Training however, I see how NASA would be able to evaluate many individuals for possible roles in their programs, and be able to contact those people, who might live too far from their Bases of ops or branches. Someone might have the level of skills they need in one area or another and most people when looking for a job don't go to NASA's site to look for a job unless they are really space-happy. If NASA had a nice little program to tell them at a glance that so-and-so aced all the tests and was preparing to take the advanced physics or relativistic theory courses or something, then they could eyeball that person and perhaps offer them a job.

I believe in resource allocation... and there are some geniuses out there, Dailytech frequenters included. Such a software and monitoring system would help NASA stretch its fingers out and get the competent, qualified people it needs to make progress at the highest level possible. I support that. And hey, if there are no serious prerequisites, I'll sign up and play it.

Will there be a story? a goal? Fusion Reactor to hit 400+ seconds of plasma and stabilize? Fusion rockets on a spacecraft? Any sci-fi elements? Im assuming it would all have to be based on current physics and technologies.. but could provide a means for breakthroughs much like Folding@home on the PS3.

For the record, WoW is the best. Wish I had time to play it.

Roger Wilco
By bribud on 1/21/2008 12:24:34 PM , Rating: 2
I love the picture. Space Quest rules. It takes me back to my young and early gaming days when you had to enter text to accomplish tasks. It was so much fun, I was kind of sad when the point and click cursor method took over. I can't complain though, I experienced it and will always be grateful. All hail Space Quest, Kings Quest, and Police Quest!

Eek! Our Lindens!
By JonnyDough on 1/21/08, Rating: -1
RE: Eek! Our Lindens!
By SavagePotato on 1/21/08, Rating: -1
RE: Eek! Our Lindens!
By JonnyDough on 1/21/08, Rating: -1
RE: Eek! Our Lindens!
By ZaethDekar on 1/21/2008 1:26:26 PM , Rating: 2
How do you feel about Project Enthropia though? haha.

If anything I would rather play PE then SL. For one you can actually make good money... or just get a house loan and bid for a planet and make your money back in no time at all. haha.

RE: Eek! Our Lindens!
By JonnyDough on 1/21/08, Rating: -1
By donttrustme on 1/21/08, Rating: -1
RE: yawnn....
By rcc on 1/21/2008 12:40:37 PM , Rating: 3
Star Trek's Hollow Deck

I hate to be picky, but that's Holo Deck, as in holograph.

RE: yawnn....
By anonymo on 1/21/2008 12:51:52 PM , Rating: 4
That's the least of his worries considering the rest of the post.

RE: yawnn....
By donttrustme on 1/21/2008 1:09:49 PM , Rating: 2
hey dude....thx for the correction

RE: yawnn....
By Trippytiger on 1/21/2008 1:14:35 PM , Rating: 3
I'm going to have to ask that you turn over your geek card.

RE: yawnn....
By JonnyDough on 1/21/08, Rating: -1
By Davelo on 1/21/08, Rating: -1
RE: Finally
By xxsk8er101xx on 1/21/2008 2:21:03 PM , Rating: 5
Most ignorant statement yet.

Don't forget your cell phone, calculator, watches, mp3 players, computers, radios, Compact Discs which eventually came out with DVD's, most fabrics you wear for clothing, fire protection gear for firefighters, bullet proof vests ...

I can go on if you like?

RE: Finally
By Fnoob on 1/22/2008 10:38:22 AM , Rating: 2
Nice burn. But careful, playing with trolls here can get you spanked.

Futher, heaven forbid that the NEO program prevents a space chunk from landing on his head.

RE: Finally
By superkdogg on 1/22/2008 12:44:21 PM , Rating: 1
Honestly, Tang makes it worthwhile by itself, let alone that physics would have stopped evolving 30 years ago without NASA and all the stuff I own would not yet have been invented.

I wish NASA would put more effort into making Eve Online real than into making RL people play NASA Online.

|337n008: L43 Astronaut/Pilot LF L40+ Landing Party. Need mission control, launch pad crew, 2 repair specs and a co-pilot. PM me.

Better be a free to play
By ShadowZERO on 1/21/08, Rating: -1
RE: Better be a free to play
By sweetsauce on 1/21/2008 12:33:58 PM , Rating: 1
WOW will never die. After the holocaust, roaches will be playing. Nice wishful thinking though. You sound like one of those original EQ players that resent WOW's success. I bet im not far off am I?

RE: Better be a free to play
By Ringold on 1/21/2008 2:22:46 PM , Rating: 2
Subscriptions aren't going to go anywhere. EveOnline, after all these years, still has a slowly growing loyal user base, and most people have not one account at $15/mo but an alt as well, thus forking over $30/mo to CCP.

It's a different sort of game entirely then WoW, obviously. But people will respect quality, and pay for it. $15 is nothing to most folk, unless you still have to ask mommy for permission to use her credit card. A single meal for one person at a nice resteraunt for lunch.

In return, I virtually never have a login queue, don't often lag except in Jita where every noob in the universe congregates (put 800 people next to each other in any game and you're liable to generate a little lag), and the continuous stream of expansion packs are free.

You can keep your "free" MMOs. Have fun with 'em. Just remember, nothing is free in life, and in the end you get what you pay for.

RE: Better be a free to play
By xxsk8er101xx on 1/21/2008 2:30:12 PM , Rating: 1
They used tax payer money to make Americas Army. So you paid for it with your taxes. But if you don't pay taxes well then i guess you got it for free.

RE: Better be a free to play
By SavagePotato on 1/21/2008 2:58:24 PM , Rating: 1
Right, that's why wow has close to 9 million subscribers or whatever it is and everyone is in a mad rush to emulate their success with games like lord of the rings online, aka WoW of the rings online.

Free play games are fine as long as you don't like content. Go play Quakewars or Battlefield and see how fast you get tired of playing the same handful of maps.

The 9 million or so raving addicts that have made Blizzard filthy filthy rich waiting for their iCrack supply with each update patch or expansion disagree with you vehemently I'm sure.

RE: Better be a free to play
By Yeah on 1/22/2008 1:39:45 PM , Rating: 2
What is kinda sad to me is that WOW is no where near as good as Dark Ages of Camelot is yet WOW is all you hear about. The pvp In DAOC is far supoerior to WOW and the quests and tasks make the game even more fun to play. The Wing Commander Series was in fact brilliant but I personally did not like Tie Fighter. I think Privateer was brilliant and needed more sequels as well. I recently started playing Eve Online as the space aspect on an MMO was certainly interesting. I like how they setup their instances with jump gates. So far interesting and I can tell a huge time sink but thats what all MMOs are anyway. If your looking for a good fantasy MMORPG with a strong pvp arena and have not given DAOC a try; You should. It is so far to me the best game I have ever played. And yes I've tried a lot of them.

"Death Is Very Likely The Single Best Invention Of Life" -- Steve Jobs

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