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NASA working with three game studios to help develop its MMORPG

After announcing its intentions early last year to create a new MMO video game, both the gaming world and space community became interested to hear more about what kind of game is in the works from NASA.

NASA is in a position to develop an online game that functions as a “persistent, synthetic environment supporting education as a laboratory, a massive visualization tools and collaborative workspace while simultaneously drawing users into a challenging, game-play immersion," the U.S. space agency said in a statement.

NASA's Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond will be developed by Information In Place, Virtual Heroes, and Project Whitecard, NASA recently announced -- there were rumors swirling for more than a month regarding the studios that would be selected for the project.

The subscription-based video game will run on Unreal Engine 3 engine and will offer gamers the opportunity to head into space serving as several roles related to space exploration.  For example, gamers can play as a roboticist, space geologist, astrobiologist or mechanical engineer while helping create space outposts or travel around the solar system.

Both individual challenges and team-based objectives will be available in the game, with vehicles, spacesuits and other items able to be unlocked when gamers solve real science, math or engineering problems along the way.  Similar to hit the game Spore, gamers will have the opportunity to explore space in user-created space ships, but NASA remains rather tight-lipped about other features of the new game.

"We want to create a fun, compelling gaming experience that will give players the chance to learn about science and engineering careers while they play the game," NASA Learning Technologies research scientist Daniel Laughlin said.

A beta for Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond is expected sometime in late 2009, and the full version is expected to ship in 2010.



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Neat, but
By ZachDontScare on 2/23/2009 1:47:09 PM , Rating: 2
Its certainly a neat idea, and that type of game would appeal to me more than something like WoW does, but....

Is this really in the realm of what a government agency should be doing? It says its subscription based, so it sounds like it'd be competing directly with private businesses for game players' money.




RE: Neat, but
By grath on 2/23/2009 4:23:35 PM , Rating: 2
I doubt that the taxpayer will end up paying for this. Whatever work on the project that NASA has done to this point may have come out of their own budget, but the game studios they have partenered with will likely pay for most of the development and infrastructure, and any revenue the game generates will go through the studios first, assuming any gets back to NASA at all. I see it more as licensing the intellectual property that is the US space program. There is much in the way technological extrapolation needed to reach the setting of 2035, and while the NASA material is the starting point and they will provide guidance, developing the material into a playable game is better suited to the game studio rather than NASA itself.


"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke

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