Monday, March 16, 2009

NASA to create online multiplayer game Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond

Taking a cue from America’s Army, an online multiplayer game series by the United States Army, the space giant NASA has revealed plans to launch an online space simulator named Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond, in order to get young people interested in a career in space exploration. A playable demo of the game, which is based on the Unreal Engine 3, is expected to be available before the end of the year.

The game will allow players to roam around in a multiplayer experience focused on moon base operations.

“Players will pick a profession like a roboticist, space geologist, astrobiologist or mechanical engineer and work together as a team as they explore space and complete missions, establishing bases and outposts and traveling to the farthest reaches of the solar system,” explained Jerry Heneghan, founder and CEO of Virtual Heroes. “The game will offer both individual challenges and team-based objectives to encourage players to use real-life applications of science, math and engineering to unlock new in-game vehicles, spacesuits, robotics and mining apparatus that will propel them further into space.”

Eventually players may get the chance to provide their own user-created content, ranging from scouting out new paths for space exploration to creating and flying their own ships. But unlike other space-themed MMOs such as EVE Online or Star Trek Online, such ships probably won't be toting laser weaponry.

nasa-game1 nasa-game2nasa-game3 nasa-game4

MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) are becoming increasingly popular. Some popular examples are World of Warcraft, which dominates with a massive 11.5 million monthly subscribers, Second Life and space simulation roll playing games such as EVE Online and Star Trek Online. However, it remains to be seen how the game appeals to space game enthusiast who are used to fantasy space environment and blasting aliens with exotic guns, since NASA’s game is going to focus more on education and exploration rather than the trigger.

The game’s screenshots looks a bit dated for a game that is slated to release by 2010, it’s crappy to be honest. Hopefully, NASA and it’s game developers will work out on the graphics and the game play before the game is out, and ensure that the fun is not missing.

[via Space.com and Big Download]

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