Moonbase Alpha (video game)
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|Publisher(s)||NASA Learning Technologies|
|Engine||Unreal Engine 3|
Moonbase Alpha is a video game that provides a realistic simulation of life on a natural satellite based on potential moon base programs. It was made by the Army Game Studio, developers of America's Army, and Virtual Heroes, Inc. in conjunction with NASA Learning Technologies. The game was released on July 6, 2010, as a free download on Steam. At the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference in 2010, the games won the top honors in the government category of the Serious Game Showcase & Challenge.
Moonbase Alpha is set in the year 2032 and focuses on exploring the day in the life of a lunar-based astronaut. As a meteor strike damages an outpost near the moon's South Pole, the player must take control of a member of the outpost's research team and repair the outpost in order to save the 12 years of research accomplished there. These tasks will include repairing vital components of the life support system, solar array and oxygen units, and can be accomplished with a wide variety of tools ranging from robotic repair units to the lunar rover.
Moonbase Alpha was designed as a tech demo to test ideas to be used in Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond, NASA's massively multiplayer online game. It was also designed to encourage an interest in space exploration in school children. Because the game is meant to be a collaborative effort, the repair mission can be conducted by six players with an additional six observers. An online leaderboard is included, encouraging players to use teamwork to help repair the station faster and earn a spot on the leaderboard. Designed using the Unreal Engine 3, Moonbase Alpha features solo or team play, VOIP chat, and an alternate voiceable chat engine.
Moonbase Alpha was released to mixed reception. Gameplanet gave the game a 6.0/10. feeling that it was too short and needed more diverse missions, but noted that it was still quite well-made for a free game.
Moonbase Alpha also spawned a meme surrounding the Fonix DECtalk text-to-speech functionality within its internal chat system, where users would spam certain nonsensical phrases and words into its chat rooms, parsed by the TTS system in a humorous manner. Certain "codes" can be entered in the chat to change the pitch, tone, and (or) length of the TTS to make it sing.
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