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NASA Space Entertainment Games

Information Requested for NASA-Based MMORPG 144

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-games-are-developed-in-a-vacuum dept.
Teancum writes "By now, most people are aware of the U.S. Army's video game, America's Army. It turns out that NASA has submitted a Request for Information for what would be a NASA-themed MMORPG of its own. The deadline for the proposals is February 15th. NASA's plans focus on education. 'A NASA-based MMO built on a game engine that includes powerful physics capabilities could support accurate in-game experimentation and research. It should simulate real NASA engineering and science missions in a medium that is comfortable and familiar to the majority of students in the United States today.' This certainly doesn't deserve to get thrown onto the traditional dust heap of educational proposals for a half-baked game that nobody will actually play."
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Information Requested for NASA-Based MMORPG

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  • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Friday January 18, 2008 @02:06AM (#22090186) Homepage Journal
    and I'm a rocket buff. Compare this to, say, Arianespace [videocorner.tv] who manage to put together an educational and entertaining presentation for every launch and show it intermixed with live footage and reporting of every launch, and in two different languages.

  • by the_other_chewey (1119125) on Friday January 18, 2008 @02:14AM (#22090224)
    They should talk to the guy from Orbiter [orbitersim.com]. It is absolutely incredible what this man has achieved. His (free!) space flight simulator not only does a great job with the physics involved (yes, orbital rendezvous' are really tricky), but also looks incredibly good on screen.
  • Eve-online? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LingNoi (1066278) on Friday January 18, 2008 @02:30AM (#22090288)
    Are they thinking of something like Eve-Online but more "realistic"? That'd be awesome.
  • First thought: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by xx01dk (191137) on Friday January 18, 2008 @03:44AM (#22090542)
    Ooh, neat! A space-science-based MMO! I can party with other astronauts and take quests like growing tomatoes in space or repairing that busted solar cell array! "Watch out for those meteors! Oh no, I've aggroed too much cosmic radiation! Do I have enough oxygen to survive an extended spacewalk?"

    But then I thought about it. I'm a huge supporter of shutting down the shuttle program--IMHO, it jumped the shark a long time ago. My taxes could be much better spent on newer and more innovative space programs or even could be better spent here on earth. Who needs NASA anyhow? It's a DINOSAUR. A relic of the space race and the cold war. Let Richard Branson and the private sector innovate the "next stage". Let capitalism fund the new space race; they will do it better and cheaper than any bloated, corrupt, and inept government agency ever could.

    BUT THEN... I thought about my childhood; I remembered how important the space missions seemed at the time, how important they were to our national identity. We had the Space Shuttle, and We we doing Important Things. In Space. I thought about it again. I remember sitting cross-legged on the floor in Mrs. Bartlett's class when I watched the Challenger crew "slip the surly bonds". I thought about the congressional hearings and the first time I learned what an o-ring was. I remember hearing that perhaps Christa Mcauliffe and the other crew members might have been alive during their inexorable plunge back to the ocean and how horrible that must have been. I remember seeing the reconstructed orbiter in that hangar on the news.

    Since then I have followed the goings on at NASA with a somewhat skewed perception. I though it was cool how they were able to land that craft on that asteroid, and I smugly laughed at how much longer those Mars rovers have lasted down there than anyone had expected (yeah I know the engineers purposely underestimated the lifespans). I also recall with sadness the Columbia, but how we would not let that deter us. I've viewed every flight since with skepticism, but still. Space is The Future, and we're still there. I often wonder when the next mission to the moon will occur and who will undertake it. I'm a fan of science fiction, and the space program is sci-fi turned reality.

    So. Perhaps the thought of a NASA-based video game, let alone an MMO, brought back the thought of my innocent childhood, back when NASA meant The Space Shuttle, and I had a three-foot-long paper model of Columbia hanging in my bedroom. How awesome would it be to explore our near-Earth environment, or maybe even the solar system without repercussion? No Challenger disaster, no Columbia breakup; no launch-pad fires and no explosions. Let me take the wheel, don that space suit, and explore the cosmos right here from my comfy chair. Let me fly through Google Sky in a realistic simulator, and let me turn over rocks on Mars; I want to go ice-fishing on Europa.

    Yeah, I'd buy into that. Ooh, neat!

    Cheers~
  • Re:How realistic? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Teancum (67324) <(robert_horning) (at) (netzero.net)> on Friday January 18, 2008 @07:45AM (#22091410) Homepage Journal
    I thought of not only trying to simulate the manned spaceflight missions for something like this, but also unmanned missions such as allowing players to send "probes" to various planets, moons, and asteroids.

    You would have to contend with a budget, payload mass, various instruments that you may or may not be able to afford, computer architectures (we all know that there is more computing power in a PS/3 than a typical NASA probe.... show the kids why), ability to "program" the probe both before and "in flight", and in general show what the process is to get the thing built.

    And all that more importantly.... show the kids how little we really do know about our Solar System, and provide through hard experience in actually playing the game why NASA is still an incredible value to our country.

    While I've been a strong advocate for manned spaceflight and have been a dogged defender of the concept against those who would scrap manned activities in favor of exclusively doing robotic probes, I think such a game that ignores the robotic probes is also doing everybody a huge disservice. There is no way that the Apollo project could have successfully performed its goals and accomplished successful landings on the Moon without the eariler Ranger and Surveyor missions that paved the way in understanding the nature of the lunar surface, chemistry, and general environmental conditions that existed there. Sure, there was some conjecture before hand, but getting physical hardware to there made a huge difference.

    There are so many possible options available to really accomplish something here along so many different lines of thought that I can't even begin to describe what could be put into a game like this.

    As I hinted in my post I submitted to /., I have seen some incredible bombshells of games that have come from (generally) the academic community based on similar RfI/RfPs. All that NASA is looking for right now is a five page treatment that shows you know a thing or two about video games... and if all you accomplish is to get the folks at NASA to think outside of the box and come up with something more than they were originally considering and make it a really cool game, I would consider that alone to be a huge accomplishment.

    I really want a game here that doesn't suck... regardless of whoever comes up with the idea.

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