The NASA MMO


Image: NASA.

I heard a bunch of rumours about this last year, but it seems that this procurement document confirms the big space club’s interest in a multiplayer online gaming experience. This is the interesting bit:

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 tool, and collaborative workspace while simultaneously drawing users into a challenging, game-play experience.

The NASA concept is pretty progressive: have it be a paid, playable game, but also being simulation enough to use in scientific work. Could we see the missions to the Moon and Mars played out by gamers decades before the actual missions kick off?

From this site

280 Comments

  1. DigitalSignalX says:

    Hey it worked for America’s Army… perhaps NASA could include an app for harvesting unused CPU cycles toward research.

    Real space is epically boring though. No sound effects, massive computations for fuel and navigation, hours and hours between maneuvers just to get into the correct flight path, all that heavy breathing in your ears while the computer tries to kill you and refuses to open the pod bay doors etc.

  2. FaceOmeter says:

    @ DigitalSignalX:

    LOL. Good point! I think this is a really promising idea though, I am one of those who dares to dream that one day we’ll be able to explore those strange new worlds, to seek out-

    I mean, yeah. Could be fun! Beer. Girls. Rugby.

  3. Zeno, Internetographer says:

    The griefing in this game will be fun as all hell.

    “okay, sum1 open up the pod bay doors”

    “I’m afraid I can’t do that, VaderSl4yer7”

  4. xeno says:

    Not only played out, but *paid* out. If the game somehow (probably by gnome magic) was actually good, and people were willing to pay their 10-15US/month (I’d recommend 12 really), all of it could be funneled into NASA programs. You’d feel like your money was actually doing something other than making a developer rich. I would, anyway.

  5. dudel says:

    Mission Time: 149 days 13 hours 12 minutes and 3 seconds…
    We are minutes away from landing on mars.
    Now who packed the space suits?
    Eh?
    ***CaptainPlanet14 has left the game***

  6. Nuyan says:

    I don’t think it will really be a game or a MMO I’ll end up playing. But I am interested in this.

    It’s perhaps a bit weird to make an expensive MMO, that probably isn’t going to be played all that much. At the same time, the production cost of a MMO like this is still nothing compared to the other things NASA produces.

  7. dhex says:

    instead of a life bar you can have a “taxpayer money wasted” bar and uh, well…that’s about it, huh?

  8. malkav11 says:

    Interesting. I have no idea whatsoever what this would turn out like.

  9. Scandalon says:

    Heh, I just watched SpaceCamp a couple nights ago. (First time since I saw it when it was new and I SOOO was going to be an astronaut.) So, I now have pictures of an MMO w/ the following classes: The badboy w/ a good heart, the ditsy blonde w/ a photographic memory, the cute but kinda nerdy girl with something to prove, the token black guy and the genius little kid…

  10. Talorc says:

    Not exactly the first time NASA has used computer games to promote their mission either.

    I loved playing “Project Space Station” on my C64. A damn fun game!

    link to lemon64.com
    link to en.wikipedia.org

    Written by Lawrence Holland! :-)

    It worked too – plenty of stories of young kids being inspired to be work at NASA when they grew up by the game!

  11. Alan Au says:

    I’m thinking this might work as an A Tale in the Desert type game, but otherwise they’re going to have to mix it up a bit from the traditional “retrieve 10 rat tails” gameplay model.

  12. brent hampton says:

    This has alot of potential but its very easy for them to sour the batter with a overly conservative concept.
    so far ive heard nasa complex + vurtual space camp which would loose intrest in about a week for most gamers.

    I think maby they should try a moon base city where players help run the city food air fuel research to include breakdowns and explorations, EVA throw in space stations and satellite repair for good measure but that is still prety lean as far as size but a large moon city just might do it.

  13. Ken Rigby says:

    You have to look at as a non-linear 3D to 3D educational environment. A Virtual Playground that inspires learning through play; just like the real world. Remember when you were child you thought like a child and learned like a child. \why cannot be the same when you are a man? We now have the tools to to do it.

    We suould not take up the challenge because it is easy, but because it is hard. To recreate a virtual Moon and mars before the end of the decade and to enable people to explore and experience them surely is a noble deed.

    With NASA support we can achieve this objective, lets’s just do it!

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