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Videogamers are being given the opportunity to explore the moon in a free, new, online video game that has been released by the US Space Agency, NASA.The game, called Moonbase Alpha, is rated “E” for everyone, and can be played by one, or up to six players. It allows players to step into the role of an exploration team member in a futuristic 3-D lunar settlement, where they must work against the clock to restore critical systems and oxygen flow after a meteor strike cripples a solar array and life support equipment.

NASA says: “Team coordination along with the proper use and allocation of your available resources are key to your overall success.

“There are several ways in which you can successfully restore the life support system of the lunar base, but since you are scored on the time spent to complete the task, you have to work effectively as a team, learn from decisions made in previous gaming sessions, and make intelligence decisions in order to top the leaderboards.”

The players’ available resources include an interactive command center, lunar rover, mobile robotic repair units and a fully-stocked equipment shed.

The game is the first in NASA’s Learning Technologies project, and has been developed to show how NASA content can be combined with a cutting edge game engine to inspire, engage and educate students about agency technologies, job opportunities and the future of space exploration.

NASA released the game on Valve’s Steam network. The agency will use the Steamworks suite of services for server browsing, leaderboards, statistics and more. Steam has more than 25 million accounts and has released more than 1,100 games. It was built on Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 3.The Army Game Studio developed the game with support from Virtual Heroes, a division of Applied Research Associates in North Carolina
 
Moonbase Alpha is a precursor to a planned NASA-based multiplayer online game project. The game is available at www.MoonbaseAlphaGame.com

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