While NASA's shuttle mission may be over and the International Space Station's future in doubt, there is one place that space exploration is moving forward: online. Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond is looking more promising by the day, especially now that the team has secured almost $40,000 via Kickstarter to help fund the project.
So why did NASA agree to an MMO of all things? Daniel Laughlin, project manager of NASA's Learning Technologies, sees the two as having a lot in common. Talking with Universe Today, Laughlin said, "Based on the existing literature as well as my own experiences gaming, an MMO was the logical choice for a game project for NASA."
While NASA is partnered with the development team, the space agency is not funding the game -- hence the use of Kickstarter to raise money for Astronaut. It takes place in 2035 as mankind is just starting to colonize the solar system, and it promises to use real physics and technology to simulate these efforts.
Khal Shariff says that players should expect a lot of crafting, use of proper gear, and missions that flow together for a bigger storyline. Interestingly enough, it seems that even NASA has room for a few new heroes. "We have protagonists in the game, and I won't say much about them, because I don't want to spoil the opening scene of Chapter One," Shariff said. He hopes that players will enjoy the melding of science fiction with science fact: "We want you to sit down and curl up with one session and have a feeling like you had when you read the best short science fiction stories, especially like those of Clarke. There is plenty of adventure to plumb."