Moonbase Alpha is the title of an educational video game currently in development by Virtual Heroes, Inc. in conjunction with NASA Learning Technologies. Based on potential moon base programs, the game was released on July 6, 2010 as a free download on Steam.
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.
Designed as a tech demo to test ideas to be used in Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond, NASA's Massively Multiplayer Online game. Moonbase Alpha is 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 6 players with an additional 6 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 3 Engine, Moonbase Alpha features solo or team play, VOIP chat, and an alternate voiceable chat engine. The Text to Speech engine in the game is exploited by many players to make annoying and funny sounds over the chat.
On the 6th of July 2010, Moonbase Alpha was officially released on the Steam network, allowing users to freely download the game.