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Free Moonbase Alpha game released

As promised last week, the free space simulation game Moonbase Alpha has been released via Steam. And we once again state that this game has nothing to do (unfortunately) with the 1970's TV series Space 1999 which is set on (wait for it) Moonbase Alpha.

The game was co-developed by Virtual Heroes and the America's Army Game Project on behalf of NASA. The game pits you as a space-suited astronaut on the moon in the near future. The goal of the game is to repair the life support systems of Moonbase Alpha after they are damaged by a meteorite impact. The game is also supposed to be a proof-of-concept for a proposed NASA MMO game which Big Download exclusively revealed the details of several months ago.

Moonbase Alpha to be released for free on Steam July 6

Several months ago we reported that NASA was looking to develop an MMO game project titled Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond. While that project is still in the development stage, NASA is prepping to launch a (kind of) demo for the game called Moonbase Alpha. Now comes word from NASA Games' Twitter page that Moonbase Alpha will be released on June 6 for free via Steam.

The demo was supposed to be released way back in January but it apparently got delayed. Other than the fact that the game runs on Unreal Engine 3 there's little info on Moonbase Alpha at this point.

[Via Rock Paper Shotgun]

Lunar Racing Challenge announced

We celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing on Monday but we haven't been back to the moon since 1972. This week developer VirtuePlay announced plans for a new PC game called Lunar Racing Challenge, a racing title that takes place on the lunar surface.

The developer worked with NASA to get accurate high-resolution, infrared photos of the moon to help create the graphics and tracks for the game. The game'e engine was also designed to simulate the real conditions on the surface, including the one-sixth gravity. The multiplayer online game is scheduled to be released for PCs sometime this fall.

Feature: First look at NASA's Unreal Engine 3 based MMO

By John Gaudiosi

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, North Carolina – Epic Games has seen an influx recently in the number of massively multiplayer online (MMO) games in development that utilize its Unreal Engine 3 technology – an engine that was not originally designed for MMO games.

The latest entry in this Unreal MMO games category is the new subscription-based NASA MMO game, "Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond." This game, which will ship next year, joins other Unreal Engine 3-driven MMO games like RealTime Worlds APB, NHN USA's Huxley, Acony Games' Parabellum and Sony Online Entertainment's The Agency and DC Universe Online.

"We're using Unreal Engine 3 for the new NASA MMO game, which will allow us to focus on gameplay and realism and not worry about things like multi-threaded rendering problems or issues with rigid body physics or network programming," said Jerry Heneghan, founder and CEO of Virtual Heroes.

"Unreal Engine 3 is simply one of the best, state-of-the art game engines available," said Daniel Laughlin, Ph.D., project manager for the game at NASA Learning Technologies.

It was Virtual Heroes work on another Unreal Engine 3 game, America's Army, that opened the door for Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond.

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