I was lucky. I really was. As a space nerd, that is. See, I grew up reading space stories – real ones. Underneath the Star Trek and the video games like Lightspeed and Frontier: Elite II I read book after book about space programmes, both manned and robotic. On my wall was a huge poster showing the sun, the orbits of the planets and – most importantly – the paths taken by the space craft which had explored or were still exploring the solar system.
I was lucky for this reason – I’d somehow failed to learn that NASA was putting money into developing a series of free, educational space games until the release of the first game was upon us. Moonbase: Alpha is a rather strange game. Based on the unreal engine, it’s a first/third person action/strategy game where you and up to 5 other players work to repair the life support systems of a semi-permanent base on the moon, based on the original plans to do so by NASA under George W Bush.
Things have been shaken up a bit now – Obama’s government has increased NASA’s budget and changed their goals, meaning the NASA games will likely remain the only glimpse at this particular moon base. But still, this game remains as a fun, interesting, semi-hard-scifi game which shows what that base might have been like, at least from the outside.