While NASA might not be returning to the real moon any time soon, the virtual moon is anyone's game in Moonbase Alpha, a multiplayer lunar exploration adventure game, now available for free download via Steam.
Every day gamers perform feats they never could in real life via the games they play. Now NASA is doing the same thing with the games they create! In Moonbase Alpha, NASA returns to the surface of the moon with a mind to conduct research, explore, and eventually colonise the surface of the moon. To that end, the organisation establishes a self-sufficient base on the south pole of the moon called Moonbase Alpha.
And then something goes terribly wrong, and everyone might die. This is why we can't have nice moon colonies.
The player in Moonbase Alpha takes on the role of an astronaut returning from a jaunt on the surface, just in time to witness a meteorite disable the base's life support systems. You and your team (the game features online multiplayer) have to coordinate your efforts in order to get the life support systems up and running, or just give up and let everyone die a horrible death.
There are multiple solutions to the problem. Players will have access to repair tools, rovers, and player-controlled robots to help them get the job done. The game even features leaderboards. Perhaps getting to the top of them will invoke a Last Starfighter response from NASA. Probably not.
Developed by Virtual Heroes, Moonbase Alpha is a proof-of-concept, showing how NASA's technology and knowledge can be utilised to create interactive learning experiences. It's the precursor to a full-fledged NASA MMO, first revealed in February of last year.
I've only just downloaded the game myself. It's not the prettiest you'll ever see, but hey, I'm walking on the moon, and that's more than you can say for NASA right now.
Moonbase Alpha [Official Website]