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Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond renamed to Starlite with beta incoming

Betas, Real-Life, News Items, Browser, Mobile, Starlite, Miscellaneous

In orbit, astronauts all carry holograms of the solar system.
In the wake of NASA successfully landing a robot rover on Mars recently, you might be wondering what happened to the NASA-themed MMO titled Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond. The first thing that's happened to it is that the project has been retitled Starlite. Project Whitecard Studios Inc. hopes the new name will be less cumbersome and also provide a better idea of what the game is about at a glance.

Development has progressed on the game as well, with a beta expected to begin sometime before the end of 2012. Prospective players can experience the game on mobile devices and browsers to minimize barriers to entry. If you're interested in a game focused on the technical side of space travel and exploring to the boundary of our solar system, keep a close watch for news on the upcoming beta.

[Source: Project Whitecard Studios Inc. press release]

Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond handing out trips to the (virtual) moon!

Historical, Starlite, Promotions, Miscellaneous

As Project Whitecard wraps up its Kickstarter fundraiser to raise funds for Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond, it wants to give a little extra incentive for any would-be donors. Anyone -- past, present and future -- who gives to the NASA project will be entered into a drawing for one of 50 free copies of Project Moonwalk.

Project Moonwalk is a video game simulation of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission, designed to be not only fun but also educational. The game hits the high points of space race history, from Sputnik's launch to the lunar landing and subsequent return to Earth. Made with the Unreal Engine, Project Moonwalk will be released this fall.

Currently, Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond has raised over $41,000 through Kickstarter, well exceeding its $25,000 goal. If you're interested in helping in the second great space race, then you have six days to get your pledge in to the cause before the fundraiser ends!

Gamebreaker's This Week in MMO: John Madden edition

Video, Lord of the Rings Online, News Items, Opinion, Mortal Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Starlite, Miscellaneous, PlanetSide 2, WildStar

Video game enthusiasts, pay attention. Each week, Gary Gannon and the crew at Gamebreaker.TV bring you the latest MMO news with their weekly show called This Week In MMO. The show rotates through a panel of personalities to bring you the latest news and opinions from MMO gaming. Sometimes these panels include reporters from our very own website, like Editor-in-Chief Shawn Schuster and Community Manager Rubi Bayer; even EVE expert Brendan Drain and SWTOR columnist Larry Everett have made appearances on the show.

This week, Gary is joined by ZAM's Mike B aka Fony and Hillary "Pokket" Nicole to talk about PlanetSide 2, Star Wars: The Old Republic, subscription models, WildStar, Lord of the Rings Online, Mortal Online, Astronaut the MMO, and why women don't like voiceover. First up: PlanetSide 2 will be free-to-play, and SWTOR may be the last subscription MMO. Is anyone surprised? The panel weighs in on whether WildStar mechanics are more of the same or maybe this game has something new. Mike B and Pokket discuss how LotRO is making Isengard appear more epic. We also find out why Mortal Online territorial control is not for the faint of heart. Lastly, is anyone interested in being an astronaut anymore?

If you like intelligent, fun discussion about the latest in MMOs (in video format), you should check out the recorded version of This Week In MMO right after the cut, or live every Wednesday evening!

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Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond prepares to plumb the depths of space for adventure

Real-Life, Sci-Fi, Interviews, Previews, Starlite

Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond
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."

Astronaut MMO may finally launch (pun intended)

Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, New Titles, Starlite

Astronaut: Moon, Mars, and Beyond
Just when Astronaut: Moon, Mars, and Beyond was about to be written off as vaporware, NASA has popped back on the scene to announce some commercial backing for the project from developers Project Whitecard, Wisdom Tools, and Virtual Heroes.

According to the first announcement over two years ago, the MMO aims for a demographic of players age 5 to 24, setting them up as astronauts who are training to explore deep into Earth's star system in the year 2035. Imagine Space Camp... but actually in space.

To assist in funding the project, the developers of the upcoming MMO have created a Kickstarter page that includes a four-minute video explaining what the game is about. CEO for Wisdom Tools Dr. Sonny Kirkley explains in the video that the game is meant to be fun, but at the same time the designers "want the learning to be authentic." To that end, NASA has granted the developers full access to the rich history of the space program so that a true sense of realism can be achieved.

The game has been developed with the Unreal Engine 3 to work on PC, iPad, and some yet-to-be-announced consoles. Look for the beta testing to start in December of 2012, and watch the full Kickstarter video after the break.

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NASA releases new information on their upcoming MMO

Video, New Titles, News Items, Starlite

Back in November, we talked about an exciting space MMO in the works from NASA, called Astronaut: Moon, Mars, and Beyond. The information they had at the time was pretty extensive, and left us anxious to find out more and try it out.

We're getting our wish, as NASA has announced that Moonbase Alpha, a "mini-demo game', will be available on Steam around January of 2010. Moonbase Alpha gives a real look at NASA Constellation program design details that are planned by NASA for 2020.

The full game is set farther in the future -- around the year 2035 -- "but the ability to explore our own near-future moon missions are in scope in the much-anticipated STEM-learning game sponsored by NASA Learning Technologies."

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