Dec 28, 2006

New version of MoonBaseOne Game!

Merry Christmas! I just returned from travelling, and posted an updated version of the game. Steps to download and install it are on the right side of this page (the game zip file is here).

Things added:
- A mission system
- Another large base
- Jetpack
- AI Bots that follow paths
- Sandstorm effects
- Night effects
- Terrain Fixes

Next, I'll start building out some of the great ideas that everyone's posted.

Dec 11, 2006

More Moon mission ideas

  • Exploration of the moon. Test rock samples brought back from EVA’s.

Operations and Maintenance

  • Re-supply missions to moon.
  • Remotely drive a rover to collect supplies from landing site
  • Set up power unit – deploy solar panels
  • Respond to anomalies:
  1. Return to Moon Base due to radiation from solar activity
  2. Power loss – repair power station
  3. Medical issues – rescue injured astronaut
  4. Pressure leaks (micrometeorites) – repair facility
  5. Broken filtration units – build new water filtration unit
  6. Reports of different problems from earth

Other possibilities for the video game. This can include a host of anomalies from things blowing up to falling off a cliff. I think the more danger, the better.

  • Building the base – inflating structures or using the Moon buggy to move structures into place.
  • Mining operation – Astronaut services a robotic mining operation. Perhaps transporting oxygen to the home base or Helium 3 to a rocket for launch
  • Servicing failed equipment – autonomous telescopes that break down
  • Cleaning off large solar cells when covered by regolith (If he kicks up too much dust, the solar cells get covered and power in the station goes down)
  • Food production – hydroponics facility
  • Collecting supplies that came from earth

Lunar Research Station Design Challenge webcast

Steven Heffel from the Federation of Galaxy Explorers team in Montanta recommended this:

banner, includes moonscape

For the past several months, students, primarily in grades 5 - 8, have been challenged to design and build a full- or scale-model of an Earth-based research station that will support living adaptively and working efficiently on the Moon. The final designs for the Lunar Research Station Design Challenge are arriving from students around the world, and are being posted at:

On Dec. 12 at 9:00 a.m. Pacific time, NASA Quest will conduct a Web cast from NASA Ames and the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in Utah, one of several research stations established by the Mars Society in areas of the world that serve as analogs (similar environments) to Mars.

The Web cast will connect the students who have been participating in the Lunar Research Station Design Challenge since September, with crewmembers and commanders who at that point will be living in the MDRS habitat. Featured will be the students' designs and the parallel sites that NASA has participated in building.

For more information on the challenge:

For more information and/or to join the webcast on Tuesday:

Dec 4, 2006

NASA unveils Moon Strategy

Big story from NASA today:

NASA has unveiled plans for returning to the Moon! The mission plan is to start in 2020 with a four person crew, and grow from there. The main outpost will be a Lunar base, probably close to the south pole where there are many mining opportunities.

Do we want to incorporate this into the game? What dates are we thinking of for this occuring? 2015? 2020? 2030? 2040?

Mars ideas we can "borrow"

Here's a good Mars site that has some interesting and creative designs and images.

I like the layout of this base, and think we should start reprodcuing the buildings in it to at least get a first layout of our base. Should all buildings only be buildable in a specific location (much easier to program), or should you be able to freely place any building?


Also, here are some good images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which could be used for Moon Textures as well:

Dec 2, 2006

More quests and Space rock threats

The potential danger to being hit by meteroites/micro-meteorites seems to be at least 4 times greater than our computer models predicted. This could make for some interesting missions, and random explosions/damage during the game.

Our "quests"/"missions" could be in the form of:

Assigned through company on Earth via radio communication

  • Go get some mineral or amount of minerals
  • Repair or place or move a mining station (or make sure a "transport bot" can retrieve minerals)
  • Recover an "air-dropped" package and return to base
  • Fix a NASA-owned asset, such as a telescope, transmitter, or weapon (asteroid-shooter?)
  • Help robot drones with a problem they are having
  • An employee/vehicle/bot of a competing company on the moon needs rescue

Randomly occuring

  • Rover breaks down while you're riding it
  • Micrometeorite hits a building/equipment
  • Computer failure with something you're using.... reboot a machine
  • Complete comms failure, can't receive missions
  • Solar flare causing radiation storm... need to seek shelter immediately

Freeform - bonuses that you receive by doing things on your own

  • Purchase minerals/equipment from a competitor
  • Go discover or haul extra resources
  • Find or analyze new resource or chemicals
  • Clear lunar dust to prepare for future needs (moon dust is magnetized and very sharp, gets into everything and ruins equipment)

Radiotelescope on the moon by 2018,,11069-2480764,00.html

A few scenarios for the game might revolve around taking care of the NASA Lunar telescope... possibly building or upgrading parts of it, repairing micro-meteorite holes, or general care and feeding.

This might play well into the concept of the character being a "contractor" or employee of a corporation that is on the moon for a company making proftis. This company might be on consignment for repairs and other space tasks by the Earth-bound governments. This might make for a really good/competitive story of having different corporations all fighting for the bonus money of the first to complete certain lunar missions.

Any thoughts?

Nov 30, 2006

Underground tunnels and Mission Scenarios

moon explorationWe've been thinking of changing the designs to support many of the ideas people have commented on below.

(check here for some moon facts:

I'm thinking that we should maybe change the ideas of the "sun damage" for two reasons: it's very hard to program to look realistic, and it might not be technically accurate. We might either ignore the 2-week day-night cycle, or have a countdown and force the player to go inside during "day" periods. Another option is to just assume that the equipment made is tough enough to survive the 500 degree F difference.

Underground Tunnels
Another option is to have much of the construction be in the form of underground tunnels and rooms, which will offer the best protection from radiation, micro-metiorites and temperature damage. When the day approaches, the astronaut would have to be in the tunnels or get to them before taking too much damage.

Mission Scenarios
I think the best idea would be to have "scenarios" and missions that the player gets. When playing, a random mission will be given to the player, probably in the form of a sound file... a voice transmission from Earth that gives the player their task. Any ideas for missions? I'm thinking things like:

- Go find a meteorite that just landed at X,Y and take a core sample
- Go repair a malfunctioning piece of mining equipment
- Build a new tunnel somewhere
- Get a certain amount of various types of minerals
- Dig a hole
- Fight martians? :)

Nov 14, 2006

How to make 3D objects

Note: I've almost got Tribes-style jetpacks working within the game, and am currently tweaking them to feel more realistic on the moon!

If you're interested in creating 3D models and content, here are some good guides:
The best book to give an exact description of how to export objects to the Torque DTS format is "3D Game Programming All In One" by Kenneth Finney. It also highlights many of the other processes I'm using in building the game.
I use LightWave 3D to build objects (but it's not free). Another great tool is Milkshape 3D (which is free). There is an entire series of tutorials at: (under Tutorials -> Milkshape). I also use QuArk for creating buildings with interiors (.DIF files).

Specific tutorials to look at:

Nov 12, 2006

MoonBaseOne Version 0.4 posted!

I've got a lot of updates to the game. The newest version of the game files are at: MoonBaseOne

To install the game, first go to the website and download the demo of the Torque 1.4.2 game engine. Once you've installed it, replace the c:\torque\sdk\example\tutorial.base directory with the directory from the zip file above (this has all the game files in it).

Things I've changes this version:
- Terrain improved to remove random spikes and holes
- Jump size more realistic for moon
- Rocks available on the moonscape that give you points when you walk into them
- Screen size changed to work on 1280x1040 (and in windowed-mode) Hit Alt-Return to maximize game
- Footstep sounds removed, step sizes increased
- Horizon dust increased
- Other small changes to make game 90% smaller
- Upgraded to work with Torque 1.5 if you have it

Nov 9, 2006

We need content!

The biggest thing we need is content! This means 3D models, textures (for the models), and sounds. These need to be in a format that I can import them in for Torque.

A good resource to start learning about how to do this is at I use Lightwave 3D to do the modelling, photoshop for texturing... but as long as they're in a working DTS file, They'll work well. Minimizing polygons is very important so that the game loads and plays faster... so models need to be in the 100s (not the tens of thousands like something out of a movie).

You can also search for "free 3D models", though most of them take a lot longer to later convert into Torque.

If you find any (especially if they're already in Torque format), please post in the comments section!

Nov 8, 2006

The Moon is geologically active

Apparently, the Moon is still alive with "moon burps' of volcanic gas, especially within the area of the Ina Structure (shown in the picture to the right), and explained here and here.

I'm thinking this might be a new exciting premise of the game - build a base near here due to the increased access to precious metals and a volcanic power source. This could add an extra element of danger, but also add some very visually compelling areas of the game.

Nov 7, 2006

New Version of the Game Engine!

We’ve just updated the game engine to be the Torque 1.5 Game Builder.  This will give us much better control of the lighting conditions and fixes a number of crashes while developing in Torque.  I’ll push out an updated version of the game as soon as I finish converting it to the new engine.

Nov 4, 2006

Tasks that we need help with

How is the concept for the game?

  • Is it fun enough?
  • How do we make it more challenging/dangerous/aligned to the objectives of learning?
  • Should we introduce more danger?

Find 10-20 images of moon terrain

  • Pictures of rocks
  • Realistic colors of ground
  • What footprints look like
  • Concentrate on getting things that look dusty

Find a realistic height map of moon terrain

  • This should be from a scientific source, so we can build a realistic ground
  • Is the terrain I currently have good enough?
  • Try to find some that has craters in it

Find pictures of different rovers and moon vehicles

  • Should we use existing rovers?
  • Something that we design?
  • Something more sci-fi ish
  • We could have up to 3 vehicles, as they take a long time to get correct

Describe each vehicle

  • How tough would it be?
  • How fast would it go?
  • What’s it’s exact purpose? Collecting rocks? Erecting buildings?
  • How should vehicles behave on the moon where there is 1/6 gravity?
  • What happens if vehicles freeze or get too hot? Not work? Engines wont start? Seats melt?
  • How much oxygen can each vehicle have? How does astronaut breath this? If a astronaut can hold 100 oxygen in his suit, and vehicle can hold 1000 or 5000, does vehicle transfer oxygen to astronaut when he leaves? So, I can recharge my suit by climbing into a vehicle?
  • Can vehicles “jump” or have a speed boost? Which ones would be aimed at going over crater walls?
  • Should we have some sort of drone that’s remote controlled for exploring or pushing a vehicle or pulling it out of a hole or for carrying resources?

Describe each building

  • How many should we have?
  • What should each do? Things without animations are ideal… so if the texture on the outside explains what it does, the better.
  • How much resources should each cost to build?
  • How long should it take to build them?
  • How big are they? Hundreds of feet? Man-sized? Ginormous?
  • Does the building have any “pre-requisites”? Does a mineral processor need an electrical plant first? If so, how do we make the first buildings?

Describe the minerals

  • Are the ones above sufficient? Is a “minerals gathering” game fun?
  • Should all minerals be mined from rocks? Some from the ground?
  • Should the player be able to mine directly from the rock or only in a rover? Can the player carry resources?
  • Once resources are close to a building or site, is that enough to create a new building? Does the astronaut need to carry them in? What can we do that’s realistic but not boring?
  • What colors should each resource be?
  • Should there be an icon of each? Should each have a specific weight so that the rover can only carry X total?

How should we interface with the Moon Base?

  • Do we drive up to it and then get an overhead (SimCity-like) screen? Do we have each building be a big 3D object or an icon on a map?
  • What does the interface to the moon base look like? How do you pick which buildings to create?

What do you all think?
Is this fun and educational?


How you play the game:
- Travel fast in darkness. Travel slow while shielding vehicles during sunlight. Some vehicles take damage when moving over a certain speed in sunlight.
- Keep vehicles safe, players only have 1 of each vehicle, and these can be destroyed
- Mine minerals from the landscape, and move minerals to central crawler that builds base and launch pads
- Build a landing site for future landings, refueling, and launches
- Possibly have 3 different designs for vehicles that can land and build the base
○ Fast scout - tires take damage when moving in the sun, can turn on sun shield but not move, can repair other vehicles
○ Medium mining barge - can not mine in sunlight, can repair tires for scouts
○ Slow construction crawler - can move without damage in the sun

- Player lands each vehicle from orbit at pseudo-random spots, can switch control between each vehicle (but only operate one at a time)
- Terrain is very pronounced, covered with craters so there are high jumps that can damage vehicles
- A countdown always shows on screen to give the player a sense of urgency

Concepts for immersion:
- 1/6 gravity on each object
- Moon dust - sharp, ruins rubber, clouds of dust hamper visibility, erupts in magnetic clouds when first hit with sun each day
- Shadows - very bright and stark, no grays in shadows - lots of total darkness
- Craters with high crater walls for obstacles
- Two main types of land - black flat Maria, high crumbly white lands
- Micro-meteorites storms can damage vehicles (sun shields might protect, should we build these in vehicle or as buildings you must park in during day time?)

Victory conditions:
- A scoreboard is kept listing the top scorers (should this be online/networked)? Scoreboard possibly always lists what place you are in compared to others on machine
- You start with a million points (or something) and lose points for every second it takes you to build the moon base. Once it's built with enough supplies, you win, and animation of a starship happens
- Destroying two of your vehicles loses the game
- Dying loses the game
- Taking damage to vehicle or person sounds alarms and flashes the screen

Welcome to the Game Development Blog for FOGE MoonBaseOne

FOGE MoonBaseOne Game Design

Build a single-player game by June 2007 that can be used to teach concepts to high-school students about the moon at summer camp program. Ideally, this would be built for easy multi-player expansion. We want to convey that the moon is “a terrible place to build a base – too hot during the day, too cold at night, not many resources” (quote from Buzz last week). It should be a platform for refueling and launching to get to Mars or Beyond.

The game would be a 3D animated adventure to land mining bots on the moon, navigate them to mine resources, protect them from the hazards of sun damages and falls and collisions, then building a landing and launch site for refueling other spacecraft. You get points for building this landing site/base faster. You are a NASA astronaut that must breathe air and can suffocate if air runs out. You can pass out from sun stroke, or freeze if you spend too long in extreme temperatures (which is always the case on the moon).

Game Design overview:
Our first goal is to make a running game that works and has the least amount of “bells and whistles”. After we get a Version 1, we’ll start adding capabilities to Version 2 or 3. Making this stuff takes a lot of time, and requires skills of: art, 3D modeling, 3D texturing, programming, sound design, and storytelling/timing/aesthetics. It’s not easy! So, we need to plan to build things incrementally and realistically and not expect to make Halo 3 (that game is taking over $100 million to create)!

Check out the Federation of Galaxy Explorers site for more information