Patrick Curry’s Thoughts on Game Design


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March 5th, 2006

Game Idea #10: Project Luna

Gamers love space games. Here’s a very different kind of space game for y’all…

High Concept:

Project Luna is the most realistic space game ever. You play as a small team of astronauts tasked with landing on, exploring, and eventually colonizing Earth’s nearest neighbor, the Moon.

Platform:

PC

Why it needs to be made:

We’re in the middle of what could be considered the second space race. Several nations have declared their intentions to land on the Moon, and some have said they intend to mine it. But what do we really know about the moon? Project Luna aims to be a fun, yet educational simulation of the Moon’s surface.

Description:

Project Luna is an adventure-sim game. It’s a sim in that absolutely as much of the game as possible would be based on what we know about the real moon. The geography, geology, gravity and physics of the moon are all fairly straightforward to simulate. The game also has a realistic simulation of the moon’s “sky,” with the moon orbiting the earth while the earth orbits the sun. This translates into a dynamic day-night cycle, not just on the moon, but also on Earth “down below.”

Project Luna is an adventure game in that it’s set in the near future, and some liberties would be taken to guarantee that the game was fun to play, and not just a learning tool. You and your fellow astronauts land on the moon, and are given a number of tasks from mission control. These missions include finding suitable locations to touch down your mobile command center, using your rover to explore the surface, setting up solar panels to capture energy, installing small mining devices to drill up ice and ore, and eventually establishing more permanent bases.

Project Luna gives you three ways to get around on the moon. The first is an old-fashioned moon-walk. Secondly you can pile your crew and gear into the moon-rover, to quickly get around the surface. And finally your mobile command center can lift off, move around in near-orbit, and then touch down again at a new location for a series of missions.

Why it will be fun:

Who hasn’t dreamed of being an astronaut? Of watching the sun rise over an alien landscape, of jumping a moon buggy off a crater, or building a space station for you and your pals? Project Luna lets you do all this and more, but with the added reward of knowing that you’re on the surface of the real moon. The game would focus on the dangerous and exciting explorer-like activities, and try to streamline the tedious parts.

This experience gets even more fun if your crew is made up of other players, all networked into a single moon simulation. Moon Capture the Flag, anyone?

Final Thoughts:

Space is such a fascinating subject, and I think you could make a cool game about it without resorting to shooting space aliens or having interstellar dogfights.

Many thanks to Erin for encouraging me to flesh out Project Luna, and thanks to Mason for the continued support of my quest.


5 Responses to “Game Idea #10: Project Luna”

  1. Erin commented:
    posted March 6th, 2006 at 6:08 pm

    I love this idea, and I say your life or happiness or something should be recorded in how much freeze-dried astronaut ice cream you accumulate! YUM! :)

  2. erik commented:
    posted March 7th, 2006 at 7:31 pm

    sounds like a combination of a bunch of games… a flight sim, a stunt driving game (meets moon patrol), a sim city / civ style building/mining/civilzation developing game, and starry night.

    i was looking around for an old DOS PC game i used to play back in the early 90’s where you connected building bubbles on the surface of the moon (like populous or sim city), and i think you had to worry about meteor strikes and solar flares and stuff… couldn’t find the game but i came across this, which looks like its beta-test nickname was Luna:

    http://www.mobygames.com/game/windows/moon-tycoon

    i think, if done right, a moon / space simulation could feel really immersive to the point of being spooky. minimalist sound effects (no sound in space), stark, unfriendly, lonely landscapes, death always waiting if you forget to zip up your space suit or fill up your air tank… just by being realistic the effect could be pretty cold, and cool! and i don’t think you’d have to sacrifice fun… the parts where you interact with other players / NPCs through radios or in person in some kind of collaborative mission / game wouldn’t be lonely and quiet… you’d forget about that part till your character is alone again, and all you can hear is your breath.

    you could consider using gritty black & white resolution on the moon orbiter’s camera system to give certain parts that 60’s feel.

    lastly, i think the moon is locked in position so one side’s always facing the earth. which means there’s always a “dark side of the moon” (i.e. a side that earth never sees), but i’m not sure if that side actually gets sun or not. i’m imagining it does. point is, it’d be interesting to figure out how light/dark patterns actually work on the surface of the moon. i don’t think it’s perfectly analogous to the way it works on earth. i can imagine there’s long periods of light & dark.

    anyways, sounds fun. keep ‘em coming!

  3. Patrick commented:
    posted March 11th, 2006 at 8:28 pm

    I’ll take that as a big fat compliment, Erik. Thanks!

  4. Mason Dixon commented:
    posted March 17th, 2006 at 10:41 am

    Looks like Project Luna may not be that far away, and on the PC platform too. http://moon.google.com/

    Okay, so not as cool as your idea, but still oddly similiar.

  5. patrick commented:
    posted August 27th, 2006 at 6:37 pm

    it sounds to me like luna would be tring to hard to cram too many diffrent games into one


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