Spinning the Moon

We care about presenting our future in space as it can really be, when the boom comes. So we think a lot about things that mostly the industry doesn’t think about yet. This week, that was fun.

Ze Capsule Spacesuit

Which looks bizarre enough to be talked about with a 60s movie mad scientist accent. I just finished this yesterday. Did you know that it takes significant effort to flex your fingers in the glove of a pressurized spacesuit? Spacesuits of today operate at as low a pressure as possible so it is easier to keep the air sealed in, and also so a person is capable of flexing their joints while being basically inside a balloon animal. But that means it takes several hours to get out an airlock, because if you don’t purge your system of nitrogen, it’s going to form bubbles in your blood stream and that’s real bad. A spacesuit capable of holding a full atmosphere of pressure is the only way to avoid that. A full-pressure suit that allows you to bend your joints more than a small amount, repeatedly over hours, has to have a hard shell and a series of finicky annular joints. You know what? Let’s just make the arms robotic, shall we?

Moon Town in our game exists in a time of ubiquitous cheap robotics. These arms aren’t that big a leap from robotics we already have, really, and this is one of those cases where the low gravity helps a lot. They are way more agile than human arms in a suit pumped up to 10 psi would be, and the astronaut can rest. Maybe eat a sandwich. We figure they can wear very light gloves whose position is read and used to control the arms. Or alternatively to use the suit’s computer, with the spacious clear canopy doubling as computer screen when desired.

I could go on about this a lot longer, especially if I was to address the current state of spacesuit design and why we still think this is the way it will go in the longer term. But there are other things to cover. It has powered exoskeleton legs inside the suit – I’ll just add that and stop now. I consulted with engineers while I created this, using the ToughSF Discord server. It really helped, a very successful first implementation of that approach.

We’ve been noticed here and there

It was our great pleasure to be featured on the news blog of the Godot game engine this month. The piece got us many new members on our Discord server and some good input.

We were also awarded a microgrant of $250 through a Twitter campaign put on by @icculus, otherwise known as Ryan C. Gordon. This was the second annual campaign recognizing small open source projects. Read more about it and see the full list of recipients here.

Winding up for the pitch

Talking to people in the game industry has been quite enlightening. We’re working towards the people we need, right now it’s about consultants. There is a certain ‘You’re building what?’ vibe right now, I won’t lie. There are some good things about that. As one of them said to me a few days ago, ‘Game publishers have more money than they know what to do with, the problem is that most games pitched to them are crap’. Except he used a more colorful word. ‘Never been done’ is a lot better than crap, and can be a very welcome change of pace when your job is sifting through mostly crap looking for things that might work. This same person said to me ‘don’t open by telling them you are making an open source MMO’ (which is a Massively Multiplayer Online game – very risky, but technically our category). He said ‘tell them you are making an online medium for people to collaborate in building a realistic lunar town, complete with all the engineering and machines. Then when they are interested, explain to them that it’s open source to attract sophisticated contributors and cause them to be more invested, and that it can host hundreds of players at once and become a true community’. I loved that guy. We can’t hire him until work is done that will take me a few months to complete, considering my other duties. His input just laid out what that work needs to be.

Working together on something you care about is an experience too often missing in the modern world. Game worlds are uniquely able to give that back to us. Few experiences are as valuable in forging ties that last, in instructing on human nature, in creating faith in a shared future. To heighten that value, Moonwards is a game world that conveys a vision of our future that we badly need to see. It makes that vision openly shareable to foster investment of time and energy in it. There is no other way to get across to a broad range of people that this future is real, it’s coming faster than almost anyone expects, and it will have massive consequences.

There, that’s my latest iteration in summing up why Moonwards deserves support. It’s the mini version, the one I really need to polish. It needs to be packed in a full proper pitch video, detailed in a pitch deck that must serve for both the space community and the game community, the next steps must be specified in our Game Design Document, and the right places to present it must be found and pursued. All while continuing to improve the game and add new features and content. It’s quite a life, I tell you!

Wishing you the best until next time.