Free 'Mars base' demo from Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak dev is now on Steam

Project Eagle, a "3D interactive Mars base" simulation developed by Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak studio Blackbird Interactive in partnership with NASA, is now live on Steam and free for everyone. 

"Project Eagle is an interactive model of a Mars colony in Gale Crater at the base of Mount Sharp, near the original landing site of the Mars Curiosity Rover," the Steam listing explains. "Eagle isn't a game, but a tool to allow users to explore and learn about a potential future Mars colony. Eagle base is grounded in real possibilities, informed by real science with direct guidance and feedback from NASA and JPL scientists about the technological and material constraints for building human habitation on the red planet." 

It's definitely not a game, and there's not a whole lot to do. You can move the camera around to enjoy the lightly-animated scenery, activate a "sensor mode" that provides more detail on what the various facilities do, and launch a shuttle off-world when you get bored and want to go home. There are some game-like elements to it, however, including six achievements, five of which are almost unavoidable and one I still haven't figured out. 

And it is very Homeworld-like: Snapping in and out of sensor mode in particular conjured memories of Homeworld's tactical mode. I'm pretty sure it even uses the same sound effect.   

"Project Eagle was created by Blackbird in collaboration with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as part of a wonderful talk by Dr. Jeff Norris at the DICE Summit in February of 2017," Blackbird CEO Rob Cunningham said. "Jeff's speech showed that art, when grounded in science, can capture the public imagination and even build support for the exploration of space." 

"In keeping with Jeff's idea we decided to make our future Mars Base simulation available for free so that as many people as possible could experience our little art-meets-science project." 

Project Eagle was announced in February 2017 and demonstrated shortly afterward at the 2017 DICE Summit. It was released on Steam today to mark the successful landing of NASA's InSight rover on the surface of Mars. 

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Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.