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 Moonbase Alpha Solo Guide

Moonbase Alpha Solo Guide

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Revision: 7/16/2010

Welcome to the Moonbase Alpha Solo Guide.

==Table of Contents==

* What is Moonbase Alpha? (q1)
* What is a Solo Guide? (q2)
* How do I get Moonbase Alpha? (q3)
* I am having technical problems/I have a question not in this guide (q4)
* How to play solo (q5)
* Controls (q6)
* Simulation overview (q7)
* 25 minutes or less, or your oxygen is free (q8)
* Ganging up (q9)
* Legal (q10)

==What is Moonbase Alpha? (q1)==

A demonstration game, produced by Virtual Heroes under license from NASA.  It
is intended as a precursor to a later MMO.  As of this writing, it consists of
one mission on three difficulty levels, where you and up to 5 others take the
role of astronauts repairing the life support equipment on a moonbase (the
titular Moonbase Alpha) before it runs out of oxygen.

The game has no direct relation to the TV series of the same name.

==What is a Solo Guide? (q2)==

A guide to help you complete the game by yourself, an act known as "soloing".
While that is the primary purpose of this guide, notes are given for playing in
a team environment.

==How do I get Moonbase Alpha? (q3)==

It is being distributed for free on Steam.  At this time, it is
only available for PCs.

1. If you do not already have Steam, go to and
   select "Install Steam".

2. Once you have Steam, launch it, and then search on "Moonbase Alpha" within
   Steam.  You should be taken to a page with a link to download the game.

==I am having technical problems/I have a question not in this guide (q4)==

See the Moonbase Alpha forum, at

==How to play solo (q5)==

Once you have the game, launch it.  Click on "Create".  In the next screen,
make sure that "Play in offline mode" is checked.  For your first game, you
probably also want to select "Play opening cinematic", "Freeplay Mode", and
"1-2 players".  Then click on "Create".

If you've done all this, you will now be in a single player game, into which
no one else can intrude.  You will also not be limited by the clock.  While
there will be a timer, so you can see how well you are doing, you are free to
ignore it.

Later on, when you want your time to count, select "Competitive Mode".
(Although, if you really want to shoot for the top times on the leaderboard,
the only way to do that is with friends - so you can't play in offline mode.
In fact, that is one intended moral of this game: excellence requires teamwork.
This guide is about getting you as far as you can without that.)

By the way: the "3-4 players" and "5-6 players" maps are the same, just with
more equipment, and more damage.  Also, there is a type of damage that does
not occur on the "1-2 players" map.  Effectively, "1-2 players" is
"(Relatively) Easy", "3-4 players" is "Medium", and "5-6 players" is "Hard".

==Controls (q6)==
The game can be played with just the WASD keys, the space key, and the mouse.
The specifics of the controls change depending on whether you're moving your
astronaut, driving a robot, or driving the rover.  See the in-game help for

WASD: move forward/left/right/backward

Space: jump (astronaut only) or exit the map screen (useful for skipping the
forced briefing at the start - you can shave about 10 seconds off your time
by pressing space as soon as the map screen comes up, dumping you back to
your astronaut)

Left mouse button: interact with whatever you're pointing the mouse at

Right mouse button: drop whatever you're holding (astronaut or arm-bot only)

Enter: start typing chats to others in the game, or send what you've typed.
(Don't try this while welding unless you're a fast typist: you'll get
interrupted by the minigame.)

The fastest way to run is the "bunny hop", used by real astronauts.  Start
walking in a certain direction, then jump, jump again as soon as you hit the
ground, and keep jumping.  Of course, you can't turn in mid-jump.

One big interface challenge is aiming the mouse at the component you want to
work with.  Once the game registers the aim, the component will be highlighted.
Click the mouse when the component is highlighted, and you will get a menu.
Move the mouse left or up (or, less commonly, another direction) until the
choice you want is highlighted, then click the left mouse button again.

Again: to interact with a component, the component must be highlighted, and
that requires aiming the cursor precisely at it.  If it's not highlighted, the
game doesn't think you're aiming at it.  (It gets easier to do this if you get

If you're not aiming the cursor at anything, and you're driving a robot or the
rover, click the left mouse button to get the menu that lets you go back to
moving your astronaut.

While welding a component, you will get a series of minigames, which challenge
you to make a bypass.  Click on one end of a red wire, then drag your mouse to
the other end.  Complete a set of bypasses within the time limit to save time
on the repair.  You will start off at difficulty 1, going up 1-2 difficulties
each time you successfully complete a bypass, and going down the same for
failing (welding outside the box, or not completing in time).  Higher
difficulties tend to reward you with more time saved.

WARNING: once you click, you are committed to welding that wire, even if you
release your mouse button, so stay within the box until you've completed the
trace and the wire starts turning green.  Don't be afraid of fast motions on
straight wires: if you complete the trace, the weld will usually cut off
automatically without overshooting - but make sure it's a straight trace, since
going off at an angle will take you out of the box.

When you are driving a robot or rover, you may sometimes get stuck at an
obstacle.  For instance, a robot may have problems getting over a ramp.  If
that happens, try using the forward/side or reverse/side keys together.  For
instance, let's say you are driving a robot over a ramp, but run into one of
the connectors on the side of the ramp, like so:


Hold S and A briefly, until you get to this position:


Then proceed with W.  Alternately, if you wind up like this:


Then hold S to back up:


Then W and A to get to this:


And finally, W and D to get through:


You can also alternate forward/side and reverse/opposite-side (W+D and S+A or
W+A and S+D) to snake through some obstacles.  Remember, these are wheeled
vehicles, and you are turning with your front wheels - the same maneuver can
be done in cars, though these robots and rovers can take a lot more pounding
than your typical car.

There are more keys you can use, but these are rarely useful.  See the in-game
help if you wish to know more.

==Simulation overview (q7)==

So, you have the game, you've launched the cinematic, and now you have no idea
how to proceed.

Turn on your sound if you can.  The game contains a voiceover tutorial, that
tells you what you need to do as you reach the relevant places.  But some
people learn better by reading, or are not able to play with sound and so can
not make use of that tutorial.  Further, the tutorial can be a bit disjointed,
and misses a few things.

You are playing an astronaut on the Moon, who has just returned from a field
trip to find the moonbase's life support smashed up.  Naturally, yours is the
only working spacesuit, and of course all the damaged components are outside.
(Remember, there is no air outdoors on the Moon.  Habitats - imported from
Earth, or otherwise manufactured and delivered - can contain air, but their air
must be manufactured from the Moon's dirt, or "regolith".  You need to repair
the machinery that makes that air.)

In Competitive Mode, you have 25 minutes to repair the machinery well enough
that it makes enough oxygen to continue the day's work.  Fail, and...nobody
dies.  They have reserve oxygen.  They just take a day off because you needed
more than 25 minutes to repair things.  Confused?  This is NASA; bureaucratic
safety procedures are instinct and habit.  Space is a hostile, dangerous
environment; lack of proper safety can kill quickly.  (Imagine living in a
toxic waste infested neighborhood, such that you have to put on a hazmat suit
just to take a walk around the block without your legs falling off.  And then
there's radiation and low gravity.)  In Freeplay Mode, the moonbase will tap
those reserves to give you all the time you need.

The moonbase's components are as follows:

1. Equipment shed.  You start the map looking right at it.  (In higher
   difficulty maps, there are 2 sheds.)  Use this by walking up to it and
   interacting with one of the monitors next to the door.  (If you don't
   know how to do this, read the Controls section above.)  From here you can
   get any tool or part in unlimited supply.  (If only reality worked this
   way.  Still, the shed should stock more than you need to make repairs even
   on hard difficulty.)

2. Solar panels.  You'll see these off in the distance.  They may look like
   satellite dishes at first, but they're there to receive sunlight, not
   communications.  These convert sunlight into energy.  Only astronauts can
   interact with these.  There is a monitor on the side that lets you lower
   them; once lowered, the panels can be removed and replaced (with spares
   gotten from the shed) or repaired (if you are carrying a welder - again,
   robots can not weld this).  Unlike most things in this game, you do not need
   a special tool to install or remove a solar panel.

   There is a spare toolbox and connector next to the panels.

3. Pipes and connectors.  These run from the solar panels to the power
   converter.  Some connectors can go critical - if not repaired sufficiently
   in time, they will damage themselves beyond repair.  (This does not require
   full repair - if you can get the connector down to light damage before the
   critical timer runs out, that will prevent the self-destruct.)

   Loose pipes must be inserted into connectors, and then secured with a wrench
   (which is the only use for the wrench tool).  If you have a fully repaired
   solar panel connected to life support, but power is not getting through,
   something along the line probably needs securing.  Look for a connector
   where there is a blinking light on a pipe, and apply a wrench to that pipe.
   (Or just look on the minimap to see how  far power is getting - where it
   stops is where securing is needed.)

   Either welding robots or astronauts can repair the connectors, but only
   astronauts can repair the pipes.  Pipes are never damaged on the 1-2 player

4. More pipes and connectors - between the power converter and life support,
   and between life support and the habitat.  These are never damaged and
   should never be interacted with.  (If you ever see someone interacting with
   them, they are either clueless or attempting sabotage.)

5. Power converter and life support - two buildings that are leaking gas
   (coolant).  Until completely repaired, astronauts can not get close enough
   to touch these; you must send in robots.  (Getting too close would be
   lethal.  Your astronaut simply won't go there until it's fixed.)  This
   contains four types of components: bridge circuits on the power converter,
   oxygen generators on the side of the life support facing the power
   converter, CO2 filters on the near corner of the life support (relative to
   your starting location), and N2/O2 controllers on the other corner of the
   life support.

   An undamaged spare of each of these four types is in the CO2 corner.  Others
   may be lying on the ground where they were blown out of their socket.  There
   will be a hollow exclamation point noting any empty sockets; other sockets
   will have a damaged gear icon if they are damaged, or no such icon

6. Rover - space truck.  Fast, but the animation to get on and off reduces how
   fast one effectively moves with it.  As a result, it is not very useful
   unless you want to replace a solar panel.  An astronaut moves slowly while
   carrying a panel, but rovers move at full speed with a solar panel loaded
   onto their rear deck.  (A rover can carry one panel or two of any other
   thing.)  In theory, the rover is limited in endurance by its solar panels,
   but that endurance rarely comes into play during this game.

7. Command center - a standalone building beyond the equipment sheds.  Allows
   for observation from multiple camera points, or remote control of a rover
   without the boarding/deboarding animation.  Less useful than the rover.

8. Everything else - the habitats and the landers.  Non-interactive background.
   (Also, you're in a crater which, somehow, you are unable to drive out of
   even though you presumably did so to go on your field trip in the first
   place.  Maybe there was a ramp that was destroyed without a trace left, or
   maybe there is a tunnel out of the crater, the door to which blends in
   perfectly with the lunar surface and won't open while you're supposed to be
   repairing the moonbase.)

Each solar panel must be undamaged, and connected to the power converter by an
undamaged (and secured) series of pipes and connectors, to deliver power.
The power converter and life support will create some air so long as they get
any power, but they will work more efficiently with more working components.

In addition, you will have access to the following tools:

1. Robot.  This can either have an arm or a welder.  To get this, select
   "Construct Robot" from the equipment shed monitor.  I recommend selecting
   the maximum speed: this comes at the expense of battery life, but even the
   minimum battery life is nearly always sufficient for the task at hand, and
   speed affects how fast you can get things done.  Robots have a very limited
   range; if you get too far from their control station, they cut off, though
   you can pick up (not "Undeploy", which destroys robot and control station)
   the control station, carry it a little ways towards the robot, and set it up
   again to regain control.  Robots come in two types:

1a. Robot with an manipulator arm ("arm-bot").  This robot can remove damaged
    components from the life support and power converter, and insert
    less-damaged or undamaged components in their place.

1b. Robot with a welding torch ("weld-bot").  This robot can repair the
    power convertor's and life support's components, as well as the connectors.

2. Welder - lets you repair connectors, pipes, and solar panels.

3. Wrench - lets you secure pipes.  (See #3 above.)

4. Toolbox - contains welders and wrenches.  Not very useful, given the
   animation time to interact, and there is already one next to the solar

5. Other stuff - including replacements for any and every component that
   might be damaged.  Useful if welding gets aggravating and you want to try
   a pure-replacement strategy.

==25 minutes or less, or your oxygen is free (q8)==

Here is a sequence of events that has let me solo the 1-2 player map in less
than 25 minutes.

1. Space out of the map screen to pick up an extra 10 seconds.

2. Go to equipment shed.  Construct a weld-bot with maximum speed.

3. Head directly toward the life support/power converter until you reach
   tire tracks heading from your back right to your forward left.  Deploy

4. Drive the robot to the damaged converter on the nearest power line.  Repair
   it.  (I have found that this converter often goes critical quickly, even
   with light damage.  Repairing it first prevents this.)

5. Exit the robot (left click when nothing is highlighted).  Return to the
   equipment shed and construct an arm-bot with maximum speed.  Deploy it to
   the left of the other control station.

6. Drive the robot to the CO2 corner.  Use the spare undamaged CO2 filter
   there to either fill the empty socket, or if there is no socket, replace
   the most heavily damaged CO2 filter (you will need to remove the damaged
   filter first, and that requires an empty hand; right click to drop the
   filter when you have it).

7. Pick up the undamaged bridge circuit, and drive around to the far side of
   the power converter - which usually has either an empty socket or a
   medium-or-heavy damaged bridge circuit.  Insert or replace as above.

8. While you are here, take a quick look at the oxygen generators to see
   which one is the most heavily damaged, or if one is missing.  Then return
   to the CO2 corner, pick up the oxygen generator, and insert or replace as

9. Get the N2/O2 controller from the CO2 corner, drive up to the N2/O2 corner,
   and insert or replace as above.

10. Exit the robot.  You are done with this one.

11. Pick up the weld-bot control station, then head for the solar panels.  Drop
    the control station (right click) near the toolbox between the solar
    panels (so you can come back to it quickly later).

12. Interact with the toolbox to get a welder.  Lower both solar panels (the
    monitor for the "far" panel is closer to you, so lower that first), and
    repair the "near"/"south" panel (because that panel's line is otherwise
    fully connected).

    At this point, oxygen generation will resume, though it will be slow.  It
    will speed up as you complete the remaining steps.  The game will end once
    enough oxygen has been produced; that could be in the middle of one of the
    remaining steps.  (Time until enough oxygen has been generated is the only
    score in this game; 100% repair gets you nothing in and of itself.  Though,
    if you get enough oxygen generated and you have not finished repairs, you
    can click "Continue" to let you finish up.)

13. Go back to the weld-bot control station.  Drop the welder (or put it back
    in the box), pick up the station, set it up again, and resume control of
    the weld-bot.  (Get a little closer to the weld-bot if it's out of range.)

14. Repair the remaining components on the power converter and life support.
    Do the lightly damaged ones first: a component does not function at all if
    it has any damage, and you can get the lightly damaged ones working
    faster.  Ignore any components on the ground: you only care about the ones
    that are now in sockets.

15. Once both the power converter and life support are fixed (no more gas is
    leaking, and they both read 100%), use the welding robot to fix the
    remaining damaged connectors.  (It can reach and fix them faster than you

16. Exit the robot.  Next to you is a disconnected hose.  Insert it, get a
    wrench from the toolbox, and secure it.  Then drop the wrench immediately:
    that is the wrench's one and only use in this difficulty level.

17. Pick up the welder and repair the remaining solar panel.

18. Repairs are now 100% complete.  If the required oxygen level has not yet
    been reached, it will be shortly, so just wait for it.

Practice the above once or twice in Freeplay Mode.  Then switch over to
Competitive Mode.  If you can solo it in less than 25 minutes, congratulations:
you've passed NASA's only available-to-the-general-public test for whether
you're competent to conduct emergency repairs on the Moon.

==Ganging up (q9)==

Here are a few notes if you want to play this online with random people:

1. USE THE ARM-BOT!  Most people miss this, and even though the arm-bot can
   only insert and remove things, this is the only way to "repair" the empty
   sockets on the power converter and life support.  In most cases, even if
   you join mid-game and no one's talking, if you do this as soon as you enter
   the game, you'll be contributing something vital that no one else was doing.

2. Don't be afraid to talk.  Most players will never have read this guide, and
   have little clue what to do.  If you've practiced a few times, you'll know
   what all needs doing.  If someone's just standing around, point them at a
   task.  On the other hand, you can either talk or use the keyboard to do
   stuff, so don't spend too much time talking.  (If you have voice chat, this
   problem is largely bypassed.)

3. It's all about sharing tasks so everyone wastes the least amount of time
   switching tasks (including animation time, time to move from site to site,
   and time to figure out what others have finished/what you still need to do).
   In a 2 player map, one player should do the robots, while the other person
   does the solar panels, pipes, and connectors.  With more players, further
   division of tasks is possible.  If possible, figure out who will do what in
   the game lobby before you play.

4. In a 6 player game, you can justify the time for someone to drive the rover
   back and forth, delivering replacement solar panels in less time than it
   would take to repair the heavily damaged ones (especially if there's someone
   else to pick up the panels, so the rover driver does not have to go through
   the exit/entry animation at the solar panel end).

==For the lawyers (q10)==

This document is copyright 2010 by Adrian Tymes.  Moonbase Alpha, NASA, and
other such terms are trademarked by their respective holders.

Permission is given to redistribute this guide under the following conditions:

* Do not charge for viewing this guide.  (If you really think you can get
  anyone to pay you for this guide, talk to me so we can arrange a commercial
  license.  Selling it without giving me a cut is a no-no.)
* Do not alter this guide.  Distribute the entire guide, from the "GUIDE START"
  line to the "GUIDE END" line, inclusive.  Inserting this guide in a larger
  work, such as an HTML page, and reformatting necessary for such (specifically
  including replacing "<" with "<" for HTML presentation) is acceptable so
  long as the guide itself is not altered.  (Fair use exceptions for quoting
  just a few lines apply, but don't try to be clever and claim 90% is "just a
  few", that many quotings of "just a few" lines that happen to be presented in
  a way that makes up most of the original guide falls under this, or such
  thing.  Trust me, you didn't think of it first.  The courts have probably
  already reviewed your trick, when someone else tried it years ago, and said
* Do not claim authorship of this guide.  (No matter how tempting it may be to
  claim, "original content DO NOT STEAL," if you stole that content in the
  first place, most people will see right through your lie.  This would hurt
  you even if it never gets back to me, so for your sake don't do it.)
* Visit GameFAQs ( on a regular (at least once every
  3-4 months, through the end of 2011 - the latest date I anticipate there
  may be any updates) basis and download any updates to the guide.  (If it's
  worth your time to redistribute, it's worth a bit more time to make sure you
  don't have something far out of date.)


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