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Moonbase Alpha is a simulation video game developed by Army Game Studio in conjunction with NASA Learning Technologies. The game became popular due to its text-to-speech (TTS) engine, which was humorously used in gameplay videos on YouTube.
Moonbase Alpha was released for free download via the Steam digital distribution service July 6th, 2010. On July 7th, 2010, a YouTube user named ABadFeeling uploaded a video of several players using the game’s TTS engine to say humorous phrases (shown at 1:50 below). Within two years, the video received over 103,000 views and 230 comments.
The TTS engine used in the game is a modified version of DECTalk. DECTalk was a speech synthesizer and text-to-speech technology developed by Digital Equipment Corporation in the early 1980s. DECTalk was made popular by Stephen Hawking and, of course, Moonbase Alpha. DECTalk is also capable of singing by a specific set of instructions based on phonemes and frequencies.
On July 17th, 2010, when YouTuber motdef uploaded a video titled “Moonbase Alpha Provides a Realistic Simulation of Life on a Natural Satellite”, featuring three players using the TTS engine to shout random phrases using the monikers mot, mastergir, and Horatio. Within two years, the video received over 1.6 million views.
“Holla Holla Get Dollar!”
“Snake? Snake?! Sake!”
“Here Comes Another Chinese Earthquake!”
On August 16th, Redditor TorpedoJones submitted a post titled “Moonbase Alpha: The Pinnacle of Online Gaming” to the /r/gaming subreddit, which linked to a Moonbase TTS video by YouTuber BenCJoker titled “Moonbase Alpha: The Astronaut Chronicles” (shown below).
On February 15, 2011, YouTuber MrYaridovich uploaded a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic parody of the original Moonbase Alpha video titled “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Provides a Realistic Simulation of Life in Ponyville”, which received over 1.8 million views within 18 months.