Minecraft creator’s new game is a space-sim with a weird name

The next person who tells me space-sims are a dead genre will be locked in a lifepod and left drifting in Witchspace for the Thargoids to find.

After passing the reins for Minecraft over to Jeb and presumably when he’s not also working on Scrolls, Mojang’s collectible card game-esque litigation magnet, Markus “We still have to put Notch between his names” Persson is going to be working on a whole new game called 0x10c. I have no idea how to pronounce that so I’m just going to call it “Oxy-10” for short, after the Benzoyl peroxide lotion much beloved by acne-ridden teenagers. The name has something to do with CPUs and other programming stuff I know sod-all about, like little and big endians, and is also the reason for the game’s back story. 0x10c is set in an alternate universe where suspended animation technology “compatible with all popular 16 bit computers” was discovered in 1988, and a severe bug in the included drivers causes a whole lot of people to pull an extreme Rip Van Winkle and wake up in the 281 474 976 712 644 AD “to a universe on the brink of extinction”.

According to Notch it’ll be a space-sim in the vein of the classic Elite with mining, trading, shooting and looting. As someone who poured hours into the original Elite and actually achieved that hallowed rank in-game, with a view-screen covered in tribbles no less, that in itself is enough to make me prick up my ears and whisper “tell me more”. Hard details are thin on the ground right now although Notch promises space battles against AI or other players, abandoned ships to salvage for space-booty, an advanced economy system and “seamlessly landing on planets” ala Frontier: Elite II. There are also plans for subscription-based multiplayer with a monthly fee to cover server costs but you can still play it single-player if you want to. Damn it Notch, take my money already!

Unlike Elite and the countless games it inspired such as Freelancer, Jumpgate and the X series Notch is aiming for a proper, serious hard science fiction approach to deoxyribonucleicspacejam’s setting. If you’re familiar with the works of Alistair Reynolds, Stanislaw Lem or Arthur C Clarke you’ll have an inkling of what to expect, though “probably not as hard as you’re hoping!” according to Notch. “I will try to make sure that the science in the game has some kind of plausible theoretical basis in reality. I want to be corrected if I make any mistakes. If I have to go against any current science, I want it to be an informed decision.”

Amateur astronomy nerds everywhere should probably hold back on the rejoicing however, as some hard science will be necessarily sacrificed upon the altar of gameplay. “For example, because time needs to run at the same speed for all players in the game, I am probably going to have to add some way to travel faster than the speed of light. “So basically, as few hand-wavey things as possible, with the rest rigorously explained.” Each player’s ship will have a generator producing a fixed amount of power that gets drained depending on what and how much you connect to it, so activating a cloaking field require you to cut all other power for example.

The ship’s computer is also a fully functioning emulated 16 bit CPU that can be used to control the entire ship “or just to play games on while waiting for a large mining operation to finish.” My programming skills just about stretch to a few lines of Basic and a half-forgotten smattering of Cobol so that isn’t really a selling point for me, although I suppose it’s a nice little extra for the more technically-minded gamers out there. It still sounds like a day 1 purchase for people like me who can’t get enough of space exploration mixed with economics and mercenary shenanigans. No release date is confirmed yet although Notch plans to release the game in a similar fashion to Minecraft, so players can pay for early access and receive updates for free while he continues developing it.

Matt

About Matt

Matt is the irresponsible degenerate behind bitscreed.com and the sarcastic writer, editor, director, presenter and tea boy of Pixel Burn.