by Gene Turnbow
Minecraft has been one of the unexpected breakaway hits in the gaming world for the almost the past three years since the initial release in May of 2009. It breaks all the rules – it’s not based on predeveloped branding, it doesn’t have spectacular graphics or effects, boss battles or even a story line. It’s not a shooter, it’s not an RPG, it’s not a converted board game. And yet, this building game, originally written in platform-independent Java, has somehow escaped into the world and can be found on everything down to cell phones.
So what’s creator Markus Perrson of the Swedish game company Mojang working on now?
He’s recently unveiled a few details regarding his latest gaming effort set in space. It’s titled 0x10c, which has its origins in programmer’s parlance. Perrson tweeted an explanation for the title earlier this week “What happens if you try to read a 64 bit representation of 1 in a 16 bit system, but you get the endianness wrong? #Ox10c”.
Notch hasn’t worked out the pricing for the new game yet, but says on the 0x10c website that he’s planning on charging a monthly fee to join the multiverse. Since it’s going to be server based, time will pass in the game world even when players aren’t logged on to see it happen.
Story-wise, the game takes places in the year 281 474 976 712 AD. The characters of the game world have just woken from a suspended animation system where they have spent all this time since 1988. The universe dying, black holes are expanding and the survivors are taking to ships powered by a fully functioning emulated 16 bit CPU.
Ships will run on generators with a fixed power output, requiring players to manage their energy consumption. But this is where it gets interesting. You remember I mentioned the 16-bit computer? This is the first game ever that includes a fully programmable 16-bit emulated computer as part of the game, and players will actually program this thing as part of game play. That means viruses will be possible, and Perrson has said he doesn’t plan to do anything to stop their creation – that possibility is actually part of the gameplay. Users will be able to trade programs created with the in-game computer, and can be written to do all sorts of things, since the emulated computer is general purpose and can be used for anything.
The science in the game will be somewhat realistic, though the game will occasionally have to cut some corners for the sake of making the game experience actually manageable by its players. However, Perrson encourages experts in scientific fields to correct any errors that crop up, much as Star Trek fans do for Star Trek.
“The game is still extremely early in development, but like we did with Minecraft, we expect to release it early and let the players help me shape the game as it grows,” Persson said on the site.
Perrson’s plans for the game so far include:
- Space battles against AI or other players
- Abandoned ships floating around, chock-full of loot
- Advanced economy system
- Mining, trading, and looting.
- Random encounters.
- Single and multiplayer connected via the multiverse.
The angle of creating an emulated CPU in the game is an entirely new concept in gaming, though it is certainly the next logical step up from game features like Second Life’s robust LSL scripting language. It will tend to make programmers the heroes of the online community, and a great deal will be made of people with the skills to write code for this mythical CPU. I predict a whole pocket industry will spring up around 0x10c based on this. I’m personally really looking forward to this, being a former professional game programmer myself.
No release date yet, but it’s going to be huge when it finally does release.
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