Notch, the famed creator of multiplayer building-block obsession Minecraft, has finally announced his new game. The game is called 0x10c, and of all things it seems to be some sort of old school space sim, and potentially even a massively multiplayer space sim at that. Notch said that the multiverse he is building will emulate all computers and physics even when players aren't logged in. That spells massively multiplayer game to me. Why did he make such a specific mention of computers and physics though? Well, let's take a look at the story. According to the game's website:
In a parallel universe where the space race never ended, space travel was gaining popularity amongst corporations and rich individuals.
In 1988, a brand new deep sleep cell was released, compatible with all popular 16 bit computers. Unfortunately, it used big endian, whereas the DCPU-16 specifications called for little endian. This led to a severe bug in the included drivers, causing a requested sleep of 0x0000 0000 0000 0001 years to last for 0x0001 0000 0000 0000 years.
It's now the year 281 474 976 712 644 AD, and the first lost people are starting to wake up to a universe on the brink of extinction, with all remote galaxies forever lost to red shift, star formation long since ended, and massive black holes dominating the galaxy.
Yes, the game is all about a software error accidentally putting people into a cold sleep which catapulted them into the future. However, it's this software error and the 16-bit CPU that the software runs on that will be the main focus of the game. Each ship in the game will have its own emulated 16-bit CPU, and players will then use that CPU (most likely through their own programming) to control the functions of their ship. However, this isn't going to be a mock CPU that restricts your actions only to the scope of the game. Much like the way Minecraft allowed you to build whatever you want, this game will probably allow you to program whatever you want. Notch says the CPU can be used "to control your entire ship, or just to play games on while waiting for a large mining operation to finish." So it's possible that a large portion of the gameplay in this new game will consist of wasting time with Minesweeper or Snake.
Now, Notch mentioned mining, which suggests that there is some sort of economy system in the game. In fact, he listed an "advanced economy system" in the game features he was hoping to implement. He also mentioned abandoned ships full of loot, random encounters, mining, trading, and more. Likely, you will be tasked with finding all sorts of different goods, from food to ore to weapons, and will need to sell them on planets where they fetch a high price. Of course, to obtain these items you will need either to scavenge them, mine them, or harvest them, and that will probably include some rather extensive programming of your 16-bit CPU.
The game will take place both in space and on the planet's surface. Notch said that battles will be able to be fought against the A.I. or other players successfully winning battles will most likely allow you to loot the losing ship somehow. It's possible that landing on a planet may make you more vulnerable. It's also possible that landing on a planet might catapult you into battle. Notch listed "random encounters" as one of the features of the game that he hopes to soon integrate. Whether these encounters are different from the aforementioned space battles against the A.I. is yet to be seen.
Ship management will also be a huge part of the game. According to Notch, each ship will have a generator that is capable of producing a fixed wattage of electricity. Everything you connect to the generator drains that wattage, possibly from other parts of the ship. Notch mentioned a possibility of a cloaking field requiring so much power that it prevents all other systems in the ship from working. It will keep you cloaked, but you will be unable to move, use computers, or even turn on your ship's lights. This could possibly extend to the battle system. If you are using all of your ship's power to say, mine for ore on a planet, it's possible that you won't have any power left for your weapons systems should space pirates attack.
The game will also have a classic sense of Notch customizability as well. It probably won't be as open-ended as Minecraft, but it certainly will give you options. Though Notch did not mention any of this explicitly, the official webpage does mention that a model editor is currently in development. While this might simply be a tool for game development, it's possible that it will also be accessible to the general public. Hopefully this means that we will be able to create our own ships, characters, and possibly even planets.
Other game features that Notch noted include: hard science fiction, lots of engineering, fully working computer system, seamlessly landing on planets, and more. What does Notch mean by hard science fiction? "I mean I will try to make sure that the science in the game has some kind of plausible theoretical basis in reality, and that 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. 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." In short, hard sci-fi fans will drool over this.
What else can we expect from this new Notch game? Open-ended space exploration? Space wars with multiple factions? Co-op gameplay where you have all of your computers working at the same time? Who knows? Either way it's sure to be a deep and involved game that has lots of that trademark Notch weirdness.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: April 4, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central. This week's is also purely a work of fiction*