In the world of indie gaming, Minecraft is undoubtedly in a league of its own. The sandbox game has already sold more than 5 million copies and has spawned its own subculture of fan sites and clones. Now, the game’s creator Notch (nee Markus Persson), has announced his next project called 0x10c: a multi-player space game set in 281,474,976,712,644 AD. Besides the usual space battles, trading and mining we have come to expect from these kinds of games, 0x10c will also feature a fully functioning emulated 16 bit CPU that will control your spaceship and which will be fully programmable by the player.
As if having a programmable computer at the core of the game wasn’t enough, 0x10c has what must be one of gaming’s geekiest premises: the reason it is set in 281,474,976,712,644 AD is due to the simple fact that in 0x10c’s parallel universe, the space race never ended and that a computer bug in a new “deep sleep cell” introduced in 1988 caused a large number of people to sleep for 0x0001 0000 0000 0000 years instead of the planned 0x0000 0000 0000 0001 years.
For now, only the specifications of the 16 bit processor are available and Notch hasn’t released any screenshots yet. Just like he did with Minecraft, though, he plans to release early beta versions as they become available. One major difference with Minecraft is that 0x10c will feature a recurring monthly fee, as all the physics and in-game computers will continue to run in the cloud, even when the players themselves are not online. Users will have the option to play the game in a single-player mode as well, though, which won’t have recurring fees.
In a way, this feels like the natural next step up from Minecraft. While Notch’s first game was built around mining and “crafting” tools (with some multi-player options thrown in for the hardcore fans), this new game takes this concept further by offering users a bigger world to play in and even more customization options through the built-in programmable computers. It’s worth noting that users will also be able to share their programs, which will surely give rise to a whole new real-world ecosystem around the game and, as Notch himself acknowledges, maybe even viruses.