If there’s one guy who I could listen to talk about space for the rest of my life, it’s astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.
I’m not in the business of believing dreams come true, but considering that the great man himself has just confirmed he’s making a space-exploration videogame – well, I’m in heaven.
Neil deGrasse Tyson Presents: Space Odyssey is billed as an educational title developed to encourage players to explore space and science.
While most of us may flinch at the term ‘educational title’, it seems Tyson and his team are keen to make this a genuine videogame experience – the title will incorporate elements of games like Minecraft and No Man’s Sky.
With that said, Mark Murphy (co-creator and developer of the game from Whatnot Entertainment) tells Mixance that it’ll still be a completely unique experience.
Murphy said that this ambitious project will actually attempt to mirror our universe, in that it will constantly be growing and expanding.
Players will be able to build their own galaxies, and even explore other player-created solar system, with the likes of Bill Nye, George R.R. Martin, and Neil Gaiman having been mentioned as notable players.
Murphy explained the importance of keeping the game as grounded as possible:
Part of the gameplay will allow you to grow a planetary system. Its size and scope is relative to the level of challenge you would like to undertake. You can grow and mature these planets as much as you’d like, creating colonies, ports, mining structures, undertake trade of elements you discover/mine or invent or innovate. We are adding strategic partners that will consult with us on design and tech possibilities, including Bigelow Aerospace and the National Space Society to name a couple.
Meanwhile, lead designer Brandii Grace discussed the tendency educational games have of being a bit rubbish.
She used Pokemon (of all things) to make an excellent point:
Some people think the act of learning is at odds with having fun, when really they go hand-in-hand. Right now, millions of people are learning the names, stats, and mechanics of catching 151 virtual creatures. Without that learning, the game wouldn’t be fun.
Grace also makes it clear that Tyson’s involvement is much more than the name on the box, saying that he’s ‘an integral part of the creative committee guiding the development of the game’.
Check out the brief teaser below:
While the game will release through Steam initially, it was also confirmed that standalone VR missions are also in development – these can be played on Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.
However, the team will also reportedly put together lower resolution versions for Google Cardboard, so that kids in the classroom can still experience (and learn from) the game.
There’s no release date for this massively ambitious project yet, but the beta – which kicks off in 2017 – can be signed up to here.
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.