Minecraft developer Markus 'Notch' Persson has revealed the first details of his next game, an Elite-inspired space trading game currently being developed under the name 0x10c.
Notch had previously provided details of the game as part of his April Fool's gag, in which he claimed to be failing to learn from his previous legal tussles
with the launch of a spacefaring simulation dubbed Mars Effect.
Obviously, the title was a joke - but the game itself is very real. While few details are currently available, Notch has indicated that it will be set in the year 281,474,976,712,644 AD following a programming error in a popular range of cryogenic sleep capsules.
The problem, Notch explains, comes from the programmers of the sleep capsule expecting big endian
ordering, but the DCPU-16 chip at the heart of the spacecraft running in little endian mode. The result: users were put to sleep for 0x0001000000000 years instead of 0x000000000001 years.
If you think that all sounds a little nerdy, we haven't even reached the best bit: the reason the specification of the DCPU-16 processor matters is because Notch plans to emulate the chip directly within the game, giving users access to an in-game computer based on the fictional 16-bit processor.
That's something which has never before been attempted in a game. While titles like Uplink have provided users with an in-game computer system, it's all smoke and mirrors; 0x10c, by contrast, will provide gamers with access to a fully-working virtual computer system for which they could - in theory - write their own code.
'The computer in the game is a fully functioning emulated 16 bit CPU that can be used to control your entire ship,
' Notch explains, 'or just to play games on while waiting for a large mining operation to finish.
It's something with which Notch has previous experience: much to his surprise, hackers found a method of implementing simple processors
and even entire computing systems in his block-based game Minecraft - a concept he's now looking to take to the next level.
For the non-programmers, Notch promises plenty of other action too: as with its spiritual predecessor Elite, 0x10c will include space-based battles, abandoned ships which can be plundered for loot, the ability to land on all planets seamlessly - something which to this day sets the 1993 title Frontier: Elite II apart from its modern counterparts - and a complex and thriving economy for trading.
Notch promises both a single-player and a massively multiplayer experience. Those opting for the multiplayer mode will be asked to pay a monthly fee, for which they'll get the ability to leave their on-board computers running even when the game client isn't running.
The game is still in its early stages, but Notch is ready to provide a technical specification for the DCPU-16 processor
so those looking to program the chip can get a head-start. More information is available on the official website