Some of the earliest popular video games were not just for fun, but were educational tools, too. After all, what child of the '80s doesn't know what dysentery is, thanks to a trail in the Pacific northwest? Now, world-reknowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is hoping to bring that concept back, with an engaging space exploration game that includes real science as the basis for its worlds and missions. Neil deGrasse Tyson Presents: Space Odyssey officially launched as a Kickstarter project at the E3 video game convention, where Tyson served as a panelist about world-building in media.
“I’m delighted to bring the wonders of space to everyone, and one of the most potent ways to accomplish this is through the visual and immersive power of gaming,” said Tyson in a press release. “I’m excited to be part of the creative team bringing this educational game to life that is based on real science and driven by real physics. Space Odyssey embodies a shared vision of creators, storytellers and science lovers who want to get people of all ages into space and exploration in ways that encourage curiosity and imagination.”
The game launched on Kickstarter this week with packages ranging from $29 to $10,000 that all offer the actual game with an estimated delivery of the end of 2018, plus perks like in-game items being named after you, special concept art and signed items, and more. The goal is around $314,000, and they have 43 days to reach that at press time.
As for the actual gameplay, the project is an ambitious one, hoping to send gamers across the galaxy, with the first stop being Proxima b, about 4.2 light years from Earth. There, you'll be able to customize your own ship, complete physics-based missions and challenges, and create personalized challenges. You'll be able to colonize and truly world-build, as you seek to bring these virtual worlds to life, with robots you can design and task out, and options for both single-player and multiplayer challenges and competitions. The goal is to put the galaxy in your hands, with not just exploring, but cultivating new worlds and life.
Tyson will be there as the voice of your digital assistant (and a helpful holographic projection), providing science facts and helpful hints along your journey. An all-star group of scientists including Bill Nye, Janna Levin, Charles Liu, Carolyn Porco, Loretta Falcone, Astronaut Mike Massimino, and more will contribute to the game and its database, and writers like Peter Beagle, Larry Niven, and head writer Len Wein (you may have heard of a couple characters he co-created like Wolverine, Swamp Thing, and several other X-Men characters) will bring the story to life.
Big Red Button Entertainment, known primarily for VR projects, is working on the game, and yes, that means some missions will be VR enabled. Section Studios is working on the visuals for the game, while Starbreeze works on the structure of the game itself. They're really creating multiple games in one, with spacecraft piloting, "Metroidvania" style planet-based missions, VR missions, and all the customization, as well.
The plan is to expand not just the game itself, but also move into other media, like books, comic books, and cartoons. But first, they need to meet the Kickstarter goal and make the game itself.
Check out the concept art for Space Odyssey below, and head to Kickstarter to join in the fun.