Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Video Game Is Ridiculously Ambitious

Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Video Game Is Ridiculously Ambitious
Image: Space Odyssey Creators/Supplied

Neil deGrasse Tyson wants to make a video game. Space Odyssey is described as a scientifically-accurate way to experience galactic exploration and colonisation with a real footing in biology, chemistry, geo-science, and engineering – and deGrasse Tyson himself as your cosmic guide.

Space Odyssey has big aspirations (seriously) – but not a whole lot of time to achieve them.

According to the Kickstarter (yep, that’s how it’s being funded) via the science of video games, you’ll set out on science-based missions to create, explore, and expand – developing planets, colonising worlds, nurturing species, mining elements, building robots, and discovering unique life-forms as you coordinate with others in an intense game of real-time strategy.

That’s a lot of work to get done for a 2018 release – and there’s no gameplay available to see yet.

There’s a whole bunch of cool creators on board though.

Len Wein, comic book writer of Swamp Thing and Wolverine fame, is Head of Story. Jimmy Yun, concept artist and visual lead for God of War 3, Final Fantasy IX, Twisted Metal Black is Conceptual Designer. And, of course, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist, and a team of astronomers, astrophysicists, biologists and cosmologists will act as advisors.

But there’s other contributors, too.

“Community participation is a core component in our game development process,” team Space Odyssey says. “This is a unique opportunity for gamers and fans to shape the game throughout the development process by suggesting ideas, asking questions and participating with beta testing.”

As players interact with the first worlds developed and offer feedback, the team plans to incorporate your suggestions. Spacey McSpaceface, anyone? Nah, in all seriousness – this is intense.

The team, is well aware that the $314,159 funding goal on Kickstarter won’t even scratch the surface of development costs.

“The team behind Space Odyssey initiated the conceptualisation process of the game through self-funding, then sought outside funding that’s earmarked towards development,” they say. “The funds received via your support on Kickstarter will grant us the ability to have this community play the game and engage with it while the final build is underway.”

So the game itself – let’s hear more about that.

You start at Mission Control Spaceport to prep for your adventures, joining a holographic Dr Tyson alongside Astronomer Amy Mainzerm, Astrophysicist Charles Liu, Theoretical Cosmologist Janna Levin and Former NASA astronaut Mike Massino, on a scientifically accurate guided exploration into space.

You’ll need to construct your spacecraft, equip it with the tools you’ll need to accomplish challenges and pilot it through friends’ planetary systems, mysterious planets and unknown stars.

Nanotechnology, Optogenetics, Singularity, Magnetic Transportation, Dark Matter, Compressed Time, Hydrogen Power, Solar Sails, Ramjet Fusion concepts are promised throughout the gameplay –
which uses real-world principles like magnetism and electricity to drive the game mechanics.

It’s not all solo exploration and creation, though – Space Odyssey is promising galaxies created by other players – plebs like us, as well as people like Tyson himself (of course), Bill Nye, Peter Beagle, George R.R. Martin and Neil Gaiman. Seriously.

There’s a gameplay style where your access is limited until you are advanced enough in your technology, skills, tools or resources, and there’s even machine learning elements – your decisions directly affect and change the environment and game play for others.

Oh, and VR missions, of course. Is there anything this game doesn’t have?

Here’s the storyline in a nutshell, as told on the Kickstarter page:

As the newest Astro-Explorer in the Galactic Coalition, you’ve been tasked to explore the universe and build a new solar system for humanities galactic expansion.

Your journey begins at Infinity Command in the not-so-distant future. You are one of the explorers and pioneers to join a new age of space travel. Infinity Command is a gargantuan space station and the center-point of humanity’s galactic expansion.

As you set off on missions, our team of scientists will provide information and challenges to help you accomplish your goals. They can also be your lifeline, providing guidance when you run into life-threatening situations

From here, you can embark on exploration missions to the planets in our ever-expanding universe, starting in our immediate galactic neighborhood with the exoplanet named Proxima B.

Before customizing your spacecrafts, you’ll need to learn the mechanics of game-play and the new physics of this created world.

For those who have less experience in gaming, the simulations you’ll go through in training will act as a tutorial- showing you all the things different you can do in the game.

You’ll learn what is expected of you as an astro-explorer and use simulations to practice without the risks you’ll face when you get into space. From here you will need to equip yourself for complete astro-explorer play.

The first stop on our journey of exploration is Proxima B, the closest known exoplanet to the Solar System, about 4.2 light years from Earth.

It is the educated guess from the world’s best physicists, climatologists, and planetary scientists as to what we will find when we visit. Proxima B was just discovered in 2016 and is in our immediate galactic neighborhood, so we have an idea of what to expect.

The mysterious landscapes of Proxima B come to life, allowing you to witness natural physics spectacles from a distance or interact with them up close.

The Kickstarter has even more details. From gameplay to how feedback will be acted on, it’s bonkers. It’s basically entirely unrealistic. I feel like we are being punked.

But all we have so far really is concept art – will we actually see this game in 2018 as promised?