Notch In Space: 0x10c Revealed

Markus Persson’s put a name and a description to the Elite-inspired space game he’s been teasing Twitter about recently, and it’s pretty obvious this is going to be a full-fat endeavour rather than another micro-project. 0x10c is the game’s name, how it’s pronounced is anyone’s guess but I’m gonna go with ‘Derek’. It’s a reference to a programming error that caused space travellers (from an alternate 1988 where the space race hadn’t ended) going into deep sleep to stay under for billions of years.

Quoth Derek’s website, “It’s now the year 281 474 976 712 644 AD, and the first lost people are starting to wake up to a universe on the brink of extinction, with all remote galaxies forever lost to red shift, star formation long since ended, and massive black holes dominating the galaxy.”

0x10c appears to be two-handed offering: in one, space travel, combat, mining, looting, planet-hopping and a multiverse economy. In the other, an in-game computer with “a fully functioning emulated 16 bit CPU that can be used to control your entire ship, or just to play games on while waiting for a large mining operation to finish.” Which, if you squint, makes this boldly going where no Notch has gone before a little like Minecraft after all. The adventure element twinned with the no-rules player agency element, in this case virtual programming.

You can find some specs and sample code for said CPU, known as the DCPU-16 here, if you’re of a mind to.

There are no screenshots, release dates or suchlike for the game itself available yet, but a more comprehensive list of planned featres and discussion on how the emulated CPU works is over on 0x10c’s site.

Just one more thing. There will be a multiplayer aspect to this, set with one persistent, connected ‘multiverse’ which in turn means “The cost of the game is still undecided, but it’s likely there will be a monthly fee for joining the Multiverse as we are going to emulate all computers and physics even when players aren’t logged in. Single player won’t have any recurring fees.”

Is that a worried throat-clearing from somewhere in Iceland I can hear?


  1. Shadram says:

    ‘Zero times ten to the speed of light’ is a bit of a mouthful, especially considering the result is zero…

    • Kdansky says:

      The 0x is usually the notation for hexadecimal numbers.

      0x10 would be the number 16 in hex, to the power of the speed of light, gives you a ridiculously big number.

    • Shadram says:

      Oh wait, it’s a hex thing, like writing numbers 0x1A. Still no idea how you’d say it, though. ‘Oxtency’ sounds reasonable.

    • randomnine says:

      0x10 is hexidecimal for 16. Likewise, c is 12. So we have 16 to the power of 12: 0x1000000000000. It’s the number of years that have passed since 1988 in the plot.

      Sadly “sixteen to the power of twelve in hexidecimal” isn’t a very snappy title.

    • Roshin says:

      I’ll just call it Hex from now on.

    • kael13 says:

      If you look through his Twitter account from last night, someone guessed it correctly:

      “ten to the see”

      • sneetch says:

        That’s what I thought when I read it! Yay! What do I win? Nothing?


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      distantlurker says:

      It’s simply pronounced “o’ clock”, as a time reference.

    • Truga says:

      I’ll just call it xerox.

  2. John Walker says:

    I’m going with “Oh-extency.”

    • Crazy Horse says:

      It’s pronounced Spooge, obviously.

    • Mechanicus_ says:

      Zero X Ten C
      Zero Existence?

      The use of little emulated computers sounds ace; the idea of something like a stripped down EVE where people are programming their ships with automated behaviors could produce some astonishing things.

      And, just like Minecraft, we will all watch YouTube videos of those things and think “I wish I had time to do that”.

    • RaveTurned says:

      It’s a hex number to the power of c. Hex-to-see… Hextasy?

    • The Tupper says:

      Ox Tennessee.

    • TsunamiWombat says:

      I read it about Oh-Extency as well. Thought it’d be about drugs. Y’know, swedes n all.

  3. sub-program 32 says:

    Well, at least no one can ever claim copyright on THAT name. Except Notch himself obviously.

  4. Prime says:

    What, Christmas already? Can’t be.

    *does happy dance*

  5. Davee says:

    While I like the concept, I’m sceptical as to how much depth it will have… Notch and Co has yet to prove themselves on this point in their games as far as I’m concerned.

    Personally I’m more interested in Blockade Runner. And unless 0x10c is going to to be running a voxel-engine, I don’t think the two will have to compete too much for the player base – or my interest.

    • Roshin says:

      How would you define “depth”?

      • Malk_Content says:

        He was always disappointed by how quickly you could reach bedrock in Minecraft, he wants taller worlds!

        • drakkheim says:

          well they just increased the world height in 1.2.4(3?) so maybe he’s happy now..
          Or maybe he meant depth of narrative, like ME3 had?

    • jamesgecko says:

      You can program every aspect of the ship using assembly language. People in the technical community are writing VMs and Fortran compilers and pulling out dusty Lisp tomes in excited anticipation.

      There’s also probably some game attached to it or something.

  6. Phantoon says:

    Well, if it’s Minecraft in Space, but with a better focus rather than feature creep (as in learning mistakes made in Minecraft) then I’m excited.

    Too early to tell, though.

  7. Crazy Horse says:

    The website starts with the text “Hi, I’m Notch, and this is my new game”. That’s nice, Notch. We’ll put it on the fridge next to all the other ones.

    • Crius says:

      Absolutely agreed.
      Plus, Notch as programmer is greatly overrated.

      “my new game”
      Ooookay Notch, now go back spam on twitter about your actual position in the world.

      • BrendanJB says:

        God, you guys are a miserable bunch.

        He’s saying hello and telling you he is making a new game, and you somehow turn that in to something negative. I expect you’d rather have paragraphs of meaningless PR speak talking about how it’s a NEW IP and it’s going to be VISCERAL and INTELLIGENT and it’s going to DO SOMETHING NO GAME HAS EVER DONE BEFORE.

        Forget that noise. He is a dude who likes playing and making games, and he has never pretended to be anything but that. He acts like a person, and not a machine. I guess people are going to hate on him no matter what he does. Oh well. Continue being cynical.

        • Crazy Horse says:

          Hmmm.. that wasn’t a hate statement, really. The text wording just tickled my funny bone. I’ve bought Minecraft and enjoyed it and will probably buy this Minecraft in Space as well.

        • Phantoon says:

          I won’t say I’m not cynical, but I also did enjoy Minecraft.

          But I am cynical, so I don’t truly love something without also knowing what’s wrong with it. Expecting the worst and hoping for the best is quite a thing. You should try it!

      • Windward says:

        Oh man, I can’t wait for that new game by Crius, I hear it’s the best programmed title EVER.

      • MadTinkerer says:

        All I see is:

        “Derp… Successful Programmer is overrated as a programmer derp…

        Wuh? He’s implementing an actual 16 bit CPU in his game which you use actual Assembly to code derp? Totally overrated as a programmer derp…”

        • Phantoon says:

          I’m pretty sure there’s already a mod along the same lines in Minecraft.

          • Stuart Walton says:

            Yes and No.

            There is the amazing Computercraft which adds a Computer block to the game. Each placed computer runs a Lua VM and can be programmed. There have also been the following additions:
            -Disk drive and floppy disks (for storing programs and data)
            -Turtle (a computer block that can move. Arm it with a pick and it can mine)
            -Monitors (So you don’t have to click a computer to read its output)

            It’s not quite the same as emulating an entire computer but to the user it seems the same.

        • Tacroy says:

          Just FYI, implementing an assembly language in a modern language is really, really easy. It’s the sort of project you give third or fourth year CS students to complete in a couple of weeks.

          Hell, I had to make a hardware simulation of a MIPS CPU that could run a subset of the MIPS assembly language (no division or multiplication) in one of my third year CS classes, and that only took a month or so.

      • Pugiron says:

        I am sure Notch cares about your opinion of his work more than the millions of fans and customers who love him. He’s probably wiping off tears with the euros he hasn’t burned to stay warm.

        • matteisen says:

          Sweden doesn’t use the Euro currency, none of the Scandinavian countries do :)

      • FataMorganaPseudonym says:

        “Overrated” is one of those words that needs to be permanently struck from the collective vocabulary of all gamers, due to sheer overuse and dilution of meaning, similar to words like “pretentious” and “butthurt” and the like.

        • Fuzzball says:

          And after the ME3 ending cataclysm and associated responses, “entitled” needs to be added to the list.

  8. bear912 says:

    I’m going to venture a somewhat strange guess: “Escape to the Sea”

    0x10 is a hexidecimal number, which represents the Data Link Escape character on the ASCII table. “C” could be a hexidecimal number as well, but I think it might just be a “C”. Why the sea? Well, I may be grasping for straws, but space in fiction fulfills much the same role as the sea did in earlier fiction. Why do you think they’re called “space ships”?

    So that’s what I think it is. Kind of.

    I’m also not entirely sure whether Notch quite grasps what a massive task writing and maintaining a server back-end for an MMO is…

    • randomnine says:

      You know he’s done it before, right? He was one of the founders of Wurm Online.

      • bear912 says:

        Fair enough.

      • Phantoon says:

        And I found Wurm unplayable on a top end PC of the time, after the game had been situated for a time.

        • Lars Westergren says:

          Yes, but that is the GUI. We were discussing the backend, i.e. the server parts.

          • Skabooga says:

            I love the backend. I’d server parts.

          • TsunamiWombat says:

            I like big back-ends, I cannot lie. You other brothers can’t deny. When a game walks in with an efficient netcode place bouncin up into your face you get sprung

      • Davee says:

        I thought Rolf did (does) most of the server-side development while Notch did the client? Not sure he has a ton of experience with it.

    • Premium User Badge

      FhnuZoag says:

      That is perfect!

    • RagingLion says:

      That sounds pretty good to me. Maybe Notch will tell us this is how it’s to be pronounced in time?

  9. Tinarg says:

    Sorry, but what’s newsworthy about that? There are a ton of indie games that barely anyone has heard of deserving more attention, and then there is this. A game which doesn’t exist, has no release date, no screens, you don’t even know how to pronounce it. Still you write a full article about nothing but rumors/plans.

    • Eclipse says:

      are you joking? he’s notch! we must know even when he farts!

      …yes I agree with you.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      Does the mere existence of this article offend you that much?

      This is a blog site. The Hive a free to talk about whatever they want. There is an established enthusiasm for Notch and his projects here and regardless of your feelings on the matter, there has been an announcement.

      Also, plenty of indie games get news coverage on this site as well.

    • Phantoon says:

      But it will eventually come out, and people will want to know about it.

      People can’t complain when their game doesn’t get coverage when they don’t tell anyone about it, if that’s the point you’re trying to make.

    • Alec Meer says:

      There is nothing newsworthy about the creator of arguably the biggest gaming phenomenon in recent years revealing the name and details of his next major project.

      There’s always one guy, isn’t there? And his motivation is always ‘I don’t like Minecraft’.

      (Also I love it when someone starts a comment with ‘sorry, but’ when they actually mean ‘I’m now going to be wilfully obnoxious and am anything but sorry about it.’)

      • Sheng-ji says:

        Hehe, beat me too it, in just the time it took me to log in! Seriously though, Notch has proven himself both in terms of popularity and ability to sell a game. You don’t have to like minecraft to understand that this is big news to a lot of people.

        • Spooty says:

          I’m not a fan of Minecraft and it hasn’t ever really appealed to me, however I am ludicrously excited for this new project! Just because Minecraft’s not my cup of tea (or horlicks for that matter – where’s that Hot Drinks Podcast – waiting for the Ovaltine review before I purchase), Notch’s game design and development skills are reason enough to be interested in any of his new ventures.

      • Sheng-ji says:

        And further more, RPS are absolutely amazing at covering indie games. They do take the step to ensure that the game they are about to report on is of interest to PC gamers and likely to come to fruition, but seriously, they do the indie community a great and disproportionate service.

        I really don’t see that you have a valid complaint

        • DiamondDog says:

          Let’s be honest, I think the original poster knows he doesn’t have a valid complaint. He’s just one of those people that gets pissed when something they aren’t interested in is incredibly popular.

          Or maybe he’s just incredibly naive. Who knows?

      • Tinarg says:

        First of all: I love minecraft!

        This however doesn’t change how I feel about this article. It has no meat to it. You just rephrased a press release and that doesn’t really meet the standards I’ve come to expect of RPS. (That’s a compliment. That means you guys are doing a great job most of the time.)

        • methodology says:

          posting an update on a blog isn’t a zero-sum game….

          • Tinarg says:

            It is a zero-sum game in regard to the auhors and readers time.

            I would rather have Alec write an article about a game that exists.

          • zind says:

            This is a game that is (will be, whatever) relevant to my interests, and I would not have read a press release on it. I did, however, find this article to be useful. Even if this article was “here is this press release, you should read it” followed by the release quoted in whole, I would’ve found it useful (although I probably would’ve made fun of it a little).

            Sure, it’s lazy of me, but I trust my journalists to take the raw information from a press release, add clarifications and hyperlinks and additional available information, and in the case of RPS to dress it up with some pictures and humor.

            Between RPS and a couple other sources (some of which source back to RPS – it’s like a gaming news vortex), I feel that they do a remarkably good job of getting to things that are relevant to my interests. There were several headlines today that did not seem like something I would be interested in reading, so I just didn’t click on them.

          • roryok says:

            I would rather have Alec write an article about a game that exists.

            An he’ll probably have plenty time to do that, because this is just a short post reiterating some interesting stuff from a press release.

          • Grygus says:

            I’m not clear on how you can simultaneously complain that the article took very little time to write (since it has no content and is merely a restatement of a press release) and that it took up all the time it would take to write a beefier post. Surely both cannot be true.

        • sneetch says:

          It’s hardly the first article on RPS that consists of little more than the information that can be gleaned from the press release and website (i.e. all the available information) and a little speculation, is it?

          Information about a new game is newsworthy. Just because you’re not interested in it doesn’t mean that the rest of us don’t want to know about it and if it wasn’t posted here on RPS I wouldn’t have heard it. As they’ve pointed out in the past: RPS authors post about what interests them, their interests and yours will not always coincide.

          Reading (and indeed posting comments about) an article isn’t required if it’s of no interest to you, I skip about half the articles when I see the game name.

          Edit: well, less than half but I do tend to skip some, I skip most of the EVE articles, for example, I don’t care about that game for the most part I don’t feel the urge to challenge their “newsworthy-ness”.

          • Tinarg says:

            You are right, good sir. Thank you for reminding me of this healthy approach.

    • Prime says:

      Well said, Alec. Notch/Minecraft Hate is so 2011.

      …Not to mention that the seeds of this little story had already been planted in RPS for the precise reason that they might start to bear fruit.

      • mckertis says:

        “Notch/Minecraft Hate is so 2011. ”

        In as much as – Minecraft is so 1996 shareware scene.

        • MadTinkerer says:

          Right. Because Minecraft looks exactly like and does not exceed the capabilities of the original Quake engine.


          • jalf says:

            In terms of graphics tech? I honestly don’t see what Minecraft does that’s better than Q1.
            That has nothing to do with Minecraft’s other qualities or flaws, but it’s hardly revolutionizing computer graphics.

          • CMaster says:

            What does Minecraft do that Quake engine couldn’t?

            Lighting calculations (all lighting in Quake is pre-calced)
            More than 256 colours
            Dynamic changes to world geometry
            Non-platform specific.
            Use hardware acceleration (although QuakeGL onwards could, to be fair)

            These are some pretty huge changes

          • MadTinkerer says:

            Thank you, CMaster.

            In fact, if you know anything about how game engines work, and a little about the specifics of Minecraft, the fact is that Minecraft does some things better than Unreal Engine 3 (or Rage or Source).

            Arbitrary number of light sources? Can’t do that in Unreal.
            Dynamic terrain generation? Can’t do that in Unreal.
            Unlimited editable level data, voxel-based or otherwise? Really, really can’t do that in Unreal.

            Granted, this is because Minecraft was built specifically to support those things, but the point remains that denigrating Minecraft’s graphic fidelity to try to criticize it on a technical level is a stupid ignorant argument. Even more so because Minecraft succeeds at being Minecraft and isn’t trying to be Quake or Unreal or Rage or Source. Meanwhile, Quake and Unreal and Rage and Source could not begin to do what Minecraft does because it is beyond their specifications.

            Look at it this way: Quake and Unreal and Rage and Source also cannot begin to do what GlassBox does either, because they are designed for First Person Shooting, not City Simulation. Minecraft is the same. Just because Minecraft is played from a first person perspective, that doesn’t make it’s engine comparable to any BSP-tree-based FPS engine.

    • Mattressi says:

      I thought it was newsworthy simply because of the description of the game. I’ve always thought that a movie/book/game about the very end of the universe, as the available, usable energy approaches zero (i.e. entropy in the universe has almost reached a great equilibrium), would be extremely interesting. It’s a unique problem that I’ve never seen explored – what do you do when every breath and movement you make is using up a non-trivial amount of the available energy in the universe? When even solar power is useless, because the stars are almost all dead? All these things we take for granted like the CNS cycle, would have long, long ago ceased on Earth and other live-sustaining planets. Do you try to defy conventional physics and reverse this slow conversion of matter and energy to the same temperature and state, with universal negative change in entropy? Do you simply try to find the last few sources of low-entropy energy and spend the rest of your life knowing you’re one of the last things left in the universe’s life?

      This probably doesn’t interest a lot of people – it’s still highly theoretical when you consider that the origin of the universe is scientifically undecided (somehow, nothing not only became something, but also became something with a very low entropy/large available energy, enough to slowly wind down over a very large amount of time; leaving the concept of entropy a little unexplored, since it may somehow be possible to reverse it, if it’s possible for matter and energy with low entropy to be created) and, of course, it’s so bloody far off that there’s really not much reason to think about it, since it would occur much, much after our sun and all potentially life-supporting stars have long since died.

      Anyway, that’s my take on it. I’d be highly interested in this no matter who was developing it (well, almost anyone).

      • MrMud says:

        The question is “what is there to do in the game”?
        While I am extremely intrigued by the premise, it seems to me that placing a game in this setting would have issues with content. Because the game takes 1988 technology as its base, the engines on the starship must be fairly conventional (ion or even starsail but those would be fairly useless without stars), this means that you cant really have much exploration.

        Further because all stars are dead the universe is dark and you wouldnt know where to go anyway. Without the gravitational hook of stars, all the planets would have been ejected from their system and be scattered around the galaxy and impossible to detect.

        Finally is it just me or is the part about “all remote galaxies forever lost to red shift” a bit hokus? All galaxies outside whatever cluster able to maintain sufficient gravitational pull to counteract the expansion would not be red-shifted. They would be outside the visible universe. Further in a universe with no stars, the only active objects would be black holes and the radiation output from a passive black hole (one that is not eating, and they would have eaten most things by then) is pitiful. Hawking radiation is so low that it would not be detectable and subsequently the entire universe would be completely dark as far as the player is concerned.

        • Kollega says:

          I want to second this. Not only the game set at the end of the known universe would be rather depressing, but i also can’t imagine the player being able to do much when there are only a handful of observable stars infinitely far from eachother, a few planets flying through the cold darkness of space, equally unreachable, and no other galaxies to speak of.

        • Mattressi says:

          Yeah, I guess I find it most interesting from a theoretical perspective – I’m unsure of how the game could be made to be both accurate and interesting. As you said, if it’s accurate, it’d be very boring, with nothing to look at but the inside of your space vessel and nothing to do but randomly smack into dark, heavy planets or blackholes. Though, perhaps it won’t be set as near to the end of the universe as I initially thought? I dunno, I guess I’ll just wait and see.

          • MrMud says:

            I remembered that there was a section in Phil Plaits “Death from the skies” about the death of the universe. When I got back home today I re-read that section and indeed. At 100 trillion years (well before the 300 trillion years this is set at) all non white dwarf or brown dwarf stars are gone and the universe would be all black. However white dwarves could apparently still emit energy not in a visible wavelength, but that could be seen in infra-red by ship sensors.

        • Mechanicus_ says:

          I have a feeling Notch may not have realised quite the implications of setting the games date when he did while blowing the “hard scifi” pedant dog whistle.

          I imagine the game environment will end up being pretty close to that of your average space sim.

          • JFS says:

            I guess that’s the answer. Personally, however, I’d be really interested in an artsy game about the *real* end of the universe as described above by someone much more versed in physics than me (but I believe him or her).

          • MrMud says:

            Yea, your problably right.
            Its just that the mere thought about anything using such a unique setting makes the nerd in me giggle.

          • Phantoon says:

            “The year is 1987, and N.A.S.A. launches the last of America’s deep space probes. In a freak mishap Ranger 3 and its pilot Captain William ‘Buck’ Rogers are blown out of their trajectory into an orbit which freezes his life support systems, and returns Buck Rogers to Earth five-million years later.”

            How does that sound?

          • MrMud says:

            Except you replace 5 million years with roughly 300 trillion years and there is no earth to return to, sure its similar!

  10. Inigo says:

    0×10c is an onomatopoeia. It’s the sound of someone violently humping a stack of money while grunting like an animal and drooling.

  11. rocketman71 says:

    Is that a worried throat-clearing from somewhere in Iceland I can hear?

    It is.

  12. faillord_adam says:

    What happened to Mars Effect?

    • RedViv says:

      This is it. The title was the April’s Fools joke, and some elements of the promotion, but the rest is this game.

  13. The Sombrero Kid says:

    it’s 16^12 in decimal, he keeps saying 0x10C but he means 0x10^C

    • bear912 says:

      0x =/= 0×, good sir or madam.

      • bear912 says:

        Wait, um, apparently the comment section automatically replaces 0x with 0(multiplication symbol) in some cases. It showed up in my earlier post, too, it seems, though I didn’t realize it at the time. My apologies, and it is no wonder that I found your statement a bit confusing. I have spoken in error!

  14. B1A4 says:

    I am quite worried about the year: 2525 2525 2525 252(5)

    No Homo sapiens sapiens, no Sun or Earth

    Also some super duper ultra hyper piko-nano technology, so no stupid lasers, LS engines, black hole reactors and stuff.

    I am interesed as a gamer. As a man of science, i am little worried.

    • Zeewolf says:

      You should probably read the description of the game, then.

      • B1A4 says:

        Yeah, i totally should.

        Now i am more worried. Also as a gamer.

    • AbyssUK says:

      I am also worried, for example the half live of silicon -28 is just 170 years… so in the year 2525 2525 2525 252(5) there is basically no silicon left…. so whatever this 16 bit computer is made up of would be dust…

      edit: i am a fool silicon-28 is the most common isotope and is stable, silicon-32 isn’t very common.. so if the processor is made from purified stable silicon isotopes it should be alright….

    • Skabooga says:

      In the year 25252525252525252525252525252 . . .

  15. aukondk says:

    I’m still going to call it Mars Effect.

  16. soylentrobot says:

    Elder Scrolls has a c in the name, and so does 0x10c
    lawsuit time!

  17. RedViv says:

    Raymond Luxury Yacht – The Game

  18. Harlander says:

    This sounds like it’s going to fit into the same slot as Minecraft did (and indeed, Dwarf Fortress does).

    “I’ll probably not play this much, but it’s encouraging to know that it exists.”

  19. Lars Westergren says:

    >You can find some specs and sample code for said CPU, known as the DCPU-16 here, if you’re of a mind to.

    Oh sweet. This may be the incentive I need to finally learn assembly.

    I’m immediately going to implement an ad hoc informally-specified bug-ridden slow implementation of half of Common Lisp in this virtual computer. I’ll call it Greenspun.

    I also want the ability to create independent worker AIs, so I can send them out to do information warfare against other players, like in A Fire Upon the Deep.

    • bear912 says:

      I salute your ambitiousness! An impressively difficult task, certainly, but all the more laudable because of it. Good luck, sir.

    • nonsence says:

      I was just thinking about writing a light os, porting newlib and then porting the gcc toolchain :)

  20. Mr. Mister says:

    Anyone gets reminded of “The last question” by Isaac Asimov?

  21. GallonOfAlan says:

    I look forward to the day when someone implements Minecraft in the ship CPU.

    • Dozer says:

      I look forward to someone implementing 0x10c on a computer made of Minecraft blocks, running in a Minecraft game that’s running on the ship’s 16-bit computer. Infinite Matryoshka!

    • stahlwerk says:

      As far as I remember, the JVM specifies 32 bit words.

      Ninja edit: oh, apparently microsoft once worked on a 16 bit jvm for Windows 3.11

      • bear912 says:

        You can usually work around the native data size of a computer if you need to; it’s just painful and slow.

      • Lars Westergren says:

        >As far as I remember, the JVM specifies 32 bit words.

        There are 64 bit JVMs now, where for instance “long” operations are translated into a single bytecode.

  22. Dozer says:

    I have never anticipated a new game as much as this!

  23. frenz0rz says:

    I do hope thats a working title.

    • Dozer says:

      It’s an elegant title which defines exactly what caused the game world to exist: the ambiguity of 0x10^c, or 0x0010000000000000, which was meant to be read as 0000 0000 0000 0010 but instead was understood as 0010 0000 0000 0000. (I think. I don’t have great knowledge of bit-level computing.)

  24. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    A fully emulated 16bit CPU? That’s not something you see on many feature lists out there.

    Though I’m a bit confused as to what that is actually good for, in a game. The last time I saw an emulated CPU was in an university lecture about assembler programming, many years ago. I really don’t want to program assembler in a game…

    • Chaz says:

      Nor me, not that’d have the ability even if I wanted to. I suspect it’ll be a bit like the old BBC and Speccy days where the none programmers amongst us, i.e. the vast majority, will end up copying code from websites.

    • grundus says:

      I think this is a good thing, maybe. Given the huge popularity of Minecraft, this will likely expose children (who are very fast learners and incredibly smart) to microprocessor programming, like old, old home computers and games consoles did back in the day. This, in fact, might be the solution to the problem the Raspberry Pi (a tiny £25 computer designed for education) is looking to solve, which is just that children have no way to get into computer programming which is why it’s massively undersubscribed as an academic subject, in favour of useless degrees like the one I did (graphic communication at a non-London university). That’s why I’m now studying electronics, hence why I’m interested in this and hope that it helps get young’uns into making stuff with computers.

      That said, 16 bit is maybe a little bit advanced and I somehow doubt it’ll hold your hand beyond giving you some samples, but that’s looking at it from my point of view as a quarter-centurian. I look back at the things I used to know when I was a child and it saddens me that I’ve become so occupied with being an adult that I can’t ever know those things again. I don’t doubt that a child who really wants to learn this will indeed learn it, and it’s cool that Notch includes educational stuff in his games (digital logic in Minecraft, somewhat limited though it was (try making an 8-bit shift register in Minecraft and see how compact it is)), but I think that’s probably the only reason I have any respect for him. Well, that and he gives a lot back to the indie community, he has the power to DDoS servers just by tweeting about them such is the influence he has over his followers. Obviously that does cause some problems, but too much traffic is better than none at all.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      Basically, instead of downloading game “mods” you will download game “cpu codes”. I guess you don’t need to know how to program, because there’s millions out there to do it for you. :P
      Just be careful they have not programmed it to “eject occupant into vacuum, pilot ship to my giant evil space base”.

    • BobsLawnService says:

      My guess is that it is going to be the equivalent of a scripting language used for modding in other games. Whereas a game like X2 uses something like Python to write new behaviour this will use custom Assembly on a custom emulated CPU. It is either insane or genius. Either way I don’t foresee many modders taking up the challenge.

      Also, given the competetive nature of MMOs you’re probably going to get sick of getting your ass kicked because some other dude has the time and knowledge to learn ASM and you don’t.

      • thegooseking says:

        My guess is that that scripting language will be a mod in itself. You can use low-level programming languages to implement higher-level programming languages. That’s kind of how high-level programming languages work. So one of the first things people will do is to implement their own high-level programming language on that virtual CPU.

        • Reapy says:

          That was my first thought as well, which is funny when you think about it. Basically the 16 bit OS is implemented in a high level language on the CPU and then someone will most likely write C for the 16 bit OS and/or an operating system on it on top of that.

          Actually that is pretty funny when you think about it, and clever. Which when you think about it, could you port in like dos or linux to your spaceship’s cpu. I like it really, it is something that doesn’t insult the user of the game, it basically says, here is a 16 bit CPU that runs your ship, go nuts! Learn, or download and copy, but you have your own ‘REAL’ computer in your space ship.

          I like that concept a lot… I hope the rest of the game will be good enough for it to be worth it to learn how to master that CPU.

    • Dinger says:

      There’s basically one way this can work: assembly language is not the game, the computer is; or rather, the ship, including the computer.

      Here’s how a game like this should break down:
      At the strategic level, there will be goals that you can set for yourself. This is supposed to be an Elite-inspired game. That means traveling around, trading, getting into fights, exploring. I’d love it also to involve ship design and construction. And he’d be stupid not to include software design.
      At the tactical level, your job will be managing the ship’s limited resources (power, propulsion, scanners, weapons, defenses, life support, comms). That includes the computing power you have available, which can help with efficiency of some of those resources.

      For many players, the computer (which is a 16-bit processor with a limited 6502 instruction set) will probably be like having a commodore 64 fly the spacecraft: you load programs that someone else wrote, occasionally tinker something in BASIC or limited ASM to make the shields change color.

      At this point, I can see something cool that I’d like to play, even if I never intended to write a line of code for the ship. I can also see something that will be very tricky to balance without continuous tweaking to render obsolete the “killer solutions” that emerge.

  25. Chaz says:

    “It’s a reference to a programming error that caused space travellers (from an alternate 1988 where the space race hadn’t ended) going into deep sleep to stay under for billions of years.”

    Anyone else instantly think of this when they read that? Can’t get that theme tune out of my head now. link to

    • RedViv says:

      I was more inclined to conjure up the image of someone in a space suit painting a ship’s hull in red, myself.

    • Prime says:

      I thought Red Dwarf myself…

  26. Deadly Habit says:

    so it will be a half assed effort in java left to the community to finish?

  27. Matt says:

    Awful, awful name, but I like the hard sci fi approach. Here’s hoping he’ll actually have some scientific consultants and that the science is more accurate than ‘some stuff I read in a Stephen Baxter novel some time’

  28. lunarplasma says:

    Is this the first time that someone’s actually made a game which has a fully-programmable 16-bit CPU emulator inside it?

    • Hoaxfish says:

      It’s the probably the first time anyone thought there was a point to do so.

      I’m fairly certain there are some puzzle games which do basically function as “design your own turing machine”, but don’t actually mention it

  29. Furius says:

    I have never understood a comments section less.

  30. TechnicalBen says:

    If Notch gives a single player separate from the multilayer, I might get this!
    That’s if it does what FTL does as well. ;)
    If it has Newtonian mechanics (relativity is out the window with MP needing a universal reference frame) then it’s a double buy!

  31. hjd_uk says:

    So you could theoretically program your on-board computer to auto-pilot, auto-defend etc?, its a game where part of the game is writing a bot to play the game for you?

    Awseome, i’ll write code to get my ships lasers to fire “up yours baby” in morse-code when attacking people.

    Load Program > C:\Evasive_manouvers_alpha.exe

  32. phlebas says:

    If I read the spec correctly, the game’s title is ‘If 0 equals 65536″.

    • Dozer says:

      I understand it’s 0x0010,0000,0000,0000. (Do we use commas to break up hexadecimal numbers?)

      • phlebas says:

        That’s if it’s just a number, yes. I was parsing 0x10C as a DCPU-16 instruction.
        I got it wrong though – it’s actually ‘If zero equals the value at [next word plus contents of register A]’, I think. Rather less catchy.
        (and no, we don’t generally use commas to break up hex values)

  33. bonjovi says:

    I’m afraid this game will be way to geeky for me. programming my own 16 bit computer? writing my own OS for it? In game viruses?

    I mean this game will be difficult to pick up and even more difficult to master.

    But I guess I’ll enjoy it as I enjoy EVE. Read RPS articles about it :-)

    • Skabooga says:

      I was thinking about the viruses aspect as well. Given the nature of the game, I imagine they would be among the first things developed. But the majority of people like myself will have to content themselves with sitting back and letting other people do the programming.

  34. Jabberwocky says:

    It would be super cool if the in-game computer ended up being a mini-game distribution portal, where the players could make programs and games for one another and sell them for in-game currency.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Or other utilities, such as an implementation of BASIC or Pascal for stuff that’s easier in high level languages.

      And the crazies will implement stuff like a Z Machine interpreter so that you can play Zork and [the set of all IF written for the Z Machine] on your ship’s computer.

      Then Nethack and Doom, of course. Because everything must be able to run Zork and Nethack and Doom.

  35. hjd_uk says:

    So if this universe is dark i guess you have to mine uranium or somethign for power, mine other minerals for crafting purposes, build your own ship expansions, shields etc. I would love it if the enigineering was also some kind of component based modular system, (anyone remember the bot hardware setup in Liberation 2?) plug in another shield generatorm, tweak the engines components, find some rare mineral and jam it into your reactor for a mystery possibly lethal effect?.

  36. Forceflow says:

    Too bad the logo looks like it was mocked up in WordArt.

    • Dozer says:

      They went into space in 1988. What standard of logo-design do you think they should have?

  37. Fwiffo says:

    An unkind person would call this self-indulgent. I’m not quite that unkind but I am skeptical that this will have little more content than the original Elite did, just with a gimmicky and probably time consuming mechanic that will alienate the vast majority of gamers. I don’t relish copy-pasting other people’s programs (or worse having to write them in from a wiki page by hand) to keep up to date.

  38. Pugiron says:

    It’s Minecraft with DUCT TAPE! The possibilities are more than 0x10c!

  39. Simas says:

    Not sure what to think of this “write your own assembler” thing. In modern day computing you never write anything in assembler unless you want to get low to hardware level.. I mean it’s overkill to write anything complex and that’s why we have high level programming languages.

    I suppose it’s just going to be some gimmick as it would really suck if someone who can do programming could gain an edge in multiplayer component. It somehow reminds me of MUD days, when you had a telnet and MUDs were fun, but then came specialized clients with scripting support and they pretty much ruined all MUDs.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      >In modern day computing you never write anything in assembler unless you want to get low to hardware level.. I mean it’s overkill to write anything complex and that’s why we have high level programming languages.

      Exactly, I think that is why they selected that – assembler is becoming something of a lost art, and understanding what a computer “really does” under the hood when it is executing high level code perhaps not that useful, but it *is* geeky fun.

      >it would really suck if someone who can do programming could gain an edge in multiplayer component

      As a programmer, I think that sounds awesome.

      >It somehow reminds me of MUD days, when you had a telnet and MUDs were fun, but then came specialized clients with scripting support and they pretty much ruined all MUDs.

      In the MUD case, they were playing the game in a way the original creators had not intended, and people who didn’t “cheat” this way were put at a significant disadvantage.

      The difference here is that it is a carefully selected API that you can program. There is a skill difference, but since it is an intended skill difference, I don’t see it as being more unfair than for instance having better reflexes when playing an online twitch FPS game.

      • MadTinkerer says:

        “Exactly, I think that is why they selected that – assembler is becoming something of a lost art, and understanding what a computer “really does” under the hood when it is executing high level code perhaps not that useful, but it *is* geeky fun.”

        The fact of the matter is: as computers get easier and easier to use, and high level programming languages get farther and farther away from “what the computer really sees”, there’s going to be a severe danger of splitting the computer literate community into three camps. The FaceGooglePhone users who are capable of Instant Memeing each other in NextFarmvilleClone and nothing else, a large group of people who can make Farmville clones but can’t write “Hello World” in C because none of them know how anymore, and a small group of people who are the only ones capable of understanding how to make new generations of computers because they teach themselves the essentials from a young age and all of it is incomprehensible to the first two groups.

        Occasionally I literally have nightmares about being trapped in the second group and surrounded by people in the first. This may be because it’s more or less already true in real life.

    • Reapy says:

      I love how much I hear people complain games are dumb down now a days, then suddenly you have your own 16 bit machine with assembly language and its too hard.

      I think for the same reason you would probably never write assembly short of being in a class room, is a good reason in itself to have it in the game if you want coding, expose people to it and get them to learn it or at least understand what is going on every time they touch their real computers.

    • Jabberwocky says:

      About the mud specialized client –
      I played (and later coded for) a mud which embraced the use of specialized clients with complex triggers. It was a very active and hardcore PvP mud called The Great Hunt. It led to a really interesting kind of “cyborg” player, where half of the player actions were automated triggers, and half were manual controls. Some players chose a more manual approach, others more on the automated side. Both had advantages and disadvantages – the automated triggers were faster, but could sometimes be exploited by the more manual control dudes.

      It certainly wasn’t planned this way, but I think the key to it’s success was that manual control still had advantages. If, in 0x10c’s case, the computer can be programmed to do everything better than the player, it won’t be any fun. But if the devs nail the hybrid manual/automated approach, it could be great.

    • MD says:

      it would really suck if someone who can do programming could gain an edge in multiplayer component

      Disagree, so hard. It would be an amazing in-your-face to the modern tendency toward ‘skill = time * money’ multiplayer.

  40. Arnulf says:

    First thought after quick perusal of site: “Core Wars in space… ?!”

    Certainly that computer spec creates warm fuzzy feelings for the 6502/10 back in the old days. On the other hand will that assembler code not a be a giant hurdle for anyone but a small percentage of players?

    I’m not quite sure what the focus here is. Is it an MMO for assembler geeks? Will astrophysics play a major role or is it just for the setting?

    Oh, and hopefully it’s in Java again. So that I’m not limited to Windows.

    And hopefully it’s not “Minecraft in Space”! That would be sad.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      >Oh, and hopefully it’s in Java again.

      Screenshots of his development so far seems to indicate that it is Java.

  41. soldant says:

    Wow, this really excites me. Of course I was a bit disappointed with how Minecraft ended up so I hope I don’t get burned here, but so far I love the idea.

    Also, if I was ‘developing’ Blockade Runner, I’d be feeling concerned.

  42. Skystrider says:


    I’m interested.

  43. buzzmong says:

    Crikey. Even though I’ve a degree in Comp Sci and have a foundation to build off, I don’t relish the task of the in game computer being in assembly, although I’d certainly have a crack at it as it would be a very good way to learn how to do so.

    Now, as for the people saying it’s a bit self indulgent, so what? I’d much rather developers spend time making the games they want to make rather than them being beholden to publishers who want the next CoD or similar.

  44. tungstenHead says:

    “Derek”. The game struck me as being a bit Smart, as well.

    Exciting idea, but it’s going to be one helluva thing to accomplish. Ah well, here’s hoping for the best!

  45. hjd_uk says:

    Oh come on i doubt the in-game pc will be a core part of the gameplay,and even if it is, everyone should be requred to make all the doors declare that they’re happy to open for you and thank you for using them.

  46. Hoaxfish says:

    Notch announces a game…
    Notch puts up a website for same game…

    Has he actually done any work to actually make said game? Because usually I see the PR moves coming at the end of a game’s development cycle, not before.

    As it is right now, it just smacks of “I’ll fund psychonauts 2… just joking”

    • soldant says:

      I don’t get the point of that criticism… he’s just announcing that he’s working on a game, he’s not asking for anything from anyone or anything like that.

      • Hoaxfish says:

        Well, as much as I’m sure his “director of fun” of whatever is doing a good job, it seems a bit backwards to announce a project and start building up all the paraphernalia to go with it, but the actual product seems barely out of prototyping.

        Other companies keep their stuff hidden, often for years, before they start beating the drum, because there’s a certain amount of trust/faith people put on announcements becoming “reality”. If you keep throwing out announcements, and then failing to come through on them, it sours any other announcements you do…

        He’s had a lot of blowback from over-promising on Minecraft and then not delivering. The psychonauts 2 thing wasn’t a good step towards restoring that lost “trust”. I think he’s risking another blunder by putting this out so soon.

        But he has a lot of money, so he can probably do what he wants.

  47. Synesthesia says:

    i absolutely love the premise. Reminds me a lot of charles stross’ palimpsest!!
    I’m quite a bit worried about the monthly fee, though. Here in southamerica those things tend not to fly very far. They euros sting the pockets, you see.

  48. Tacroy says:

    Is it just me, or does the assembly language spec have no way to access memory? Do you just dereference PC for everything?

    Edit: Oh wait I see, nevermind.

  49. LoliRabbits says:

    I can’t wait to see this crash and burn.

  50. Wetworks says:

    A monthly fee for multiplayer? I’m doubtful that Mojang can put out a multiplayer component that’s actually worth a monthly subscription.

    • Vinraith says:

      I’m not sure “skeptical” is a strong enough word for my reaction, here. There’s nothing Notch has done that indicates he’s capable of this kind of thing, just look at Minecraft, and when you add to that the likelihood of a fee-based multiplayer system is looks to be like a recipe for a spectacular flop. We’ll see, I suppose.