Take Neil deGrasse Tyson, the eminent astrophysicist and all-around popular science ambassador. Now take an MMO, give a VR coat of paint, and dress it up with a gigantic universe where people can grow galaxies, build planets and nurture civilisations.
That's the pitch for Neil deGrasse Tyson Presents Space Odyssey, anyway.
It sounds a little lofty. Hell, it's hard not to think back to the hopes and dreams people had for No Man's Sky. But the broad brush is that deGrasse Tyson is putting his name to: an upcoming MMO grounded in "scientifically accurate gameplay".
It's supposedly being released for Windows, Mac, Linux, VR, iOS and Android, and you can play singleplayer or in a broader universe. DeGrasse Tyson will function as a narrator and adviser, and players will be tasked with piloting missions from a spacecraft.
The lead designer on the project is Brandii Grace, previously credited on The Matrix Online and Call of Duty: Roads to Victory on the PSP. Grace argued to Digital Trends that educational games often degraded into nothing more than quizzes, and that Pokemon GO was an example of how the activity and mechanics of learning can still be fun.
"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."
Whatnot Entertainment is responsible for developing the core game, although there's talk about bringing in other studios to develop VR content. Mark Murphy, co-creator of Whatnot, said that the game's core would revolve around building, including the construction of colonies, mining structures, ports and innovation.
It's not the first time deGrasse Tyson's game has been unveiled, but this is the first specifics we've heard. If you want to know more, have a look at the website and the full interview with the developers.