Famed astronomer Carl Sagan wanted to bring his expertise to the world of video games in the 1980s, a pitch document recently unearthed from the Library of Congress by Kotaku reveals.
Sagan’s pitch for an interactive experience based on his novel Contact proposed “a home video game which would teach a great deal of astronomy in a context as exciting as most violent video games.”
Contact tells the story of an astrophysicist who discovers an interstellar radio message, and later leads an expedition in search of alien life. A film adaptation starring Jodie Foster was released in theaters in 1997.
Sagan’s video game version of Contact would have focused on space exploration and pattern recognition while aiming to teach players about the positions of stars and major nebulae within the galaxy.
“Ideally the game would occur over such a long period of time that stellar evolutionary events would have to be taken into account,” Sagan wrote. “If the goal depended on pattern recognition, the general geography of the Milky Way Galaxy could be taught expeditiously.”
Sagan pitched two possible scenarios for his Contact game. One would involve the player starting from Earth and seeking a faraway objective within the Milky Way galaxy, while the other would see players stranded in deep space and attempting to find a way home.
Sagan acknowledged that gaming hardware at the time would likely limit his game’s scope, and suggested that Contact could be split up into two parts in order to fully capture his vision. A game based on Sagan’s pitch never materialized in the years afterward, however.
Though Sagan was never directly involved in game development, studio Hello Games is currently working on a project that features many similarities to Sagan’s pitch. No Man’s Sky, a survival game in development for PCs and the PlayStation 4, challenges players to explore a vast, procedurally-generated universe filled with over 18 quintillion planets as they earn ship upgrades to widen their search. No Man’s Sky is due to launch in June of 2016.