Ain’t no problem in the ‘verse as bad as getting your space shipping lanes all set up and then having the whole thing torn down by hostile mobs of Reavers. Setting up those shipping lanes is half the fun though, or at least it will be if Markus “Notch” Persson has his way. The commonly behatted creator of Minecraft said in a recent interview that his next project will be a space-based sandbox game styled after David Braben’s Elite and Joss Whedon’s Firefly.
Speaking with PC Gamer on Wednesday, Persson said that he’s interested in making an Elite-style game “done right.” What would distinguish his game from Braben’s groundbreaking work is an emphasis on character rather than just on flying a ship around the universe trading goods and causing trouble as you like. “I want the space game that’s more like Firefly. I want to run around on my ship and have to put out a fire,” said Persson. “Like, oh crap, the cooling system failed, I have to out the fire here.”
He plans to work on the game on his own before bringing in the rest of the Mojang, the studio he runs that now maintains Minecraft. “The goal is to do it the same way I did Minecraft. Just basically have me work on it for a while, and then we’ll add people as needed, and try to charge as soon as possible, because it’s probably going to be an open ended sandbox game as well, so it doesn’t need to be completed before people can play it.”
Even a game that’s just similar to the Firefly show would likely be a boon to that show’s cult of diehard fans. Joss Whedon’s sci-fi series has flirted with video games in the past. Studio Multiverse announced in 2006 that it was building a massively multiplayer online game based on the series. It was also developing a Buffy the Vampire Slayer MMO as well as a Titanic MMO. (Director James Cameron actually sat on that company’s board of advisors.) Multiverse closed down in January of this year though, shutting down hope of anyone hoping to gallivant around player-versus-player arenas as a brown-coatted rogue with a heart of gold.
Aging fans of Elite also have much to hope for in Persson’s plan. The original Elite, released in 1984, is often cited as the first sandbox game, a video game that let the player more or less do whatever they pleased in an expansive world. The space simulator spawned two sequels. Creator David Braben’s studio Frontier began work on Elite 4 in 1998 but the game has yet to materialize. Speaking at the 2011 Game Developer’s Conference, Braben was asked if the game would still release and he responded, “Yes, it would be a tragedy for it not to be.”