Kickstart This! Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Space Odyssey

E3 2017 has come and gone, but there was actually very few indie titles on display at the big show this year. While the Nintendo Switch is gaining traction with indie developers for its ease of use, Sony showed no love for smaller games. Only Microsoft made a case for the indie scene, surprising given the volume of paperwork small developers have to sign before any agreement is sealed for the Xbox platform.

But there is a wealth of amazing video game ideas on Kickstarter. Though some are a little rough around the edges, and could use the input of a publisher or producer to guide them to greatness. This month I’ve chosen a project that not only speaks to topics close to my heart, but one that seeks to involve its backers at a more basic level, to create a community that will be part of every step of this odyssey. And it is presented by the one and only Neil deGrasse Tyson!

Project: Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Space Odyssey
Genre: Space Sim
Platform: PC
Funding Target: $314,159 (Get It?)

What Is It?
I was one of the happy few who thoroughly enjoyed No Man’s Sky. I have yet to return to the game since Hello Games began to deliver on their series of planned updates. But I was happy to explore strange new worlds and let my imagination run wild during my time with it… despite the repetition.

Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Space Odyssey seeks to build on the appetite for exploring new frontiers in the vacuum of space, but in a more grounded, scientific way. And in an era when knowing the real science behind our changing planet is more important than ever, it is the perfect time for such a game. It will strive to be accurate in terms of biology, chemistry, geo-science, and engineering.

That is not to say the game will be boring. It will feature futuristic technology based on current theoretical ideas such as Nanotechnology, Dark Matter, Hydrogen Power, Solar Sails, and Ramjet Fusion to name a few. Players will be able to pilot spaceships to new worlds created by a mix of scientists and fantasy writers, including prominent names like Neil Gaiman, Bill Nye, and George R.R. Martin. If the latter’s planet doesn’t feature a perpetual winter or a few dragons, there will be disappointment.

Why Fund It?
Usually I would say “because it is so pretty” or “the story is going to make you cry.” And this game will probably have both of these draws, if the concept art is anything to go by. It will also have a narrative story, overseen by legendary writer Len Wein, that sees you join the Galactic Coalition and expand humanity’s reach into the heavens. Membership in this Starfleet-esque organisation has benefits that tie into the heart of the crowdfunding experience.

Perhaps learning from, or taking advantage of, the bad press Hello Games endured for its radio silence in the months after the release of No Man’s Sky, Dr. Tyson and his creative team will be on hand to take on feedback from the gaming community both during and after development. Your suggestion might become a game feature, or help smooth the game play experience.

But most of all, we need a space game with a soul. After the relative implosion of Mass Effect: Andromeda, BioWare might move on to new franchises such as Anthem, leaving a figurative black hole for a proper sci-fi game that takes humanity beyond what we know, and hopefully offers us a humbling view of our own planet that many take for granted. My only hope is that the developers can tease Hans Zimmer out of retirement to do the score in a similar style to his bombastic Interstellar arrangement.

Best Rewards?

  • Beta tester and full game download plus $25 in-game currency – $29
  • Private VIP early beta and special in-game helmet – $65
  • Previous rewards, plus either one “We Need You” poster or three art prints – $99
  • Previous rewards, plus a copy of Action Comics #14 featuring Neil deGrasse Tyson, also signed by him, and $75 in-game currency – $175 (limited to 100)
  • Previous rewards, exchanging the Action Comic #14 for an official print by Rob Prior, signed by the artist and Neil deGrasse Tyson – $250 (limited to 50)
  • Previous rewards (minus the limited art), plus an in-game item named for you – $500 (limited to 100)
  • Previous rewards, plus a piece of original concept art signed by the artist and Neil deGrasse Tyson – $2,500 (limited to 10)

Until Next Time…
Again, my sincerest apologies to the French developers out there who were hoping for one of their projects to feature here. If you want to see what French games are on offer, check out the kooky Kingscape.

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In addition to being Warp Zoned's UK Correspondent, Andrew Rainnie is a screenwriter and filmmaker. You can email him at andrew AT warpzoned DOT com or you can, if you're inclined, visit his personal website.

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