More like Minecraft & KSP
December 10, 2013 5:18 AM   Subscribe

What should I get for my 12 year old boy who loves Minecraft and KSP?

My kid is a 12 year old math nerd. His favorite things are Minecraft and KSP, and most days he spends a little bit of time on Codecademy learning Python.

The only systems we have are a Wii and an iMac.

What game could we get him for Christmas that would make him as excited as Minecraft has made him in the last couple of years and KSP has more recently?

(PS - We're probably not in a position to buy a new $300+ system - so we pretty much have to stick with what we have.)
posted by crapples to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
While it is still in development, you could buy him early access to Space Engineers. Assuming that your system meets the minimum specs for that.
posted by Slackermagee at 5:25 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

KSP = Kerbal Space Program in case anyone is wondering.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:37 AM on December 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

People are making a lot of noise about Starbound. It's 2-d, like Terarria, but has a more minecrafty feel to it. And it's in space.
posted by bonehead at 5:39 AM on December 10, 2013 [6 favorites]

(Starbound can only be bought on Steam, but it is available for the Mac)
posted by bonehead at 5:49 AM on December 10, 2013

(FYI, Target has a Minecraft t-shirt for sale now. For a bonus gift, if you like.)
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:18 AM on December 10, 2013

(Hot Topic is full of Minecraft paraphernalia.)
posted by mollweide at 6:34 AM on December 10, 2013

Seconding Starbound. It's addictive.
posted by LN at 7:16 AM on December 10, 2013

Starbound is fun, but be aware that it's an unfinished game that is in an pre-release access mode. (They do this so that they get a big pool of people to help fine tune and fix bugs before it goes live) Just this morning was a patch that deleted everyone's characters. It's probably a better gift idea that needs to wait until sometime next year when it enters the final stages of beta or is released.
posted by royalsong at 7:43 AM on December 10, 2013

Not exactly a game, but if he is learning python he might really enjoy a Raspberry Pi.
posted by unreasonable at 8:41 AM on December 10, 2013

Maybe Gnomoria?

On the non-video-game side (and this one edges up against the price of a new console), I'd be very tempted to overreach with an Arduino Robot. There's very little in the world of programming as exciting as seeing your code create physical change in the observable universe.

In the same vein, but a little cheaper, you could throw him off the deep end with something like this.

Either of these would likely require you to do some learning in parallel to help through tough spots, though.
posted by 256 at 9:00 AM on December 10, 2013

I liked SteamWorld dig, which has the mining aspects of Minecraft, but not really the construction. You're building a character by mining and selling minerals while doing some pretty low-key platforming. It's a little on the short side, however. You can finish it in about 4 to 5 hours. I think this is available via the Wii store?

Star Made is Minecraft in space with a more technical bent. It's really cheap at $6.00, but it has the same problem as Starbound, where it's still in active development. You can try it for free and then upgrade later.

Don't Starve is a 2D survival game with many of the same elements as Minecraft, although with a slightly more dark and stylized art style. I've heard it's also more difficult.

The Makey Makey is a circuit board that lets you turn everyday objects into touch input for keyboards and mice. You can of course make a Minecraft controller using it.
posted by codacorolla at 10:20 AM on December 10, 2013

KSP player here, and I agree with Starbound and would also suggest Rimworld, another indie game funded through Kickstarter and launched through Project Greenlight (a Steam program for getting visibility and support to indie games).

It's a 2D colony game. Build a base, recruit additional staff, harvest/mine resources and manage the human resource for developing your colony. It does contain some defensive combat (player humans vs. non-player humans), so that may or may not be something you're interested in. Dwarf Fortress iiinnnnn Spaaaaaaace

Scott Manley, the cheerful Scot who does wonderful KSP "Let's Play"-type videos also plays Rimworld here and Starbound here.

Ah, I see someone suggested "Don't Starve," and I agree with that one too. A little edgy with starvation as the endgame you're trying to avoid, but engrossing anyway.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:30 AM on December 10, 2013

Response by poster: These are great! I am looking at all of these suggestions and there are a ton of great leads here. Thank you all so much!
posted by crapples at 11:39 AM on December 10, 2013

I'll respectfully disagree and say that while many of the suggestions here are good, they are notable for not being as good as KSP and Minecraft. Those two games are uniquely great creative building games, and other suggestions are either too shallow (Steamworld) or too early in the dev cycle (Starbound).

My suggestion is to double down on Minecraft. A private server he can play on with his friends is a brilliant idea. Or set him up with Minecraft mods: Better Than Wolves and Feed The Beast are both great mods that add a huge amount of complexity to Minecraft, particularly in ways to make complex automated systems. A third idea is to set him up with a system where he can make his own Minecraft videos for YouTube: a microphone for voiceovers and a little editing software. Depending on his software expertise vs. yours he may be ahead of you on that idea, and some of these are probably better a "weekend with dad" kind of project than a gift you wrap and put under a tree.

If you really are looking for gift games, SpaceChem is a couple of years old but has some of the same creative / constructive things that make MineCraft and KSP so appealing.
posted by Nelson at 6:14 PM on December 10, 2013

Another idea is that you could get him a suite of game design software like Gamemaker or RPGMaker. Both of these support drag and drop style design as well as more complicated scripting (I know that RPGMaker runs on a Ruby backbone, not sure what Gamemaker uses). Gamemaker definitely has an OSX version, Gamemaker doesn't, but it's easy enough to run in a virtual machine if that seems like a possible thing. Multimedia fusion too, which is currently part of the humble bundle.

If he's more interested in 3D game design, then there's Unity (which at 75 dollars a month for a license is probably out of your price range)... there are other development environments like Unreal Development Kit and Torque 3D, but I'm not sure about those.
posted by codacorolla at 6:32 PM on December 10, 2013

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