Out of this world

SpaceX Mars city: Elon Musk finally responds to survival video game pitch

One developer wants to make a SpaceX-themed video game.

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It's finally happened: a budding video game developer, who asked Elon Musk every day for nearly half a year to use SpaceX's logo in his game, has received a reply.

Lyubomir Vladimirov, a Bulgaria-based developer, has been working on a simulator themed around Musk's plan to colonize Mars. The game, Mars is Flat, features iconic designs from Musk's firms like the upcoming Tesla Cybertruck electric car and SpaceX Starship rocket. The website bills the game as a "highly technical Mars survival simulator."

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Last week, on January 12, Vladimirov posted the same message on Twitter to Musk for the 154th day:

"Dear Elon, I'm a game dev. and I am making a game about colonizing Mars with you and SpaceX in it. If you think it's cool, all I need is the "Go ahead" to use your name and Logos. I will post this every day for a year or until I get a Yes or a No! 154 / 365"

In response, Musk wrote the next day:

"You can steal our name/logos & we probably won’t sue you"

Although it seemed a rather non-committal response, it was enough for Vladimirov:

"Thanks man! Good enough for me!"

The Twitter exchange between Elon Musk and Lyubomir Vladimirov.


The exchange seemingly marks the end of what had become a well-known routine. Vladimirov would respond to one of Musk's posts with his request, and others familiar with the post would chime in with suggestions and comments.

On his YouTube channel with over 2,000 subscribers, Vladimirov has been sharing updates about the game's development. In the second-most recent, uploaded on January 15, the developer demonstrates moving a figure in a SpaceX spacesuit around the planet in third-person view. The figure enters a Cybertruck, drives around the base of a Starship, and then waits for the ship's cargo elevator to drop another car.

Colonizing Mars is perhaps SpaceX's most ambitious goal. The firm is developing the Starship, a fully-reusable stainless steel rocket, to send humans to Mars and beyond. With its use of liquid oxygen and methane fuel, astronauts could fly to Mars, refuel using the planet's resources, and return home or venture out further. Musk aims to land the first humans on Mars by the mid-2020s before completing a million-strong, self-sustaining city by 2050.

It's perhaps fitting that the game is designed as a survival simulator. Musk has stated on a number of occasions that colonization won't be easy, comparing it in March 2018 to Shackleton's ads for Antarctic explorers: "difficult, dangerous, good chance you will die."

The Cybertruck, an angular truck set to hit roads in late 2021, also has links to the Mars city project. In November 2019, Musk declared via Twitter that "Tesla Cybertruck (pressurized edition) will be the official truck of Mars."

Even Vladimirov's funding options are inspired by Musk. Earlier this month, he updated his website with addresses for users to donate one of three cryptocurrencies: bitcoin, ether, and dogecoin.

The Inverse analysis — It's the end of one of the most famous features of Musk's fanbase. Vladimirov's persistence had made him a recognizable face in the replies to Musk's posts.

In some ways, it's surprising it took Musk so long to respond. The CEO regularly gives the thumbs-up to Tesla feature ideas, responds to funny memes, offers feedback on community artwork, and generally makes himself seem like an easily contactable public figure.

Considering how Musk's reply doesn't exactly give Vladimirov full permission, perhaps Musk took his time to find a way to avoid being too discouraging.


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