Wunderkind builds 'fully compliant RISC-V computer' entirely inside Terraria, then plays Pong on it

A dedicated and possibly magical Terraria player over at the From Scratch YouTube channel has done something that, most likely, I won't fully understand for as long as I live. With only the aid of a mod called WireHead—which "maintains full compatibility with [Terraria's] vanilla wiring system but reimplements it in a much more efficient manner"—Xander Naumenko managed to build a "fully compliant RISC-V computer" inside the 2D game. It even has specs:

  • Clock speed: ~5kHz
  • Ram: 96kb
  • Instruction set: rv32i

Probably not one to run Starfield on. Naumenko spends the video above detailing his five-month, 600-hour journey to create the in-game computer and the "Pong clone" he got running on it. It somehow manages to sound both strangely simple and devilishly complex.

Naumenko says he used a vast array of in-game logic gates—switches which are fundamentally either off or on—to build his Terraria PC, but the way the game's circuits work means that "a lot of traditional circuits have to be redesigned" to fit a "new paradigm" which is fundamentally not how circuits work in real life. So, you know, nothing too hard. Just reinventing circuits. We've all been there.

I probably can't go into much greater detail about Naumenko's process without mangling the science behind it, so you should go watch the full 15-minute video or check out the project's GitHub page if you want to see how he did it. I do want to call out his "Pitch" for the Terraria PC though, which I reckon will touch the hearts of all us who have had to deal with the evolution of computers over the last couple of decades.

"There are two fundamentally competing forces when it comes to computer speed," says Naumenko. The first is Moore's law, and the second is "the inevitable growth of software bloat that runs on top of increasingly modern processors". Boy, ain't that the truth? But Naumenko continues: "This project is an attempt to score a decisive rout in this ongoing battle in favor of the programmer," pushing back speeds  "to the early 70s era, tossing the ball firmly back into the court of silicon engineer [sic] without losing any software functionality".

If you want to get a look at just how dazzlingly complex this thing is, here's an easily scrollable image of the entire glorious contraption:

While I doubt that the programmers of the future will be doing much of their work on Naumenko's Computerraria project, I have to salute the project's philosophy. And hey, maybe I'm wrong: Perhaps this and the Minecraft redstone PC are a vision of the future. Sounds better than constantly being asked to sign in to OneDrive.

Joshua Wolens
News Writer

One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.