There's plenty of awesome things being done with the official specifications though, like this minesweeper clone: http://0x10co.de/lqnit and this simple raycaster: http://0x10co.de/o3xss
Vim is also in the process of being ported: https://github.com/DanielRapp/0xVim
Explore the planet, fight off hordes of zombies to obtain... a DCPU16 - REV C!
 http://vps.thomascomputerindustries.com/logs/freenode/0x10c-... (search for "[11:38:45]")
Everything I hear about this game makes me want it more and more.
Sometimes it's good to see just how far you can push an idea.
I know how crazy (in good sense) are the modders - I had to help release the mod tools for World at War and Black Ops (I work at Treyarch).
Also, don't forget, you 'only' have 100,000 clock cycles to play with.
Next up is the immersive technology.
A different type of example could be EVE, where the rise and fall of corporations is gameplay not written in by the devs, but gameplay created by the players. Any game that has developed a professional gaming community could also be lumped into the category of having emergent gameplay, since there is an entirely new game mode (spectating) created by a community surrounding the game.
When I look at 0x10c, and know that I'm going to have complete control over a CPU in game, and this CPU will be the basis of my pursuits in the game, I know that there will be interesting things to be done. This is because there's such a strong focus on allowing players to create their own gameplay. No other game (that I know of) takes its players' creativity seriously enough to rest so much of the fun on their shoulders.
Having Notch to hype the game certainly helps, but helping to create this world is alone an exciting prospect.
Simplicity is extremely important. A lot of emulators appeared the same day that the spec was released. That not only needed people who wanted to implement the CPU, but also a spec that could be implemented in under a day.
There's a bit of Benevolent Dictator effect here as well. It's not that the system is the absolute best, but it's something that people can target for interoperability. Someone can write a compiler and someone else can write the emulator.
The key criticisms center around it being not a instruction set for compiling C and other higher language code. The biggest reasons for that are:
1. No ability to store based on the stack pointer (this is great for handling local variables not in registers)
2. No ability to deal with negative numbers
3. No way to address single bytes, everything is full words only. This makes many basic manipulations take many instructions
4. Not very many registers, particularly in light of limitation 1
The 6809 and 6502 had far fewer registers, but didn't have any of the other limitations listed above.
As they make the work of a compiler harder, they promote coding in assembly to get faster code. This, on the other hand, leads to lower code quality (as avoiding gotchas and dealing with corner cases correctly is a lot easier even in c than in assembly), which creates more "drama", which is good for gameplay.
How is representing a number in 2's complement verboten?
Names: what a great idea.
It will be interesting to see if my level of refreshment remains intact as the level of complexity inevitably explodes. Even this pacman game, which is the most complex I've seen yet, is much simpler than whatever space ship or armada management programs people will eventually start writing.
With a new and great product, you have an exponential growth curve. People find it, think it is great and tell their friends and so on.
The only difference with having a fan base built up already is you get to start further along the curve.
It's still the same curve though. And how great the product is determines the shape of the curve, not the fan base.
In my opinion anyway, for whatever that may be worth.
I have to agree with some of the other comments here, 0x10c looks to be some sort of milestone: a fully programmable, Turing-complete game!
Personally, I say the difference is that Notch makes meta-games. That is, he makes game worlds in which people create their own games.
0x10c feels like a milestone, though... I guess it's because the in-game CPU this time around is usable on a human timescale. If in-game networking is ever added to 0x10c, one could even imagine a usable minecraft clone inside the game. It feels different this time.
I agree that 0x10^c will likely be something special.
It meant that one could have a powerful, multi-tasking, multi-user system just by installing OS-9 on a cheap TRS-80 CoCo (typically hooked up to a home TV). It felt like a great deal at the time.
As to x86 assembly language, I've had almost no exposure to it, so I can't really judge it.
I was looking forward to seeing if I could figure out how to cheat and give myself infinite lives (I'm not very coordinated so that's the only I'll ever win ;-))