Love "Minecraft," but interested in trying something a little different?

Video game developer Strange Loop Games has launched a Kickstarter for a beautiful new open world game called "Eco" that features many of the same elements as Minecraft, but with some welcome twists and consequences.

Backed by the U.S. Department of Education, the game is intended to not only entertain, but also to teach students about ecology in an online world. The world of "Eco" is populated by thousands of species of plants and animals living out their virtual lives 24/7 on a cloud-based server. Much like the world we live in today, humans entering the picture severely impact not only these species, but also the natural world around them. Unchecked rampant development can leave behind the deforestation, pollution and die-off that seriously cripples the virtual environment. And since Strange Loop is making "Eco" a survival game, it will also introduce cataclysmic elements reminiscent of Sim City, with threats from a meteor strike, drought, or flood ever looming.

"In 'Eco,' the goal isn't to save the environment," said studio head John Krajewski earlier this year. "The goal is to build. The goal is to create a civilization."

Well, at the very least, a sustainable civilization. The more players that join "Eco," the more the game will update in real-time how the environment is being impacted. Unlike "Minecraft" (which has loose rules), "Eco" will encourage players to pass laws protecting resources, as well as develop an in-game economy for the trading of goods and services. Strange Loop is seeking $100,000 to fund development of the game and currently sits at about a quarter of the way there with 29 days to go.

"Many games are designed to allow the player to escape their world; we want to make a game that does the opposite: a game that engages the player deeply with the real world through a concentrated virtual recreation of it," Krajewski added on the game's main site. "I believe this can have effects well beyond just entertainment. I hope you’ll join us down this unexplored path."

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

Check out the beautiful, 'Minecraft'-inspired world of 'Eco'
Global survival game places you in a biodiverse world that rises or falls based on how you protect or abuse its resources.