When I first heard about Minecraft, I knew nothing about how much it had been selling nor what kind of game it was. When I visited the site, my first impression was that it looks bit lame. Some blocks and whatnot. I didn’t pay much attention to that game. To me it looked like “one another indie game”. (Not in a bad way of course)
It didn’t take long for me to hear all this buzz around Minecraft.
And… with convincing comment I decided to buy the game. Of course the fact that I had heard rumours that is a great game and the fact that I wanted to see what the fuzz about this phenomenon is all about.
So, I bought it.
When I first tried it, I was like… whadda hell is going on? Okay. There seems to be a pig there. I can click ground and nothing happens. Oh, and there’s an isle over there. So… whadda hell am I supposed to do here? Help, anyone?
I put the game to “need to test some day” pile, since I had some more pressing stuff going on.
A few days ago I found out that there were player made youtube videos which would be worth checking. Thanks to my wide computer screen, I was able to show the youtube vids on left side and then play Minecraft right side.
Now things made much more sense. I could understand how some basic stuff works and get stuff done.
And now I have a better answer to my previous blog post, where I asked why Minecraft is so popular?
I don’t know exactly, but something in these open ended sandbox games is that hits the fun-never of human nature. I think much is about exploration, it’s about building something and watching things to evolve, it’s about sharing things (via youtube for example). Minecraft also makes it possible for you to have small goals that you invent (bit like playing with legos as a kid – and I loved playing with legos): if you want to build a monster trap, you can. If you want to build a lighthouse, you can. If you want to try something else, you quite likely can. (Shame that my own plan for reaching the moon seems to be impossible due some limit, oh well, you cannot get all).
It’s also a some sort of puzzle game. When I first learned that I could hit trees and craft certain items, that was cool. Then at some point I saw wiki explaining everything that you can do. Strange thing happened: I felt I was given access to “solutions”. Crafting suddenly started to be boring, when I knew what I could do and how to do it. Compare this to the joy when I accidentally discovered that I can make a boat!
I think this one thing goes totally against everything how for example casual/social games “need” to work. They tell you to make a tutorial and hold the player’s hand while explaining what to do. In Minecraft I feel that it needs to tell something. Llike for example it could tell players that *hold your mouse button when hitting stuff*, I was just clicking ground (=nothing really happens) before I saw the video. I mean, people shouldn’t *guess* the controls. But I think all these “how to make sticks and stuff” (which any casual game would explain you) should not be explained. That’s part of the joy: the joy of exploration and finding things.
Sure, with puzzles it’s always possible that somebody gets stuck (that’s why the “hint” button was invented), but if somebody goes to read the Minecraft Wiki, that person should not play the game since he pretty much got the cheat codes handed to him.
I don’t know why Minecraft is popular, but I can tell you that it’s strangely addictive and cool game. Funny thing is that I’ve used building/block stacking (Highpiled) and building stuff (Dead Wake), and felt that the block stacking/barricading was really fun thing to do – even wrote down that “some day” I might want to develop these ideas into something bigger. Minecraft is so much more than basic block stacking (for example exploration, resource gathering, crafting), and it’s nice to see how “barricading” becomes so much more when you develop it further.
I also read these two articles, which I very much recommend to read (these are from game dev) perspective:
Game development: Don’t try to learn too much (by Over)
Minecraft is game of the year (by seanmalstrom)
Now, time to get to bed (no, I’m not playing Minecraft this evening… there’s still bit of hope for me)