Besides Notch’s hat, we all can consider stealing some elements that Minecraft is using:
#1 – the art style
Just think about how genius it is. Just blocks! How difficult it is to model bunch of blocks, yet animate them. Super easy. And even if you don’t know how to animate, you can go to a site like FPS creator site, spend a few bucks to a model pack AND (this is important) export only model BONES and ANIMATIONS. Then in your own programming SDK, you can create cubes and attach the cubes to the animated bones.
And voila, you’ve just got animated box man to appear on your screen.
Don’t necessarily steal the idea of “world is made of blocks”, since you can have other shapes too, such as a terrain. Just ensure using blocky style in all the art, and it’ll be consistent.
It doesn’t matter whether you are doing an RPG, FPS, RTS or whatnot – the main idea is that you can steal this simple style and save humongous amount of gold in art assets.
#2 – Actually, that’s it
I see quite zero sense in trying to clone Minecraft. Terraria isn’t Minecraft clone, Terraria just happens to have digging and blocks, but it’s hugely different gaming experience. Cloning Minecraft would mean spending some years building a game where you have blocks that you can use to build anything. But who would buy it? Everybody and their mom already has Minecraft so it’s pretty pointless (unless you target different platforms, then it might have some sense) as there would be zero reason to buy your clone.
I feel that stealing the art style would make tons of sense for lots of indie developers. By using block style to build whatever game they are building, they would make a huge leap in terms of getting game ready faster.
You already doing this?