I bought Minecraft on the PC early on. I played through a lot of the alpha and beta phases, and even quite a bit after release. And still, I always felt like it needed one more update, one more thing to make it a really great game. This weekend, I sat down and tried to find a game for the wife and I to play cooperatively. There really aren’t a lot of games like that. But as I was flipping through the list of games on my Xbox 360, I saw the Minecraft trial I’d downloaded a while back but had never played. She was a fan of the game too, so I loaded it up to see what it was like.
The 360 version of Minecraft has the one thing that the PC version lacks: recipes. Yes, when playing on your PC you can Alt+Tab to a browser or use a second computer to pull up a wiki and learn everything, but in the 360 version all the recipes are there, and you don’t even have to put the items in the right location to “figure out” the item to craft, you just select the recipe and if you have all the needed items on you, you press A/Green and the item is crafted.
Better still, the wife and I can play together in split screen mode, which makes finding each other when we are lost a thousand times easier than having to turn my back on my own screen while looking at hers. Instead, I just glance down at the lower half of the screen.
Currently, I’m building a mine, digging deep looking for ore. She’s building additions to our home. What started as “Honey, do you want a little fishing shack?” turned into “Look at this cylindrical great room surrounded by aquarium!” “Where is my fishing shack?” “I’ll put a dock off the roof or something…”
Our original home is an upside-down pyramid. You know, you build a little shelter, and then it gets blown up once or twice and you decide to just dig out all the ground beneath it and have a floating house with a bridge to it. Then you want a second floor for more stuff, so you build up, but bigger than the floor below (also because the lip prevents spiders from climbing over the wall). And then the floor about that is even bigger, and so on.
Since I have more shooter skills than she does, every morning I go kill the creepers, which I’m finding to be very fun.
All in all though, I’m finding the experience of playing Minecraft on the 360 to be superior to the PC in just about every way. A big piece of that is the 360 version doesn’t randomly crash and lock up like it does on our PCs. The 360 version just works.
If you are on the 360 and have Minecraft and you want to play around together, my gamertag is Jhaer.
It isn’t often that I get excited for a game before it releases. Well, unless that game has zombies in it. I’m always excited for zombie games. But I have been such a huge fan of Minecraft, and as a graduate of a Computer Science degree program when they still required us to know bit processing, registers, assembly and all that stuff that plenty of developers don’t concern themselves with, the announcement for Notch’s next game, called 0x10c, has me excited.
From his site, the back story is this:
In a parallel universe where the space race never ended, space travel was gaining popularity amongst corporations and rich individuals.
In 1988, a brand new deep sleep cell was released, compatible with all popular 16 bit computers. Unfortunately, it used big endian, whereas the DCPU-16 specifications called for little endian. This led to a severe bug in the included drivers, causing a requested sleep of 0×0000 0000 0000 0001 years to last for 0×0001 0000 0000 0000 years.
It’s now the year 281 474 976 712 644 AD, and the first lost people are starting to wake up to a universe on the brink of extinction, with all remote galaxies forever lost to red shift, star formation long since ended, and massive black holes dominating the galaxy.
He gives a few other details, like the game being similar to EVE Online in that you pilot a ship, and that ship has a generator with limited power, and everything on the ship draws power. And you’ll actually have to program the 16 bit CPU of your ship yourself, though I expect rather quickly people will begin trading code. And it’s going to have both a single player mode and an MMO-type mode with a monthly fee.
Being that it is Notch and the model worked so well for Minecraft, he plans on having an early release paid alpha where players can help him quickly iterate the design. The minute that becomes available, I’m in as this looks like another platform for emergent game play.
I’ll close with a screenshot of the in-game CPU running a simple program.
There is just something great about this, and part of it is that so many people simply won’t understand it at all.
I’ve finally gotten my own Minecraft server running again, and for the first time in about thirty restarts it finally has coal. I’m working on getting the maps working, and I’m in need of upgrading the RAM on the server. I’ll post links later once I’m sure it is all in order.
After skipping a number of Gamer Banters, this month’s topic caught my attention: “What was your favorite game you played this year?”
I played a few games this year that I really enjoyed. Among them, Red Dead Redemption and Dead Rising 2 (and Case Zero) and Free Realms and Wizard 101 and a slew of others… but the standout, the one that has to be my favorite game of 2010 is the little indie that could, Minecraft.
The most amazing thing about it is that before and when I picked it up, I was in the LEGO Universe beta feeling like something was missing… and then I found Minecraft and knew what it was: absolute freedom. As a kid I really loved dumping out the giant box of LEGOs and building stuff, and I had wanted that from LEGO Universe, which ended up having too much traditional MMO in it. But in Minecraft I could run around and do pretty much anything that I wanted. Sure, the survival modes of Minecraft are fun, but being able to just run around and create awesome stuff is just incredible. Check out the map for this server that I play around on.
I’ve been playing Minecraft. It really is quite a fantastic little game. Once the Survival Multi-Player mode gets fixed it will be downright awesome.
Anyhow, as I’ve been playing, I’ve been thinking about how this sort of thing could be done as an MMO. I’d love to see fully destructible terrain in an MMO, but the issue really is one of containment. Players will inevitably rub each other the wrong way. So, consider this…
Take Minecraft. Add in the ability to mark a server as “official”, which means that it passes some CRC checking and other verification (to make sure it isn’t running any cheats or hacks) which it passes to a central server (run by Notch). Then, allow players, or more accurately server admins, build portals which can be connected to other servers (both servers involved have to create portals to complete the link, both verified by the central server). Thus creating a network of Minecraft worlds. Throw in some niceties like the ability to set an upper limit to the number of players connected, or even the ability to “white list” accounts allowed to build/destroy (everyone can look, only certain people can change).
Hmm… better yet, perhaps they should not allow this because I might waste entire days, even weeks, just wandering the network admiring people’s creations.
The top of the box is pulled back to reveal the construction within.
A few weeks ago, I caved in and bought Minecraft. It is a fun little game. The game can be played single player, or multiplayer. Currently, multiplayer is a little broken – the monsters can’t hurt you, in fact, nothing can hurt you, so jumping off stuff is fun! Multiplayer servers can also be modified to allow players the ability to summon items instead of mining them. The picture to the right is what I’m currently building on one such server. If you want to spend some time, you can go through the map of that server and see all the awesome things that people are building.
Anyway, the one thing I really dig about this game is that it shows what an indie developer can do, and that high end photo realistic visuals aren’t needed if the game is fun to play. Minecraft is a blast and it has a very 8-bit look to it.
The game is still technically in “Alpha” (the phase before Beta, which is the phase before release), however you can purchase it now for about $15, which gets you the Alpha and free upgrades to future releases. If you wait until release you’ll have to pay double, at least, and you’ll miss out on months of fun!
Another thing I like about this game, and the buzz it is getting, is the idea that, if embraced, some of the free form creation that exists here might find their way into other games, other MMOs. Though I do think it will work best on a small scale. Can you imagine World of Warcraft allowing people to make their own buildings and destroy terrain? Insanity!