Minecraft: I don’t get it, what’s the big deal?

Minecraft - What's the point? I don't get it.

I was debating with fellow Sudogamer writer SDG_LM about Minecraft.  He downloaded it, and loved it.   I downloaded it (during the free weekend), and well. . didn’t.  Not yet, at least.

Here’s how it went:

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Subject: Minecraft 1 hour in.

SDG_LM, I gave it a go, and was not impressed. Here’s some bullet points I made.

– No instructions, anywhere. Not on the website, or in the game menu.

– No introduction, nothing sets the scene or the tone or anything.   If it’s purely ‘open’ and ‘sandbox’ at least just say it is.

– No crafting table ‘recipe’ in the wiki. had to Google one.  No clues in the game menus that one even has to or should even ‘craft’.

– Night-time – WTf? What time?  Some kind of on-screen prompt, surely?

– So, I made a pick-axe, and I’ve collected loads of square blocks which represent materials. .  now what am I supposed to do?  And what’s my motivation for doing it. . ?

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Re: Subject: Minecraft 1 hour in.

A – the website is pretty much down at the moment hence you getting to play the game for free. Secondly the game is in Alpha, it’s not even a beta yet! They are going to introduce a tutorial as can now be seen in the main menu.

B – Have you been stuck on a desert island for the last couple of weeks? Have you just arrived back after been rescued and been plonked in front of a computer with a game you have never heard of and just left to figure it out? No? You know what the game is.

3 – What? It’s in the name of the game. Could it be any simpler…Minecraft – both mining and crafting covered. The crafting of the table is in the wiki, it’s called a work bench.

D – As in life, look to the sun – it rises and sets in the same way that our own sun does.

E –  Build/Craft/Mine

You appear to be approaching this in a very obtuse manner. For years now I have heard you complain about the dumbing down of games on the PC because of consoles but now it seems that the dumbing down hasn’t been caused by consoles but just gamers have got dumber e.g. you. Games used to come with manuals thicker than the average xbox owner but now it’s all built in in tutorials and the scene is set not by a bit of text written by the most creative programmer but by cut scenes render in gorgeous Technicolor that cost more to make than the games themselves. What happened to the gamer who would throw the manual to one side and crack straight into the game to learn as he/she went along. What happened to the gamer who played point and click adventures and would link rubber chickens to pulleys? Where are you now? Complaining that the game doesn’t set the scene for you, that there are no instructions, demanding to know how the day and night cycle is represented!!!! What you need is achievements, hand holding tutorials and a win button.

We could ask that in the beta they add an elf to guide you round the world explaining crafting and that the sun rises in the east, he could have a funny accent and trip on the scenery. They can put a countdown clock in the corner and rather than having a random world have it set and provide a map. You can give you objectives and you slowly build up your skills as not to overwhelm you with too much information at once…or…we could treat you like and adult, a pc gamer, present you with the world and say have at it. Unfortunately you’ve turned around and said ‘Have at what?’, ‘tell me what to do?’ and ‘What is that blazing ball of gas in the sky?…..’

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Re:Re: Subject: Minecraft 1 hour in.

I wouldn’t say obtuse is the correct word.
‘Cynical’ or ‘shallow’ would be more fitting 🙂

I think you’ve bought the hype, hook line and sinker.  I can’t believe all I’m reading about this game (not just from you) it seems that people have ‘fallen for’ Minecraft, declaring it an ‘important’ game.  It looks like a level one might find in a half-arsed HL1 mod. To be downloaded and cast aside like that one with the ridiculous fishing game.

I reckon had you stumbled on this game yourself, with no prior reading you’d probably have sent me a screenshot, laughed, and deleted it.

“Gamers have got dumber e.g. you” – not so.
Good games don’t need a manual.  I don’t need a manual to start playing an RTS (starcraft), an FPS, or a point and click.  There’s got to be a ‘point’ to a game, though (if there’s no manual).  There’s got to be motivation, a cause and effect.  Some kind of reward?

What you’ve got here (with Minecraft) appears to be as much fun as ‘playing’ with MS Paint.

The rubber chicken / pulley example is poor, because a point n click is essentially a linear game, with a fixed start and fixed end point.  The fun (the point) of that is figuring out how to get from A – B.

“What you need is achievements” – I think we both know, that’s not true. (I should link to your Xbox live profile here, but I won’t. . )

“We could ask that in the beta they add an elf to guide you round the world explaining crafting and that the sun rises in the east, he could have a funny accent and trip on the scenery.” – This is good idea, you should suggest it to the developer 🙂 Here’s his email address:  notch@mojang.com.

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Re:Re:Re: Subject: Minecraft 1 hour in.

Cynical or shallow – they both explain it and yet while you are admitting to them you still fail to overcome you’re personal issues. You say I’ve bought the hype yet you’ve personally avoided it, you’ve not read the articles, the only opinion you have of the game is your own but you’d already formed that before you even tried it. Buying the hype is one thing. Buying the game and then playing it a lot is entirely another. Fair enough if I had bought the game, played for a couple of hours and then raved about it for all to hear but I didn’t, I bought it and then it was the only thing I played all weekend. I’m certainly enjoying the hype as it’s good to play a game that everyone is discussing and most are enjoying. Your HL1 mod comparisons hold no grounds and shows how truly out of touch with what this game is, a HL1 mod would be a level, designed by a guy in his pants and played the same as everyone else plays it. Minecraft puts you in a world generated randomly, nothing is the same as every other persons game, there are no world maps, no go here to find the treasure. It gives you a freedom to do and build what you want.

When was the last time you played a game without any hype? And surely you have to admit that there must be a reason for all the hype. Is everyone wrong while you are right? Did you play a HL1 mod years ago that did all this, laugh and then delete it?

You don’t need a manual to start playing Minecraft. I never said you did. There is a point to Minecraft – survival. When night comes if you have not built a shelter then you may die. Then it’s all human instinct from there:

1st Day: What do I do?

1st Night: Argh, hide from the bad guys

2nd Day: I’d best build a shelter to protect from the bad guys

2nd night: Safe now, what now? I would like a nicer shelter.

3rd Day: Build a bigger shelter, maybe with a wooden floor. Windows would be nice.

3rd Night: That’s better, I can move around and see the enemies outside. A nicer view would be nice.

4th Day: Explore my surroundings, check out that waterfall. I would like that outside my house.

4th Night: I’m going to move house.

5th Day: Start contruction of my new house, need materials. There is a cave over there, I wonder whats down it….

That’s why the game is so good. You do what you would do naturally if you were in such a situation and yet everything you do is your own. I’ve explored a myriad of caves beneath my home in Minecraft. I’ve built staircases into the depths and know the different nooks and crannies (despite the basic graphics) on sight alone. I’m the only one who has ever been down there and nobody has seen them before. I’ve built my own home above them, with a viewing deck and windows wrapping around giving me a view of the sea and the beacon I placed on the hill behind my house. This is a game but it’s also a world I have created, that I have put my personal stamp on and reflects my personality. The pool of lava on the beach near my house was placed their by me testing my first bucket. To the west there are islands a couple of days travel away with torches in caves where I ventured on my first attempt to travel round the world. I may never return to them but if I do there will be there, the evidence of my travels. What other game can do this? FPS – retreading the same level as everyone, GTA – Liberty City is a realised as any in game city but nothing you do matters or counts for anything, SC2 – the same storyline everyones sees, the same tactics that have been used before, nothing indiviual just familiar.

The link to MS paint is pretty good. If you found a painting you’d spent hours on when you were 15 or a website or a scrapbook – you would have fond memories of it and enjoy the creativity you had when you were younger whereas thoughts of doom or starcraft would make you smile you’d have nothing to show for them. I could not play minecraft for another 10 years but if in 10 years time I found my save game and loaded it up again – the joy of running around my house and my caves would beat playing MW2 or SC2 anyday.

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Re:Re:Re:Re: Subject: Minecraft 1 hour in.

You have a fairly romanticised view of this game, and in many ways I admire that.  Its almost a childlike naivity (in a good way) which I haven’t experienced in quite some time.  It’s when I first played Monkey island 1 in VGA 320×240, I remember thinking it was photorealistic.   This was because imagination and a sort of passion for the game was filling in the blanks.

Perhaps I’m lacking in this passion or imagination for Minecraft, but I’m at least closer to understanding what its about.  It sounds awfully like a tamagotchi of the mining/crafting world. . ?

By saying you bought the hype, I’m implying that the ‘hype’ coerced you into having these overwhelmingly positive feelings for the game, and having the ultimately rose-tinted views of the game.  Again, not a criticism.

Here’s another angle – If I’d read your description (below) of a game that had not come out yet, I’d think it was a cool idea. Genuinely.
I just think the execution is poor.   Imagine the same game but rendered through the (very good, even now) Unreal 3 engine (but keeping the simplistic ‘block’ design)?  I know you think I’m missing the point, but it would be more absorbing if it was fullscreen with proper light mapping, a nice sound track and good looking UI.

Similarly (you laugh), but a polished tutorial level would be a treat to get people ‘on-board’ with the idea.

Anyways, I think we can safely conclude (with the usual conclusion)  you’re right, I’m wrong.

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Re:Re:Re:Re:Re: Subject: Minecraft 1 hour in.


This is my crib:
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