In the darkest corners of the Internet, you can hear people whispering about a new game for the PC. “Minecraft”, you hear them say in hushed tones. What is it all about, and what does it all mean? Let’s find out…
Upon starting the game, the player may well find themselves as confused as they did on watching the first episode of Lost, or the last for that matter, and the similarities don’t stop there.
“Where am I?”
You are on a mysterious island
“Why am I here?”
No idea, sorry.
“Who are the others?”
Oh, they are just Zombies and Skeletons that live in dark places and come out at night to eat you. Maybe you should consider building a shelter before nightfall?
And thus it begins…
Minecraft is not the most welcoming game to begin with. The player is thrown into a randomly generated world with very little by way of instruction. Being greeted by this world in which everything is made up of very simple textured cubes can be confusing and possibly even discouraging. The game has a decidedly retro feel about it, which will no doubt appeal to the old-school gamers out there. But the reality is that the way the game looks offers a certain appeal that will grow over time and the short-comings will quickly become irrelevant once the player falls under the Minecraft spell.
And it is a spell, because nothing short of magic can explain why Minecraft is so compelling to play. There really is no objective other than to create, and there is no limit to what can be created besides the players imagination and the materials on hand. With a little bit of research, it soon becomes apparent that that after gathering materials, they can be combined in the players inventory to create tools, weapons and other necessities, or they can be broken down into even more basic materials.
But working all of this out without first doing some research will leave the player with problems. This is one of the games biggest flaws thus far. Allowing the player to find their own path is admirable, but without a tutorial or some kind of pointer, the player will quickly find themselves in harms way. This is because, once the sun goes down and the island is bathed in darkness, all sorts of nasties come out and want to feast on the player. As quickly as possible, the player will need to create some form of shelter, or a weapon, to protect against the skeletons, giant spiders and other creatures of the night.
Once this is done and the player has somewhere they can call home, mining is the order of the day. Caution must be taken as digging down into the randomly generated underground caves will result in more nasties, living in the darkness. But it will also give access to more materials, allowing the player to create even more exotic items to inhabit their world. Seriously, a quick look on YouTube will reveal some of the bizarre yet quite impressive things that players have built.
All of this creativity is fine, but sometimes a players vision can be simply to large for just one person. But the game even takes this into account be providing the opportunity for some multiplayer construction fun, giving those with lofty aspirations the chance to fulfill them with a little help.
Since the beginning of development in May 2009, Markus Persson and his team at Mojang AB have been hard at work to get the game to it’s current state. And from the very beginning, interest has been phenomenal with over 1,000,000 games sold as of January 12th 2011. The Beta is currently available for just â‚¬14.95 and will let the player enjoy the game as it is right now, along with all updates and the full game when it is eventually released. The game is always evolving and being tweaked.
This wonderful toybox, filled with the tools needed to make pretty much anything, suffers from a lack of direction and purpose at the moment which may well see players getting bored after a while. But it is worth remembering that, despite the games popularity and success, it is still in Beta and is changing all of the time. Who knows, maybe some objectives will be embedded into the game by the time it launches? Or maybe not, only time will tell. But until then, it seems that there are plenty of gamers out there who are willing to part with their hard earned cash and plenty of their time in order to enter this world and create something magical.