December 2011

Minecraft's New Lead Designer

Submitted by minecraftmike on Mon, 12/19/2011 - 08:47

By Jasen Hill of the Sydny Herald Tribune.

The award-winning Minecraft by Sweden's Markus “Notch” Persson

The award-winning Minecraft by Sweden's Markus “Notch” Persson

Minecraft creator Marcus Perrsson has handed his enormously successful baby to experienced colleague Jens Bergensten after his indie gaming juggernaut was officially released last month.

Over four million people have now purchased Minecraft and there are over 16 million registered users.

Swedish creator Marcus “Notch” Perrsson began developing Minecraft solo back in 2009, and has personally built a dedicated following in the worldwide gaming community.

Minecraft: the work of just one man

Minecraft: the work of just one man

But now 32-year-old Jens Bergensten has taken the role of lead developer on Minecraft after working at Perrsson’s studio Mojang for the past year.

“We’ve been working together on Minecraft for a year now, and I’m amazed at how much in synch we two are when it comes to how to design the game,” Perrsson wrote on his blog last week.

“And when we don’t agree, we discuss it and something much better comes out at a result. He’s truly a great person to work with, and I feel very confident handing over the leadership of Minecraft to him. He will have the final say in all design decisions.”

Speaking to Screen Play this week, Bergensten says “it feels cool” to be given responsibility to guide the future direction of one of the world’s most popular games, but “I've been working very closely with Notch so initially my job hasn't changed much”.

Bergensten says his first priority is to add more people to his team “because I can't do everything on my own”.

He says he will then focus on creating a "mod API" – an application programming interface for tinkering with the game.

“This API will make it easier for people to create, find and play with game modifications,” Bergensten explains.

Minecraft currently has one of the most active and creative modding communities in the gaming world, despite no official tools being released yet. A mod API would be high on many Minecraft player's lists for "most wanted" features.

But Bergensten finds it “hard to say” when asked about how much community feedback has influenced the direction and features of Minecraft since work on the game began back in 2009.

“We usually work on our own ideas,” he says. “But obviously it's important to listen to the feedback of our users. I tend to try to change things that people find annoying or buggy.”

Bergensten agrees with Screen Play that Minecraft's success will encourage a flood of other indie developers to follow a similar business model, giving access to a game as soon as possible to help fund further development.

“Absolutely, it's a very good business model if you don't have much money,” he says. “Also it will quickly give you an idea whether your game is any good or needs improving.”

But the developer says he is still surprised at how popular Minecraft has become. “I think everybody is,” he laughs.

One of the game’s strengths is that Minecraft allows players wonderful freedom to play how they want to, and Bergensten says he personally loves exploring, but also building and adventuring.

He is also constantly amazed at the level of creativity displayed by Minecraft users. “I've seen a lot of amazing and huge builds of bridges, dams, castles and cities,” he says.

My 11-year-old son is a huge Minecraft fan, and many schools have now incorporated the game into their teaching.

But Bergensten says the team at Mojang did not deliberately try to target kids or make the game accessible to a young audience.

“We do not work to make the game specifically for the younger audience, but at the same time we try not to push them away either,” he says. “One of our design decisions is to avoid adding gore or blood to the game, and to try to keep all difficulty settings loose and optional.”

Mojang recently released a Pocket Edition of Minecraft for Xperia Play, Android and iOS devices such as the iPhone, and the game’s player base is certain to further increase when an Xbox 360 version is released next year.

Bergensten says the 360 version is “very similar” to the PC game. “The biggest difference is that we have a new crafting user interface that will make crafting a little bit quicker on controllers,” he says.

A new audience will also be introduced to the joys of Minecraft at the upcoming free exhibition at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne.

The new curated exhibition at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne, Best of the Independent Games Festival 2011, opens on December 20 and features a selection of 14 award-winning games, including Minecraft.

ACMI curator Fiona Trigg says the titles on show "push the boundaries of what video games can be".

I believe much of the innovation in the industry is currently happening at the independent fringe, but Bergensten also acknowledges that the larger studios are also pushing boundaries. 

“I think there is a lot of innovation in the big industry, but indie developers usually have to do as much as possible with very little resources,” he says. “That kind of environment creates a lot of new ideas.”

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/minecrafts-new-creative-force-20111211-1opmw.html#ixzz1gzJYFPfy

18 Million Building Blocks

Submitted by minecraftmike on Wed, 12/07/2011 - 20:37

Another great Minecraft article posted on Kotaku.com

The YouTube Minecraft Super Mario Land in Stop Motion video is the culmination of more than 500 hours of work by three dedicated Minecraft gamers using more than 18 million blocks of in-game wool to meticulously recreate the 800 still images that make the video.

 

It's just two minutes and twenty-two seconds of black and white video. In it we see a play-through of classic 80s Game Boy title Super Mario Land. Pretty bland stuff, until you hear how it was created.

 

 

Each image is a masterpiece in block placement, dropping dyed wool blocks in the game's creative mode within the frame of a massive Game Boy created in the virtual world. The Game Boy's screen is 160 blocks across and 144 blocks tall. That means it takes 23,040 blocks to fill the screen, each representing a single pixel in the game.

 

James Wright, a 21-year-old British carpenter who lives in England, and Joe Ciappa, an unemployed 29-year-old living in the U.S., me through video games, the two told Kotaku in a recent instant message interview.

 

"We started playing together when GTA IV came out," Wright wrote. "We started talking on Xbox and began gaming."

 

The two quickly became friends over matches of Grand Theft Auto, Rainbow 6, Call of Duty, Battlefield and then Minecraft. Now it's only Minecraft.

"We picked up Minecraft about a year ago and started a personal server," Wright said. "About a week later I suggested to Joe we put together a small website just with some Minecraft related videos and content."

Minecraft: The Kotaku Review

Submitted by minecraftmike on Wed, 12/07/2011 - 09:25

The following is a great Minecraft Video Game review from Kotaku.com

For all that's been written about Minecraft over the past few years, you'd think it was one of the greatest video games ever created. A liberating experience that's showing big-budget game developers what the public really wants and helping revolutionise the way games are developed and sold.

In some ways, it totally is. In others? Eh...

Minecraft is a lot of things, but one thing it's not is just a game. It never was when it launched and it's still not now that it's...launched. It's always been about more than the thing you click on and click on and click on again. It's been about the way it encourages community, gets people talking, sharing and co-operating.

Minecraft has also long been about the scene around the game as much, if not more, than the game itself. About identifying yourself as a Minecraft fan. There are millions of gamers left cold by the increasing trend of publishers to "dumb down" their offerings, to drive them at light speed towards the lowest common denominator. Many of those cling to Minecraft like a drowning man to a plank. And they hang on tight.

I mean, how many single games or franchises get their own conventions? Call of Duty, the world's biggest video game franchise, has one. And Minecraft has one. And...that's about it. How many games have I ever had fans call me at my home to complain I'd used a YouTube video for a story that didn't show the game in the best possible light? There's Minecraft, and Minecraft alone.

Minecraft receiving over 240 million logins per month

Submitted by minecraftmike on Mon, 12/05/2011 - 08:23
 
The indie video game sensation Minecraft is going from strength to strength, as demonstrated by figures unveiled at this weekend’s Minecon convention in Las Vegas.

Minecraft has been around since 2009, but only received a formal release last Friday, with the Minecraft 1.0 iteration. Despite this, the game has more than 16 million registered users and has already sold over 4 million copies.

Minecraft Released for Apple iOs

Submitted by minecraftmike on Thu, 12/01/2011 - 07:33

Minecraft iOsMinecraft is now available on for the Apple Iphone.  Those who sit inside the Venn diagram of iOS users and Minecraft fans have been missing out on all the love. They watched with envious eyes as the mobile edition of Minecraft launched on the Xperia Play before an Android-wide release back in October.

Minecraft Downloads

Submitted by minecraftmike on Thu, 12/01/2011 - 07:11

Minecraft

If you have bought Minecraft, you can download a stand-alone launcher for Minecraft here. It will automatically update the game files with the latest version.

 

You will be able to Minecraft without an internet connection if you’ve run the launcher at least once while connected to the internet.