I purchased Minecraft Alpha (9 euro/13 dollars) after a friend suggested I check it out. I took a look at the site and some videos and thought it looked interesting enough to warrant the expense, even if it was an indie game still in alpha.
I didn’t take the time to read up on the game at all before playing the first time and after wandering around for awhile, not really sure what to do, I was eventually mugged in the darkness and murdered. Time to do a little research I guess…After a quick video I was back in the game, after starting a new map, and quickly went about gathering the necessary wood and coal before digging into the side of a hill and installing a few doors.
Fast forward a couple of hours and I am loving it. My cave/tunnel/house is nice and big. I only go outside during the day and usually just to gather wood before heading back home to expand and add a room or two. I am telling friends about it, encouraging them to check it out and assuring them that even though it might look silly there is a certain “charm” about it that makes it worthwhile.
I should say that I very, very rarely play single player games. I need the competition and challenge of multiplayer to keep me satisfied. But, there was something about Minecraft that was grabbing me.
After a couple days of single player and recruiting a few friends to purchase it we ended up with our own server and five of us were playing together on multiplayer. The first night was hectic as the server creator jumped in a bit before anyone else so by the time we were all in and grouped up night was falling.
We ended up frantically digging a small hole in the side of a hill and closing it off to sit in darkness waiting for dawn. Needless to say it didn’t take many more nights before we realized…no zombies or skeletons or spiders in multiplayer. Also, strangely enough, no cows or sheep either.
It’s been about a week now and we have quite the town built with a rather impressive Keep on the top of our local big hill/small mountain (not the most impressive mountain you’ll see in Minecraft but not terrible).
We have made everything available to us, found all the different ores and stones and we all have Diamond tools. Everything we have and have built has been the result of gathering, we have not been using the admin abilities to hand out free stuff.
It’s about this time when the allure begins to fade for me. I find myself logging on just for the sake of finishing the Keep, which is a very large project and still underway. I’ll explore sometimes but at this point it’s just another tree, just another cool random bit of terrain or cavern system.
Even when I come across an impressive underground lava flow or water fall it is quickly dampened by the realization I’m already done looking at. I’ve tried wandering off on the server and trying something different. Something near water, in the water, over the water, up in the clouds, down deep at bedrock. I’ve played my single player maps, made new ones and tried fighting for my survival instead of just hiding in a hill. I’m failing to find anything that has retained that “charm”.
It took about two weeks for me to become completely “meh” about Minecraft and I know I’m not the only one. I run the server for our group now so I know how often, if at all, the guys play at this point, and they don't. The sandbox concept was at first fantastic and limitless. Now it feels like a bit of a copout. The games content is the game itself but I’m left feeling like there is no content at all.
I’m already looking forward to Beta, not for Beta, but because Notch has said that he will make modding tools available and that means either myself or someone else can, hopefully, make some kind of RPG mod with a purpose. A version of Minecraft with a goal and a way to “win”. A challenge more involved than avoiding the creeps.
I suppose all this is just a long winded way of saying that I am very surprised, and obviously disappointed, with how quickly Minecraft lost its charm. This isn’t a complaint or a condemnation of Minecraft or of Notch.
I love the game, I love that Notch did it alone and I love the reaction he is getting from the community. I’m just surprised that after a year in development, with the scale of the community it has, and the fact that Notch continues to play it and enjoy it, that there isn’t “more” to it.