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Can Minecraft Change the Gaming Industry? 255

Posted by Soulskill
from the can-it-kill-dlc dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Is Minecraft really changing the gaming industry fundamentally? This author certainly thinks so, and even goes so far as to consider Minecraft's world manipulation a paradigm shift along the lines of 3D-gaming during the early '90s. 'Every block in the game is available to pick up and reallocate. We can tear down and build up. The neat thing is that future games does not need to be as liberal, but they will need to consider how they can make the environment a hell of a lot more manipulable. Now, this is quite a bit too simplified and the vast majority of games must not feature a shovel worthy of digging to the center of the earth, but giving the user power over everyday things (still in game worlds) will be a worthy challenge to consider.'" Minecraft may give us power over everyday things in the real world, too.
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Can Minecraft Change the Gaming Industry?

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  • MineVille? (Score:5, Funny)

    by alphatel (1450715) * on Friday July 15, 2011 @05:32AM (#36773106)

    Next paradigm shift:

    Sally needs help moving blocks, sign up and earn 5 facepoints!

  • Minecraft is just a copy of the Gnomish Mines.

    • by Gideon Wells (1412675) on Friday July 15, 2011 @05:45AM (#36773152)

      Stigler's Law variant.

      Friendster -> MySpace -> FaceBook. It ain't Friendster or MySpace that is plastered on dang near every website and being visited by the U.S. president. It doesn't matter who did it first.

  • What I find great about Mincraft is the the fact that it keeps things sweet and simple. No flashy graphics bringing your machine to its knees, no DRM to fuck the legitimate consumers over, no crap gameplay with a shitty ending. It's just you (and maybe some friends), the world, and your imagination.

    Minecraft is definitely evidence that sometimes, less is more. My personal opinion is that game producers have lost the plot - too often, we get served a steaming pile of flashy crud (*cough* EA), and sometime

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      >No flashy graphics bringing your machine to its knees

      Right, the bad programming does.

    • People enjoy being nickel and dimed to death in a virtual skinner box. Plus that's where the money is.
      They'll build that.

    • by Megane (129182)

      No flashy graphics bringing your machine to its knees

      No flashy graphics, sure, but try playing it on a laptop on battery power. Even plugged in it'll get your fan running, and that's just at the main start screen.

      • by omglolbah (731566)

        There is an FPS limiting option now.

        • He said at the main start screen. You know, where no fps are occurring.
          .

          It seems clear to me that Minecraft ignores the CPU halt command and just loops as fast as possible all the time like some 1990s DOS program. I make our kids quit right out of the program when they aren't using it to avoid the power drain of this lunacy.

          • He said at the main start screen. You know, where no fps are occurring.

            Seriously? FPS = frames per second. In a game application like Minecraft, there is no place that "no fps are occurring."

            This post literally makes no sense to me. Power drain of this lunacy? Ignoring the CPU halt command?

    • No flashy graphics bringing your machine to its knees.

      Oooh, some of the stuff you can do to cause that to happen. Heck, there are small things you can do to cause a multi-player game to head that direction easily. I've never seen a multiplayer capable game where so many users in their youtube how to videos go "This is cool, woah, lag from all this stuff going on. Okay, don't do this online. It will melt the server with all the interactions between the players".

      3 Redstone abuse.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      ...no DRM to fuck the legitimate consumers over...

      When Steam requires a server checkin, it's called DRM. When Minecraft does it, it's called No DRM. Go figure.

      • by Skylinux (942824)

        Well Minecraft has the option to play offline, forever. I failed to find that feature on Steam when I was locked out of Civ5 which I had purchased on DVD!

        The stand alone client only requires an internet connection for the first time run and for automatic updates. After that the game can be played offline with ease.

        http://www.minecraftwiki.net/wiki/Stand_alone_client [minecraftwiki.net]

        • Couldn't you have just installed Civ5 on your computer from the DVD? I did this with HL2 and another game (can't remember which) when I couldn't remember my Steam login.

          • by Skylinux (942824)

            That did not work because the version shipped had an issue so it had to be patched before launch.

            I ended up downloading a torrent which had the patch and was Steam virus free. The pirated version worked even better then my original version (faster).
            Civ5 was my first Steam game and it will be my last.

      • by Duradin (1261418)

        /. likes, no, loves Minecraft. That's what makes their DRM different.

      • Minecraft fails rather more gracefully though. If it can't get to the authentication server you just get some fairly unobtrusive text in the top left of the screen informing you it may be a dodgy copy and you really should think about buying it. I agree with you, it is DRM, but it's the way DRM should be done, leaving the game intact and playable even if the servers go down.
    • Perhaps these people need to sit down, take a look at what people are enjoying playing and why they enjoy it, and get back in touch with their market.

      Never going to happen. EA will carry on churning Year+1 sports games, id will keep churning out pretty tech demos, etc .. and the indie game developers will continue to produce exceedingly fun games at unfairly low prices. It's like warfare, the big army will throw out tanks, destroyers and attack helicopters to dominate the land, sea and air while the small guerilla insurgency runs around the streets taking potshots with antique AKs and RPGs, taking out a chopper every now and again. You can be big and mig

    • No flashy graphics bringing your machine to its knees

      Yep the shitty quality of the code and the JVM do that perfectly fine on their own. If the game actually had flash graphics on top of that clusterfuck it would probably kill even the longest battery life laptops in minutes.

  • by sourcerror (1718066) on Friday July 15, 2011 @05:44AM (#36773144)

    If you want stuff blowing up realistically (i.e. destructible environment), you have to simulate it offline, as it's really computation intensive. So it will be "scripted". Minecraft can only get away with it because everything is a cube. Also I don't expect a sudden surge in cubic 3d games. Minecraft is a one time wonder, and it could be only pulled of by an independent developer.

    • by daid303 (843777) on Friday July 15, 2011 @06:09AM (#36773252)

      And still, Red Faction was blowing holes in walls in 2001.

      I say Terraria is the better game, even with it's 2D nature. Because it contains a lot more stuff to do.
      And building/mining isn't new. Look up "Clonk", it's going strong all the way back to the 486 era, and it has a lot more features then minecraft. It's only not 3D.

      The only wonder about Minecraft is the sudden amount of attention it got. It got lucky, that's all.

      • "And still, Red Faction was blowing holes in walls in 2001."

        And they don't look very reailistic because of the low particle number. Also, it's much easier to blow hole in a wall than to blow up a car, or something of more complicated geometry, not even mentioning the non-homogenous material quality and other stuff.

      • by Ogive17 (691899)
        Maybe my memory is off but I thought the holes that you could blow in walls only occured in very specific areas.
        • by w_dragon (1802458)
          Some levels you could destroy just about anything, some levels were pretty much indestructible. It was still better than most games where you shoot a window with a rocket launcher and the window survives.
      • There's nothing lucky about building a digital lego set.

    • Red Faction had a destructible environment back in 2001 with Volition's Geo-Mod [wikipedia.org] engine, which eventually improved in 2009 with the totally realtime Geo-Mod 2.0 in Red Faction: Guerrilla.
    • by Instine (963303)
      turn based game play also makes this possible. See Worms 3D, some years back (excellent game). Process client side, then distribute changes across the network while the players watch the pretty rendering . Perfect. Srsly I love that game.
  • I'm unconvinced... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday July 15, 2011 @05:45AM (#36773150) Journal
    While I have nothing against Minecraft as a game, the level of world manipulation isn't just some incidental feature that the gaming industry Must Take Note Of.

    The level of world manipulation is pretty much what makes the game what it is; but also makes the game weird and idiosyncratic in ways that wouldn't obviously transfer very well to other sorts of games. Anybody remember 'Red Faction', that old FPS with the zOMG Destructable Environments!!! It sucked. Faced with the fact that they'd either have to break environmental destructability at certain plot-points, or just have players nibbling in a straight line through the level, the environmental destructability was reduced to little more than window dressing.

    Really, in any game that isn't largely about metagaming emergent behavior in the game's rules(y hello thar, Dwarf Fortress, we were just talking about your much shallower and more popular kid cousin...), being capriciously arbitrarily limited sucks("Why can I pick up some books and not others?" "Oh, because some books are 'Quest Items', and you need to collect 143 of them; but the art team couldn't be bothered to actually model the rest, so all non-quest bookshelves are just textured rectangles.") but world manipulability beyond a certain level is useful pretty much exclusively for breaking the game's mechanics(acceptable in singleplay, if not obviously worth the tradeoff in developer effort, pure death in multiplay, unless you are the griefer who is currently grinning in anticipation...)
    • by headLITE (171240)

      Ironically, you can craft books and bookshelves in Minecraft. The books' only purpose is being an ingredient in the bookshelf recipe, and the bookshelf is full of coloured rectangles that you can't take out.

  • Hell (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ledow (319597) on Friday July 15, 2011 @05:47AM (#36773162) Homepage

    Every single game for the last 20 years has claimed "destructible environments" (some of them erroneously, with the word "fully" as a prefix). It's the same thing, in essence.

    It's been a want of gamers for decades, since voxels were around at least, and it's never really happened how we expect, despite being promised with every big hit.

    Even Minecraft doesn't have a fully destructible environment - some blocks can't be moved or changed, and there are depth and height limits, not to mention width wrap-arounds through the use on fixed-length int's on map indexes.

    Unfortunately, such a thing would fundamentally change a game. Imagine a 3D FPS. You want to take out the enemy base. Hell, with enough time, you can just move the local mountain across on top of it, or tunnel up into it, or punch a window through the local mountain to make an inaccesible sniper-spot, or literally just flatten the whole place with artillery so you can walk through the ashes and collect all the pickups. It doesn't make for a fun game, necessarily, but it just one of many features that a good games developer can add to a game to make it more interesting. It's the same category as realistic physics, proper ballistics, or better AI teammates. Useful in the right hands, game-ruining in the wrong ones.

    Yes, it would be really cool to have zombie/aliens game where you arrange the furniture to build barricades, but in playability terms it can create a nightmare, especially multiplayer. Hell, people whine that they (or the AI) get stuck on map objects that took years to position in the ideal place - what makes you think a billion random objects that can all move everywhere, combined with overpowered abilities to move the earth, will make it easier to get from A to B?

    The only way to do it is realistically, which is gameplay-hell. If you want a tunnel into the enemy camp, you'll run out of food and die before you get anywhere, the sounds of digging will be heard, you'll kill yourself through exhaustion and you'll have to put the soil somewhere (which will draw attention). And if you don't get caught by the enemy, it'll still take MONTHS to get there.

    (Offtopic: How cool would a well-made free-form Great Escape game be, though?)

    • by sourcerror (1718066) on Friday July 15, 2011 @06:02AM (#36773230)

      "Every single game for the last 20 years has claimed "destructible environments" "

      Don't forget non-linear gameplay. Which in practice means there's some variety in the order you play linear subplots. Until we got a human level AI a computer cannot create a compelling story, so you have to put up with the pre-baked ones. (Or go full sandbox like multiplayer FPS/RTS games.)

      • by Hatta (162192)

        Nethack creates a new story every time you play. The goal is the same, but the trials and tribulations of the hero are different every time. You never play the same game of Nethack twice.

    • by itsdapead (734413)

      Even Minecraft doesn't have a fully destructible environment - some blocks can't be moved or changed, and there are depth and height limits, not to mention width wrap-arounds through the use on fixed-length int's on map indexes.

      You seem to be confusing "fully destructible" with "infinite". AFAIK the only non-destructible blocks are bedrock and clouds. The "borderlands" where the int pointers break down and the everything goes crazy are further away than you'd get in normal gameplay.

      But you're right - just because its good for Minecraft doesn't mean its good for every game. Part of the fun of Minecraft is the whacked-out physics, and the retro graphics nicely mirror the block-based theme.

      • by ledow (319597)

        By definition, it's not fully destructible if you have non-destructible blocks, wherever they are :-)

        • by itsdapead (734413)

          Well, yes, but there is such a thing as applying definitions realistically. Non-destructible bedrock at the lower boundary of the map is hardly in the same league as the sort of fudges in other games claiming "fully destructible" environments, and even in meatspace, whacking fog with a pickaxe is pretty ineffective.

    • by dkf (304284)

      The only way to do it is realistically, which is gameplay-hell. If you want a tunnel into the enemy camp, you'll run out of food and die before you get anywhere, the sounds of digging will be heard, you'll kill yourself through exhaustion and you'll have to put the soil somewhere (which will draw attention). And if you don't get caught by the enemy, it'll still take MONTHS to get there.

      I'm reminded of a book by Iain M. Banks [wikipedia.org] that included this concept.

    • I agree. Not to mention that a fully interactive environment misses the point - it's not the end-all-and-be-all of gaming, but rather the vehicle for a certain type of game. A game, just like any other form of narrative, needs to guide the player along a certain story line. There has to be a point. Just as the real universe has physical laws for a reason, so do games; having malleable worlds for the sake of "realism" is only a single aspect of gaming, not the ultimate evolution of gaming in its entirety.

      • by headLITE (171240)

        Why do you feel that the game has to guide the player? I've played many pen&paper RPG sessions where another player guided the group and the actual game was only used as a framework that provided the rules and colourful sketches of monsters you could encounter in dungeons.

        The same used to be true for MUDs and MUSHes and so on where you could likewise reconfigure the environment. Minecraft reminds me a lot of the MUSHes of old except the graphical interface is easier to use.

    • Kinda like Need for Speed 2, boasting an interactive 3d landscape, meaning that you could run into street signs and knock them over.

  • by GrumblyStuff (870046) on Friday July 15, 2011 @05:48AM (#36773166)

    It barely works in Minecraft. Yeah, it can make for a pretty cliff, waterfall, cave basin, forest, etc. but it's still an empty world that relies entirely on the player to populate and to differentiate from every other area that was randomly generated as well.

    Minecraft, as it is, no more a game than a set of legos is a game. It's neat. It's fun. It allows impressive works of creativity, but is it a game like Mario? No. World of Warcraft? Halo? Need for Speed? Madden? Amnesia? You could make it a platformer but what's the point when you can just build/dig to where you need to go? Where can Minecraft go as far as game opportunities go? Considering how deep it is now, it would be better off as a platforming game set inside a computer so you can dick around with redstone because that's the only deep thing about Minecraft right now.

    Some mods do better but in the end, it's still lego pieces. Here's short list of ones that I feel really expand upon the game:
    Better Than Wolves [minecraftforum.net]
    Industrialcraft [minecraftforum.net]

    And there's tons more that increase variety of mobs, items, terrain and foliage.

  • by the_raptor (652941) on Friday July 15, 2011 @05:49AM (#36773172)

    I love Minecraft but it is hardly going to change the gaming industry. Minecraft isn't the first game that allowed players to manipulate the terrain*, I was digging tunnels and building fortresses back in the mid-90's with the Worms series. Hell, Minecraft is based off Infiniminer, there isn't much real originality or ground breaking in it. What I think Minecraft did was capture the zeitgeist. There is a large retro movement going on at the moment, and many Gen-X and Y gamers are nostalgic for the simple games of the 8-bit era. Minecraft took that 8-bit styling and gave us a box of blocks to do whatever the hell we want with.

    It isn't ground breaking, and it won't change the face of gaming because people still want those other gaming experiences. You don't need two different "box of blocks" games. Even if the terrain manipulation craze took off it would be quickly stopped by the technical limitations of current consoles (which are the target for most games).

    Also don't forget that people like nVidia have been banking on physics heavy games taking off (eg with their system where their GPU's can also do physics processing) for years and it simply hasn't happened. Partially because game developers focus on the consoles, which have limited processing power by modern standards, and partially because most people simply don't care that much.

    * Red Faction was doing this in 3D in the 2001.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 15, 2011 @05:58AM (#36773208)

      How can you say Minecraft isn't ground breaking? That's pretty much all it is.

      • It's not ground-breaking. It is basically a limited version of Roller Coaster Tycoon, where your movement speed is limited as if you were actually living in the world that you are building. Nothing about the tech is actually new.

        What is new is the social aspect. In RCT, I made lots of amazing creations, but never was able to show any of them off. Last night, I spent 2 hours building my own creation in Minecraft, though, and then spent 1 hour touring construction sites of other people on my server, and s

    • by sjwt (161428)

      "I was digging tunnels and building fortresses back in the mid-90's with the Worms series."

      Bleh, back in my day, if we wanted to blow up the terrain we played scorched earth.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scorched_Earth_(video_game) [wikipedia.org]

      • by ifrag (984323)
        While scorched earth was fun, it did feel a bit unbalanced due to some of the weapons. I preferred Tank Wars [wikipedia.org] for more competitive gameplay. It still did have some rather strong weaponry as well, but I don't think anything as ridiculous as a "Death's Head".
    • The main reason PhysX hasnt taken off is because ATI and NV split the market and only one player has the tech. IF both NV and ATI supported PhysX we'd see a hell of alot more of it, maybe even GPUs with PhysX co-processors built in.
  • No (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Friday July 15, 2011 @05:54AM (#36773192) Journal

    There have been construction games before, the Sim series comes to mind. Transport Tycoon. Granted these games had more of a goal in their world construction but still.

    It is like saying that since Up! was such a succesfull movie, every movie must now be 3D rendered. Or indeed that since Terry Pratchett made a hit by not using chapters, books no longer should have chapters.

    Stop saying "X is good, everything should be X". Secret sauce on a McBurger is great so they should put it on EVERYTHING.

    And as for adjustable, the world is very square in minecraft, should every game have this simpistic view?

    For that matter, do I really want a totally user transformable multiplayer game for every game type? Forget teamkillers now you get people bricking their team in.

    The author needs to get out of 10yr old mode, things can be different from each other. I know that is a hard concept but someday you will realize that the A-team is NOT the answer to entertainment you once thought it was.

    • Re:No (Score:4, Insightful)

      by itsdapead (734413) on Friday July 15, 2011 @06:23AM (#36773328)

      It is like saying that since Up! was such a succesfull movie, every movie must now be 3D rendered. Or indeed that since Terry Pratchett made a hit by not using chapters, books no longer should have chapters.

      You forget the Zeroth Amendment of the US Constitution: If some is good, more is better.

      What Minecraft could really teach the industry is "don't get so big that every game has development costs the size of the national debt of a small country: then you can afford to take risks instead of playing safe and re-creating the last game with better graphics".

    • It is like saying that since Up! was such a succesfull movie, every movie must now be 3D rendered.

      What was the last 2D animated movie that you saw?

  • Whilst I love toys like Lego and Minecraft, they are are not the same thing as games.
    Would Tetris be better if you got to choose the blocks, would a film be better if you had to write it yourself (okay maybe most would)?

  • Everyday, real life is boring, there's a lot of nitty gritty, low value things we have to do in order to get to the trully pleasurable bits of it.

    Quick example:
    - Have you noticed that movies don't show in real time the travel time of the characters? Hands up anybody that wants to see in real time the 15h plane trip our action movie heroes take to go from their base to whatever hellhole they're supposed to be blasting stuff up in ...

    This is why most games do NOT include the "repetitivelly move stuff around"

    • by genner (694963)

      Everyday, real life is boring, there's a lot of nitty gritty, low value things we have to do in order to get to the trully pleasurable bits of it.

      Quick example: - Have you noticed that movies don't show in real time the travel time of the characters? Hands up anybody that wants to see in real time the 15h plane trip our action movie heroes take to go from their base to whatever hellhole they're supposed to be blasting stuff up in ...

      This is why most games do NOT include the "repetitivelly move stuff around" bits in them - because it's not fun. Would, say, any of the Mario Brother's games be any fun if you had to shovel dirt around for 1/2h in between getting each coin or fighting each baddie?

      On the next 24 Jack Bauer goes to France.
      This week......will he pay extra for the in flight movie?

  • The filter in your brain that parses reality is not installed correctly.

  • The biggest advantage of the mind craft "environment" is for the game designer. You can "power up" a "game designer" character to walk around inside of the scenery and craft it by interaction with it. In other words you don't need external tools to design levels etc. I assume most MOORGs also can do that from the inside, but likely they nevertheless use custom crafted tools for that.
    I assume interaction with the lego blocks is done with certain tools the character is wielding ... so in a mindcraft environme

  • AAA publishers are focused on the ONE most popular type of videogame. This is like all movies released during two years being clones of Deep Impact.

    On the other hand, gaming is big, billion of dollars big, millions of players big. Since publishers abandon a lot of ground of gaming, this space is filled by smaller studios, indies, and other people. Big AAA don't want or can't risk his money in creativity, and want to "adquire customers" buying and selling "IP". Smaller publishers, indies and the li

  • I think Minecraft is just a nice small freeware game along Soldat and others. Very good games, but nothing that revolutionary.
  • by dskzero (960168)
    People vastly overstimate the impact of Minecraft. The fact that it was successful does not mean that it was good. People bought it because they had fun with it and it was an indie game. That's about it. It's a good game, but as a videogame, it's flawed. You need to do everything, and depends entirely on you to continue, you need challenge yourself, and there is bassically no point going on.
  • From a retro standpoint, I prefer the pixels in a 2D world. It's got more enemies, more building options, more crafting, hardcore mode, multiplayer (with player run servers), cheaper price. My wife didn't like Minecraft, she likes Terraria. We play together and adventure in the game, not just build.

    Same "full" control over the world.

  • I enjoy Minecraft. My wife and I play together. It's fun...

    But it isn't that amazing.

    Dwarf Fortress lets you dig/build pretty much anything you can imagine. Red Faction let me blow holes in things years ago. Second Life has allowed people to build whatever they want for years.

  • Minecraft Porn
  • It is a simple game with a so so physics engine, good multi player capabilities and most importantly you do not have to be completely sober to play it especially in multi player mode.

An inclined plane is a slope up. -- Willard Espy, "An Almanac of Words at Play"

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