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Minecraft is quite possibly the most viral and addictive indie game that we’ve ever come to see. Who knew that a concept as elementary as playing with toy blocks could become such a sensation? I play it, you or your friends probably play it, and more than 20 million people worldwide have legally purchased an account. Are we overrating this game though? Is Minecraft getting a little too much credit?

In this article, I’ll be questioning you, me, Mojang, and the Minecraft community in general. Minecraft hasn’t lost any momentum since its “official” (I’ll get into that later) release, and probably won’t any time soon. Now, let’s see if that is deserving.

The Game Itself

Vanilla Minecraft is incredibly simple. You brainlessly mine, craft, and build for whatever reason you find an excuse for. The actual objective and “end” of the game is when you reach The End and slay the Ender Dragon (which is ridiculously easy, you can do it in no time). As a reward for your efforts, you get a long and exhausting storyline ending.

In short, there is no reasonable purpose of end-game victory in Minecraft if you are intending to play it as a single-player game or if your intent is to play on a vanilla server. You kind of have to create a purpose on your own. That’s a little disheartening to true “hardcore” gamers. To put it bluntly, I would never have started playing the game if it were not for plugins like Factions and mcMMO. Plugins like these really take the game (in Survival, at least) and shape it into something with more of a purpose.

Originality

Minecraft has been long suspected as a complete ripoff of Infiniminer. Eventually, Notch even came out in his own blog to confess that the idea was mostly taken from this game. Now, while we’ve got to admit that the idea of stacking blocks and creating buildings isn’t such a unique one, why Minecraft? Why has this game taken off so nicely?

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Simulation games (like The Sims) are always quite popular, but why was Sim City never a big hit? I suppose it’s no use griping when games like FortessCraft turn around and pull the same stunt, even more blatantly.

Minecraft, at the core, is not very unique or special. It is the user contributions, in the form of unique server ideas, server and client mods and plugins, and more, that make it such a dynamic experience. Minecraft did a great job of making the game very open and free to customization.

Broken Promises

1.0 was the official release of Minecraft. When you officially release a product, it should be finished. The end user should be receiving something that is not broken, is complete, and is playable and enjoyable in a way that won’t need countless patches later on. Well, not Minecraft.

Let’s divulge a few of the broken promises of their out-of-beta release:

  1. Guys, maybe we can get some attack animations when mobs hit us?
  2. No mob pathfinding? Are those mobs really stuck behind a single block?
  3. Fully-functional NPC AI was promised. It wasn’t delivered. Villagers just wander around and serve no purpose.
  4. Wool does not grow on sheep. Sure, this was fixed in 1.1, but that wasn’t the release. 1.0 was.
  5. CTF mode was announced on Notch’s blog months before the release. Where is it?
  6. Dual-wielding would be nice.
  7. There is still no way to obtain sponges.

These are just a few. Notch, Jeb, and the team as a whole have broken a ton of promises. You think a few million dollars would be enough to motivate these guys. How hard can it really be to code a way to naturally obtain a sponge? Come on.

What Are You Getting Excited For?

Fanboyism is always going to make your game or community a target of very harsh criticism. There’s nothing you can do about it, but hey, any attention is good attention. It’s paid off for Notch in the end. However, some people just plain and simply overdo it.

Jeb’s tweets are endlessly upvoted to the top of Reddit and chattered about for days. Even when it is something as simple as being able to place an upside-down block. Guys. Come on. There is more out there in the world of gaming than getting hyped up over being able to place a block in another direction, or being able to stack one block with another.

Why are developers like Jeb focusing on small and ridiculous aspects of the gameplay like this, rather than really advancing it, or fixing the countless bugs that exist? Well, because everyone buys into it and makes a scene over the smallest, 5-minute tweaks.

With people running around in Minecraft Creeper t-shirts and conventions like MineCon, it probably won’t be getting any better. The Minecraft team has deprived and conditioned you guys so much that you get your feathers ruffled over an update that will allow you to place one block atop another. How much work really went into that? Calm yourselves!

All About The Dollar

Minecraft has a solid business model. I’d estimate that just about everyone playing the game has purchased it with the intent of going online and playing with others. There are no official servers though, and Minecraft makes it incredibly hard for server owners (like myself) to keep up with their “advancements.” They don’t care though, they are the ones getting paid, right?

For some reason, there is no legacy server/client support in Minecraft. That means, come every new version, not only do you have to rely on an amazing team like Bukkit to capitalize on Minecraft’s server administration failures, but then every single plugin needs updated as well. There is no support. Online server administrators are the game’s lifeblood, but they make it as difficult as possible to stay current.

Minecraft, please invest some time and money into making your game a better player and server owner experience?

That ought to conclude my rant. The sad part is, I’ll probably go back to playing Minecraft sometime today. It’s a great game, but we deserve more.

Have a look at some of our other Minecraft articles, too:

Let me know if you agree or disagree in the comments section.

Image credits: gamesStrike.com, PC Gamer

  1. minecraft hater
    June 27, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    Minecraft is the crappest,saddest and gayest game in the world.You have to be super sad to like it

    • Shadowed
      July 13, 2012 at 11:47 pm

      Well, sir, now that you're done with the completely unneeded complaint I would like to say Minecraft is a great game. Also, please correct your grammar, for "crappest" is not a word. I am happy playing this game and you should actually consider that people like it.

  2. J Johnson
    June 24, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    Sure, it's not original. The things that really struck me about the game starting out were the original parts of the game. For instance, I don't know of any other game that automatically generates a world that keeps on auto generating the further out you get (not a 3d game anyway) then saves all the previous content in a file you can then keep and share with others. Take that and combine it with your own ability to change the content, and you have a winner.
    Nothing else about the game is really that special...other than the redstone ability to make circuits.

    • Minecraft hater
      June 27, 2012 at 6:26 pm

      Terraria does

      • J Johnson
        July 5, 2012 at 2:35 am

        I checked that out, it's a 2D side scroller. That's all fine and good, but lacking.

      • J Johnson
        July 5, 2012 at 2:35 am

        Terraria is a side scroller 2D game. That must've been why I never noticed it. Wasn't really interested.

      • J Johnson
        July 5, 2012 at 2:36 am

        Ooops - sorry about the double post.

  3. Coolo
    April 1, 2012 at 6:31 am

    I never play sp anymore, it just bores me, but instead I am constanly updating my Bukkit server (I mean getting plugins and stuff, then testing, troubleshooting and if I dont like them, removing them) and playing on others, which I admit can sumtimes get boring, but I always have something else to do for a few hours... :)

  4. Adam Thornton
    March 5, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    Interesting article.

    I personally have no problem making my own objectives in Vanilla Minecraft (completely explore a cave system, build a neat house, find out what's over the horizon, farm some animals, check out the Nether). Inevitably I get bored, but I come back in a month or so and start again. If I ever get TOO bored then I'll look into mods.

    The objections you raise may be important to you but I barely notice those things. They have no influence on how much I enjoy the game.

  5. Geoper2
    March 4, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    I have tried this game and i think its great i did not have time to research all the story behind it but what i got to see is that it is FUN. The most important feature of the game for me is that it lets you do whatever you want, you can create things that you have in your imagination which can start from simple things like build a house and can end up to a factory. It is like having lego on your hands and creating anything that you want. Is it the best game for me ? No but its one of the games that made me stay for hours playing.

  6. M.S. Smith
    March 4, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    "The sad part is, I’ll probably go back to playing Minecraft sometime today. It’s a great game, but we deserve more."

    Minecraft is obviously a great game, because you no doubt have put ten or perhaps hundreds of hours into it. I've probably played it a good 60-80 hours since I picked it up in beta and year and a half ago. So have thousands of other people.

    So tell me - what more do you "deserve" for your $10/$15/20/$25 or however much you ended up paying for it? Are you actually unhappy with the value the game provided you?

    Or are you just bored with the game but, for some reason, refusing to go play something else?

    • Craig Snyder
      March 5, 2012 at 5:06 am

      Even if purchasing the game in Alpha, Beta, or any development state, it's being purchased (or at least I can only assume) in the eventual hopes that it will reach a completely finished, complete version.

      I don't feel like Minecraft has reached that stage yet. Lots of issues in both the client and server versions, and not a whole lot of support or regard for server owner's themselves.
      We give our money and tons of praise to Mojand and the Minecraft team for delivering a pretty awesome product, what I feel we "deserve" in response is a little support, bug-fixing, and mending of a few promises and general expectations (like, again, the "full release", which I'm not even sure we're at yet).

      I think Minecraft should consider how much the Minecraft server owner does for the game. They are what makes the game great. I don't have any hard statistics for you, but I'd guess that 90%+ of gameplay is SMP. A lot of that credit is due to the administration of some really awesome Minecraft servers. In response to that, I'd like to see a little more support to the administration end of Minecraft. Bukkit just officially joined Mojang, so maybe that's a start. How about legacy support, so that any Minecraft client can connect and work well with any version of the server client, so that server owners don't have to constantly stress over staying up to date and updating plugins over and over and over again? Just a few little things, I think Minecraft could pull it off.

      That's now what will make them money though. What makes money are jungles! Ocelets! New blocks!

      • M.S. Smith
        March 5, 2012 at 7:08 am

        You didn't really answer my question.

        Do you feel like you didn't get enough entertainment for your money, or not?

      • Scutterman
        March 10, 2012 at 3:32 pm

         I was thinking about backward-compatible servers earlier. The issue with making it possible is that the server would need a complete list of objects for *every* version of minecraft. Then, when it comes to render a chunk, every block being rendered needs to be checked against the list, and only sent to the client if the client can support that block. Then what is sent in it's place?

        This isn't even taking into consideration the different map save files and world rendering engines throughout the different versions.

        A similar problem is faced with a higher client version. The client will try to craft something, only to be told by the server that it doesn't exist and the item needs to be destroyed.

        I think it's possible to overcome these issues, but I fear the lag it would introduce would remove all benefit it provides.

  7. ImAlwaysRight
    March 4, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Never knew what was so great about it.

  8. Christopher Chen
    March 4, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Eccl 1:9 "That which has been is that which shall be; and that which has been done is that which shall be done; and there is nothing new under the sun."

  9. Nirmal Shah
    March 4, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    I've never given a damn about this game despite of it's huge fan following because simply put, it lacks graphics and a story mode. I'm more of a FPS player. 

    • Craig Snyder
      March 5, 2012 at 3:38 am

      This is another great point. Minecraft is still stuck using what most would classify as developmental graphics, ones that were implemented only so that the developers could advance the code. Problem is, they never came back and changed things.

      I don't mind the graphics though.

    • Aiden
      June 25, 2012 at 12:22 am

      It does not lack graphics as that is part of the point of the game. the blockyness is what gives the game a lot of it's charm.

  10. echorse
    March 4, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Everything is a remix .

    • Minecraft hater
      June 27, 2012 at 6:30 pm

      true

  11. michael braley
    March 4, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    This article was a giant waste of time. Next time get the public opinion. Your opinion was nothing more than a whiny child's in a department store. 

    • epiquestions
      March 4, 2012 at 1:31 pm

      that is why it is called an opinion. you are entitled to your own.

    • Craig Snyder
      March 5, 2012 at 3:36 am

      Take a quick peek at my post history. I've complimented Minecraft countless times and I am an active, almost-every-day player. I think it is a good game that could improve in many ways. With that being said, what do you have against someone offering a neutral point of view on things?

  12. Tschuy
    March 4, 2012 at 3:28 am

    Let's break this down:
    1) Originality
    Sure, it's not unique. However, it's the first in its category of 3D blocky building games. No game is 100% unique and everyone's opinion is going to be different.
    However, if you compare Minecraft today to Infiniminer, you'll notice the two are so different that you may even retract that statement.

    2) Broken Promises
    In no way was 1.0 promised to be the "best", official, first release of Minecraft. It was simply a single version upgrade that celebrated Minecraft being mostly complete and fairly stable. Now let's tackle your "promises":
    > Guys, maybe we can get some attack animations when mobs hit us?Ok, maybe this isn't implemented yet. But that in no way implies it won't be finished when the game is "finished", if it ever is.> No mob pathfinding? Are those mobs really stuck behind a single block?Have you seen 1.2 yet? Oh of course not, otherwise you'd have not said this.> Fully-functional NPC AI was promised. It wasn’t delivered. Villagers just wander around and serve no purpose.Again, addressed in 1.2.>Wool does not grow on sheep. Sure, this was fixed in 1.1, but that wasn’t the release. 1.0 was."Release" is meaningless to Minecraft.> CTF mode was announced on Notch’s blog months before the release. Where is it?And I'm sure you've never broken a promise.> Dual-wielding would be nice.Again, when was this promised?> There is still no way to obtain sponges.Use creative mode. This was never promised.

    3) What are you getting excited for?
    I enjoy playing a game that I can creatively create beautiful-in-their-own-way things, and things like "upside-down blocks" actually legitimately help me create those.
    Also, there's only ever been one "Minecraft convention", and the only other one where people came to see Notch and Jeb was a generic gaming convention.

    4) It's all about the money
    >Minecraft makes it incredibly hard for server owners (like myself) to keep up with their “advancements."
    > not only do you have to rely on an amazing team like Bukkit
    to capitalize on Minecraft’s server administration failures, but then
    every single plugin needs updated as well. There is no support.
    Well if only they were able to hire some!What's that? They did?Oh, they hired who?Oh! the Bukkit team :) and also, Bukkit plugins rarely break with upgrades. (with 1.2, they're changing many APIs, so it is different and not usual.) I host my own server too, so I keep up with these things *gasp*.

    >For some reason, there is no legacy server/client support in Minecraft.
    You mean letting old clients and old servers run? That's allowed. You mean downgrading? Of course that's not possible. Point to one game that allows that (that is heavily server focused).

    5) That ought to conclude my rant. The sad part is, I’ll probably go back
    to playing Minecraft sometime today. It’s a great game, but we deserve
    more.
    Agreed with this entire section. Luckily, we're being given more every week.

    • Lee Nathan
      March 4, 2012 at 4:34 am

      thank you
      I like your post better than mine
      it was a much better articulated form of the same sentiment

    • Scutterman
      March 4, 2012 at 11:13 am

      I was going to comment, but you said it all.

    • Richard
      March 4, 2012 at 1:19 pm

      I wouldn't call the NPC villager's AI addressed in 1.2.  Sure they try to find a "house" to go in at night and they will reproduce but other than that they still don't do anything.

    • epiquestions
      March 4, 2012 at 1:30 pm

      1.0 is the always official stable release for any software after the betas. That is just how software development works.

      • Craig Snyder
        March 5, 2012 at 3:34 am

         You are correct.

  13. Lee Nathan
    March 4, 2012 at 3:09 am

    The game itself? It's really more of a toy.
    Originality? Has there been one single game that was fully original since the days of Atari. Are you going to accuse skyrim of ripping off doom because they're both first person?
    Broken promises? They did pretty damned good all things considered.
    All about the dollar? Notch just gave his yearly income of $3 million to his employees.

    They're a young development team at a young studio. This is their first game. And I think they did pretty damned good for a first effort.
    I hate to see makeuseof tainted with a post like this.
    After a rant like this, you shouldn't even still be allowed to play.

    • Holden Caulfield
      March 4, 2012 at 11:06 am

      That wasn't his yearly income, that was the dividends he was paid as a shareholder in the company. But still it's a strong and rare display of altruism in today's society.

    • epiquestions
      March 4, 2012 at 1:21 pm

      skyrim to doom? that's a stretch compared to the game Infiniminer which Minecraft was said to be copied from. Notch admittedly 'took' parts of the game from it.

      all things considered? like?
      fanboy alert 

    • Craig Snyder
      March 5, 2012 at 3:32 am

      I think you're getting far, far too offended over an article (from a Minecraft fan) that expresses nothing more than a few thoughts and opinions.

      That being said, I respect your thoughts and opinions!

      • Lee Nathan
        March 11, 2012 at 6:59 pm

        I respect your opinion too, even if it was wrong. kidding :P
        I was more offended by what I saw as a lack of thoughtfulness and that this felt like more of a rant then a well thought out counterpoint.
        That being said, it is an opinion piece, so I shouldn't have gotten so upset.
        You did make some good points, but in my view, they were overshadowed by the things that just sounded like venting.

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