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Minecraft
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Poo Bear
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 21, 2010 8:26 am    Post subject: Minecraft Reply with quote

A very odd game made by a friend (one person) - it's a bit like an mmo where you make things out of chunky bricks like lego. Being a one man project there isn't much hand holding or tutorial information, so there are quite a few user made tutorials around.

This one shows how to make your very own fire place, a nice addition to any user built house.





The game is only $10 (not a subscription) - currently it is so popular the payment servers are down. So you can officially play the members-only version for free for a few days.

http://www.minecraft.net/
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Poo Bear
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 24, 2010 9:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I finally had time to play the version I'd downloaded when it was free (single player only). I wondered around trying to find resources to make basic tools (pick axe, spade, etc). Then it got dark, I didn't have coal for a torch so it literally got very dark indeed. I thought, this is just mad, why are people playing this?

Then my 9year old came in and wanted to know what was going on. When it got light I found some coal so I could actually see what I was doing at night and inside. Suddenly it all clicked. With my help she hollowed out a house/cave, added doors, furnace, work bench, storage chest, flowers round the entrance, a nice \"welcome to phoebe's house\" sign at the front. At night the zombies would come but we'd lock the doors and watch them through the window, some times skeletons would fire arrows through the window and we'd hide in the back room. Then we dug a mine shaft down through the back room and found a huge cavern, it had gold and iron seams running through it which meant we could make stronger tools and armour. Right at the bottom we found a lava stream and hordes of skeletons.

She played with me from 6pm until 11pm, her bedtime is 9pm. My wife wasn't pleased, but Phoebe said it was the best game EVER! Smile

Read a play guide so you know what you are doing, then play this game, it's very good indeed.
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Johnh



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had a similar reaction. I start playing, and I think to myself:

"This is stupid. Why in the world is this game so popular?"

Then it gets dark.

I can't see anything, I don't know where you are going, something is shooting I, things are chasing I and suddenly I realize how very, very alone I are. Struggle as I might, I can not fight off the vast hordes of the undead. They slay me, and and I respawn. Terrified, I seek safety, but find none. The cycle repeats until dawn.

Clumsily, I construct shelter for myself. I do not want to repeat the last night's fate. Exploring my surroundings, I learn the lay of the land. I return to my shelter, and wait.

Then it gets dark.

I can't see anything, because I couldn't find any coal. So I sit in my shack (But is this hole a refuge or a tomb?). And I hear the zombies groaning outside, mere feet from my juicy,precious cerebellum.

Day comes.

I feverishly search for coal. Something, anything to light the way. You find some nestled in a cliffside. You build torches, and light your house. And then you dig. Ever deeper you dig, searching for something - your purpose yet unknown even to yourself. You stumble across a vein of iron ore. Searching that vast Internet, gleaming from it's knowledge, you discover the methods by which one smelts ore. I construct a set of flint and steel. I will live in comfort. I will dispel the darkness, which haunts my home. I shall light the way.

So I construct path, a with several fires. I surround my home with light - which prevents zombies from spawning nearby. Sometimes they wander near, but less than before.



I then yearn for some windows in my home. I return to the Internet for the knowledge to construct glass. I go to the beach near by, and begin to collect sand. As I dig, with the water pooling at my feet, the ground suddenly gives way, and I am once again surrounded by darkness.

(A picture of my work area, after the cave in)


Fearing the worst, I scramble - unable to see where I came from. Hurriedly I place as many torches as possible. I hear the undead, stirring, moaning and groaning. I fear for my luscious, mouth watering grey matter. As I light the way, I run into a zombie, who immediately attacks. Panicked, I die.

I return to collect my fallen items and get my revenge against the undead. After defeating my foe, I place some torches, and observe the majestic waterfall that I had accidentally created, as it spills into the cavern.



Making my way back to my home, I take the fruits of my labor, and put them to work. After working the sand into glass, I construct windows and a fire. With my new fire lighting my house, I remove the torches. Waste not, want not.



I return to digging, searching for more iron ore, and hope for ore more valuable still. As I dig, I discover a cache of coal, and bit of iron. So I branch out, hoping to find more. As I branch out, the cave's walls collapse, giving way to another cavern. Fearful, I seal the walls, and arm myself with armor. I return, and construct a gateway, to give me access to this new area - and keep the undead out of my haven.



Eventually, I discover that this cavern is connected to the first one that I had found. I spot a small vein of iron ore - barely out of reach, on the bottom of a dark pit. I discover a small spring of lava, which formed a small pool.



But the end of the day comes, and I survey my work. And I suddenly realize that I am hopelessly in love with this game.

Interestingly enough, the game is apparently bringing in 250,000 USD per day. I bet you guys wish you had that paycheck Razz
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Poo Bear
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 11:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fantastic stuff Smile

I know the guy who made it, he's currently working hard to keep the website up due to the demand Wink
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Johnh



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2010 2:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

UPDATE:

In my greed, I dug too deep, and awoke a nameless enemy. Namely a skeleton and a creeper. The later exploded on me, the former finished me off. I lost all the work I had done within 40 minutes of exploring a cave. I lost 30 iron ore and 10 gold ore - as well with many, many tools and most of my coal. Embarassed

I'll have to scrounge together what little I have stored in my chest and go back to searching for iron ore tomorrow.
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Konedima
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 6:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have too much time on my hands.
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Poo Bear
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 8:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was a little disappointed by the server, I set one up over the weekend, but it doesn't yet support monsters hurting the player (or vice versa) yet. So we had to just pretend and run away Smile

There is still one threat, one of the monster types will blow up if it gets close to the player. One snuck up behind me as I weeding the front line and took out half the house front!

Here's Casa Del Poo:




And the mile long mineshaft I keep in my back bedroom:

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Poo Bear
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 8:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find this game fascinating, because it shows the power of certain core game design ideas. Indie devs (and mainstream ones) write books on proper marketing, deep game mechanics, web design, graphics programming, user interface design, testing, etc.

On the face of it this game does a lot wrong in terms of standard indie survival wisdom:

1. no advertising or marketing I can see.
2. the website is very basic.
3. the free 'demo' doesn't time out and doesn't try to sell anything.
4. only the very basics of the game are implemented.
5. the graphics are very far from cutting edge.
6. its built using java and opengl which is notorious for compatibility problems.
7. java has a famously bad user experience i.e. security pop up warnings, installing and updating java itself, etc.
8. only one payment provider supported, not clear exactly what paying gets the player.
9. building system is basic, just a selection of fixed sized blocks in a handful of pixelated designs.
10. limited content - there aren't many monsters or animals and not that much to craft.
11. inconsistent world - gravel drops under gravity, but stone doesn't. You can cut down a tree but the top part just hovers in the air.
12. splintered community - no central servers, player hosted servers come and go and the experience is random.

So you might say the only thing in the game's favour is its core gameplay mechanics - 1. total freedom to build in the simplest basic fashion possible, stacking bricks. 2. crafting bricks and items by gathering resources and following basic recipes.

What's interesting is that everything else is stripped away, the only thing that the game has going for it is this core game play. I'm sure 99% of game companies would have dismissed it as too simple, look at how complex Spore, SimCity and the Sims are. Yet the compulsive power of these most simple game ideas is enough to squash every other (alleged) failing in design, implementation or presentation and make the game a massive success and its author very rich indeed.

Minecraft, GeometryWars, Tetris - they show how powerful a game mechanic can be and how far people will go to experience it.
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Weeble
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 9:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the single killer factor is simply this - it lets you easily create cool stuff that you want your friends to see. People put up YouTube videos and tell their friends about it not just because it's great (which it is), but because they feel they have achieved or created something unique and worthwhile, and want to show it off. My understanding is that it really took off once the YouTube videos started going up. There are certainly other factors as well, as I don't think that's all that's sufficient to become a viral hit, but I think it's a large part of it. I'd say it's also important that looking at the videos the game looks unique - you will stop to watch it because it's intriguing and doesn't look like any other game you've played; it may also be to its merit that it looks simplistic as that's probably less intimidating to people wondering whether they will be able to create cool stuff with it.
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Poo Bear
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 10:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How important is the virality versus the game mechanic (building/crafting) ?

Isn't the game mechanic the key feature to the game's success, whereas the virality is key to its profitability and just a happy coincidence?

I knew of it as I knew the developer, I didn't want to make things to show others (although I've done that in this thread so I defeat my own argument Smile ) and hadn't seen any videos. I found the ease in which I could make things and the addictiveness of crafting to be compelling of themselves. Why am I spending hours mining caverns for gold to make gold armour that isn't even necessary as the monsters aren't even doing damage! Similarly, my daughter hadn't seen videos. She will sit happily for hours on end building and crafting with me providing occasional help, just for its own sake. I suppose she does make a point of showing her parents what she has done.

I remember reading about the iphone, it came from nowhere and annihilated the competition over night, yet it was inferior to its competition in some ways. It was accompanied by surprising apps that let you make farting noises, belching, one that lets you appear to drink a beer, etc - that were written in weeks yet made their authors rich. The conclusion there was people wanted an iphone and a suite of silly apps purely to show their friends, who in turn did the same. The iphone was inferior in many ways, except it excelled in viral potential. I prefer to believe there was some inherent quality there beyond viral potential, but maybe not.

I'm not sure, is the core app less important than its viral potential? Do they go hand in hand?
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 11:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, the gameplay is important, certainly. But I have played many amazing, addictive games that didn't have half the success of Minecraft, and (apart from some degree of luck, no doubt,) I attribute a lot of that difference to it being very "innocently viral", in that it *is* viral but doesn't feel like it's been cynically constructed with that in mind.
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Poo Bear
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had my own "fire" incident, this game should be used to teach kids about the dangers of the naked flame! There were no trees near my house so I planted lots all quite close together.

(can you see where this is going?)

I was beset by monsters so taking a leaf from others I built bonfires all around the grounds of my house to fend them off. Sadly one of them was a little too close to my "orchard" and you can guess the rest ... Smile

The AI was written so quickly it's still at a very early stage and it's amazing how many funny events spring out of it. For example, I think the fires just reduce the chance of a nearby monster spawn (or maybe they don't even do that). The first night after the fires went up all I could hear were zombies screaming and cooking. In the morning there were monster drops everywhere. Later all I could hear were cows, ducks and sheep screaming as they blundered into the fires and burnt to death, leaving meat strewn everywhere. Then there are cows paddling around in the water looking quite upset, cows up on cliff tops throwing themselves onto the rocks below, sheep trapped in some bizarre mating ritual with trees, etc.
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Konedima
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Poo Bear wrote:
sheep trapped in some bizarre mating ritual with trees

No, that's New Zealand.
And I'm being generous there.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 1:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Minecraft idea spawning ramble :-

An MMO where people come together to create the towns and villages - where the community makes the content so there is no need to force excessive grind on people, because the content doesn't run out. Ever noticed that in your favourite RPG you'll wander round town and talk to people, but they don't really have much to say other than the main quest. It's fairly transparent they have a few lines of text and that is it. What if people could play for a while, but then go and make a new npc and put together some conversation for him. Not necessarily a massive epic quest, just give him something to do and something to say.

In Oblivion I liked ignoring the quest and just exploring. I think I would have liked talking to people if they'd actually had something interesting to say (other than the main quest).

There are many problems with this idea on many levels. What happens to all the npcs with offensive text/actions, or irrelevant out of character text or just boring text/quests?

Usually it's only the real hardcore fans who put in the effort to use modding tools, because they are so hard to use. Minecraft shows how you can make the buildings in an expressive and super simple way that anyone can do it, but how do you do the same thing to npc quest/dialog creation?

Some kind of visual drag and drop system that pumps out 'impossible to crash' script, but doesn't feel like programming?
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So, how come there isn't a lego branded version? Oh, there is and its out in a month:
http://universe.lego.com/en-us/splash/default.aspx


How odd, if you watch the video it doesn't actually mention building anything until near the end and only in passing. It's all about quests and mini-games. Have they missed the trick entirely?

It isn't out yet, but has been under development since 2007.

'As a comparison, a two by eight LEGO plate brick, a very simple brick, is about twice the polygons of say, a World of Warcraft avatar. You can see as people build on their properties and stuff, there are hundreds if not thousands of bricks in a scene, so we built a ton of tech to optimize that on the client side and also there's a whole rendering farm technology, 3D surfaces cluster on the server side. When you build a model, it gets uploaded to that, it starts optimizing it, doing all this material surfacing on it, removing hidden surfaces, doing all this magic on it to make it run on everybody else's computer, and that comes back down the wire to everybody else. That's happening basically in real time.'

making lego universe

Wow, so in minecraft a brick is 12 polygons, in Lego Universe a brick is 3000 polygons - talk about over complicating matters Rolling Eyes And they expect this to work on a PC the average lego user has access to i.e. a 5+ year old family PC?
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