With the exception of my anniversary post (which I couldn’t miss) I’ve been pretty silent here lately, and it’s not because I don’t have things I want to say, or that my home life or work life have been busy. It’s because all of my leisure time, as well as a large portion of time I should have spent sleeping, has been spent playing Minecraft.
My obsession with this game is a complete surprise to me. I’ve never been much for playing older games because of the dated graphics. Even though I lived through the 8bit era, I’ve never felt nostalgic for old graphics. So, when I saw Minecraft mentioned on Penny Arcade, I looked at some screen shots of the game and decided not-for-me. I didn’t consider the game-play at all since, in the past, it’s never been enough to get me to forget about the graphics.
I didn’t give Minecraft another though until I sat down on Saturday night (this story takes place back on September 18th) to catch up on my RSS feeds and write a couple of blog posts. Arkenor was the first entry in my game blogs folder and I clicked through to watch a video he’d put together. Even though I wasn’t interested in Minecraft, I knew he’d be entertaining to watch. He had three or four videos posted at the time and I watched the first two before deciding that I had to play it. I downloaded the client and fired up the game while watching the other two videos. This was around 8 or 9 pm. At 3 am, I decided I really should go to bed, even though I was still enthralled with the game (which didn’t even have sound at the time because of server issues).
So what changed my mind? Did the graphics didn’t magically improve? Seeing Minecraft’s world in motion makes the blockiness and low-res textures look more consistent. Having the whole world is built on blocks, including the sun, moon, and clouds, makes the game seem less like it has bad graphics and more like it was as intentional design choice.
Aside from the graphics, the game-play is just excellent. It is simple to learn, yet fairly deep (for the alpha state it’s in). It’s a complete sandbox game, an open world ready for you to explore and build in, but with a survival aspect that gives it just enough structure to keep from getting boring.
That’s something I should really highlight: the game is in alpha. That means that features are still being added and changed. The game has a basic free mode, but the survival mode requires you to buy the game, which is €9.95 or around $14. The cool part is your purchase get’s you all future updates and the current prices is half of the €20 it will cost on release. The survival mode can be played single player or multi-player. The single player mode is pretty solid, where as the multi-player mode is much rougher, but still very fun.