E3 2011: Day 1

I’m not at E3 and I didn’t watch any of the live streams, but I’ve been catching up on the news of the day.

SW:TOR – Yet another movie. It’s a geat movie and it breaks my heart how much better it is than Episodes 1 and 2 (I gave up and never saw 3), but this is a game not a movie. I want to see more gameplay video.

Batman: Arkham City – I caught this inteview and gameplay demo on RPS, and man does this game look great.

Minecraft – It’s cool that Minecraft is coming to XBLA. I’m not interested in Kinect integration though and I’m not sure I’ll bother to buy the Xbox version. Half of the fun of Minecraft is modding it after all.

Mass Effect 3 – I’m surprised how much they’re showing of the game. I expected Bioware to be pretty quiet about it since it was pushed back. I’m honestly struggling a little bit with what I’m seeing in the many videos. It looks like the pace of combat has sped up considerable, which is great if you’re an FPS fan but I’m not. Still, I’m keeping in mind the lessons from ME2 where the marketing gave me a lot of bad vibes that turned out to be completely false.

Kinect Sidenote: All of the Kinect tie-ins worry me a bit. I’m really hoping Microsoft doesn’t manage to figure out something cool enough that’ll make me want to buy one. It’s not that I hate the Kinect or anything, but my Xbox is in my office which is a small fourth bedroom in my house, and there just isn’t room to set one up and stand 8 feet away from it. Well not without remodeling.

Sony Update: I’m adding this a day late since I didn’t watch it live or stay up to see the post-conference news about it. I was impressed with Tretton’s apology, but I think Sony would’ve done itself a world of good to do that earlier though. Not being a PS3 owner, more of the news I didn’t care about but there were two things I wanted to mention.

PS Vita – That is not a good name, but that’s nitpicking. As cool as the technology sounds, the only thing I thought about when reading about the new portable was that I have a PSP that’s in a box in my closet and I haven’t played with it in more than a year. Even when I was using it, it was basically a Lumines machine. They did get the price right at least.

Dust 514 – Being an exclusive is a mistake. Yes, I’m sure there were business/technical issues with Microsoft but I don’t care. CCP’s new shooter is going to be competing with a lot of established brands and limiting sales to just one console is not a good idea. I’m under the impression that the game is not coming to PC, but hopefully I’m wrong about that. Then again even if it does, I have to wonder if PC players and PS3 players will be able to play together. They can’t in DCUO.


I decided to check out Terraria recently. It’s a 2D game similar to Minecraft that everyone has been excited about. I’ve only put about five hours into the game, and I’ve had fun but I haven’t gotten sucked into the game in the same way I did with Minecraft.

Both games have a pixellated art-style. Both games focus heavily on exploration and building, but Terraria has more of an adventure game side to it. You have more health than you do in Minecraft, and there’s a lot more combat in the game both in the daytime and the nighttime. Ironically, I never felt like I was in as much danger in Terraria as I have in Minecraft. Because it’s a 2D side-scrolling world, zombies can’t sneak up on you, and even if one get’s the drop on you, you can live much longer even without armor.

For me, the 3d perspective is just more engaging. In Minecraft, I feel it when I stand on top of a cliff and look down. When I’m mining run across a cavern, the yawning black space is much scarier and more exciting than coming across a cavern in 2D.

I’m planning to continue playing Terraria occasionally, but it scratches a different itch than Minecraft does.

New Kind of Tutorial

Don’t be put off by the name, achievements are now in Minecraft but they are just as much a tutorial as they are achievements. When you first login to Minecraft now as a new player, you’re prompted to open your inventory. This unlocks the Taking Inventory achievement and starts you on a path of learning the basics of the game. They’re still pretty basic for the moment, you can check out the full list on the Minecraft Wiki, but I can see this developing into a nice way to introduce players to the game and provide some initial goals.

Mojang Wins!

Markus Persson

@notch Markus Persson
It seems like we won the Escapist March Mayhem thingamajig, without even having finished our first game yet! #bestfansintheworld 😀 😀


Congratulations to Notch and the rest of the guys at Mojang for winning the Escapists March Madness. Pretty cool considering their only game isn’t even technically released yet, but still very much deserved in my opinion.

Catching Up

Lots of newsworthy events this week.

Minecraft Beta 1.4 is out and has cookies and wolves. Beds will now your spawn point too. This will be great for going on long distance exploration where I can setup a base camp and not have to worry about getting killed and going all the way back to the original spawn point of the world.

Cryptic brought the Foundry online. The launch seems to have gone smoothly, and players are busily remaking old mission from the beta on Tribble as well as making new missions. The Delta Flyer crafting mission is also up and involves a daily mission to scan anomalies in a shuttle.

Rift’s patch 1.1 is out and adds a ton of fixes plus the River of Souls event. One of the great quality of life updates is separating the cool down on potions by type, so now I don’t have to worry about throwing an explosive philter and locking myself out of using a healing potion for the next two minutes.

One the Xbox side of things, there’s new DLC for Mass Effect 2, apparently this is the last bit of content before Mass Effect 3 comes out. I can’t image the new content tops lair of the Shadow Broker, but anything the puts me back in the ME universe is good fun.

Lots of stuff for me to play this weekend, too bad it’s not a three day holiday weekend.

DAW: Notch and Mojang

I wanted to wrap up my Developer Appreciation Week posts by sending a heart felt thanks to Markus “Notch” Persson and the rest of the team at Mojang: Daniel Frisk, Daniel Kaplan, Jakob Porser, Jens Bergensten, Junkboy, Carl Manneh, and Tobias Mollstam.

Notch started out developing Minecraft as a one-man shop. Like most developers he was not too concerned about the business aspects of things and very open about his sales and what he was working on. When Minecraft’s popularity exploded, he didn’t change that. He started a company and hired a small staff to help. This is the point where Notch could easily have pulled back from the community but hasn’t.

The entire Mojang team is on Twitter, check out Daniel Kaplan’s Mojang list to see the public company discussions. Notch still keeps up on his blog, although he did have to turn off comments (no loss there given some of the commenters that I read), and the stats page is still ticking off registered users and sales. He’s shown up on Reddit a few times, and is active with the Minecraft player community on Twitter. Just last week, I highlighted some posts from Jens about wolves, and several recent features like beds and cake have come about from interactions with the player community.

As much as I enjoy playing Minecraft, seeing how Markus has handled his success has been nearly as interesting. Go watch the twenty minute short documentary if you want to see what I mean.

Thanks Notch!


One of the things coming some time soon™ to Minecraft is pets, specifically (or at least) wolves. One of the Mojang programmers, Jens, is working on them now and had a few things to say on Twitter:

I’m pretty happy about the wolf now, both looks and AI =) But I think I need a separate texture for aggro-wolves, link

Wolf progress (yes it knows “SIT!”), link

And possibly the coolest Tweet of the group:

A pack of wolves battled a creeper. The resulting explosion killed four of them… Will PETA be a problem here? link

Map Glitch

I don’t know if it’s a problem with the current 1.2 beta or with the server mod I switched to recently, but these map glitches are kind of fun. It’s a looong way down to the bottom. Thankfully logging out and back into the server is enough to reset it and there’s not actual damage to the map.

By the way, Notch added a screenshot function in beta 1.2, just press F2.

Still Alive (Minecraft Remix)

Minecraft beta 1.2 came out on the 13th, and among a host of fixes and new features were these three things: note blocks and cake.

Of course any mention of cake among gamers leads to Portal reference and comments about whether the cake is or is not a lie. I should have known that someone would take the note blocks it limit. After all this is Minecraft, the game where someone built an actual arithmetic logic unit. Watch the whole thing, you won’t want to miss the finale.

Looking Forward to 2011 – Console/PC

I debated just tacking this onto the end of my 2011 MMOs post, since it could be condensed down to:

Mass Effect 3! Mass Effect 3! Minecraft! Minecraft!

But that feels a bit lazy and January is way too early for me to give into laziness, that’s what March is for.

Console Games

There’s only two games I’m excited to play on the Xbox 360 this coming year:

  • Mass Effect 3
  • Batman: Arkham City

Do I really need to explain why? Fine.

Mass Effect 3

Bioware has shown marked improvement in the game-play from 1 to 2, I can only imagine 3 with be even better. Honestly, I’m not sure how though, the mining mini-game was really the only part that was below excellent.

The story, characters, and dialogue have been consistently good through out the first two games, despite my concerns based on the way Mass Effect 2 was marketed. It will be shocking if they somehow manage to drop the ball for the finale.

Batman: Arkham City

It’s the rare superhero game that really recreate the experience of being an iconic hero from the comics. Besides Batman: Arkham Asylum only Spider-man 2 and Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction come to mind. I’m very interested to see if Rocksteady Studios can pull off a sequel. Will they be able to improve on the combat and the detective mode issues without losing the magic from the first game?

PC Games

I’m sure I missed one or two, but this was all I had in my wish-lists on Steam and Amazon.


Obviously there’s going to be a lot happening with Minecraft this year. Notch’s company, Mojang, is up and running, he’s got developers and an artist helping out now, and he’s got big plans. While I’m excited to see Notch does this year with all the resources at his disposal, to be totally honest, I’ve already gotten more than my $14 worth.

Portal 2

I hate puzzle games and platformers, yes even Mario Bros. I loved Portal though. The game did an excellent job of training you on how to solve the puzzles in the game and the difficulty curve always managed to challenge me without causing my to break my keyboard. I’ve been on a complete media blackout regarding this game, all I know is that it’s scheduled for 2011 and I want it.

Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War 2 – Retribution & Warhammer 40k: Space Marine

An expansion for DoW2 and a 40k shooter are both due out this year. I loved the single player game for DoW2 but it took a while before I really started to like the multi-player mode, mostly I just missed the base building. Still, I’m very excited to get to play my favorite race from DoW1, the Imperial Guard.

The shooter, Space Marine, looks interesting and given Relic and THQ’s track record with DoW 1 and 2, I’m definitely going to give it a shot. I’m assuming I’ll get the PC version, but there is an Xbox 360 version scheduled as well.