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For the last year one game has become both the symbol of indie game development and also how to make a dream come true for a developer who want to make a game for the crowd. Not only has it changed how we see indie development but it has also taught us a great deal of how to approach a market which can be very hard to define. The game is of course Minecraft.
Let’s look into what the game and it’s creator is all about.
For those who have not played or seen any gameplay of the game Minecraft it is a sandbox game created by Mojang AB, much inspired by crafting and creating a personal world out of an untouched land. The tabula rasa concept is often driving force behind all sandbox games and also in Minecraft.
The game start in a situation where you are all alone in a vast world and what to do is up to you and not the game. The only incitement the game do give which force the player to take action is the fact that the world is a safe place during the day but as soon as the darkness fall at night, monsters come out to play and they have the diabolical plan to kill you. Since the only quest the player have is to survive, imagination is ones closest ally.
Since early stage of the game there have been a presence from the community not only as quality assurance but also as requirement gatherers and specification writers. They contributed ideas and comments which the development team actively have taken into account and created a game people asked for. However; ideas which did not fit into the world was rejected and a reason was often given to why. Even though functionality was rejected it can still get into the game if it is picked up by modification developers which also at a early stage was welcomed. Instead of pulling the plug on modifications or trying to stop them, they looked into how to make them legit and to create a way of using the communities crowd knowledge for the product. Naturally the modification community have given the game an enormous amount of input and feature requests which will keep the product evolving for a long time. The community is what’s keeping the game alive, not the creator.
Now and then a truly innovative game hit the market that goes viral and the concept is praised by the communities. I see Minecraft in about the same category as Angry Birds, Lemmings or perhaps The Sims. It is a concept which will change the market and also show that there is a segment of players out there which are looking for something else then what is currently offered. There is always a new player segment out there, screaming for attention. The concept don’t even have to be unique, it just need to be in right time.
So why have Minecraft become such a force to recon with the last year and why is it mentioned in all from papers to news programs?
First of all we can not forget the kind of fairy tale the game is for it’s creator, Notch. It is a story about a developer who quit from his employer to instead do what he wanted to do in own force. On top of this we have a community driven game developed by a person with a very good feeling for how to handle a crowd project. Using the good ideas and keeping a close contact with the people who come up with them. Instead of pushing people away, saying;
– Good idea, give it yet another spin and return afterwards and we’ll see how it fit.
I do believe that Minecraft is here to stay long enough to build up a economic base for Mojang AB so that they can continue to develop good indie games for quite some years. I keep my fingers crossed for Scrolls which is Mojang’s new game. Can’t wait until I can try it.
A word of caution however; nothing is harder then to follow up on pure success. I keep my fingers crossed.
All images in this article are from within the game Minecraft by Mojang AB.