Secrets to its Success
A major element to the secret to Minecraft's success is its throwback roots and the power of nostalgia.
The game play structure and play style of Minecraft largely celebrates the early era of platform gaming, and its tried and true fusion of instant gratification combined with goal-oriented and attainable play couples to provide players with a highly immersive, very addictive, and easy to master style of play that quickly defines the reasons for its initial and continued successes.
In a gaming world that somehow lost touch with the whole WYSIWYG style of gaming, having the genre re-presented in the unique and fun format of Minecraft assured its long reach and easy longevity.
Minecraft for PC
Minecraft for the PC was the original version of the game and the one that set the gaming world on fire in ways and at lengths nobody imagined possible -- including the creator of the game.
Of course simply saying “PC Version” fails to reveal the scope of just what that means -- because the game exists for the vanilla Windows-based PC as well as for Linux PC, and Mac OS X PC, with additional versions like Classic and 4K expanding that platform presence.
Classic is perhaps the oldest version, and is available online for play, differing substantially from the main game by virtue of it being free-to-play. It should be noted though that the F2P version is no longer updated, nor developed beyond its final and fixed state.
Minecraft 4k is a very simplified version of the game that, while similar to the Classic version, was developed expressly for Java 4K programming contest with the primary development goal being to make it a very small footprint.
It should also be noted that there is a port of the game that was created for the minimalist PC device called “Raspberry Pi” that was created to provide the advantages of PC power and access even under the meanest circumstances.
The Pi is incredibly inexpensive and small, but despite that offers full PC functionality, making it an obvious target for porting Minecraft. Created using the existing minimal bones of the original Pocket Edition, Minecraft Pi was downgraded to an old version of PE with simplification and stability being its goals.
It succeeded not only in that respect but has become one of the most successful programing teaching tools on the Pi platform, and how about that?
Minecraft for Console Play
We were present when the word was initially passed at E3 that Minecraft would soon be arriving for video game console play -- and considering how significant the share is for console gaming the general reaction was "well, it is about time!"
Bearing in mind that the game was already structured for game play that is similar to the console gaming style of play, the reality was simple: releasing Minecraft via consoles was just a matter of porting the game.
Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition
The Xbox 360
version -- which was largely developed by 4J Studios -- released on 9 May 2012 to much rejoicing and anticipation, finally offering gamers a version on a platform that was itching for the measure of retro game play of the sort that Minecraft is justifiably famous for.
When Minecraft was declared to be the flagship game for the new Xbox Live Arcade NEXT Program in march of 2012, it was initially misunderstood by the community when several sites repeated the rumor that Arcade NEXT was a new player-focused programming initiative rather than its actual purpose, which was an Xbox LIVE Arcade promotional program similar to the very successful Summer of Arcade promotion.
Selecting the Xbox 360
release of Minecraft to head-up the NEXT promotion made total sense, and especially considering many of the unique features in the 360 version that sets it apart from the other versions and particularly the mobile versions of the game.
The focus for the NEXT Promotion was aimed towards downloadable arcade games, comprising a 4-week promotional event that was touted by Microsoft as “the NEXT in Gamerscore, the NEXT in visual fidelity, and the NEXT in platform-defining gameplay.” Another view might have been the NEXT Big Thing in Gaming.
Arcade NEXT ran thru April and May and resulted in expanding the audience for Minecraft as a series while at the same time also expanding the attached Achievements and related Gamerscore (G).
The promotion started with the games Trials: Evolution, Bloodforge, and Fable: Heroes, culminating with Minecraft: Xbox 360
Xbox 360-Exclusive Features
As previously noted the Xbox 360
Edition includes features exclusive to the Xbox 360, including the newly designed and streamlined Crafting
system, unique gamepad-based control interface, expansive in-game tutorials, split-screen multi-player, and ability to play with friends via Xbox Live in the finite worlds in which it is built.
Minecraft: PlayStation 3 Edition
Similarly to the Xbox versions, the PlayStation versions were developed by 4J Studios with the same ultimate goal, which was to duplicate the feel and the immersion levels so well established via the PC versions, to deliver the Minecraft experience to the PlayStation gaming community, who had waited very patiently for it to arrive.
Released on 17 December 2013 the playability and approach is dynamically identical to the Xbox 360
version, so much so in fact that the previous emphasis in showcasing the new game features for the Xbox 360 version of the game were quietly retired, to be replaced by an emphasis upon the “Console Version of Minecraft” which was uniformly available as a thoroughly tested and approved game play experience. For gaming consoles.
Next Gen Console Editions
The E3 2013 press conference and briefing was where Microsoft showcased its new trailer and approach for the Minecraft: Xbox One
Edition, putting lots of emphasis upon the established quality of the game play experience while giving lots of emphasis to the larger worlds, expanded multi-player features, and enhancements powered by the Xbox One.
At E3 Microsoft announced that it hoped to see the Xbox One
version of Minecraft release during the launch window for the new platform, and studio Mojang held out similar hopes for the PS4 version as well, but due to issues that remain a mystery -- or at least have yet to be explained -- neither event occurred.
Microsoft and Mojang have indicated that the Xbox One
version should be available sometime in March 2014, with the PS4 edition to follow shortly thereafter.
Minecraft Pocket Edition
Initially presented as Minecraft: The Mobile Edition
, that ambitious project was distilled into what is now called Minecraft: Pocket Edition
, and leveraged the previously proven path of designating a basic entry-level version and then firming its code up solid before slowly expanding it towards parity with the other versions is an approach that has proven to work well.
The initial release in August 2011 for Pocket Edition on Xperia Play and Android was so successful that it rapidly saw the new edition expanded to additional compatible devices. By November 2011 an iOS version carved out a niche with the game rapidly rolling forth from there, and quickly offering expanded features and content.
The decision to switch to the C++ programing language (instead of Java) for the Pocket Edition of the game is widely credited by the development team as a major element for its rapid seemingly unstoppable progress.
In a tweet celebrating the unexpected success rate and speed for the PE version, Code Slinger and Minecraft lead developer Jens "Jeb" Bergensten seemed to suggest that failure by Apple to support Java for its iOS may have been a blessing. Certainly the result - though not predictable - reveals that the game has achieved a far more robust and rapid content expansion rate than previously anticipated.
That success cleared the path for broader expansion of game features and content and allowed the game's PE project to achieve a closer parity to the PC version much sooner than expected in terms of content than players had any right to expect. So hey, go Apple!
So what makes Minecraft PE
stand out? What makes it different? Why is it better?
Hey man, get off of that subjective trip! Jesus! Fine, if that is where you have to go I am OK with it... Let's see then, we can do it by the numbers:
- Crafting in PE uses the MATTIS system.
- The Stonecutter is the go-to for Crafting pretty much every type of stone, brick, and quartz block and item -- which makes the Crafting Table a lot less busy.
- The Nether somehow does not exist in PE -- but no worries beause Nether Reactor. do!
- When the Nether Reactor is properly oriented and built, it spawns a huge Netherrack Fortress from which spews Zombie Pigmen, while random Items spawn in a scattered pattern thereabouts while you go all Micheal Westin pretending to be Joubert from Three Days of the Condor.
- The facial fringe and small post-sheering patches of wool on them is always the natural color of their wool.
- Rose Red is not made from Roses, and it is not Red. It is Crimson and it is made from either Beets or Red Mushrooms and you like it.
- Beetroots, Beetroot Seeds and Beetroot Soup are exclusive to the Pocket Edition.
- While Beetroot Seeds are found in the Nether Reactor they also have something like a 1 in 14 chance of spawning while you harvest grass blocks.
- Zombie Pigmen are always angry and always hostile -- towards you.
- Ink Sacs are unobtainable in Pocket Edition Survival mode despite being included in Crafting recipes that require it. Due to that (and pretty much until they end up patching/fixing it) you cannot make all of the recipes/Crafts in Survival Mode -- because light gray dye and cocoa beans are unobtainable.
Whoever said the proof is in the pudding must not have had a very good pudding cook, because in terms of video game success the real proof is foind by winning the right awards :)
To put you on the right track in that regard, consider this: In 2010 Minecraft won an award from PC Magazine for being fourth-best game to play at work. Seriously. If that does not sound like a very big deal it will help to know that the list including FIFTY games.
Being fourth out of fifty is a LOT more significant than being fourth of ten - or hell, fourth out of any smaller number. For perspective the other three were Travian, Defcon and Laser Squad Nemesis counting down in that order -- we are just saying that's pretty good company!
Other awards that Minecraft has been raking in include dozens of Best Downloadable Game of the Year (for the past five years running), Gamasutra named it the eighth best game of the year as well as the eighth best indie game of the year, while Rock, Paper, Shotgun named it the "game of the year" and so did Indie DB.
If that is not enough for you, consider this: Actor Seth Green -- you know, the guy who gets to sit at the table with all the cool kids at lunch like Gorge Lucas, Alyson Hannigan, Michael Caine, Mark Wahlberg, and Edward Norton just to name a few is widely known to have said -- moments after saying "There are two kinds of people in this world: Michael Jackson fans and losers" -- that "Minecraft is Bitchin'!" You can't PAY for that valuable an endorsement man!
Every gamer who has played Minecraft regardless of the version knows the impact that it has had on games and gaming as a community, but perhaps not so much why this is so or the traditions that have sprung up that guides each version in its development nad deployment so we thought this would be a great place and time to address those issues.