Like many people in this day and age, I played Minecraft. I got in fairly early, in its second year, and enjoyed it for a long time before the increasing variety of changes took it from a basic building and destruction game to the first of many “block games” that eventually changed to fit the mold of all the games based on it. The path it has taken is a weird one, but I kind of get it from a developer’s perspective. This game spawned a whole style of animation and gameplay and so many people used the low graphic style to create their own games that it wound up becoming the head of a movement it wasn’t a part of. Minecraft was just one more resource collection and building game, though it did eventually become the most popular one.
(Please read the following in your best “crotchety old man who just finished yelling at some kids who kicked their ball into his yard” internal voice.)
Nowadays, the game is full of extra critters, you can get experience points, there’s some kind of story mode that I don’t understand at all and definitely don’t trust, there’s magic and potions and flying now, and the whole point of building giant square buildings out of cobblestone so you’ve had a safe place to hide from the creepers while you waited for the forest fire you accidentally started to finally burn itself out several “chunks” away has been lost! The game doesn’t feel anything like the game I used to love! I used to spend many nights quietly toiling away in my mines so I could build mine cart paths that automatically took me from one mine to another and then to my base with the simple flip of a few switches and now I can’t spend any time in the mines without having to deal with some kind of tall goon that teleports over to me and silently screams as he beats me to death with whatever block he picked up before I made eye contact with him! These are the dying days of building games and I’ll always be angry that we were abandoned by the original creator of the game!
(Thank you for your patience. We now return to being a reasonable adult. Please read the following in whatever internal voice is most natural to you.)
Because Minecraft was a big part of my life for so many years, to the point where I have music I can’t listen to without being transported back to Minecraft worlds that no longer exist, there’s a part of me that feels like the paragraph above. At the same time, I appreciate where Minecraft has gone since then and I think it is doing a great job of serving its target audience. I might not be its target audience anymore, but that’s alright. My youngest sister loves the game and the adaptation its gone through to fit on mobile touchscreen platforms has really opened it up to many people who never would have otherwise played it. It went from being a game enjoyed mostly by hardcore gamers who enjoyed it’s retro feel to being played and enjoyed by millions of different people from all walks of life. I love it when games find a way to bring themselves into popular culture in a big way and I’m glad Minecraft found a way to survive the burnout of its creator. Not a lot of games are that lucky.
The game doesn’t really appeal to me beyond its basic roots. I played through the advent of random villages, temples, and ocelots, but I it became more and more important to maintaining my own projects to have a variety of resources and connections to the local area. I needed to be able to defend myself against enemies that would become more numerous and dangerous the longer I stayed in the area. If I found a village, I needed to defend it constantly from zombie invasion or expand it to the point where it could defend itself. If I wanted to travel the world to take advantage of the resources available in the various biomes, I needed horses which were also only available in certain areas. I had to have farms and herds of animals to provide food for myself, armor if I wanted to survive the constant need to leave my well-defended areas, and ready access to lava if I ever actually wanted to dispose of stuff permanently. It got complicated and they even took away my ability to rapidly clear the land through forest fires by limiting how far fires could spread. As they added more new elements and story to the game, my interest waned and other games took up the time Minecraft once did.
The game I loved is still in there and I keep the game updated in case I ever want to play it again, but I’ve got other things to spend my time on now. I miss the days of simple mining before I couldn’t spend more than an afternoon mining without running into some kind of ridiculous giant cavern filled with long falls, monster spawns, and resources that are more trouble than they’re worth. I’m sure the story modes are fun and there’s still a lot of joy to be had exploring the worlds that spawn whenever you start a new game, but I just don’t have the desire to catch up on a few years of updates so I can figure out how to trim out everything I don’t want and just focus on the basic resource collection and building elements. Maybe there’s a stripped-down game mode or someone has the install files for a previous version of the game I can use, but I haven’t found anything in my google searches. I’m alright with that, though. I’d probably only play for a few evenings or afternoons and then stop again. Nostalgia only gets you so far and I don’t really play many open-ended games without my friends any more. I get too bored and I’m pretty sure I’d wind up setting Minecraft aside to play Destiny 2 with my friends. I just don’t really have the desire to spend five hours building a castle no one is going to see.
I know servers are easier than ever to set up, but I don’t think I could convince my friends to start playing it again. There’s only so much time in a day and, even if we all had two hours a day just for Minecraft, I’m pretty sure my friends would rather use it for something else. It’s difficult to go back to old games these days, when there’s always something new and exciting just around the corner.