Minecraft and My perfect game
This post was originally posted in Medium. I reposted it here after the announce of Lego Worlds. It made me think about this post.
Minecraft is the game that has revolutionized the games industry. But it’s not just a game, it’s much more. People use it to teach in schools, you can learn basic electronics, it let you use your imagination to create fantastic worlds or just have fun with your friends.
We can all see that recently there as been a boom on ‘survival’ games. Games that are quite similar to Minecraft, but adding their own features to be different. I spend some time, as a lot of you, thinking about games. About the games that I would love to see and how the ones that I play everyday could be improved. I really love histories and RPG type games that make you live amazing adventures.
With this context, and after all this years playing Minecraft and trying a lot of different mods, I think that Minecraft is the closest that I’ve seen to that “perfect” game. This post is just a write down of all the thoughts that I have about Minecraft and the missing pieces that it needs to become the super awesome and perfect game (for me).
Just some disclaimers before continuing:
- I don’t pretend to say that Minecraft is a bad game. It’s the better game that I played. I paid for it some years ago and it has given me a LOT of hours of fun, and it continues giving me more and more.
- I know that what I’m defining with this post is maybe an impossible game that has eevrything that I want. Yes, that’s the whole point.
- A lot of this ideas come directly from mods, and the bast majority already satisfied with mods. I know that. I just want to describe what would be awesome to have in the vanilla game, without mods. The modding community has done a great job to make the game that now Minecraft is, but there is something magical about having features in the default gameplay.
- There are a lot of things that are posible, even easy to do, but are not in the game. This is perfectly normal. As a “first party” Mojang has to maintain the game balanced and just add features that are loyal to the spirit of the game.
This is one of the reasons why I would love to see a “better” Minecraft. Not just a Minecraft with mods. Sometimes mods diverge quite a lot from the original spirit of the game. Maybe you are asking: what’s this spirit? It’s quite difficult to describe but all the Minecraft players have in their minds that fantastic world, with a history in which we play every day. There is no history, there is no explanation for anything, but somehow with the pass of time we all know in what type of world Minecraft is developed.
A game without End
Let’s take a look at all the things that Minecraft have and that make it the fantastic game that it is, even without having any clear objective.
The first and most important thing about Minecraft: it’s an open world. And not just that, it’s an Open Infinite and Randomly Generated World.
Each time you start a new game you have a completely different world to play with. The world is, in practice, infinite. The system generates the world while you are moving so you will never see the end of the world. The bad part is that this infiniteness make us feel alone in occasion.
The world has different biomes, different types of lands. Mountains, plains, rivers, deserts… this adds a diversity to the landscape of the world. It also adds a little of exploration, but it’s quite poor on this aspect. The diferent biomes doesn’t have much special.
Another important thing in the Minecraft world are the dimensions. You spent the bast majority of your time in the Overworld, but at some point you need to travel to other dimensions like The Nether or The End (where the game ““““finishes””””).
When you have an open world like Minecraft you need some gameplay mechanics to fill it. This is one of the biggest aspects of this game, it has quite a lot of different mechanics.
This is how you spent the majority of your time in Minecraft, mining. You will need different materials to survive and mining is the primary way of obtaining them. Stone, iron, gold… even diamonds! Everything in the world is “mineable” with the right tool.
With all that material and items that you mined you can do a lot of stuff.
Crafting a bed with some wood and wool
The second most important mechanic of Minecraft, crafting. Crafting implies combining different objects to create another one. This is the basis of the whole game. Transform Wood on Wooden Planks, with two Wooden Planks get Sticks. With Sticks and Wooden Planks you can get your first tools like an Axe, a Shovel or a Pickaxe.
This is the mechanic that has made this game so famous, the feeling that you can create almost anything starting from nothing is amazing.
You when use your pickaxe in the mines you will get Ores. This ores have to be smelted on a furnace to get the metals like iron or gold. The mechanic is quite similar to crafting and equally important. You start with one think and you get another. The tick here is that you need energy, in this case you need something to burn, like wood or coal.
This is another type of crafting. You can combine different ingredients with water in a brewing stand and get different types of potions. This potions apply different effects to the player or the enemies like health regeneration, instant damage or jump boost.
Not everything is good in the Minecraft world and of course you have to fight against the enemies. This was the main gameplay at the beginning, it’s a survival game remember?
The main two ways of fight are with a sword or with an arch. The fighting hasn’t changed much and it’s good enough but there is a lot to improve.
Breeding and Farming
A Minecraft farm
This is another way of getting resources, specially food. You can breed animals like cows or pigs and have farms with wheat or carrots. All of this will help you to keep your hunger bar full and to keep you alive.
Experience and enchanting
Some actions on the game like mining or breeding will give you experience. The experience is mainly used to enchant tools. The enchanted tools have better abilities like more mining speed or the chance to give you more materials while mining.
Mechanisms and circuits
This is not a part of the game that a lot of people know. Minecraft implements a sort of electronic circuits, based on a dust called Redstone. This dust can transmit signals and with those signals you can activate a bunch of things like pistons, doors, etc. This is the base mechanic to automatize a lot of stuff in the game.
In the world you can find some villages. In this little villages you will find villagers that will trade you one object for another. The idea is really interesting but in practice is really poor.
The game also let’s you fish to get some food and other objects from the sea.
The missing pieces
Now that you know why the game is so awesome let me, finally, give you some of my ideas that Minecraft is missing to be really the perfect game (for me). All the next points are related to each other so with all togheter they create a really amazing experience.
You have an infinite world to discover with a different biomes that make the landscape more interesting. In some of them you can find villages and even some sort of ancient temples… but that’s all. Even the temples are always the same so once you have fall in one trap you will not fall again. In reality you rarely need to explore anything. Once you have your home established there is no need to explore much.
The idea here is give us reasons to explore the world. Would be really cool if the game could generate more interesting places a part from temples and villages. They could do it in the same way that the rest of the games behaves, with some procedural generation. Even better, they could have some kind of database with predefined structures that they could update live on the fly. The project Blue Vanilla does something like this.
Explore mystical dungeons with new content every time, find pirate ships int he middle of the sea or even castles! This will give to the world infinite possibilities of exploration and more dangerous things to fair. Even you could fine some rare and interesting items in some estrange places that you never found before.
The game let’s you explore, build, craft… but for what? There isn’t a main reason behind the game and, yes, that’s one of the most interesting things! But would be really nice to have some kind of quests that will guide you on your adventure.
Dreaming again, would be amazing to have some kind of procedural system that will generate quests for you. They could update the system also on the fly so there will be always new things to do. Even better this quests, apart from giving you interesting an unique items, could change the world and create an unique history for you (more on this in the next points).
The book with the quests and all your progress.
Lately the mod HQM has revolutionized the Minecraft community. It allows the map makers (people that create specific worlds and shape them to give the players an specific history) to create quests with rewards that make the game more interesting. It’s usually used with highly modded modpacks that are kind of hardcore but the features of the mod are amazing. Different type of quests (crafting specific items, going to some coordinates, killing some monsters), rewards with loot bags, quests that depend on other quests… it’s quite an amazing system.
It’s not exactly what I was asking for, it requires someone to create the quests, but it’s quite powerful. Just image if we could have this quests in the main game and automatically generated. Would be a biggest adventure that the north has ever seen.
Right now the only think that determines your progress in the game is your armor and tools. I would love to see some kind of skill tree that will improve the abilities of your character. With more variety of bosses and enemies will be really useful to have more control over our own statistics. This will also give more sense to the experience system, that right now seems too forced into the game just to make enchants on tools.
This idea may be rejected to be kind of hardcore, but with a good implementation I think it can like to a lot of current players. Right now there is the crafting mechanic, and believe me, it’s not easy to get at the beginning, the mechanic could be expanded to include the improvement of character skills.
The magic is one of the best things in a videogame. Sadly the “magic” that Minecraft has is far from good. We can breed potions that give us some effects and enchant our tools and armor but that’s all. There isn’t a really profound gameplay for the magic.
For me the best magic experience that is close to the Minecraft spirit is something like Thaumcraft. Maybe this mod goes to far for what a vanilla experience would be but there are some main features that would be really nice to have.
First, a wand. What kind of magic can you do without a wand? Crafting a wand is nothing rare for Minecraft. With that wand you could to real spells. The other important part is add the mechanic of research. You need to research to be able to advance in the science of magic. That adds a really interesting aspect to the game. And talking about aspects, maybe that could be the thing you research, the aspects that make all the things on the world. And in the same way that you need coal to use a furnace you could need aspects, mana or simply magic to craft some magic items.
NPCs, we are alone
The world of Minecraft is a lonely world. Yes, playing with friends is a lot better, but even in those cases you fill that you and your friends are the only people on the world. If you look at an MMORPG it’s not only the other players that make the world alive, all the NPCs play a main role in that feeling.
We have villagers that make weird sounds but there is not much to do with them. If you add the previous features to the game it’s even more clear that we need more and better NPCs. We need a living world with Kinds, Knights, other miners… this could fill the structures that give you reasons to explore the world and they could be the ones that give you the quests. And those quest could affect actively the live of this NPCs, of this world.
This is maybe the most estrange and complicated feature, but continuing with the NPCs plus the adventure and the quests would be amazing to see some kind of societies in the world with their specific regions, their own problems and politics.
As I said, the quests that you do could affect the world, maybe you help one kingdom to take over another because they promise you some land. Maybe you has established your house in orcs (or zombies) territories and in the night thousands of them try to attack you.
We could play our own Lord Of The Rings or Game Of Thrones adventure, but adjusted to us. As I said maybe it seems like overcomplicating the game but I’m sure that just implementing some basic functionality it would quickly expand the possibilities of what we can do.
A lot of the things described here are just dreams of a perfect game. There are just ideas, the difficult part is implement this things in a consistent and funny way… I think that they are a perfect match for the type of game that Minecraft is and with a reasonable difficulty of implementation. The trick is find really simple mechanics that can expand to the infinity. At the end what is this game about? Just breaking and placing blocks, and crafting objects. From that the people has created an entire universe just with their imagination.
It has been interesting to stop and think about all this ideas. There are some games that we all desire to see and nobody is creating, and this kind of game is just one of them. OMG even Minecraft with mods can become the Pokemon MMORPG that we all wanted!
Minecraft is an amazing game, it has made history and we will all remember it. It will continue giving me hours of entertainment.