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Behind the scenes at Mojang: the birth and abrupt end to Minecraft follow-up 0x10c

Thursday, 13th February 2014 12:56 GMT By Thomas Arnoth

In the fall he found new strength; it was obvious both on his Twitter feed and in Markus himself. I saw it with my own eyes when Mojang had their housewarming party at the beginning of October. As it turns out, not only does Mojang have game and play day on Fridays, they also make that a formal Friday once a month. Now they were combining their formal game Friday with the housewarming party.

The office was filled with well-dressed guests, a jazz band and the world’s best card magician. But Markus himself was almost absent as he walked around in a suit and with a big smile.

“This is what happens when I get going with the programming. I can’t turn it off, it’s constantly there,” he said, apologetic.

15 Jakob

Mojang’s Jakob Porser in between two Scrolls players.

A week later he explained things in more detail: “When I get into coding mode, my head becomes full of problems that need solving. Last Friday I was thinking about the planet rendering, how will it both look good and run fast? And even if I’m not going to code precisely that, I have to do it so that it can be solved later, I can’t lock myself in. It is probably 20 things I need to remember, and each of those things has probably got another 20 subtasks that need to be solved. All that was bouncing around in my head. At times like that I could probably be perceived as a bit absent-minded.”

Yes, he could.

The game 0x10c differs a lot from Minecraft. Apart from the space environment and the more adult style of the game, the most obvious difference is the famous space battles that will be “pew pew fun.” The battles would occur randomly against computerized ships and against ships controlled by other players, even if it seems as if Markus is not planning for that to be something that happens very often. In space battles ships are broken, and in 0x10c everything that is broken would need to be fixed. Which, by the way, also is the reason why gunfights onboard are not recommended.

There would also be a special arena where players can agree to meet to battle each other PVP (player versus player).

“I don’t feel like I’m trying to make a new Minecraft or that the success of Minecraft puts any pressure on me. I do however feel that it’s still tempting to make this game the same way I’ve done before. I don’t want that” – Markus Persson

There are also a lot of similarities. For example, just like in Minecraft, you have to find resources, but in this case on the planets you visit. Although, it appears as if machines would help you, because Markus says that the 16-bit computer can be used to play games while waiting for the extraction of a mine.

There would also be a lot of building, since you would be able to craft your own ship. Access to energy is scarce, you have to save and adapt the consumption after the different situations that arise. One can also assume that the game would include both an adventure and a building mode, or as it is called in Minecraft: survival mode and creative mode.

Even the graphic style from Minecraft is there, but when looking at pictures it seems considerably nicer than Minecraft’s. Which is not that strange considering that Mojang hired the graphic artist Jonatan Pöljö to work full-time with Markus. One of the reasons why Minecraft looks the way it does is that Markus simply did not have time to make it look nicer. Pöljö himself defines the look like this: the style is pixel art meets modern 3-D.

But other than that, 0x10c would not be a new Minecraft.

“As usual, I just try to make games for myself. I don’t feel like I’m trying to make a new Minecraft or that the success of Minecraft puts any pressure on me. I do however feel that it’s still tempting to make this game the same way I’ve done before. I don’t want that,” says Markus.

“The only thing you can know for sure is if you like the game you’re making yourself, you can’t really tell about anyone else. To start analyzing target groups and adapting the game after that is just too boring. If you’re going to make something you can be proud of, you have to ignore even having a target group.”

In the flow

Markus often talks about being in the flow. He wants to make short interviews, preferably not longer than a half hour for that specific reason. If we ever went on for longer than that, the flow was lost.

“When things are going well, it’s fun to program just for programming’s sake. When I’m encoding something happens with me, it’s something creative. The programming is a tool to create games, that’s why I constantly want to learn new things and think about how to solve new problems. Or, I don’t really do it to learn new things, I do it so I can make games. There’s a difference. You have to, of course, find a balance between flow and hard work. All programming does not demand being creative, not even when you are making games.

“One of the lessons Minecraft has taught me is that some of the boring stuff is good to get done quickly, even if it isn’t a lot of fun. Multiplayer is one of those things” – Markus Persson

“During the Minecraft development it was periods of pretty boring stuff that needed to be done, and after one of those periods I had to force myself back to the flow again. But one of the lessons Minecraft has taught me is that some of the boring stuff is good to get done quickly, even if it isn’t a lot of fun. Multiplayer is one of those things. If you start working on it too late, it gives you a lot of extra work, meaning more of the boring stuff.”

Another thing Minecraft taught him was to use conventions and clichés.

“I like to put things in the game that tell the players what’s ahead. Not to surprise too much is an art form in itself. If you, for example, have a red barrel in a game, it must be able to explode. Cliché is an effective language to use. You can’t give too much feedback to the players either; you have to give lots of instant gratification so that the players feel like they’re affecting the game.”

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6 Comments

  1. Ireland Michael

    This is some top class journalism right here. Reminds me heavily of the kind of detailed insight you would often find in culture magazines years ago, before they all got lazy and just started copy pasted shitty crap from the internet all the time.

    More of this please. Seriously, a lot more.

    #1 7 months ago
  2. fihar

    @Ireland Michael
    It’s an excerpt from a book, so there is still some copy-pasting going around.

    #2 7 months ago
  3. Ireland Michael

    @fihar I know that. That’s not what I meant. I’m saying this sort of thing works well as an article.

    #3 7 months ago
  4. fihar

    @Ireland Michael
    Sorry, I identify journalism with sleuthing.
    I liked what I read, but I doubt it involves much sleuthing.

    #4 7 months ago
  5. TheWulf

    Honestly, the best bit of “journalism” I’ve seen in years was the Double Fine documentary. Which is bizarre, yet undeniably true, and I suppose that that’s one of the reasons why Double Fine is so special and unique.

    I like VG24/7 as a news site, to be honest. No sleaze hounds, no sensationalism, just the news as it happens.

    #5 7 months ago
  6. Sadismek

    This is a game I would’ve loved to play. Too bad Notch felt too much pressure on himself, got carried away, lost interest or whatever. Too bad.

    #6 7 months ago

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