Experienced Points: Yes, Minecraft is Still a Thing

By Shamus
on Dec 29, 2015
Filed under:
Column

My column this week seems like it’s about Minecraft, but really it’s about the occasional disconnect between the hype-driven gaming press and the actual interests and passions of gaming culture.

I include myself in this. If I did my writing based on what I was playing, this would be a “Minecraft and retro games” blog, with a new AAA game thrown in a few times a year for variety. Deciding what to talk about is always a balancing act between what you’re into and what you think other people want to talk about. It’s not bad, it’s just a strange artifact of this process that sometimes games that are a huge deal end up vanishing into their own subculture.

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From the Archives:

  1. Hermocrates says:

    Speaking of such subculture games as Minecraft, my games of the year were Pillars of Eternity, Undertale, Bloodborne and The Beginner’s Guide (in that order), yet I still probably poured more hours into Kerbal Space Program than the rest combined. So it’s an interesting phenomenon you mention.

    Although I guess it technically had its 1.0 release this year, I had been playing KSP since before it was even on Steam, and got back into it because of the Hangout, so I have to count it separately.

    Also, Shamus, you mentioned only running MechJeb, but have you ever given Realism Overhaul or even Realistic Progression Zero a try? Given your hardcore/ironman take on modding Bethesda RPGs, etc., I feel like these might be up your alley.

    • Rob says:

      According to Steam I’ve only broken 100 hours of playtime on four games in my library: Skyrim, Mount & Blade: Warband, Kerbal Space Program, and Terraria. Yet if you asked me to provide a list of the best games I’ve ever played, none of those would make the cut.

      Meanwhile Undertale is my favorite game released this year, but a blind playthrough only took six hours to complete (plus two more to get the best ending), and I will probably never play it again. It’s weird how that works.

  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

    But like youve said,minecraft is oversold by tetris.And no one has talked about tetris in decades.Despite it being the ultimate perfect game,something that literally every computer programmer has made back in their formative years,and something that everyone has at least tried at some point.So really,it boils down to:Everything has already been said about this game,so there is no point in repeating it.

    • Hermocrates says:

      Although amusingly enough, some strange people are still making music about Tetris:

      https://youtu.be/Zh1QzapW49I

    • MichaelGC says:

      Aye – although there was some chatter about Tetris a year ago when Ubisoft managed to release a new console version which had frame rate problems.

      Tetris. Frame rate problems. I’ve no idea how that’s even possible…

    • Captainbooshi says:

      Except not only has been around for decades to rack up those sales, it’s also not still evolving and developing in new ways. Minecraft is not just exceedingly popular right now, in a way that Tetris is not currently, it is constantly changing, so it is actually straight-up impossible for everything to have “already been said about this game.” This is just not an apt comparison.

  3. Alrenous says:

    I’d like to see little pointers to current Minecraft news at the end of blog posts. “Currently playing: Minecraft. New X in Y!” Doesn’t have to be a whole article, just a trail for the peanut gallery to follow. Even, “Currently playing: Minecraft. Proud of this things I built [img link]“

  4. Mr. Son says:

    Sorry, I’m too busy playing Minecraft to talk about Minecraft. :p

    (I’m posting this while taking a break from trying to get my modded Minecraft server functional with the modpack we’re switching to.)

    • evileeyore says:

      I would be too busy playing Minecraft… except… while Minecraft has ‘gotten better’ (increased graphics, user side servers, etc) which has lead to increased hardware demands… my computer has not gotten better.

      I can no longer run Minecraft.

      I can still run Crysis 2 and Fallout: New Vegas though. Le sigh.

      • Mr. Son says:

        Yeah, there was a stretch I couldn’t upgrade my Minecraft to 1.8 because I hadn’t gotten my current computer yet.
        For such a low-graphics game, Minecraft is incredibly demanding. :/

        • Kylroy says:

          Dwarf Fortress doesn’t even HAVE graphics, and the right fort could bring a supercomputer to it’s knees. Trying to simulate EVERYTHING in an infinitely fungible world is really, really performance intensive.

  5. Lame Duck says:

    If I was to make a “Top X Games That I Played This Year” list, I’m pretty sure Crusader Kings 2 would get the number 1 position every single year. I always end up getting sucked back into it and playing for another 100 hours or so at least once a year and I’ve yet to find a game that I like more. And I don’t even own all the DLC for it yet!

  6. Bubble181 says:

    ” If i did my writing based on what I was playing, this would be a “Minecraft and retro games” blog, with a new AAA game thrown in a few times a year for variety.”

    Lucky us for you to keep talking about that all-new, end-of-2015 smash hit, Mass Effect 2 :-P

    (also: nitpick: uncapitalized “I” in the preceding sentence)

    Honestly, if you feel you have something interesting to say about Minecraft, please do feel free to *say it*. I have never played a single Mass Effect game (I was a huge fan of KOTOR I and II and I love RPGs and all that, but there were other games taking precedence at the time and….well, by now I’m fairly sure I know more about the games from this blog than if I’d actually ever played them), yet I still await the next post with anticipation and look forward to being able to read them (as opposed to video or audio content).

    I think I can speak for most commenters here when I say you, specifically, really are free to write about what’s on your mind. Some people may find some topics more or less interesting, but whether it’s table top gaming (when’s the last time you touched a d20, Shamus?), long form game analysis, short reviews, comic peaks at games, your health, your pc woes, your family life, coding, or writing, I’ve never seen a post here that made me go “man, this again? I don’t care!”. At this point I’m fairly sure you could write a thousand words on Watching Paint Dry: Dry harder (the sequel, with more action but a less coherent story) and it’d be a more interesting read with more information than half of what’s posted on social media.

    That aside, I didn’t “get into” Minecraft when it first came out, because I wanted to wait for the official release, and by that time, I didn’t pick it up because “the conversation” had moved on, and whatever I did in there, it’d be something other people had done better, faster, more impressively, a year before.

    Also, happy holidays to you and yours!

  7. BeardedDork says:

    My children (7&11) and step-children(17&22) spent all day bonding over Minecraft yesterday. At any given point in my house where more than one person is awake there is probably about a 60% chance that there is a machine somewhere in the house with Minecraft running on it, between the PC, the Kindles, the Phones, and the Xboxes.

  8. Ninety-Three says:

    So Shamus, the obvious question you haven’t quite addressed is: Why haven’t you been talking about Minecraft? Is it just that you feel as stated in the article that no one cares to read it, or there is already as much written as people care to read?

    If that’s the case, where did you get that idea? Is it just a matter of “No one’s talking about it anywhere, so obviously they don’t care to read about it?” Personally I think there’s a dearth of talking about it: you’re writing a full novel on the Mass Effect games, but the only discussion I’ve ever heard of Minecraft, across the entire internet is “I hate system X” or “Try this cool mod”. A game that deep and that widely played, there has to be something to talk about.

  9. Shoeboxjeddy says:

    Talk about Minecraft? Alright… can we talk about how Telltale’s engine runs like shit, even when doing something as simple/non-intensive/ugly as non-modded Minecraft (Story Mode I’m talking about)? Because it really, really does. In the first scene of the game, the sky kept going black and then reverting to the intended color. It’s sad and they REALLY need to invest some of that Walking Dead/ Game of Thrones money in an update rather than paying (?) to use another license.

    • Darren says:

      My boyfriend has been playing Tales from the Borderlands, and that engine really is holding them back at this point. They can get an appealing visual style out of it, but the animations are just horrendous, and faces aren’t nearly expressive enough.

      It doesn’t need to be Uncharted or anything, but damn, they are really letting themselves down.

  10. Mintskittle says:

    A few months ago I was going to play some Minecraft, since it was my main game to play while listening to podcasts, and I had a sizable backlog built up, but the client kept rejecting my login. I tried to do an account recovery on both the Minecraft and Mojang websites, but never got a response. Effectively, I no longer own Minecraft.

    As an aside, Tekkit Classic was my jam. Big fan of Buildcraft and Industrialcraft.

  11. bloodsquirrel says:

    I’m still running my server. I’d post the IP address for you guys if this wasn’t, you know, the wide open internet.

  12. Primogenitor says:

    Minecraft is not something I’d buy because I really don’t know if I’d like it or not – and compared to the other things I could buy for that price (or less in a sale) I’m not sure its worth it for me. And it never goes on sale (anyone else noticed that? the price only seems to go upwards over time, which is unusual. I’d have picked it up if it had dropped up 30-50% in a seasonal sale, but always at full price? After so many years? Better alternatives for my money. I know a lot of stuff has been added for free, but I guess I’d prefer the “base game plus expansions/DLC” price model).

    I’m not a particularly creative personality, and if I want a builder/survival game I’ve got Terraria and others already. I tried the free creative mode, and was thoroughly underwhelmed. Yes, Minecraft is popular – but lots of popular things I don’t like (e.g. WoW).

    So, maybe I’d buy it if it was talked about more? Which might get them (even more) money? Bad business?

  13. I do this same thing, but I play DDO instead of Minecraft. I buy (literally) 1 new game a year. This year it was Fallout 4. Last year it was Dragon Age: Inquisition. It was kinda weird last year because I actually had more than one new game to PLAY even though I only bought the one, because Pillars came out last year.

  14. Trainzack says:

    “Do you want the game to be harder? More like an RPG? More pets? More hats? More fancy craftable furniture? Real time shadows, bump mapping, or bloom lighting? More worlds to explore? More technical machines to build?”

    Most of the links in this segment are borked.

  15. Trix2000 says:

    It’s funny, because I’ve only within the last month or so gotten back into playing it due to some friends of mine inviting me to their server.

    I normally can’t sink more than a few days/a week into it at once, but playing with friends helps a lot to make the experience more interesting for me.

  16. Thomas says:

    One of the prominent EVE bloggers, TAGN, really does blog about whatever game he’s playing at that moment in time, so his blog often ends up being endless Minecraft stories =D (Or EVE hunting stories)
    https://tagn.wordpress.com/

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