(Note: This is long and rambling, and should be viewed as a stream-of-consciousness musing rather than any genuine complaint or gripe. I touch on the currently-contentious finite-torch update in here but that's not really what it's about, so let's try to keep that particular debate in other threads. I'd also like to apologize in advance for my constantly shifting tenses and modes of address.)
Shortly after I happily shelled out my €10 for Alpha, I got to thinking about the unique and somewhat precarious position Minecraft is in. Given the recent furor about the Halloween torch update, my mind's been wandering that way once again.
Paying money for something that's not actually done yet certainly isn't a new concept; people have been pre-ordering games for years, people buy stock in upcoming companies, businesses sink money into future ventures, and all that. I think it's a great way to fund indie game development, and I do think that it's a great fit for Minecraft in particular, but it does put Minecraft in a somewhat unique and perhaps unenviable position. Despite the fact that we're all putting our funds into a project's development, we already have in our hands, a product which feels very complete and playable. The community has clearly sunk its teeth into Minecraft, and I'm sure I'm not alone in knowing that when the inevitable non-backwards-compatible update happens, I'll be rather sad to leave behind the creations that I've been working on.
It's a strangely precarious position, really. Because I've bought something, I feel more attached to it than I would something that was available for free. One pays the money, receives a game in return, and grows attached to that game. Right now there's a loud, vocal section of the community which is vehemently up in arms about the removal of infinite torches, because from a psychological perspective, the game they paid for is going away. Sure, everyone should know that it's Alpha (though given the massive hype the game has gotten lately, it'd be understandable for someone to merely think that "Alpha" was some kind of codeword for the game, similar to how so many software releases are named nowadays) and that the game can change at any time. Because we've shelled out money for it, though, we're much more emotionally invested in what's available now.
Exacerbating this, of course, is Minecraft's self-updating nature. Not only will the game be moving away from what many folks are clearly attached to, but the game is likely to force those changes on the local machine. For multiplayer components, this is of course something that everyone's already used to dealing with, and I suppose people who willingly buy things through Steam are used to having their single-player experiences updated and changed without warning as well. I know that some of my own trepidation, however, comes from knowing that if I do want to keep playing my current singleplayer, offline Worlds after a major update, I'll have to have previously taken the time to set up a locked-down environment where I can do so (which, I do have to admit, I've already done).
I just think it's a fascinating situation to be in - you've got hundreds of thousands of people very excited about a game, willing to put down money for it, driving your income from the game up to what I have to assume was a somewhat shocking amount, but then inevitably you've got chunks of the community who are going to be upset when changes have (what they perceive to be) large effects on the gameplay. In a sense it really doesn't matter that it's conspicuously named an Alpha version, because it's already something real and tangible that people can become attached to, and psychologically they've paid for it. The transfer of money is what really solidifies what might otherwise be a somewhat fickle emotion. It's not surprising that a sense of betrayal appears to be manifesting itself over the torch thing. The torch change is just one example. I'd guess that we'll see simliar uproars over other changes as the game progresses towards beta, and then up through a "real" 1.0.
It makes me think that the wisest thing to do in cases like this might be to just have changes like this be optional on a per-World basis, or something, or perhaps tie it into the difficulty level system somehow. Or maybe even something along the lines of how Classic is currently handled, where the older version has been orphaned off but still playable. Or, of course, issues like this might end up just completely blowing over and everything I just said is total rubbish.
Anyway, just some thoughts that have been bubbling around in my head for awhile, make of them what you will.
Until then post in the threads already started about this instead of making new ones so you can stand on a soap box and feel important.
As I said above, the whole finite-torch thing is just a backdrop, and I was hoping to keep an actual finite-vs-infinite discussion out of this thread. I was more interested in talking about the larger implications of fans funding early game development, and what it means in terms of game-changing updates. I did actually look around to see if there was a simliar thread started already but didn't find anything, though the only search terms I could think of were fairly vague so I admit to not looking terribly hard. IMO it's an entirely appropriate discussion for this forum, though I'm not going to lose any sleep if the thread just dies a quick death due to lack of interest.
You buy stocks to a experimental gun company that doesn't have any future plans. They build elephant laser guns. You object but they don't listen. You still have their bonds bonds but now your stocks are useless because no1 wants elephant lazer guns.
It doesn't make sense, from the way you're saying things it's like a game should make every version available. If you don't like Minecrafts direction or favor an old version, make your own game. There you go, the perfect game, one you designed.
And Notch isn't stupid. Lanterns were an initial plan of his game from the start. He's not going to add LAZERS to the game because he knows THATS ****ING STUPID. People who complain and whine about torches make up the same population as the people who play Modern Warfare 2.
It doesn't make sense, from the way you're saying things it's like a game should make every version available.
No, not at all; I was just saying that I think there's a unique set of psychological issues which come out of allowing users to buy into the game development cycle at such an early time. I find it a somewhat unique situation, with its own unique problems. How many other games out there allow users to pay to get access to pre-beta code? How often is pre-beta code allowed to permeate the gaming community so thoroughly, and form a basis for financial solvency? It's true that I don't pay too much attention to the Gaming Community, but it seems to me that it's a very unusual arrangment, and I'm looking forward to see how it'll play out.
If you don't like Minecrafts direction or favor an old version, make your own game. There you go, the perfect game, one you designed.
Sure, nobody's forcing anyone to play Minecraft. I just find it interesting that the game that somebody pays for today might not be the game they'll have access to a month from now. Again, I'm not actually complaining about this or saying that Notch should do one thing or another. I'm personally looking forward to the updates and all that. I just think that the current Torch argument going on is indicative of the kind of issues any game using a pay-for-development-code kind of model would be likely to face.
You need a TLDR section. Seriously.
Hah, I am certainly aware of how unlikely it is that anyone'll actually read that whole monster of a post. I'd probably skip it, myself, if I found myself staring down into that dark abyss. C'est la vie!
I read your post and I think you have a great analysis of whats going on there. People feel like they are losing the game they paid for and are instead getting a slightly different game which they might favor less.
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Mining with your sis might be fun, but in the future use a pickaxe.It's more efficient and humane that way.
Linkto a totally legitimate site for a search class.
I don't know why people are so mean. A "wall of text" isn't usually very much to read (at all) by the standards of ANY medium. Write long-ass posts all you want, I for one am more likely to read topics that have clearly been thought about over ones that were obviously not.
With that said, I agree, and enjoyed reading what you said, and find it to be true, although I do take a slightly more cynical view of the backlash about the torch thing.