Minecraft: The Guest Review

People first started suggesting I cover Minecraft on Bytejacker a little over a year ago. I messed around with it a bit and felt lukewarm on it. At the time, it was basically just a world of Legos – a cute sandbox you could dig and build in with others, but really nothing more than a technical demo. “Impressive for being made by one guy,” I thought. “I hope he can turn it into something.”

Fast-forward a year, and Minecraft is now one of the most amazingly fun sandbox worlds I’ve ever experienced. It terraforms a world for you at random, and you use the resources in that world to build yourself the necessities of life – structures, protective clothing, weapons and tools – while avoiding the dangerous creatures indigenous to the land. You do this either on your own private map or through a multiplayer server.

It’s really amazing. The worlds are gigantic, full of mountains and caves and oceans and rivers and life, man, just LIFE – I can’t count the number of times I’ve dug through a cave wall to find an amazing, Goonies-esque cavern waterfall, or climbed what I thought had to be the highest mountain I’d ever come across to find that my little in-game world was twice as big as I had ever imagined.

I usually hate crafting in games – if there’s a sword to be had, let me kill something for it and let’s keep it moving. Minecraft takes an approach that grabbed me from the start. It’s crafting feels like the equivalent of one of those “100-in-1 Electronics Projects” kits you’d get from Radio Shack. You just take these little modular pieces of the world – literally element it’s made of – and plug them together on a grid. Oh, whoops, I made a sword! Oh hey, look, I’ve got a boat now! There are complexities involved, to be sure, but they’re tucked away, working in the background.

That’s the beauty of Minecraft as a whole, and why you’ll see videos of people simply building the most impossible looking sculptures, or facing some of the most unpredictable natural events – because there’s so much complexity there that you’ll never have to touch. Just run around your world, do your building and exploring, and all the while Minecraft is directing rivers and lava flows, controlling the population of livestock, and pushing weather around you.

There’s so much going on that even if you don’t want to build a replica of the Starship Enterprise or a working subway system, you can just wander and be perfectly content. Games that are heavy on exploration have always appealed to me. The secret nooks and crannies that don’t hide special items, the ones that are just there for the pure fun of finding them – have always been my favorites. That’s exactly what Minecraft is – the pure fun of discovery and exploration.

My interview with Notch and a bit more about the game are in the video below if you’d like to find out more (sorry about the low audio in bits of it). In all honesty, though – stop reading about Minecraft. Stop watching videos of other people’s creations and funny glitches. Stop marveling over sales figures and development anecdotes. Jump in and start exploring. Start building your world.

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Anthony Carboni is the Host and Producer of Bytejacker, a weekly show about independent and downloadable games. He’s on twitter @acarboni.

11 thoughts on “Minecraft: The Guest Review”

  1. Just wanted to thank Carboni for this great write-up. That plus the accompanying Bytejacker episode were pretty much the last nudges I needed to go ahead and buy this game. I’ve been avoiding it because it’s precisely the kind of game that can ruin my life. I am the guy that spent 30 hours just following people in Oblivion so I could rob their houses. I can only imagine how much time I will spend in caves and exploring peaks and valleys in my own world.

    Btw, Bytejacker is a fantastic show, and you dudes should watch it.

  2. Man, A show dedicated to indie games? Yes please. This was really great, I’m a little excited for Minecraft, but I feel like it’s one of those games I’d get stuck in for a long time…

  3. [quote comment=”13861″]Thanks, Carboni! Very informative and the video is great. I’m a fan now.[/quote]

    Thanks, dude! Glad you liked it.

    LESS GLAD YOU GOT THE USER NAME “ANTHONY” BEFORE I DID.

  4. [quote comment=”13856″]Man, A show dedicated to indie games? Yes please. This was really great, I’m a little excited for Minecraft, but I feel like it’s one of those games I’d get stuck in for a long time…[/quote]

    Yeah, put a little time aside for sure – you’ll want to really be able to explore the space, cowbell-style.

    Glad you enjoyed the show!

  5. [quote comment=”13854″]Just wanted to thank Carboni for this great write-up. That plus the accompanying Bytejacker episode were pretty much the last nudges I needed to go ahead and buy this game. I’ve been avoiding it because it’s precisely the kind of game that can ruin my life. I am the guy that spent 30 hours just following people in Oblivion so I could rob their houses. I can only imagine how much time I will spend in caves and exploring peaks and valleys in my own world.

    Btw, Bytejacker is a fantastic show, and you dudes should watch it.[/quote]

    I’m glad i wasn’t the only guy that went all klepto in oblivion and I do think that this game will do what the sims did to me a few years ago so i hope that I can use some self restraint.

  6. [quote comment=”13866″][quote comment=”13861″]Thanks, Carboni! Very informative and the video is great. I’m a fan now.[/quote]

    Thanks, dude! Glad you liked it.

    LESS GLAD YOU GOT THE USER NAME “ANTHONY” BEFORE I DID.[/quote]

    Well, you should have been on the site from Day 1! That will teach you to ignore an upstart website next time, won’t it?

  7. [quote comment=”13869″]Well, you should have been on the site from Day 1! That will teach you to ignore an upstart website next time, won’t it?[/quote]

    Nothing ever teaches me anything.

  8. I’ve had Minecraft on the brain lately, and Anthony’s review convinced me to get it. I was worried about losing my life to this game, and it looks like it might happen. I made it to work today, but I don’t know about tomorrow…

    I also convinced my friend to get it by showing him the FIRE WTF video on YouTube.

    Thanks for the review and ruining our lives, Carboni. Eddy spent two hours yesterday building stairs! Stairs!

  9. Finally played this last night and I’m obsessed. I was up until 2 AM digging stone stairways deep underground. Seriously, if you have a love for sandbox games, go check this one out.

  10. Excellent review @Acarboni. I’ve been totally and completely addicted to it since getting it 😛

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