Minecraft: The Only Real Open World GamePosted in Uncategorized
Open worlds have become compulsory, which is a contradiction and also a worse travesty than beginner cooking classes using recovered Dodo eggs. An open world demands awesomely talented developers who can create a living, breathing world. Not cut-rate 3D artists whose manager decided their copy of Shootin’ Stuff XV would work better without pacing, level design, or progression. Most open worlds are like microwave dinners – they achieve the first word at the expense of the second.
For example: scattering the same locations over a map like sprinkles, but less enjoyable, does not replace design. Which may be why there has only been one: Minecraft.
Wow, a revolutionary building physics engine! And they’re, they’re using it for yet another basic shooter. Great.
Every other open world is about as free as smoking on an oil rig. You can go any direction you like, but not very far, and it always looks the same and ends in the same explosions. Which are incredible fun (don’t ever think we’re complaining about that part) but shouldn’t be confused for incredible freedom. When your only decision is whether to blow things up now or later, you’re about as free as a smart bomb (though at least you get to respawn.)
Just Cause 2 was a literally giant example of this. The largest virtual world in console gaming to date, an entire fictional country with exactly three things you to do: shoot someone, hook them, or blow them up. While we contend that setting an action game on an island composed entirely of military installations and petrol tanks was an act of entertainment genius, the fortieth time you run in, blow things up, and run away until you regenerate things start to feel a little samey. It’s less a virtual world than a vast Easter Egg hunt as you locate every explosive barrel in the world, and if we wanted to run around hunting objects hidden by the developer we’d be playing Crackdown again.
Which isn’t a bad idea.
If only they’d made a sequel (because they really didn’t)
Grand Theft Auto does a better job of it, but “it” is always the same thing: Drive there and kill people. There are Army Humvee drivers with more varied jobs because sometimes their vehicle breaks down. At the other extreme freedom has slowly evaporated from first person shooters because it’s simply not wanted. In the olden days we’d run around Doom maps searching for an exit (and more importantly, ammunition), but nowadays repeating a section because you were shot in the face is about as enjoyable as actually being shot. Call of Duty saves slightly more often than an investment bank and makes a hell of a lot more money.
So what makes Minecraft different? Why isn’t it the same thing over and over? Why doesn’t it suffer from a lack of design, which should be kind of a problem when the entire world is randomly generated? Because it’s not finished. The same reason Minecraft is so successful is also the reason it can’t become more successful, because it has no victory condition.
And if there was this sure as hell wouldn’t be it
The result is a masterpiece of multiplayer, not just despite but because the players have nothing to work for. Even Fallout eventually drags people back to their primary quest, but Minecraft servers are less linear gaming and more LEGO. The lack of a goal is more than compensated for by the multitude of methods to get there, once you decide where “there” is. If there was any objective – get somewhere, dig deep, build big – there would suddenly be a best way to do it and everything else would be wasting time. And while gamers do deeply love wasting time, we’re still aware of the difference. With nothing to do, suddenly everything is worth doing. And in a game where everything can range from “farming” to “constructing a vast glass skull overlooking the night lit from within with the fires of a burning forest”, that’s more doing than any other game has even dreamed of.
It might be impossible to give a goal that doesn’t waste half of what the community has built. It might be that Notch spends forever adding items, planes, and new monsters to run like hell from. And we don’t think we’d want it any other way.