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PostPosted: Sat Dec 11, 2010 12:05 pm 
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Well… people are not playing Minecraft for the high quality graphics end excellent 3D rendering in real time. But, everywhere one goes there is someone talking about Minecraft. A good argument can be made that the game is now more popular than Myst-Uru is or ever was.

Many of the Uru fans feel a large draw to Myst Uru is the high quality graphics and imagery. I certainly enjoy the graphics. However, Minecraft would seem to indicate high quality graphics is not the reason a game becomes popular and has high player retention.

The possible causes of Minecraft’s popularity is considered in an article by Emilly Orr titled, there, covered in ash, covered in glass. Creativity, innovation, and competition are Emilly’s suggested reasons for Minecraft’s popularity. Creativity is a definite part of Minecraft play. As primitive as it is, it is still creation. Perhaps the simplicity of the creative part is part of the reason for Minecraft’s popularity.

Emilly’s innovation reason sounds like more creativity to me. But, the game is used in different ways by different people, so I suppose that is an envelope of innovation. Emilly’s competition is expressed in what I would consider competing against one’s self or in Emilly’s case her personal fears and limitations. In the multiplayer version one could find ways to compete against others head to head or share building projects.

The final two paragraphs of the artile is Emilly’s bottom line for why Minecraft is popular.

Quote:
Why play Minecraft? Because it exists in the pure spirit of game, itself. You can eke out a meager existence in a scratch-built hovel; you can build a working computer for simple calculations. Nihilistically, you can blow everything up and start over.

Ultimately, it's entirely up to you. And that's the draw.


In my thinking we see these aspects of game popularity in several games. We see them implemented in differing levels and in games of different success. We know from studies that allowing players control over the game environment is a big part of player popularity and retention. In Minecraft Emilly’s creativity is another way of seeing one having control of the environment.

In the highly popular games like Farmville, City of Wonder, and My Vineyard people have a high degree of control as they build their vineyards, cities, and farms. These worlds have almost no learning curve for building. Second Life offers considerable control too, but has restrictions, i.e., owning or renting land to be able to build. SL has a higher learning curve but is still relatively simple. Blue Mars and Myst-Uru only allow those willing to invest in a very high learning curve to build or control the environment. A game’s popularity and easy of building for the game’s environment appears to be directly related.

Blue Mars and Myst-Uru with their high learning curves for building for the environment or being able to change it have far fewer users than SL and the Facebook games. SL’s learning curve is higher than the Facebook games and that appears to be reflected in the user numbers.

Another aspect of game popularity is social interaction. Facebook games have all the tools to connect with friends and meet new friends, or at least easily make allies needed to advance in some games. Those games are extremely popular. SL has many of the tools for social interaction as do Blue Mars and Myst-Uru. But, finding friends in SL is a pain and a new user is not going to be able to do it. The players that SL retains have been shown to have succeeded in learning the communication and search interfaces in SL. The less than optimal social tools in SL may well be a major reason for SL’s poor player retention numbers.

I doubt we are ever going to add the levels of control over the Myst-Uru game environment that we see in other games like Minecraft to Facebook games. But, we may be able to improve control and we certainly can change and improve the social tools in Myst-Uru.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 6:13 am 
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As someone that has spent the last month or so in Minecraft having fun I have to say it's got three basic things that appeal to me.

1. Infinite Worlds - No mucking about for Fan made or Dev made stuff. Hit load and you have a brand new "simcity" generated terrain to explore that is the size of minkata and the complexity of all the "On the surface" levels combined. It may be 8-bit but it is big and fresh every time you hit go.

2.It's a Sandbox Game - to highlight part of Emilly's statement "Why play Minecraft? Because it exists in the pure spirit of game, itself." If you want to describe creating, building, or destroying anything in Minecraft it's somewhere between building things with wood blocks or creating sand castles at the beach. Simple child's play at it's purest. Personally I find it a lot of fun to load up my inventory with a inventory editor and go on a building spree.

3. PEOPLE - Yup you guessed it for a small fee minecraft is multiplayer. In full 8-bit glory people can load up their own servers publicly, have friends join publicly, and stakeout their own bit of turf online in that server. (Some of the lava based home defense traps are crazy clever by the way.)

I'll agree with Nalates that I really don't see players gaining the level of control in Uru that Minecraft has over it's game worlds but it shows another way of doing things.

The Learning curve is part of it but honestly for the crowds of people that play most every other game a major step forward is going to have to be Official Public Fan Servers. None of this hacked stuff that gets by on a wink and a nudge using Uru:CC but Cyan getting off the fence and releasing a stable server set any fan can take to any game host to run their very own server with. A decade or more in and Cyan has never "Officially" permitted anything to touch their worlds; only a wink a nudge a poke to get the Fan Action back behind the curtain, never once center stage in a way that can be touched from the official server.

Not even way back in Ubi Beta has Cyan ever expressed more then a vague interest in letting Uru get into the hands of the Fans. If and I do mean IF Cyan releases/backs Fan Servers, and backs a tool set for modeling that gets it in the hands of the majority, and that doesn't require learning a Fan committees interpretation of how to properly do something in blender; well then Uru might become more popular,

Nite all that's my last rant for the year.

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