MINECRAFT
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Hardware: WEB-BASED
Format: WEB-BASED
Genre: SANDBOX
Released: MAY 17, 2009
Publisher: MOJANG
Developer: MOJANG

By Alex Kierkegaard / August 23, 2011

It's so easy to see what the problem is with Minecraft, that I almost feel embarrassed to have to come out and say it. But what we have here once more, as with Seiklus, or Flow, or Flower, or Braid, or Spelunky, or any of the other so-called "indie" abortions, is the same old story, and if there's no one left reviewing games today who actually knows anything about them, and such blatant failings can pass by everyone else unnoticed, I guess I am just going to have to take a few moments out of my day to sit down, write a few words, and point them out.

Most people who've heard about this game will doubtless have seen at least one or two screenshots of some of those huge, elaborate and colorful structures that Minecraft's most intrepid, let us call them "players", have been building: from giant castles, cities, futuristic landscapes and the like, to detailed recreations of anything from private residences to cars to fucking Imperial cruisers from Star Wars, and so forth. And I mean, seriously, there's no denying the darn things are impressive — at least the first time you see them, and until you've realized what's wrong with them. And what's wrong with them, to cut this short and get to the fucking point, is that they are DEAD. EMPTY. BARREN. LIFELESS — devoid of ANY complexity apart from the primitive physical properties of a bunch of colorful blocks placed in more or less eye-pleasing patterns, get it? — something which is not at all the case with the original sandbox-type game (Sim City) and its by-now practically countless descendants. For a city in Sim City is FAR MORE THAN A BUNCH OF COLORFUL BLOCKS RESTING ON EACH OTHER. It is, or at least does a pretty darn decent job of simulating, a living, breathing, growing or declining (depending on the player's skill) urban agglomeration with its own rules and constantly evolving properties. The structures in Sim City, in other words, COMMUNICATE WITH EACH OTHER. Its simulated streets are filled with simulations of cars carrying simulations of people driving back and forth from their simulated homes to their simulated workplaces and shopping in the simulated malls. The airports in Sim City ACTUALLY FUNCTION (you can even see the simulated planes flying over your simulated city, and sometimes even crash into it). The ports and stadiums and railways likewise. Contrast this to a "city" in Minecraft, which has the exact same properties as a "city" built from Lego blocks — I.E. NONE. It just sits there and does nothing. If Sim City is supposed to simulate a city then, Minecraft IS SUPPOSED TO BE SIMULATING LEGO BLOCKS. CAN YOU INTERNET FUCKFACES SEE THE RETROGRESSION NOW? I mean what's next, a "game" that simulates NOTHING? Because, if we pursue the "indie" bums' relentless downward plunge towards minimum complexity, that would be the next logical step.

Minecraft, then, is simply an appallingly wretched and degenerate descendant of Sim City, just as Seiklus is a degenerate descendant of Metroid, Flow of Pac-Man, Flower of flight simulators, Braid of Super Mario Bros. and Blinx, Spelunky of Spelunker and platform games in general, and so on and so forth. To get back to Minecraft's case then, we have a piece of software that purports to be a "sandbox" — which in this case turns out to be quite a precise description, since that's more or less what it is: a box full of sand (or blocks, in this case), which you can arrange any way you see fit — or at least after you have mined them in a boring and ultimately meaningless and superfluous mining mini-game tacked on to disguise the fact that you could have had more or less the same experience IN MICROSOFT FUCKING PAINT.


That sound like a far-fetched claim to you? Wait until I am done! You 'aint heard nothing yet! And, very well, MS Paint is basically a two-dimensional image creation program, but what about FUCKING PHOTOSHOP? Or, to be more precise, Photoshop Extended, which features "3D image creation, motion graphics editing, and advanced image analysis features". What about THAT, fuckfaces? Oh, it's not a game, you say, so perhaps it doesn't count? Would it count if we called it "Marioshop" or "Super Mario Photo" or some shit, and plastered Mario's mug all over the start-up screen? Or if someone who looked like this had launched it in the TIGSource forums? Or if, every time you wanted to use one of the drawing tools, you had to play a stupid little mining mini-game? And if, whenever you saved your data and closed the application, you lost a few of your hoarded up "drawing tool resources" to random "critters" that Adobe inserted to help you avoid SHOOTING YOURSELF IN THE FACE FROM THE SHEER BOREDOM? Would Photoshop count as a game then, fuckfaces? How many of these utterly retarded modifications would we have to make to Photoshop for you to realize that it does more or less the same things that Minecraft does ONLY A BILLION TIMES BETTER?

And actually, fuck Photoshop, the game that really trounces Minecraft is a very obscure little gem that only a few old timers like me are aware of: it is an amazing little indie game called AutoCAD, launched in December 1982 by independent game developer John Walker and a handful of close friends. This is an insanely complex sandbox-type game that has existed for twenty-nine FUCKING years, during which time it has received countless additions and modifications, and is still being updated today! (If you are wondering why TIGSource doesn't cover it, by the way, the answer is simple: because Derek Yu and his friends didn't make it.) I used to fuck around with this game a little in my younger days, whenever I would visit the office of one of my uncles, who's an architect. This uncle of mine is one of the premier AutoCAD players in the world and belongs to an exclusive league of players who play AutoCAD in a very demanding manner (described by poor players and other posers as "elitist") achieved by the inclusion of an extra rule: the rule of One-Building Completion (1BC), which stipulates that whenever you complete a new AutoCAD project YOU HAVE TO GO OUT AND FUCKING BUILD IT. I mean how fucking hardcore is that? No wonder Derek Yu preferes to cover Minecraft's updates instead! The mere thought of 1BCing would give the little squint-eyed yellow fag a heart attack! But I mean, seriously, even without 1BCing, AutoCAD completely trounces Minecraft; if you find the screens in this review amazing, the stuff players have been making with John Walker's little gem for the past three decades will blow your fucking mind away.

So I mean, yeah, you can certainly "build" some blocky bullshit little abortion of a thing in Minecraft, if you so desire, and controls are so basic and dumbed down it's no wonder contemporary subhumanity has given a few millions in the past year to that fat Swedish fuck who made it — but some of mankind's smartest and most creative individuals have been giving BILLIONS to John Walker and his associates for DECADES, and what these players have been creating with his game is not blocky bullshit little abortions of things but stunningly complex engineering MASTERPIECES (which, moreover, also obey the laws of physics... this is the beauty of 1BCing) that will remain as testaments to the power and ingenuity of the human spirit for centuries if not millennia to come, and certainly a long time after this ridiculous little Minecraft fad has died down and come to nothing.

So the choice is really simple: what we have here are two games that aim to provide the same experience, that of designing things — one of them extremely plain and crude things, the other insanely elaborate and complex ones. If, then, you are a plain and crude person you'll choose the former; if an elaborate and complex one the latter, and that will be the end of that. I, for one, made my choice a long time ago, in all those hours I spent as a child dicking around with my uncle's computers in his office. The time has come now for you to make yours.
  


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