Tag Archives: Minecraft

The Notch Timeline

Remember when Facebook announced they were buying Occulus Rift back in March?

Well, the outrage or discomfort or whatever passed with time it seems.

I am sure getting over that event had nothing to do with the current rumor that Notch is selling out to Microsoft for something like two billion dollars, something that surely must have been in play for at least a month now.  Mojang may soon be taking orders from Redmond.

Powered by Microsoft

Powered by Microsoft

This is why I mark these sorts of moment in time.  It is interesting to see how things change.  I am going to bet he is over his problems with Windows 8 as well.

I am not particularly concerned one way or another about Notch cashing out.  Big companies tend to destroy the little companies they buy more often than not, and that fate for Mojang wouldn’t make me happy.  And I am sure a legion of his fans are pissed, but they were pissed about his EULA already, calling him literally worse than EA at one point.  But it is his company, if he wants to cash out, he should go for it.  He can buy himself a whole bunch of new socks with that pile of dough.

I am mostly interested to see that his attitude seemed to soften a bit as a dump truck of money loomed in his direction.

Addendum: And Notch sells it all for 2.5 Billion.  Here is his statement, where he says it is not about the money but about his sanity… though I am betting the money helped a lot.

Not Quite Calculating Gaming Return on Investment

There is a site and a chart going around that shows some games quantified in terms of return on investment.  The original source is the Video Game ROI site, hosted by Ebay of all things.

Of course, this is a list, and we love lists!  So I went to see the top ten value rated games, which are:

The Top Ten

The Top Ten

To me that was an interesting list, if a bit odd.  How did they come up with this?

Well, they are pretty up front with how they did.  How they calculated the value rating is there on the front page.

ROICalculation

Not bad so far.  Hours per dollars spent multiplied by the rating percentage.

So the original Animal Crossing currently costs $6… this is Ebay, I guess they know the used price, so we’ll give them that… and the hours to beat is rated at 69.5 hours, while the average rating for the game is 88%.

So 69.5 divided by $6 gives us 11.58, which multiplied by .88 ends up with a rating of 10.19, which is the best rating of the lot.

Now, you might ask if a game from 2001 qualitatively delivers an experience you would want to spend nearly 70 hours on here in 2014.  Fair point, and something not addressed as far as I can tell.  And the cost of the game certainly seems to favor used games, but this is Ebay and they want to sell you some used games, so go figure.

I was a little more interested in how they came up with the hours to beat a game.

As it turns out, there is a site called How Long To Beat that is just brimming with this sort of data.  I was curious as to how accurate it might be, but didn’t know how I could assess that.  I would have to actually beat a game to get that number, right?

Oh, wait, I did just beat a game!  I finished Pokemon Y, and all I really did was the main storyline as noted in my post.  So I went and looked that up on the site and, naturally, found Pokemon X and Y listed with lots of data.  But the essential bit, hours to beat for the main story was there.

 

PokemonXH2B

So they peg the main story at 33 hours of play time.  And I finished the main story in…

Pokemon Y Hall of Fame

Pokemon Y finish time

… 31.5 hours.  Pretty close.   Close enough that I am probably willing to accept the H2B numbers.  Meanwhile, the average rating is as close at MetaCritic, so I am good with that.

So it seems like we have some pretty solid numbers, even if they seem very biased towards older games, which are less expensive.  There is Civilization in second place, from 1991.  I am not sure, even if you could buy a copy for the $1 they show, that it would run on a modern operating system.  The ROI on unplayable games should be pretty low.

Of course, I am interested in MMOs, so I went digging to see what they had listed on that front.  Way down at 109th place I found World of Warcraft.  Current price, $20, hours to beat, 11.2, and overall review rating of 93%, giving it a value rating of 0.52.

WoWROI

Now, I expected the value rating to be low because I figured that they would account for the subscription model in some way.  But no, they figure you’ll be done with that free 30 days yet, since it only takes 11.2 hours to beat.

That seems sort of fast, 11.2 hours.  I mean, I am running through the 1-60 on the whole Loremaster achievement thing, so it seems like that number should be higher for somebody new who doesn’t have heirloom gear or what not.

So I started going further down the list and ran into Minecraft at 127th place.  The cost is $27 and the rating is 89%, but the hours to beat was 11.2, the same as World of Warcraft.

MinecraftROI

Now, if 11.2 hours seems very low for WoW, which sort of has a 1 to 60 main game, for Minecraft it seems very much off.

Reading through the site more carefully, I found that if a game is open ended or doesn’t have a well defined main game… which is to say the How Long To Beat site doesn’t show one… they went with the number 11.2 because that was the average of all the games measured.

Color me unimpressed.

Still, I suppose it is an interesting data point for discussing older games.  And, of course, it markets older games for Ebay.  But you’re not going to convince me that Pokemon Red and Blue, which ran on the GameBoy in 1996, provides a better return on investment than Pokemon X and Y for any qualitative measures.

 

MyDream is to do What to Minecraft?

First there was Minecraft, as it was good.

Minecraft

Or many people thought it was. It flourished and blossomed and jumped to different platforms and generally made Notch and his company quite a large pile of money.

It never really appealed to me, but I could still see the magic.  It was open and allowed you to do many, many things.  My daughter played it quite a bit, including on a PvP server.  I didn’t even know that was possible until she showed me.

Of course, where money flows, so do copy cats.  There were knock-offs like CastleMiner.  And, as time went by, bigger and more sophisticated players started into the market with their own spin on the Minecraft idea.  SOE’s Landmark is one and Trion’s Trove is another, both of which have a look and feel that sets them apart from mere clones of the original.

I know there are other examples out there, but since the genre really doesn’t do much for me, their names tend not to stick with me.  Fill in the blanks for me, because my writing things like, “And that one that people keep mentioning” doesn’t really work so well.

But even with all of that, there seemed to be room enough in the market.

Then, yesterday, I got a press release in my inbox… because PR people are a desperate sort and are happy when even when somebody so far down the food chain as myself mentions the product they are pushing… for a “Minecraft killer.”

Actually, it was (Minecraft killer), in parentheses, but it was right there in the subject line of the email.

And I actually groaned aloud upon reading that.

I groaned because I have lived through the age of the quest for the WoW killer.

Did I say “lived through?”  I meant “live in,” since if you Google “WoW killer” you will see that the quest is still alive and well and crushing souls.

Still, I had to wonder who would have the audacity to make such a claim.  So I went to the Kickstarter for MyDream (which I mentally read as “MyDream is to KILL Minecraft!!1″) to see who was standing up to slay the beast.

MyDream

To the company’s credit credit, the Kickstarter page doesn’t actually say “Minecraft killer” anywhere.  Neither does the actual press release.  I suspect that the injection of the phrase into the subject line came at the insistence of their PR person and does reflect the elevator pitch mentality of our society today, where you cannot describe something from the ground up, so you have to jump straight to associations like, “Think ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ meets ”Aliens!'” or some such.

And, reading through the Kickstarter, the whole thing sounds much more like SOE’s Landmark, which I would imagine is neither well known enough nor far enough along to have attracted a “killer” yet, than Minecraft, with a bit more emphasis on creating content.

Think Landmark meets Neverwinter’s Foundry… if you must.

A bit of it does seem a bit blue sky naive.  This in particular stuck out:

The MyDream team is currently working on a leveling system based on the novel idea helping others. We would like to eliminate hating, griefing and other forms of abuse that run rampant in other MMO’s. By creating a reputation system that promotes cooperative team play and honest rating of others, we assure a self-policing positive environment for all.

That sent my cynicism spiking off the meter… they assure this… while at the same time making me think, “Oh God, don’t put it like that, you’re practically daring people to prove that they can grief and otherwise behave badly!  You don’t know their power!  Don’t make eye contact!”

I suppose I am a product of my environment, which does include EVE Online.  But rare is the multiplayer game where I haven’t seen some amount of bad behavior exhibited simply because it could be done.

Anyway, I thought I would bring this up because… urm  uh… I’ve forgotten now.  I don’t plan on pledging or even playing.  Variety? Something about “Minecraft killer” possibly?  Or maybe because their office is just up the road in Palo Alto.  Go local devs.

Of Steam and Trains and Portal 2 and Being Scared

So far I have managed to avoid buying much in the Steam Summer Sale.  I was out of the gate on day one with Portal 2, which was 75% off, and Harvest: Massive Encounter.  That pair added up to a total of $7.49.

Since then I have managed to restrain myself, even when games on my wish list made the front page deals.  In part because the deals were not sweet enough, but mostly because I am not sure when I would find the time to get involved with something as epic as Skyrim.

And the fact that there will always be another Steam sale in the future helps take the pressure off.

Still, I did break down when faced with a 90% off sale on Railworks 3: Train Simulator 2012.

As far as I can tell, it is essentially the train version of Microsoft Flight Simulator.  Literally.  The people that make it originally made Microsoft Train Simulator for Microsoft.  And then Microsoft decided that trains were perhaps a bit too niche and dropped it, so the software studio went off on their own path, which eventually lead to this.

I kicked in a couple of bucks for this primarily because of the huge long list of DLC that is available for it.  There is about $1,000 worth of DLC for this game on Steam.  Wait, no, it is all marked down 50% for the Steam Summer Sale.   So there is over $2,000 worth of DLC available for the game on Steam.

It isn’t that I don’t think trains are neat… I have the same little boy fascination with big machines that many men carry with them… but I really wanted to know what sort of direct-to-the-vein heroin this game is to be able to support that much DLC.

I guess I will find out.

Of course, one of the problems with Steam is then I have to wait a day for things to download through the soda straw sized pipe that is our DSL connection to the internet.  But it is literally the best speed I can get without buying into AT&T’s U-verse package or the Comcast version thereof.  Ah well, it is fine for day to day stuff, it is just when it comes time to download things measured in gigabytes that it feels slow.

And it probably cuts down on impulse buying.  There are few things on Steam I can buy and play “right now!”

Anyway, pending research into rail-based drug habits, Portal 2 has been a big win in my opinion.  I have now invested more time into it than I did in the original Portal, and I have not made it out of the main storyline yet.

Portal 2 carries on with your character from the original.

You got out, but you didn’t escape

You are back at Aperture Science Laboratories, but clearly some time has elapsed.  Things have changed.

I don’t remember so many… plants

But your goal is still the same, to get the hell out of the place.  I have to say I am very impressed by the game.  One of the recurring sensations I get is not knowing if I am going the right way, feeling like I might have taken a wrong turn, only to end up at what is clearly the next stage of the story.  Having that happen more than once in a game is pretty unique.

Of course, part of the reason I think it works well is that they do not over use it.  A lot of the time you are clearly guided to the next point of the story.  And at other times they throw in a bit of reverse psychology.

Obviously I need to go here

Clearly I will be falling down the elevator shaft at some point

Seeing as Portal 2 was so cheap, I offered to get a copy for my daughter.  She was, after all, the person who started talking about Portal back in May that got me to finally play my copy of the original game.  And she seems to know all about it in that osmosis way that kids just absorb information.

She declined.

Which, honestly, is unusual for her.

I pressed her on why, and she said the game was too scary.  I chuckled a bit and said that I didn’t think it was scary at all.  But she said it was creepy and scary and she wasn’t sure she wanted to play it, even when I pointed out that there is a co-op mode which would allow us to play together.

That last bit tempted her, but she still declined.

Which made me think about the game again.  It really isn’t scary to me.  It is more humorous, really.  But I am a jaded old man who has sat through more than my share of horror movies and the like.  It takes something unusual or unexpected to make my heart race or pump up my adrenaline in a game these days.

It used to be that a blinking red ship in my overview in EVE Online would make me start and drive up my pulse rate.  Now that seems pretty normal… so much so as to lead to casual stupidity.

But my daughter, at age 10, is susceptible to game created fear and anxiety.  She gets immersed in the game whether she wants to or not, which I envy to a certain extent.  It isn’t that I do not feel anything.  I certainly get that butterflies in my stomach vertigo sensation whenever I have to jump off something really high in Portal 2, or even sometimes when just looking down.  The game does a great job of feeling real in those moments.

But that is still not a major reaction.  And things that scare my daughter, like an enraged GladOS, just seem like humor layered over a physics puzzle.  I enjoy the puzzle.  I enjoy the humor.  But it is tough for me to take seriously.

So now when I play Portal 2, I have to take off my headset and turn on my speakers so my daughter can stand behind my office chair and watch me play.  She is fascinated with the game, but still anxious enough that she wants to be able to run away, or at least hide behind me if things get scary. (Though she has not done either to this point… she just wants the option.)

We basically have our own version of co-op.  And it really is co-op, since she often tells me where I should go or gives me things to try, and she is very proud of herself when she figures out the puzzle before I do.

But she still doesn’t want her own copy.  Instead she is asking for Minecraft, because she got to play with it at a friends house.

And so the world turns.