MINECRAFT 2011 PREDICTIONS
With 2010 now fully torched and explored, we move into a new era of Minecraft with plenty of space left in our inventory for whatever the gang at Mojang throws at us next. It’s 2011, Minecraft is finally beta, and that sound you’re hearing is Notch rendering in the distance. There are already long lists documenting the stated plans of our favorite indie designer, but we’re interested in the stuff that we can’t see. In that spirit, here’s our best guess at what might be waiting over the next hill in 2011.
Beyond the Monster Manual
While most user imaginations have run wild through skies filled with dragons, serpentine monstrosities are pretty standard fair for the modern fantasy geek. Goblins, Kobolds? Yeah, sure—but count on Notch to also introduce a mob that doesn’t pay homage to any world in which elf women in ill-fitting metal girdles figure prominently. Adolescent dreams aside, what gives the crafter in all of us a +1 excitement bonus is the thought of truly unique and interesting monsters. Creepers, after all, emerged from Notch’s fevered brain and blew themselves straight into crafter lore.
“They’re Flocking This Way…”
They may get it right by dumb luck every once in a while, but all you need is one gold record in your inventory to prove that mobs don’t like to work together. Expect that to change in 2011. Creepers may still cry out “Et tu, Brute?” when they feel a skeleton arrow in their back, but new mobs will incorporate much more significant AI; perhaps even flanking or decoy maneuvers. Soon, you may find yourself like Dr. Grant and the kids, presumed safe in your island bunker, hacking away into a redstone-powered Unix system, only to discover that the dinosaurs have learned how to open doors.
Addicting as it is, Minecraft still manages to come in second to things like work and (usually) sleep. It’s a safe bet that the care and feeding of pets in Minecraft might cause a new global recession. Fortunately, Notch would be able to bail out the European Union and the lower 48, and still manage to get out updates in between. If you can’t get enough of placing blocks for your own personal fortress, just wait until you have a menagerie of adorably blocky pets gazing out at you from custom-made habitats. Make them customizable and sharable on the internet, and forget about seeing baby sister again.
Computers, alpha-numeric displays? That’s just the beginning. Expect the community to build more useful solutions to computing problems out of dirt and cobble. Things like game-side input methods that allow players to spell out messages in torchlight, or valley-spanning versions of Pong. Forget playing Minecraft in Minecraft—by the end of 2011, when the aliens land, we’ll harness their technology to play Crysis 3 in Minecraft. All we need is a little push. Given what people have already done in 2010, somebody not from Alpha Centauri could certainly do it.
The Crafter’s Cup
Spleef. Through the name reminds us of a gastric disorder or something the dog just did in the corner, there’s no denying the incredible potential of a game that actually inspires its players to create other games to play inside it. And while Spleef can be played in the current iteration of beta, perhaps the team at Mojang will provide the community with blocks and items specifically designed for games within the game. Things like balls, or safezones, traps or goals. If that happens, count on the community to organize massive tournaments, in which these games come to define the various servers for which they are created. It may be a far cry from the Super Bowl, but if Koreans can get people to watch professional Starcraft matches on TV, expect the first league of Minecraft athletes to emerge in the next year.
What Kylie did for us in the late 80’s, Notch may do for us in 2011—get us moving. After all, how could you edit the most important invention of humankind (after the internet—thanks, Mr. Vice President) out of a game designed to foster emergent gameplay? The wheel would open up a whole new dimension of innovation into our beloved pastime. Yes, Notch has already said that cars and other self-powered devices will likely not make the game. But imagine a world in which moving large quantities of materials, or putting creations on wheels, allow constantly reconfigurable homes and landscapes? We can see the PVP server now, with its siege engines, mobile defense platforms, and slave caravans. And we want to go to there.
“Render Unto Notch…”
Coins, Notch says, are probable. We can see it now—Mojang’s inexplicable sewing machine icon on one side, Notch’s bearded face on the other. Imagine the possibilities of a system built into the game that goes beyond bartering for wool or coal or diamond. What will change? Expect SMP server denizens to begin specializing in crafting certain items. Now, you can charge your customers ten coins for every block that comes from your obsidian farm, and buy that unnecessary diamond hoe you’ve been too lazy to fashion yourself. The Hoe Man does good work, he does. Now imagine that you can go online to a Mojang facilitated store—and buy premade buildings, farms, or block packs. Which brings us to our next prediction…
To the Cloud!
Notch has mentioned the possibility of uploading buildings to the server, for import into world generation. Imagine coming across a ruined castle in that recently spawned southern continent, complete with crumbling battlements and a chest full of goodies? It could happen in 2011. An opt-in system would allow players to decide what they want allowed to be imported into their games automatically—new fantasy themed mobs, or maybe futuristic buildings, a combination of authenticated mods and in-game creations. As Minecraft runs into its block limit, expect this to be the wave of the future: the reins of new content handed over from Notch to the community, a symbiotic partnership. Just don’t be surprised when early versions of the system surprise you by downloading intimate cobblestone body partssmack-dab inthe middle of your new jungle biome. Some people…
WHAT are YOUR PREDICTIONS for 2011? TELL CRAFTHUB!