Minecraft creator Notch chats about design, regrets and piracy

By Garnett Lee, Mar 12, 2012 11:15am PDT

Minecraft creator Markus 'Notch' Persson took the stage for his "fireside chat" with a beer in hand. The fireplace was naturally a retro 8-bit style video of a burning log that perfectly reflected the Minecraft aesthetic. Over the next forty five minutes he casually talked about the design and development of the game, why there's no female character, and gave a little update to his take on piracy.

Notch explained that his approach while developing Minecraft was to go for the things he felt were missing as he played the game. The emergent play that happens in the game is something of a happy coincidence. This flaw-driven process works well for him because he plays a lot while developing. It's a critical part of the process as far as he's concerned that ensures that whatever is being worked on is fun. To this end he still plays the basic stuff all the time, exploring the world and seeing what happens.

For Notch, seeing the monster AI provided one of the biggest surprises. He talked about how much he enjoyed seeing wolves chasing sheep through the forest as a reflection of the spontaneous things players can come across in Minecraft. Those events will continue to provide unexpected moments, but it seems players have found everything there is to see in Minecraft, an inevitability with people deconstructing the code. There is still one thing, though, that Notch says people haven't found.

Not everything has been perfect working on Minecraft. Many have asked about having a female character in the game. They've tried to make one, but the blocky world simply doesn't translate to making a "girlie" model. They all looked too masculine. Notch also said that looking back he regrets adding in half blocks. All it really does, he says, is double the resolution of the environment. He won't turn back the page, though, because to do so would break cool things players have made. That's one of their development guidelines--they can nerf player behavior, but not building elements.

Notch closed with a few thoughts on piracy. He reiterated his position on the fallacy of the "lost sale" mentality (that a pirated game directly equates to a lost sale). Minecraft demonstrates that if you keep selling your game over time, you constantly have the opportunity to convert pirates into customers. Keep improving the game, and convince your players to buy in. He did say that piracy is wrong, but, as he puts it, "piracy is wrong like calling your friends an idiot is wrong."

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