gdc 2012

Notch Talks Minecraft Development, Regrets, And Piracy

by Tim Turi on Mar 07, 2012 at 01:55 PM

Today at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, Markus Persson, aka Notch, participated in an insightful chat headed by Spore developer and creator of Spy Party, Chris Hecker. Lit by the gentle glow of a crackling 8-bit fireplace, Notch shared some interesting Minecraft facts, development regrets, and a few thoughts on piracy.

Some interesting tidbits from the chat:

  • Minecraft on the Xbox 360 will take advantage of your friends list for multiplayer
  • While all the recipes have been discovered, Notch says there is still something secret in the game nobody has discovered yet
  • The combustible creeper enemies used to explode independent of the player’s location. If one fell and died near your home, you could return to discover huge damage
  • Responding to the question “if you could describe yourself as any Minecraft block, what would you be?”, Notch says he would be sand, because he “falls down so much.” He also thinks it’s a stupid question.
  • Blocks didn’t always crack before breaking apart. They were added as an experiment and kept in place because of how satisfying it felt
  • Before monsters had path-finding AI, wolves unexpectedly began eating sheep. This emergent behavior fit so well Notch kept it in.
  • Notch on a ditched female character model: “I tried making a girl model but it ended up being extremely sexist.” The blocky nature of Minecraft has made it difficult to create a decent-looking female character model
  • Notch says the most rewarding aspect of game development for him is solving technical problems while programming and squashing weird bugs.
  • Notch regrets adding half-blocks because all it did was double the amount of verticality in the game and undermined the overall cube aesthetic. He also regrets not beginning work on multiplayer earlier so the process could have been smoother
  • Notch tries to avoid altering the game in a way that breaks players’ cool creations
  • He calls the business model used to sell early Minecraft betas the Minecraft Cortex Command Model
  •  Notch believes you have unlimited chances to turn those who pirate games into paying customers. He also believes that the copying and distribution of pirated versions games doesn’t necessarily translate to “stolen money.” He says the risks anti-piracy practices present to internet freedom are not worth the potential gains