288: Minecraft Maniac

Minecraft Maniac

As Lego sets become more sophisticated and specific, Minecraft is stepping in to fill the need for sheer, unbridled block-building creativity.

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When Lego Universe was announced, I imagined it as being what Minecraft is right now. Nothing pre-defined, every option open and available to you. It's sort of silly to see an indie developer get closer to what Lego meant to us all, than Lego corp. itself.

I think LEGO still sells the large, complex sets on their site. The coolest part of the LEGO magazine, it the catalog that comes twice a year. I love looking at the models of cars, houses, you know, the ones that take a long time to build.

Great article. That's the beauty of minecraft it gives me the same feeling of fun and imagination that I had with my lego set when I was little, except now I done have my ambition projects cut short because of a lack of blocks.

Great read. I totally agree about the Lego bit. The problem with a lot of Lego sets these days is the huge number of custom pieces for the models. The licensed properties like Star Wars and Indiana Jones are the worst for this. Instead of using the generic blocks in creative ways, they just design custom pieces that make the model look cool, but take all the creativity out of it.

I had the same basic problem with K'nex. I absolutely loved the Big Ball Factory. I love the idea in general, but what I adored about it was how they used nothing but the generic pieces. Okay, they also used the orange half pieces for connecting the roller coaster tubing, but that let you do loops and crazy things you couldn't otherwise do with the balls, so I let it slide. The later follow-ups were significantly less inspired. Trampoline Tower was pretty good, as it also basically used nothing but the generic pieces, with the exception of the solid triangular panels that formed the catch basins, but those are generic enough that I could see them as a general addition rather than something specifically for the ball factory.

Just because it looks like it should be on a shelf doesn't mean you can't still play with it! This is Lego we're talking about. If it falls apart, you can just put it back together! And pre-set models haven't stopped me from making my own designs. Minecraft is just...
More.

To me the beauty of minecraft is the generation of your own personal order from the random chaos of the map. A lot of this is reflected in my own personal desire, and the desire shown by many others, to build something symmetrical. I have recently completed a tower which reaches the very top of the game, as I imagine most have, and it's wonderful to look out at a jagged and cluttered landscape and see where your own personal vision has touched it. Where even the forest grow in neat little lines.

EDIT: which when you think about it, or perhaps just me, this is a mirror of what all living things do. Now this may seem a bit of a stretch, but compared to the in-organic world living things have an amazing level of complexity generated from the disorder of the universe. And by disorder I mean in the scientific sense, such as an drop of ink spreading through water until it is distributed as evenly as possible.

James May put it well when he reckoned this:


was better than this:

In the sense that what really encourages creativity, imagination and experimentation is access to the basic fundamentmental 'blocks' with no set purpose or procedure attached rather than pre-sculpted pieces which implicitly remind you 'you MUST build this way'. I'm glad to see an environment that places the full range of creative elements in the hands of the user and I'm even more pleased to see that the PC community have responded so well and given 'Minecraft' the attention it duly deserves.

My friend Rez had this to say about another game way back in March 2000:

Rez sez:
... the authors set out to create an "immersive" environment, but without ensuring interesting gameplay, under the apparent belief that this "immersion" alone will make it fun to play. Fact is, it works the other way around: interesting gameplay itself creates and sustains that immersive environment! It can look like damn near anything so long as the gameplay creates flow, and the player's imagination will fill in the blanks as suggested by what he sees and how it plays. These... echo my major criticism of most recent children's toys: They do the playing for the child, stifling both imagination and involvement. It's no wonder kids so quickly grow bored with the newer generation of toys. Yet you can keep a kid entertained and creatively busy literally for years on end with toys like original Legos, Tinker Toys, American Bricks, or even a sandbox, because such toys do none of the thinking for the kid-- they merely suggest.

I hope if I have a kid one day, to be able to pass down my Lego sets to them, because the new sets are nothing like the ones I grew up with.

vxicepickxv:
I hope if I have a kid one day, to be able to pass down my Lego sets to them, because the new sets are nothing like the ones I grew up with.

This is true, but it's interesting to see how the Lego men have evolved. I think my favorite part about Lego, when growing up, was all the weapons, armor, and accessories you could apply to your Lego men.

Let's face it, Lego isn't Lego any more.

I have no end of love for Minecraft, but I think you're selling modern Lego short. People like the late Nate "nnenn" Nielson and Fredo "Fredoichi" Houben prove that even in the less blocky Lego era, there's plenty to be creative about. Seriously, look at this stuff:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/nnenn/5223063756
http://www.flickr.com/photos/fredoichi/3973455705
...and so many others.

It's just a different aspect of creativity; the re-purposing of specialised things rather than shaping the identity of raw things.

These are cool, but they aren't any fun. They all look like they should be on a shelf, not on the floor. No chance for imagination.

octafish:
Let's face it, Lego isn't Lego any more.

You both seem to have a very limited view of Lego. May I point out the various brick buckets they still do (http://shop.lego.com/ByTheme/Leaf.aspx?cn=306&d=362) or the fact that, it being Lego, you can just take the set you bought apart and turn it into something else anyway? You don't have to follow the instructions and you don't have to leave something you've built complete.

A few weeks back, my 8 year old nephew came to my home. He always runs directly to my room to see if I have any new games to play, and I did have one. I always struggled to show some of my hottest games to him, because he's younger and I feel pretty unconfortable showing him M rated games, I even gave him a copy I made of my original disk of Crysis. And also he gets bored of watching me play a regular MMO and he easily gets very frustrated if I let him play Super Meat Boy.

But last time he came, I showed him Minecraft and he left completely fascinated by it. We spent the whole noon playing together, the game was pretty inofesive (and terrifying) for him and we both enjoyed it immensely. When I showed him the game, I started a new world, showing him the mechanics and why was it necessary to survive the night. He even loved the graphics, to him, the game didn't looked pixelated as I may call them, they were just "blocky" for him and he always marvelled at strange "natural" formations that the game randomly generated.

It's a bit sad that the game in it's actual beta status won't give the full access to the entire game as if I bought it from alpha (wich I did), because if I knew before that he would like it so much, I'd gladly buy the game for him. I found the perfect "Lego" for him.

The thing about Minecraft is people look at it and say "Oh, that looks stupid." But then they get bored and they remember how you sounded when you told them about it - giddy and awe-inspired and anxious to play more all at the same time, so they try it.

Then they're hooked. Someone new to Minecraft, creative (as I introduced it to a friend, lacking a paid-for copy), or survival, can easily spend hours in their first play session.

Nothing like making something entirely your own - even if it sucks.

And then...image

Brendan Sears:
Minecraft Maniac

As Lego sets become more sophisticated and specific, Minecraft is stepping in to fill the need for sheer, unbridled block-building creativity.

Read Full Article

Complete agreement from me. It's why I wholly abandoned Legos. I do, however, recommend Creationary--it's Pictionary by way of Lego. It recaptures some of the original magic.

Pre-fab kits are the problem. There are increasingly specialized pieces, and it gets harder and harder to convince yourself they could be something else. This piece is pretty clear a special-shaped cockpit window, and finding another use for it isn't worth the hassle.

The job of a Lego kit should be to teach the user how certain pieces work. Ever wonder what the deal is with that goofy hinge thing? Well, building this drawbridge will show you how it can be used. And then you can use it for other things! But these licensed kits don't work that way. In trying to use licenses to stay relevant, Lego has lost the only portion of the toy that was worth saving to begin with--pure, unhindered creation.

I told my buddy that "Minecraft is lego for adults" of course we still play with lego so thats not saying much.

They need a Tron-Minecraft game that doesn't get sued by Disney, Lego, and/or Minecraft.

Believe it or not, I actually still dabble in Legos every now and then, so Minecraft isn't necessarily needed to fill that void.

Not saying that Minecraft isn't fun, however.

You guys do know there are still sets out there that don't have so many of the fancy pieces, right? The Lego Creator series are entirely blocks, no special pieces. I've bought several of them in the past year, and none of the boxed products sit on my shelf. They are all amalgams of my ideas, available blocks, and unstaunched creativity.

That being said, the availability of Minecraft and it's potential for building on a colossal scale are something that Lego is harder pressed to offer. That kind of building requires lots of sets, and that means money. While our new digital crack doesn't offer the thrill of having to substitute for missing pieces, it does have thousands of the available bricks.

But, I still remember building entire rooms full of Lego constructions, and the swears heard when someone stepped on an errant brick.

I would love a game with the potential of Tron's grid - that would be magic. To start with nothing but tools, and to design not only a world but also the rules of the world, to sculpt their evolution... Man, I wish I had a head for programming :/ I guess Minecraft will do :D

Wicky_42:
I would love a game with the potential of Tron's grid - that would be magic. To start with nothing but tools, and to design not only a world but also the rules of the world, to sculpt their evolution... Man, I wish I had a head for programming :/ I guess Minecraft will do :D

There are tron image packs to replace the textures in minecraft. Not the same by any imagination, but still cool.

[quote] I have no end of love for Minecraft, but I think you're selling modern Lego short. People like the late Nate "nnenn" Nielson and Fredo "Fredoichi" Houben prove that even in the less blocky Lego era, there's plenty to be creative about. Seriously, look at this stuff:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/nnenn/5223063756
http://www.flickr.com/photos/fredoichi/3973455705
...and so many others.

It's just a different aspect of creativity; the re-purposing of specialised things rather than shaping the identity of raw things.
[quote]

Those are very impressive pictures, however, I have seen far more impressive things done with Lego, using the newer parts that are specialized, but also a great many of the older parts that aren't, but for the record, the people that build those things have invested well over a 1000$ into their Lego collections so they can build that stuff. The thing is a kid with a 20$ allowance won't ever be able to get a collection like that, and the sets they can buy are mostly specialized parts like that one dump truck someone posted a picture of. 90% of that set, as large as it is, is made up of about 7 parts, specialized. all those parts can be used to do really cool things, but its hard to trump having lots of the generic parts like the older sets had, they are simply more versatile, simply put, I can do a lot more with 50 generic bricks then 7 specialized ones.

Wow - the majority of you are a bunch of marroons. If Lego, and the people who build with it are so void of imagination, could one of you geniuses please explain www.brothers-brick.com to me. Or how about everyone at www.eurobricks.com?

Clearly none of you really have any idea what you're talking about.

So, you know, well done with that.

 

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