Category: Randomness


I recently sunk $10 and a 10-hour overnighter into a game I stumbled across.

What do you get when you combine:

  • Hyrule Field from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
  • Rogue-like dungeon crawl randomness
  • Legos
  • Diablo II's Horadric Cube
  • Art-style of Settlers of Cataan

You get the fiercely-addictive Minecraft. In alpha development for $10 from www.minecraft.net, Minecraft showcases a subtractive design that removes all unnecessary game elements (including almost all text!). In that spirit, I'll let davidr64yt walk you through his initial discoveries in Minecraft:

Episode 001:

Episode 002:

And the big reveal:

Single-Player Content

As you've seen, the single player content lacks many things you'd expect in a modern game:

  • Story to show context
  • Names to properly label things
  • Stats of various items/attacks/abilities
  • Quests to guide the player towards goals
  • Instructions of any kind

While the lack of a tutorial and basic instructions is a detriment (presumably fixed soon through the grayed-out Tutorial menu option), removing so much baggage basically boils the game down to:

  • Survive

The threat of death (which drops your items then respawns you at your beginning point – it's more like "the threat of inconvenience") taps into your primal urges. Survival means finding, gathering, and storing a surplus of:

  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Weapons

Luckily, all humans come preprogrammed desiring to do such things, and Minecraft has analogs and tech trees for all three. Due to the Lego-like nature of building materials, you'll find yourself compelling to build elaborately designed structures either for practical purposes or for your own admiration. As a kid, I played with Legos and Construx for thousands of hours.

Multiplayer Content

I haven't delved into this, but this YouTube video suggests that Minecraft multiplayer servers are like cooperative ant farms that strive to build extraordinary things:

After all, building things is how humans came to dominate the planet.

I read a rumor that Notch (Minecraft designer/programmer) had his PayPal account frozen when it inexplicably skyrocketed plus $600,000. Not inexplicable – play some Minecraft and you'll see why!

I'm extremely fond of random numbers and their results. By extension, much of life, causes, and effects can be thought of as random numbers or random events, whether it's games, music, art, schoolwork, or just conversation. Without randomness, life would be utterly dull and boring, perhaps something akin to the movie "Groundhog Day."

I've preferred to have a roommate (even a couple potluck roommates!) simply because it adds randomness to otherwise an unwaveringly planned out daily routine.

Randomness can be a deep well of fun. Take for example this ultra-fast design challenge I just finished:

Album Cover I made using randomly-generated content

This is an album cover generated from random content on the internet. The rules I followed were:

  1. The first random wikipedia article title is the name of your band.
  2. The last four or five words of the last quote on this page is the name of your album.
  3. The third picture on this page no matter what is the album cover art.
  4. You now have 15 minutes design time to make an 8"x8" album cover.

I'm a huge fan of the Rogue-like (or more graphically-inclined Diablo-like) genre of games that imbue randomness into most everything, including enemy generation, item generation, dungeon generation, and event generation. Having suffered through 10+ hours of Dragon Age: Origins yesterday, I immediately slaked my thirst and bought Titan Quest: Immortal Throne from Steam today for $40 (preordering Darksiders in the process).

A healthy and well-executed dose of randomness adds infinite replayability to a game.