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!