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Talking the Future of Minecraft

January 27, 2012 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 4 Next

So, moving forward, your primary goal is this modding stuff.

JB: Yes, for the moment, it is.

I guess you got to Minecraft 1.0. Certainly it's not done.

JB: No.

There's no such thing as done, is there?

JB: No. It will never be done. But, as I said, it kind of feels silly of me to sit and work three days to add a new animal to the game when there are thousands of people who would like to spend three days to add an animal to the game, so that's why I changed my priorities.

There's also this fuzzy line. You're talking about working with people who've already figured out ways to mod the game. You've always had this really tight community focus for the game. Do you think that certain things will cross that line and become part of Minecraft?

JB: Yes. I am hoping to be able to use some parts of the community solutions. The problem is, first, there are several different competing community projects. So, all of them say they are the best, and they say they have the most supporters, and nd they don't really communicate with each other.

The second problem is that they are usually projects based off of loose individuals sitting all over the world. So, when I go to their leader and ask them in what kind of legal sense can we cooperate, they don't know. They don't know who owns the code. They don't know who is supposed to be compensated if we use their stuff.

We're looking to expand Mojang, so we're looking at talented game designers and programmers, so I also try to be like, "So, who's really contributing to this project?" And they're like, "No, no, all nine of us are contributing equally!" [laughs]

Yeah, there are some obstacles. I will continue to communicate to them, but in the end, I will probably use them more as inspiration than actually just copy/pasting it because of these legal problems.

Did you ever consider open sourcing at least parts of Minecraft so people could actually commit changes or anything like that? Or do you all want to centrally control it?

JB: Yeah. Actually, that would probably help us a lot if we did that. I think we're just afraid of what it means to open source parts of the code. We've been talking about it a lot, but I think nobody really dares to actually put it there because you can't take it back. [laughs] I mean, we intend to expand on Minecraft for a long time. I think probably we're safe, but just in case, it's easier to just sit on the project and keep it internal. Even though the whole source code is already available on the internet. It's just not officially open source.

Did you put it out there?

JB: No. People have de-obfuscated the code. Since it's Java. First, they created their own names for all the classes. I have cooperated with some of the mod teams, and I have given them the proper mappings for the class names. So now it's more or less identical to our code. That's more fine, because it's kind of beneficial. They know that it's still proprietary.

You have this tight connection with your community, and you have so much enthusiasm, and you're attracting so many people, that you're going into uncharted territory and making decisions that are probably tough.

JB: Yeah. [laughs]

Like [CEO] Carl [Manneh] was saying, you're trying to grow in a very controlled way as a company and not get out of bounds.

JB: Yeah.

I'm sure you have more that you want to do than you can do at the moment, right?

JB: Yeah. Yeah, but I think it's good. I don't think we should rush things. It would be nice just to add mostly three people to the team and no more than that, at least for a while. And three is a lot, I think. And people will have to have some patience. But yeah, there's also this, as I said, with the sandbox thing, people want different things. People also feel entitled to demand things.

On the internet? No.

JB: [laughs] The problem is it's impossible to please everybody because one of the things we've been talking about even since I started working here is we need support for different languages in Minecraft. And now finally in the last week, I started implementing that, and got a lot of crowd-sourced translation advice. And then I got a lot of angry messages. "Why are you wasting time on translations? What's the problem with English? Go back to add features!" [laughs]

You can't win.

JB: No, no. You can't. But I got a lot of happy emails as well. Sometimes you please that part, and sometimes you please other parts.

At least from the outside, Minecraft seems to evolve naturally, and it evolves in step with what the community wants. How far out do you plan?

JB: Usually we don't plan very far ahead. It's like one week at a time. We have general ideas of where we're heading. Like in this case, I know what I have to do mod the API, but I don't know when it will be ready, or when we'll plan to release it. I will just let it take its time. Also, a lot of the features that we've added during the last year have been in the morning, Notch just said, "Ah, I want to do a snowman," and then in the afternoon we have a snowman.

Article Start Previous Page 2 of 4 Next

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