Minecraft

Notch mega-interview: 0x10c, micropayments, Kickstarter and quantum computing

Marsh Davies at

Notch's work-in-progress ship editor.

Going back to that subscription fee - isn’t everyone else backing away from that payment model as fast as they can? Will it work for an indie game?

Maybe - we'll see! We might change the model if the players want some kind of free-to-play system, as they call it. Not that it is really free - because the expected revenue for a free-to-play game is higher than from the paying customers.

PCG: Just add hats! How do you feel about microtransactions in general?

For games which have been designed around it, I think it's fine. I mean just look at games like Magic the Gathering or even Scrolls - they’re based around collection, so it's fine. I think Valve managed to somehow change Team Fortress 2 into a different game where it fit. It's not the same game as it was when it was released but it's still an entertaining game. Except the last Halloween update confused and scared me. There was a transparent ghost running around and if I reached him I got superpowers? I don't know what was happening.

You’ve already experimented with microtransactions with skinpacks. How did that go?

Those are good. They don't affect the gameplay. And the charity pack - I don't remember the amount of money it made but it was quite a lot. So that was fun. But I'm so afraid of having different reasons for making games. Like, if you get rewarded for withholding parts of the game as a game developer you might be tempted down a slippery slope. One of the models in the 360 version has a different walking animation and I wonder: is that really okay? It's just aesthetic but still I'm really afraid of pushing that boundary. So I think for 0x10c we'll see when we're closer to having a finished game if we'll try and do something that's not the monthly fee. But we're going to have to monetise it somehow.

Do you really have to? Mojang's survival is probably not dependant on the success of 0x10c.

Well, it's true we could monetise it from Minecraft sales, I guess. But then all of 0x10c development is going to be a monetary burden. It puts it in the situation where it's more like a charity game - but you're still charging for it. I'd rather have it be self-sustaining or it feels wrong.

Do you care what people think about it now? I mean surely all the pressure's off.

About the game? I've gotten to the point where I don't really worry about it. When I put up the first Youtube videos I was kind of nervous, but now that it's out there and people have seen it, it's fine. The people who like it seem to be very eager about it. There's a lot of people actually playing with the CPU already.

Oh really?

It's slowed down a bit now but there's a huge, huge community around it so I think once we get the tools out they'll actually be able to do some cool stuff with it.

What do you think people are going to build with it?

Everything! Some people are working on a custom OS to be able to load different programs while it's running and of course docking computers and stuff like that are going to be necessary for the game, unless you're a really skilled pilot. I guess like if you put a turret with a sensor it could be like an automated sentry turret as well. And of course people are going to make pointless things like emulators for Ultima 1 or something.

You've not started building the planets yet, but do you have any idea what kind of gameplay will take place on them?

The idea is that, with things like turrets, you have a 3D printer to build the shell, like a computer case shell, but you still have to put components in there. Players in the game aren't really engineers - they're more like pilots, so they can't build those parts. You have to scavenge for those parts, and find abandoned ships and try to find a working CPU or something. And those could have slightly different attributes: you might find a CPU running at 105% and try to trade that. But you can also mine for basic resources, like if you want a gold computer case – we'll see if we actually have different materials, but that's what I want – you have to mine for gold and put it in the 3D printer.

Mine as in Minecraft mining?

Probably not, no. Because then we have to change the terrain and changing the terrain on a lot of planets and storing that is not going to be viable.

What's the kind of the interaction between players going to be like?

Oh I don't know at all. I could speculate, but it's very hard to predict. I want people to have specialised roles. Maybe by having some sort of levelling up and points system where you can kind of specialise. Then I was thinking of having permadeath where it's easy to level up but when you die it resets all your skill points. But you get to keep the ship at least.

Hit the next page for Notch's thoughts on Kickstarter, Oculus Rift, quantum computer and the fate of Microsoft.