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Why Do I Suddenly Hate Minecraft?



I have a long history with Minecraft. My introduction to the game was also my first time playing or discussing games over the internet. It's no exaggeration to say Minecraft changed the trajectory of my life, and over the years I've clocked in countless hours in that blocky world.

So... why can I suddenly not stand it?

Why Minecraft Is Amazing

First, let's discuss all the things I love about the game. The thing that's always stood out to me with Minecraft is how creative it is. Not that the game is creative—it presents a fairly generic world with a few clever designs peppered in—but that the game allows for player creativity.

Arguably, the whole point of Minecraft is expression. You are given a limitless world and a vast palette of materials to turn this "generic" world into something of your creation. Once while pondering Minecraft, I realized how much it captures the deeply human desire to make a mark on the world. Here you are, dropped into a natural world, and slowly you reshape it in your image. That's an incredibly human concept, and I think that's part of why the game resonates so well.

And if the vanilla game isn't enough for you, the world of Minecraft mods offers virtually limitless possibilities. Each mod stacks more and more complexity to the game, and allows you to tweak the experience to your tastes. I didn't really appreciate mods until later, but once the core game got predictable to me I fell in love with them. Throw on a big modpack, and it creates a world so vast and complex, dozens of hours in and you're only scratching the surface.

Even without mods, there are so many ways to play Minecraft. I've always been a normal-difficulty survival player, with a focus on making cool buildings and redstone contraptions. But I know people who are all about Hardcore mode, where a single death is permanent. Others like Creative Mode, with its limitless resources to build freely. Some like to play single player, while others would rather be on a server with others. There are even countless multiplayer minigames and maps, such as Hunger Games-style death matches to far more creative ideas. Some people create or play Adventure Maps, which can be as small as a few rooms or as vast as an entire game. 

Truly, Minecraft is a game about expression, and to me that has always been its strongest feature.

Flattering Imitation

Did Minecraft create the survival crafting genre? Probably not, although it sure made it mainstream. Because of that an endless barrage of similar titles hit the market as Minecraft's popularity rose. That became the go-to genre that every game developer wanted in on (something the industry would later try again with battle royale games).

Most of these are cheap knock-offs, but some are arguably better games. Terraria takes the randomized world and crafting concept, but adds a much more satisfying gameplay loop of combat and looting. 7 Days To Die goes for a more realistic horror approach, and its crafting system feels much deeper and more rewarding than Minecraft ever did. And Ark... added dinosaurs? (I haven't actually played Ark, so forgive my ignorance here).

The point is, many of the games that sprouted in the shadow of Minecraft are better in many ways. Yet there was always something special about the original, and I loved it regardless. 

What Changed?

This post revolves around a single question; why don't I like Minecraft anymore? It's a personal question, but I don't think I'm alone in feeling something off about the game lately. It's still enormously popular... but not as much so. New updates and features come out, but people don't seem to talk about it with the same energy anymore. 

Obviously there are still people who enjoy the game greatly, and more power to them. But I'm genuinely curious what made the excitement dwindle for myself and others like me.

I thought the game would go downhill the moment Microsoft bought it. When I heard the news, my first reaction was, "Welp, that was fun while it lasted." I expected Microsoft would run Minecraft into the ground, ruin it with greedy practices and turn it into something unrecognizable.

Except... they didn't really do that. Sure, there are micro-transations in the Bedrock version of the game, and the original Java Edition is slowly being phased out... but overall they seem to have kept the spirit of Minecraft mostly intact. Even to this day it gets big free updates at a steady pace.

So what did happen? I don't know for sure, but I do have a theory... 

Evolution Without Revolution

This month, Minecraft is going to be a decade old. In that time Minecraft has come a long way, and added many new features, but the core of it is the same as it's been since its 2009 debut.

And that's a problem.

Don't get me wrong; Minecraft is still a great game. But in these 10 years, we've learned a lot about game design. There has been a lot more trial and error to see what works well in a game, and what doesn't. Minecraft pushed the survival crafting genre forward by leaps and bounds... then stopped where it was. 

Great games of the past will always be great, but that doesn't mean we should keep making games the same way. For example, I love Banjo-Kazooie—I think it is an exemplary 3D collect-a-thon gushing with heart and fun design. So when Yooka-Laylee came out promising a spiritual successor, I was thrilled... until I played it. Yooka-Laylee was similar to Banjo-Kazooie, in both the good and bad ways. The controls were clunky, the camera was spastic, and the level design was sometimes needlessly vague and directionless. Yooka-Laylee upscaled the graphics, but was still reading from the 1990s game design playbook.

We're hitting a point in the games industry where radical changes are happening, and I think that's awesome. It's exponential revolution, not linear evolution. The best example of what I mean is in the Legend of Zelda series. 3D Zelda games followed the formula laid out by Ocarina of time for many years... until Breath of the Wild took the franchise into fresh and uncharted territory. Not that there was anything wrong with the old structure, but it was time to take all they learned from that series and other trends in gaming to create a revolutionary new Zelda game.

I think that's what I want from Minecraft. A "Minecraft 2," if you will.

What would that even look like? I don't know, to be honest. Something that makes the survival crafting genre fun again. Maybe learning from looter games to incorporate a more satisfying gameplay loop. The grind while mining in Minecraft is, I think, very nice, but other materials are no fun to gather. Without creating an elaborate farm, going out and fighting things for resources feels slow and unsatisfying. While we're at it, overhaul the crafting system. Give everything more purpose. And hey, maybe rework the idea of redstone and automation. Right now redstone is neat, but needlessly large and clunky. Give us the tools to make smaller, more elegant machines in the game.

Oh, and here's a must-have; make it easier to do multiplayer. The convoluted mess of simple multiplayer is astounding. It's not as bad in Bedrock, sure, but if I just want to play with a single friend in Java I need to set up a local server, open ports... in today's age, it's absolutely archaic. 

A Steve Can Dream

Does this mean I hate Minecraft and will never play it? No, but, well... kinda. I have a really hard time getting exciting to pop back in and play it now. I still love and appreciate the game for what it is, but the idea of investing time in a new world now just doesn't sound like much fun.

To be honest, I don't expect this to happen. Minecraft is still printing money, and I can't see them messing with the formula, so long as it's still working. What I do hope to see is a new indie game hit it big with these changes. There have been no shortage of attempts, but I feel there's still room for a great newcomer to arrive and kick Minecraft off the throne of survival crafting games.

I'll be keeping an eye out.

Now I really want to know YOUR opinion! Do you still enjoy Minecraft? What about it is still fun to you, after all these years? What would you want to see in a "Minecraft 2?" Would you even want that at all? Let's start a discussion in the comments below!

Comments

  1. I agree with pretty much every point you made. I fell in love with Minecraft at the same time everyone else did. And, I think, I fell out of love with it at the same time everyone else did. It was fun single player for a while, then I branched out and had some fun with multiplayer. But when the game stopped feeling fresh, there was little reason to play it over other things. Even good designs get boring eventually. Once you've done it all in Minecraft, you've really done it all, and repeating the same steps over and over loses its charm. What's the point in setting up an EXP farm? To get better equipment . . . to do what? Kill the Ender Dragon? Been there, done that. Make red stone contraptions? Cool, but for what purpose? It's fine to have a non-linear sandbox game, but without any sort of new objectives, the grind becomes pointless.

    I'll still pop into the game once or twice a year and dittle around for a couple hours, but that's it. For me to want to sink time into it again, it would need to feel new. New survival mechanics, new crafting recipes and tools, and new objectives beyond survive and hoard resources.

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    1. Sounds like we're really in the same boat. I'd also like to add that there IS something intrinsically rewarding about slowly crafting something amazing, like a huge base or massively terraformed area. The problem I have is it's not really fun to get most materials in the game. Mass amounts of wood? Wool? Or monster drops like Ender Pearls or (one of the worst offenders) slime balls? There's no fun medium ground. Either explore and hope to run into the appropriate monster to get the items veeeeeery slowly, or build a farm. But if you don't LIKE building farms... it's not a good time.

      I mentioned briefly, but I think one area where Minecraft does this well is mining. Sure, it's pretty monotonous, but in a good, zen way. You can strip mine for hours, and have a fairly reliable chance at getting decent materials. I just wish other materials could have a similar flow to acquiring them.

      Discussing this makes me want to revisit 7 Days to Die. That game gets a lot of this stuff right, but last time I played it lacked a lot of polish. Might pick that up again, and maybe review it to contrast this post.

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  2. With me, Minecraft is a game that waxes and wanes. It tends to depend on what I'm doing in the real world and what my current projects, in-game, look like. It's not structured, and while that's not a bad thing, you don't get much out of shorter play sessions. I can pop onto Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon and complete a couple missions when I have spare time before I do something else. I can roll onto Smash Bros and have a few matches. Metroidvania or collect-a-thon titles also do the open-world thing, but there's still a goal to accomplish, or ignore, that you don't have to just come up with.

    I think my biggest problem in Minecraft isn't something in the game as much as it's me. I get easily distracted, hate resource grinding for big projects, and numerous small projects do not keep your drive to play alive at all. This is even worse when you consider that I enjoy the game more with other people, so the world evolves without my input, making it feel more "lived in" than a single-player experience.

    Interestingly, most of the updates to "Java Edition" since 1.8 (which, coincidentally is around when Mojang was bought by Microsoft) have been...rough around the edges, in terms of content. In the TF2 community, we're seeing similar issues. Updates keep the game alive, and we've not gotten many (overall) well-received, content-filled updates in the past year or two. Like...the combat changes in 1.9 made the game a bit harder (Bedrock has none of it, btw), and Curse of Vanishing just inherently is terrible, but we also now have the shield, which was pretty powerful, on release. Since then, it's become even more ridiculously good and can have infinite durability.

    Yes, at its core, the game is the same with more blocks and mobs than when it first dropped, and I doubt that would ever truly change. I don't think they could ever release anything that captured the public like Minecraft did, back then. I don't think they should try to, either. I seriously doubt Mojang will ever be more than a one-trick pony, because of the fact that I can't think of whatever they could do to shake things up, keep it feeling fresh, and legit feel like the improved version of what we grew to love. Just look at how fast, for example, Minecraft: Story Mode fell out of the public eye, after the second chapter dropped.

    End of the day, I think Minecraft has its place, and I'm glad new content gets added on. It helps refresh most players drive to experience it, but keeps a seriously high level of familiarity and replayability because Minecraft is, and will always be, bigger than the sum of its parts and as simple as you want it to be, simultaneously. It comes and goes with all of us, and if we feel a drive to return to it, we can at any time. No worries.

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