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A good look back at what put Notch on the map.

Updated on February 8, 2015

VOV Plays Dwarf Fortress

Notch who are you?

Notch who are you? Notchian Philosophy?

Who wants a sandbox?

February 2011

By Andres Atencio

edited 5/28/14

Notchian Philosophy might as well be made up. Right here and now I am making it up. Well, let's see where this is going. You take a name like Notch and make it synonymous with an insane selling game called Minecraft and there you have a potent brew. Just who the hell is Notch? Where did he get the name Notch? Why do the piggies disturb your beautifully crafted dwelling. Well, I don't have all the answers but I definitely have maybe two. Notch Persson is the developer of acclaimed game Minecraft. How he made it up is anyone's guess. Maybe we can healthily speculate how the game was made. So as I listen to Coldplay's Clocks I wonder about just how Persson pulled off this gem of a game. It wasn't the graphics because the graphics are well, blocky. It wasn't the ever generating world. It wasn't even the damn creepers that blow up your villages. So what was it? How did this Notch present this game to whoever backed it? Let me take you into the made up Notchian Philosophy. Where truths will be revealed and Ender's will be seen visually. Let's just picture with our imaginations. You're Notch and you were asked to make whatever game. You just sipped a hot coffee or chocolate and came up with a brilliant idea for a game. In the Notchian Philosophy you go balls deep and go all out! You have now made Minecraft. Now this is just high speculation. What really happened. Are we treated to that Early Grey Notch just drank or we treated to the evolution that was Minecraft's baby roots. Who knows. I must gather more research to quell your questions. I know...I know...you have a lot. You reader are so wise. Let me go research for you.

.................................click............................click...........Notch.......

................................click.......................click............Minecraft....

.........................click............clickitty........click.....baby roots........

A Ha! I the writer have found something very interesting. You will have to listen very carefully, I have a secret. Will you tell if I tell you? Okay, then I have uncovered some great research from Notch himself. Yes, interviews are often beautiful blueprints of a conversation. Let's both be a fly on the wall. Ready?

According to Gamasustra Notch was interviewed in 2010. So we're going way back. Alex Handy is our guide. Handy is the writer. According to Handy he asks Notch when he learned how to program. Here are Notch's words " Notch.": My father bought a Commodore 128 when I was seven years old, and we started subscribing to a computer magazine. It was a huge one, newspaper format, and it had program listings in it that you could enter into your computer to get a silly little game or fun effect and things like that.

I started entering them, and noticed that they broke or did different things if you changed what you entered. I don't remember exactly how fast this process was, but I know I made my first own program when I was eight years old. It was an extremely basic text adventure game where you had to enter the correct sentences to move on to the next room ("open the door", "kill the ninja", that stuff). - Notch: My father bought a Commodore 128 when I was seven years old, and we started subscribing to a computer magazine. It was a huge one, newspaper format, and it had program listings in it that you could enter into your computer to get a silly little game or fun effect and things like that. -According to Gamasutra's Alex Handy.

Notch was in fact a goddamn genius much akin to Mozart. Let's read on. So we now have a small piece of to who Notch was. Did you know that Notch is Swedish? I had no idea either but Magnus Karlsson is also Swedish. Just keeping you on your toes.

What other wisdom does Notch have to tell our audience?

Dwarf Fortress? Oh you mean with the really complex animations that aren't so complex as the game is brutally difficult? That game. Yeah I've played that game.

What do you think of Dwarf Fortress?

Dwarf Fortress is one of the best games out there. For me, it's the similarity to Dungeon Keeper that's the biggest draw, closely followed by how much it draws from roguelikes. I used to play Ancient Domains of Mystery a lot a few years back, and it always had a certain mystical magical feeling to it.Dwarf Fortress has this too, and it's not just the lack of "real" graphics that does it, it's more the way you can suddenly fail totally and know it's your own fault. But you don't mind. You just start over, and start killing all cats on sight.

Dwarf Fortress and roguelikes in general are some of the biggest inspirations for the game-play ofMinecraft, and Toady One is a true hero. According to Gamasutra's Alex Handy.

Notch you must have learned how to be an immaculate programmer. How did you accomplish such a feat? Rather how did you learn how to make such a large and peculiar world?

Is this the first time you have worked with procedurally generated content?

I've been interested in procedurally generated content for a long time. Games like Daggerfall, Frontier(Elite 2), and roguelikes are very fascinating to me, they seem to hint at something bigger than just what the developer thought up. There's a certain elegance in telling the computer how to make a world to show to the player rather than to tell the computer what world to show.

When I was working on Wurm Online, I was in charge of making the maps, and intentionally used a very pseudo-random method for making them where not even I knew exactly what the maps looked like in detail.

With the Java4k competitions, I found it easier to do procedural graphics and content rather than to try to squeeze a lot of graphics into the file, and I practiced it a lot there. Ironically, my "big" games are mostly procedurally generated these days, while my two latest Java4k games both have pre-designed graphics and levels.- According to Gamasutra's Alex Handy.

Ah Ha! Pieces are falling together.

He's told us about the brilliance of Dwarf Fortress and how it hearkens back to the old school roots. He's told us about how he was encapsulated with procedurally generated content. Instead of the developer just having a pre-made world ready to go. I guess procedurally generated content makes some sort of mystery come alive.

So you probably want to know what Notch's inspiration came from. If he just crafted a brilliant world. Where did he just learn how to play games and think like a gamer. To somehow figure out that he had dying passion for gaming. To understand what games Notch plays and loves.

Our guide tell us more... What is your favorite game?

There are a lot of games I love, and picking just one as my favorite one is really difficult as they are so different. Doom, Half-Life, Dungeon Master 2, and Monkey Island are probably my top four games. In recent times, I really liked Oblivion, Dragon Age: Origins, CoD4: Modern Warfare, and Dwarf Fortress.

What is the first game you ever played?

I don't remember! It probably was something on the Commodore 128 my father bought. The first game I ever bought was Bard's Tale for C64. I didn't understand anything of it, but I remember it feeling very magical and wonderful.

One my earliest gaming memories is playing Raid on Bungling Bay on a black and white TV in our living room. I'd mostly fly around for a bit then try to land on the carrier again before the scary jet fighters started appearing. - According to Gamasutra's Alex Handy.

Bard's Tale for the Commodore 64 was a title I never played. Ever. I played something akin to a spaceship game with aliens. You'd have to spell words to kill them. The fact that he recants a magic world can be seen in Minecraft. The brilliant and serene environment that is in Minecraft is very mystical. He also talks of Daggerfall. For all you old school gamers out there, this is part of Elder Scrolls series.

Notch how interesting can you be? You not only gamed when you were younger you were a mini Mozart. And if that wasn't enough you knew how to program for real. You not only know what gamers want you do with awful graphics. Very awful in a very good way. In a way where you sit back and say I am playing with blocks but goddamn is it relaxing and then the creepers appear. And you're like I just built my house last night and they blew my front door open. The grimy bastards!

Which leads me into the next portion. Cue the drums there Handy!

Where is Minecraft going? You have a genius in Notchian Philosophy? But where I ask you is the future?

I hear you're planning on sticking with Minecraft for a while. Are you really hitting your stride with the game, or are you simply responding to the overwhelming interest?

I'm really comfortable with the game code by now (although there are some ugly hacks in there, as usual), and there's a million things that can be added. My original plan to have this be a shorter project are mainly driven by my desire to make more games and not just get "stuck" creatively. But since Minecraft seems to be getting quite popular and people seem to encourage all the things I add (even things not part of the original plan, such as nighttime, seasons and infinite maps), I decided to stick with this for as long as it's popular.- - According to Gamasutra's Alex Handy.

We're missing a piece. Remember I asked where are the roots. The Bloody Roots of Minecraft?

Well here they are!

How did you come across Infiminer?

There was a thread on it on the TIGSource forums about the same time as I was playing around with 3d tile based builder game from an isometric perspective. It was supposed to be a lightweight Dwarf Fortress. Kinda like if DF and Rollercoaster Tycoon had a baby. I made a blog post on the origins ofMinecraft here.

The visual style of Infiniminer is a really interesting one, since it both leaves a lot up to the imagination, and is highly representative (if a bit iconic in style), and suits tiny development teams very well. Not to mention it makes it possible to display millions of blocks at high framerates! - According to Gamasutra's Alex Handy.

There ya have it folks. Notchian Philosophy.

I hope you learned the name Infiminer because that's the whole roots of Notch and Minecraft. Thank our good friend and guide Alex Handy for giving us a mind's eye into the brilliant Notch. Thank you Notch for letting me right about you.

What's that there's a creeper in your sock drawer.

Seriously though guys I hope you learned something from this beautiful indie title.

It is a game that has transcended gamers and game developers. I give you Notchian Philosophy.

Not bad eh?

If you have not played Minecraft what are you waiting for? There are spooky noises in the game if you are in a hovel hole and all a sudden you hear a spider crawling up above your home, you're not alone. There are far worse things out there in the Minecraft universe.....

Like creepers!

As I sit here in a dark cave, listening to Arcade Fire “Black Mirror”, I begin to wonder when the zombies, spiders, will come for me. I have no torches as I peer out of a hole that is only a block wide.

Where am I? Well, the answer to that is relatively simple. I am in a cave. This is no ordinary cave but a cave randomized from a world called Minecraft(Alpha).

Minecraftis a free exploring, ‘builds-anything’ game for the PC. More simply put it’s a sandbox game. Who made Minecraft? Gnews reports, “By the efforts of the one-man developer Markus “Notch” Persson have been drawing all sorts of attention, the majority of it very favourable indeed.” (gnews.com)

It’s so much fun to make anything that pops into the ‘ole noodle.

What am I waiting for? I am waiting for the games engine cycle to turn day, so I can go mine freely wherever I want. The wait is very drawn out as I tab between Minecraft and social Facebook games.

A blocky pig starts jumping near my window. What other creatures lie outside my darkened cave? From what I have witnessed in this game so far is there are creatures that will kill you. Speaking of death Minecraft uses a health system similar to the videogame Ocarina of Time. Instead of a health bar there are hearts. Every time the player takes damage a heart depletes. Something also to notice is hitting the button I will allow the player to bring up their inventory.

So, this presents a problem and the gamer needs to have protection. In Minecraft building is the key.

When the player brings up the inventory there are four blocks on the left in grey. The player will notice these blocks have a head, torso, legs and feet icons. The player can craft pieces of armor into these blocks.

In my particular scenario I should have prepared myself better. The way to prepare oneself in the game is to make items. The way to make an item is to go look for wood. In the randomized world of Minecraft there are loads and loads of trees that litter the world. So it’s not that hard to go up to a tree and start attacking it with a fist.

When attacking it with a fist it’s advised that the player hold down the right mouse button, otherwise the tree will not break. That goes for anything else in the game regarding breaking blocks.

Here I sit wondering how I have not conjured up fire or a light bulb. In Minecraft it is possible to craft a torch. The way one goes about doing such an endeavor is grabbing wood from the tree and finding coal. Oh! By the way coal is presented as grey rock with black speckles. It can be found in various places throughout the world.

Once the player feels that they have enough wood, they can press the I button on the keyboard. The I button enables the player to bring up the inventory. In the inventory many combinations of making anything can occur.

For example, when looking at the inventory box, the player can choose to make a torch. Now, the player would be heavily advised to make the glowing light during the day, as to not stir the death pot, of spiders, skeletons, exploding green slime guys, and or other foes.

On to the crafting, so once there is enough wood bring up the inventory box and put one piece of wood in the four boxes. It will say crafting above the gray bar which is the inventory box. The one piece of wood will make four planks of wood. Then four planks of wood will make what is known as a ‘workbench’.

A ‘workbench’ can craft more items. Once the player has crafted this workbench then bring the workbench up by putting it on the ground. Right click the ‘workbench’ and it will bring up another crafting box but this time it will have a space of 3x3. Now with the leftover wood make a stick.

A stick is comprised of putting two blocks horizontally. This will enable the user to make a stick, then assuming the user has coal put the coal with the two sticks and voila a fire stick. Or a torch!

Now, having an awesome torch at the user’s disposal the gamer can light up the once dreary and dark cave. Now the player should now how the cavemen felt!

As the reader can pick out Minecraft can get a tad complicated. And that is why knowing the recipes will help the player craft whatever they need.

What Minecraft can offer in the first three minutes to its instance longevity is a world to be explored, crafted and made the users own. Its addictiveness will definitely be the drawing point for this game.

Alas, it is day and the world is mine again to venture out explore, conquer, destroy and craft!

It’s truly a large world sandbox adventure that will leave the gamers’ creativity to craft whatever he/she desires. It’s up to the player to figure out the game and figure out what buried treasures lay in the world. What creatures are ready to be slaughtered? What weapons are there to be crafted to defend oneself? What lavish houses are there to be built?

The player has the power to make anything they can conjure in their own brain. And that is what makes Minecraft is a supremely addictive experience, which the player can keep coming back to.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slJ5dw11CKA

Minecraft

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