System Shack is NME’s newest column exploring the mechanics behind the industry’s most successful games. This week, Rick Lane delves into Minecraft’s longstanding crafting system.
METERminecraftThe influence of on the gaming landscape is so great that it is difficult to manage properly. The game is directly responsible for the birth of at least two genres: the survival game in the early 2010s, and the subsequent evolution of battle royale games some five years later. At the same time, Minecraft remains hugely popular, thriving alongside games like Fortnite, stardew valley Y Oxidegames that Minecraft itself directly inspired the creation of.
But maybe MinecraftThe biggest impact of on gaming is how every medium to big budget game since then has felt compelled to include a crafting system somewhere in its mechanics. dragon age, tomb Raider, Falleven from 2017 Prey has a bit of Minecraft in that. forget the games Citizen Kane, Minecraft it is Genghis Khan of the games. He took the world by storm, and now traces of him are everywhere.
At the risk of stretching a metaphor by comparing a good game about building things to one of history’s bloodiest conquerors, none of MinecraftThe progeny of have managed to match his achievements. games outside Minecraft that present elaboration complicate the mechanics too much, as seen in no man’s skyThe tricky system of synthesizing the entire periodic table, or oversimplifying it, like the crafting systems that are invariably stapled to the top of every third-person shooter.
The reason for this is that in most games that include it, crafting is a means to an end, and that end is to complete some other objective in the game or just so the developer can put in a “crafting system”. ” on the back of the box. In Minecraftcraft is both the means and the end, a self-perpetuating system that facilitates ever-increasing creative ambition.
That’s not a particularly astute observation, but what’s interesting is how Minecraft addresses this, and how that approach has changed over the years. When Minecraft First released, the heart of its crafting system was the 3×3 grid interface of its crafting table. Each crafting recipe was designed as a little puzzle where you needed to place your resources on the grid in a particular arrangement often resembling the shape of the item you were about to craft. This not only helped simulate the feeling of making something, of assembling it piece by piece with your hands, but also helped players figure out how to create other items in the absence of an in-game tutorial. If a stone pick is three stone blocks placed on top of two sticks, then it makes sense for a stone shovel to be one stone block on top of two sticks.
This system has taken a backseat in recent years, in favor of a simplified quick menu that lets you select craftable items from a list. It’s a necessary concession for non-PC gamers, as the puzzle system is too complicated to use with a gamepad. But it’s also a sensible refinement given how much the process involved in the crafting system has evolved over the past decade.
Process is the other crucial ingredient of any brewing system, one that Minecraft he has understood from his earliest days. While his workbench alone was enough to craft basic items, for a more advanced kit he also needed to implement a foundry, which is used to turn ores into metals, sand into glass, etc. Even in its simplest form, Minecraft it gives you the feeling of using different tools for different jobs, which makes holding the end product more satisfying as it emerges from the other end of the pipe.
However, while the artboard has become less central to MinecraftThe main loop of , subsidiary processes have expanded greatly over the years. This day, MinecraftCrafting stations include anvils, enchanting tables, composters, cauldrons, brewing stations, blast furnaces, and looms, all of which are used to produce different items.
There are two other key elements to MinecraftThe crafting system of . First of all, almost every item you can craft can manifest in the world. Any block you craft can be used as a building material, while most items you create have some physical function in the world itself. It sounds obvious, but many crafting systems in other games get it wrong, and any “items” that can be crafted are simply abstract menu icons that have no presence or effect in the game world itself. A great example of this was the early versions of no man’s sky, where almost every item you could create existed simply as cards on a menu screen. It says a lot that one of the ways Hello Games improved no man’s sky was to make it play much more like Minecraft.
But the most important element of MinecraftThe crafting system is, of course, allowing players to do things that the developers didn’t anticipate. This is true both in the core crafting system, which allows players to create things like custom fireworks and specially enchanted weapons, and in the way it facilitates larger-scale custom projects through side-by-side mechanics like its Redstone system. The possibilities in Minecraft they really are infinite, which isn’t something any other game can say, certainly not while offering the same level of accessibility.
Minecraft is over a decade old, now the same age as its own core audience, unprecedented in industry history. One would think that all that could have been said about it would have been at this point. And yet, there are still clear lessons to be learned from how it implements its creation system, as we’ve yet to see a developer do it better.
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