The more I read about Minecraft’s upcoming “Adventure Update,” the more I worry that Notch and Mojang don’t understand what they’ve created. Notch and others have said they like what Terraria is doing with the summonable boss monsters, and that they want to add something like that to Minecraft, and I don’t get it. In a way, it would be cool, but in another, that’s not what Minecraft has evolved into, and Terraria will always do it better.
Terraria works as an exploration/monster-slaying game because building massive structures on a 2D scale just isn’t all that terribly impressive. Add to that, Terraria has a huge amount of stuff you can find, build, buy, and earn. In comparison, Minecraft really has a very limited toolset, and I think that toolset lends itself to building up structures and making the world your own, because it’s not that difficult to hit bedrock, and it’s not that difficult to reach the sky, so what else is there but to build? Plus, in 3D, huge structures feel huge, and can be explored from all angles, making them incredibly impressive.
Terraria also makes some design choices that promotes exploration and monster killing, rather than staying put and building. Items don’t have durability, and stacks are considerably larger than in Minecraft. Even your inventory is larger, I believe. You can load up on wood and torches and have no need to return to the surface for a very long time. Granted, you can take a workbench and furnace with you in Minecraft, and rebuild your tools and whatnot, but I’ve almost always found it more desirable to have a base of operations to return to on a regular basis, even if I’m playing on “Peaceful” difficulty.
The “Better Than Wolves” mod guy has the right idea. We need more stuff to build in Minecraft, more ways to interact with the world, not more animals and monsters. If I want to explore dungeons, hunt monsters, and collect loot, I’ll play Terraria. I play Minecraft to pull an Ozymandias and say, “Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!”
Granted, you and I may play Minecraft in completely different ways. Granted, Minecraft is still in beta, and perhaps “Terraria in 3D” has been Notch’s intentions all along. Granted, the Adventure Update could come along and cause me to drop Super Metroid as my greatest game of all time. Granted, it’s not like anyone at Mojang is going to see this and suddenly cry, “How did we get it so wrong!”
I’ll grant you all of that, but I still think it’s important, because if someone comes along and combines the Minecraft formula with the “Better Than Wolves” philosophy, I could very easily be convinced to switch. I’ve gotten my $15 of enjoyment out of Minecraft, and then some. Notch can do what he pleases, but if someone else scratches my itch in just the right way, I won’t be ashamed to jump ship.