The last time I played Minecraft was in late 2010, back when it was still alpha. There were a lot of bugs, but it was playable. My friends and I enjoyed exploring and surviving and building on our mutual friend’s multiplayer server for a couple weeks. It rocked!
As is usual with me, my interest waned the more I played and my initial projects finished. I saw what others were doing (both in-game and on the Internet) and my desire to build (in my opinion) lesser creations shriveled up. Logging on to the game seemed like more of a chore than a joy, and I eventually lost interest.
As time passes, your hobbies can change (hell, my wife and I even got back into World of Warcraft for a little while a couple months ago; it’s cyclical), and old interests can become new interests again. I’d followed the development of Minecraft loosely over the last year, and thought it’d be fun to try it out again.
Besides the simple passing of the time to renew interest, two major things changed this go-around to make it more fun for me: 1) I’m running the server, and 2) I set up the rendering of an isometric map of our world each day to show progress.
Being able to see what everyone has been up to each morning really helps improve the engagement with the world. Also, being able to teleport myself around, or change the time, or turn monsters on and off gives me that power trip I didn’t know I’d been missing.
Thankfully, a lot of the people who made playing this game back in 2010 a joy have returned to make it fun again. Several of my friends joined almost immediately and, through our combined efforts, took to constructing buildings and towers and mines and farms and lava-enveloped minecart tunnels and portals to the Nether and land bridges connecting everything. Even without the community element, building things like you had a bunch of digital Lego pieces is still really fun. Mining into the depths of the world to uncover hidden ore caches and abandoned mineshafts and ravines and lava or water deposits brings an exciting sense of discovery to your efforts. Co-operative multiplayer sandbox gaming is really fun when everyone pitches in here and there. Monsters add a bit of flavor, and I’m still for their inclusion, but we ended up turning them off again (just like last time) so that we could all spend more time enjoying the creative aspects, and less time fearful of the “game” elements.
It’s all new and shiny and fun again, but I know that’ll go away, as you can only build and explore so much. However, I hope to leave the server going indefinitely so that anyone can come in and have a look-see or try their hand at exploring and molding the world, even if it’s been a day or week or month. It’s a cube-based Internet bulletin board, really.