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Multiplayer Minecraft Experiences Sought

question_mark.ihobo

Do you play Minecraft with friends? I’m interested in hearing from people with experience of multiplayer Minecraft, with particular emphasis on the following points:

  • Have you played in other online worlds, and if so what were you playing before you came to Minecraft? How did you come to change from the previous game to Minecraft?
  • Do you feel a sense of community with your fellow Minecraft players, and if so how does it manifest? Do you play at the same time, or at different times? How do you communicate with other players?
  • What are the best aspects of playing Minecraft multiplayer instead of solo? What makes it worthwhile?
  • What are the worst aspects of multiplayer Minecraft? What do you wish you could change, or what irritates you about playing Minecraft with other players?

Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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I have a copy of minecraft on the pc, then recently bought the 360 version. I really enjoyed the game, and got my brother hooked. We got the hang of the game, and wanted to build and create on the same world. We had ideas for practical object and buildings. We also had some really outrageous ideas too, like a pyramid starting from the highest point in the sky to the ground (which we did). To solve the problem of sharing the same world on pc, we found where the save data was and transferred a copy to a memory stick. I would take the “world” home with me; work on some stuff on my time off from work, then save a new copy and turn the drive over to my brother. This would go back and forth for quite some time, I ended up moving on, starting college classes and other games took most my free (off work) time.
As for a community, I feel, the single player pc version there really wasn’t much. I tried hopping in a public server with new players, but felt out of place. There was so much stuff built already, being in “infinite” mode, which I just didn’t feel I could contribute. I also really like needing to mine for materials before I could use them. Now, on the other hand, there was so much information about the game that all my brother and I need to do was look things up, and it practically everything imaginable had been done. So for me this is where the community really shined through. With multiplayer being on xbox, I feel the gap to playing with friends is a lot smaller, with a slight hurdle of world sharing.
Play times, on the xbox version, have to be at the same time for us because if we both want to continue work on the same things my brother has to be signed in and load the world up. I feel this is a big hurdle for the game. I also don’t really want to play my own world now because of what has been built in our shared world.
When we play at the same time though, the game really shines. We can work on the same thing, and we see things being built and mined at a faster rate. So far we’ve only had two others in the world with us at the same time (I believe eight is the max). The speed that tunnels are dug, things are mined, objects crafted, is greatly increased with each person. Sometimes it feels like a construction crew, communication takes place over the live chat feature (not the in-game version). We talk, come up with ideas, and build. Some horse play, and profanity comes out also. I’ll keep the example clean with this one: I stepped away for a minute to come back to a dark screen with only my inventory bar at the bottom. I could hear my fellow mincraftin-ites and see their health bar. What had happened was my brother caged me in cobblestone and left me where I stood, continuing his work on the current tunnel. So, interesting “gameplay” was emerging just from being in the same world with friends.

www.turnerinteractive.net

Beigeturner: thanks for your anecdotes here! Much appreciated. Interesting that you played a 'serial' version of multiplayer Minecraft before playing the conventional multiplayer mode.

I got Minecraft on my 360 when it came out. I'd heard of Minecraft but have never played it on the PC because I'm not much of a PC gamer. A friend of mine in real life was the first one to purchase the game and I played it at his place. Over the next couple of weeks we were playing almost constantly. Most nights he was the first one online, so his world is the shared world that we used. Several other friends from Xbox Live would often jump onto the world, and so that map is the most developed. Everyone was able to go off and do whatever they liked (for example, I really enjoy exploring and mining, while another friend liked decorating; I would wander off to find materials for him). Unfortunately my friend who had the map on his Xbox often went offline before the rest of us, so we had to start new maps as well. None of these are as developed as the initial map. We've also started new maps whenever we want to go somewhere new. One issue with the Xbox version is that the maps are not nearly as big as on the PC. So when you get bored of whatever you're doing, you can't just wander off to somewhere new if the entire map has already been explored. For that reason, there are many maps that we've played on.

One rather funny thing that happens when playing with friends is that things don't always turn out the way you'd plan them. For example, I have one friend who will mine all over the place, leaving tunnels a mess. I prefer to mine in straight lines so his method and mine don't always work. He also has the habit of just digging to you, wherever you are; he's dug from houses down into mines, making a mess that the rest of us then have to fix!

Of course, there's also the opportunity to mess with other people when they leave for a few minutes. As mentioned above, you can enclose people into places so they're confused when they come back. You can also change things on people. My one friend really likes sugar cane, to the point that he will plant it everywhere. The mining friend I mentioned above went and stole all the sugar cane, hiding it in a chest somewhere on the map. I then went and planted cacti everywhere there was sugar cane. Unfortunately our sugar cane loving friend hasn't seen this yet, so I can't tell you how he reacted!

Hope that helps!

-Shauna

Shauna: thanks Shauna, that's very helpful. It's hard to get a look into other people's games, so these anecdotal reports are great!

Oh, and I too have played the "steal all the stuff and hide it in a chest" game - I took all the diamonds and left a trail of clues for the other players to follow. :)

Thanks again!

Hi Chris,

I only just started reading 21st Century Game Design the other day and when I got to the DGD1 chapter's breakdown of Managers I thought to myself, 'This book must have been written before Dwarf Fortress or Minecraft came out'. I followed up by coming to this blog and lo and behold, this post is right there on the front page. I laughed out loud at that. "I knew it!!"

I don't want to be presumptuous of your expertise, but have you checked out the DF forums for stories of their exploits? 4chan also gets some amazing tales of Dwarvish heroism and psychosis. Sim City's communities strike me as fertile ground for Managers' social interactions as well, the custom buildings produced by some fans are just staggering in their beauty.

...er, right, Minecraft. For me personally, Minecraft (and Terraria, a similar game in 2D) was a draw to our (independently gathered) community for the ability to create Stuff either singly or in collaboration with friends. Some of us have clashing styles of construction. Some people are simply bad at making good-looking buildings. We mostly had the flexibility to determine how we played and who we played with, and even if we didn't like certain other players, they could still stop by to have a look at what we made. The ingame chat system is sorely lacking, but this wasn't a problem for us since we have other text-based methods (MUSHes) or Ventrilo to talk on. Folks generally sorted themselves out into their preferred method of collaboration.

Community interest seesaws back and forth a fair bit - Terraria was very popular for a time because of the ease of setting up multi-player servers, the simpler game world, more and better music, and an overall more varied and polished experience. The fact that there are bossfights definitely helped as well, because there was a lot of fun to be had in having 10-15 players flailing madly and getting mashed by Cthulu's bodyparts or Demonic Shai-Hulud. But the lack of new content meant interest gradually petered out. Minecraft has proved to have more staying power, I would have to guess because of the third dimension. It offers different, more expansive possibilities for creation. Particularly when you throw certain mods in, and that's one of the advantages Minecraft has - the extensive modding community.

There were downsides. We started out with a lack of control over certain features and this led to the occasional bout of griefing. Without management tools like Bukkit plugins we couldn't control who built where - someone once packed TNT all around another person's creation as revenge for a petty argument they had elsewhere. We couldn't prove it at the time of course though we had our suspicions, and the fact that our players are spread around the world makes things harder sometimes, although it also led to some cool surprises when you logged in and suddenly there was a lighthouse, or a castle or something else where previously there had been unaltered landscape. Occasionally I would go looking and find some jaw-dropping creation that left me wondering 'How did they do that?'. Resources on most iterations of our server were infinitely available, we were essentially a creative mode server, which led to some plain ugly giant edifices messing up the landscape. You couldn't exactly do away with unappealing architecture, so you just had to find some other place to go where it wouldn't offend your sensibilities, if it's really that bad. Fortunately, Minecraft worlds are pretty big, to say the least.

We're currently in the process of setting up another server now after a long hiatus, with many new tools for administration and new mods to improve variety. I'm really looking forward to seeing what happens.

- James

http://www.pcgamer.com/2012/08/21/minecraft-experiment-devolves-into-devastating-resource-war/

Hi again,
I found this interesting story. This seems like an extreme case of what your looking for Chris, but I thought you'd be interested either way.

Beigeturner: interesting story, but it looks like it was a hoax! :o


James: You're right, of course - Dwarf Fortress came out one year after "21st Century Game Design". :) And incidentally, since then the Manager archetype from DGD1 has been renamed the Mastermind archetype in BrainHex (have you seen the test at http://blog.brainhex.com/?)

Thanks for your anecdote! I'm interested that your group went with a creative mode server, and the issues this presents.

As for Terraria, I've been interested in this myself, but one member of my regular group doesn't like the idea of building in 2D so it hasn't happened.

Thanks for sharing!

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