E3 2011: Minecraft for Xbox 360 & Kinect

So it seems that Minecraft on the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play wasn’t the only big announcement for Mojang at E3 2011: Minecraft is also coming to the Xbox 360. Of course, that announcement happened yesterday, so why did I wait a day to report on it? Well, I wanted to think about the possibilities, as well as formulate my own opinion, rather than resort to a knee-jerk reaction, like so many on each side of the PC/Xbox divide. Honestly, I know why that sort of thing happens, but I grew out of “my machine is better than yours” back around 1992-ish, so I do get a little tired of it. Ah, well.

Not much is known about the release, except for the following, some of which was announced by Notch today:

  • The game is expected to be released for the Xbox 360 in winter of this year;
  • It will have Kinect support – but Xboxers without a Kinect will still be able to play;
  • Mojang is outsourcing the game to an as-yet-unnamed developer, and it won’t be a “straight port” (but then the Xperia version won’t be, either). [Source: Joystiq]

So, time to look into the Plasma Ball of Wild Speculation (crystal balls are no good for this sort of work):

The Plasma Ball of Wild Speculation

The Plasma Ball of Wild Speculation (USB-powered edition). Just stare into it without blinking for 30 seconds, and you'll say - and believe - anything 😉

… and think about the possibilities!

The use of the Kinect, even though it’s often slammed by various factions in the gaming community, raises the possibility of extra functionality, without having to get unduly complicated with the control system. Imagine actually being able to dual-wield weaponry, or even use a shield. And even if only one weapon was still available, having the ability to thrust, slash and parry with a sword would be excellent.

On the downside, though, imagine mining or placing hundreds of blocks, let alone thousands, entirely through the Kinect… That could get downright tedious. If I was an Xbox + Kinect owner, I’d most likely use the Kinect functionality if I was going spelunking, and use the regular 360 controller to mine or build. Assuming, that is, that building would still be a part of the game – anything’s possible, after all.

I’ve just had a thought, actually: I wonder if this is why Notch was planning to change the behaviour of block-mining? He’d said that he was planning to change it so that if you stopped mining a block, it wouldn’t instantly revert to undamaged – which I suspect would be vital for a motion-based system, where you’ll probably have to make multiple swings at a block in order to mine it. Makes sense, don’t you think?

Of course, trying to figure out all the potential for the Xbox version is enough to make the brain ache – because we don’t know what features and functionality will be included between now and 11 November. Wild speculation based on wild speculation? I think that might be a bridge too far, even for me.

When I was looking through various gaming sites yesterday, to gauge the (often vehement) reactions of gamers, the biggest issues that people had (beyond the use of the Kinect itself) were:

  • Microsoft Xbox Live Arcade doesn’t like programs updating;
  • The mods available to PC-based Minecrafters won’t be available to the Xbox community.

I must admit that I know nothing about the issues with XBLA, though if that’s the case, Mojang (or the company to whom MCXB360 has been outsourced) could have some interesting situations crop up, considering that Mojang plans to continue updating the game, even after its scheduled release date.

As for the mods situation… It’s potentially a tricky one. The release of the code/modding API for the PC version of the game could, in theory, enable ingenious modders to adapt their code for the Xbox platform, if they were so inclined. How Microsoft and Mojang would react is a different matter.

So, onto my opinions about the Microsoft announcement. I’m always pleased when it’s announced that Minecraft is coming to a new platform; I’m of the opinion that Mojang deserves to get all the success it can. But for the Playstation 3 owners who were desperately hoping that Minecraft would be coming to their machine, it may not be a lost cause…

The exact words of Microsoft’s Phil Spencer are as follows:

I’m thrilled to announce that Minecraft is making its console debut this winter exclusively on Xbox 360 and Kinect.

Note the wording: Minecraft’s console debut is exclusively on the Xbox 360 and Kinect. This doesn’t rule out the possibility of the game later being added to the PS3’s stable of games. Look at the Minecraft Pocket Edition release – that’s debuting exclusively on the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, but it’s already known that it’s going to be migrated to other Android-based smartphones. At the risk of giving PS3 owners false hope, I think they may yet get the chance to use their beloved console to delve into the blocky worlds of Minecraft… fingers crossed.

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2 Responses to E3 2011: Minecraft for Xbox 360 & Kinect

  1. 1thecop says:

    I want to know how server hosting will work for it.

    Like

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