noctiluca: What draws you to Minecraft? (Okay, so this is more like, "Jei is considering getting into this game b/c so many teens are obsessed with it, but is skeptical and thus dragging eir feet" and so FEEL EVEN FREER TO DISREGARD THIS than any other question.)
OH MINECRAFT, MY GAMING LOVE. There will be a lot of YouTube links in this post. And also, just a lot of links in this post.
...okay. I should qualify this by saying that these days, I hardly ever play vanilla Minecraft unless I manage to set up a server with other people. I still find social playing a lot of fun, but I'm not huge on giant complicated redstone or huge epic builds, so the game has limited replayability for me. Not to say that I didn't lose, like, eight months to the game when I first got it, and not to say I don't still play it a whole bunch now. My style of Minecraft engagement has just changed.
I have, for example, just spent the past couple months wracking up an indecent amount of play time on a hardcore survival map where you crash-land on a desolate dust world and spend most of your first several hours constantly on the verge of starvation and death via heat stroke! I apparently have a thing for games like that: Don't Starve (though that one is more concerned with cold), Fallout: New Vegas on hardcore mode (which I don't find appreciably harder than normal mode, but I like the added hunger, thirst, and fatigue mechanics), etc. The scrabbling-to-survive aspect of Minecraft was part of what appealed to me in the first place, but these days I find the survival aspect... not all that challenging. I mean, you can pretty much get a full suit of iron armor in the first 15 minutes of gameplay. :/
(I'm also interested in Minecraft mods like Terra Firma Craft, but I don't know that I'm hardcore enough for that. It's a different kind of hardcore, though – it's not so much a fight to survive against the elements every moment, but progression is a •lot• harder and more realistic. I love to watch TFC playthroughs, but I'm not sure I'd have the attention span to play it myself.)
I think Minecraft's greatest strength is that it's an incredible engine for people to make their own gaming experiences with. Sometimes that means making mods (so, going in and programmatically adding stuff to the game – new monsters, new mechanics like TFC's seasons or EnviroMine's thirst and temperature gauges, etc), and sometimes that means custom adventure maps (which are more like mini-RPGs, with storylines you have to navigate). And sometimes that means people setting up giant arcade-style servers like Mineplex where you can go play any one of a number of minigames.
The thing I like about minecraft is that as a game/gaming community, it tries not to put limits on what you can do. It's a huge open sandbox world, and those appeal to me. At its base, it's a bit like Survivalism Lego, and then people take that basic template and spin it out into all manner of things. I mean, seriously, people have made Sim City in Minecraft, 3-D Pictionary in Minecraft, Missile Defense in Minecraft... and if you don't want to deal with mods or custom maps, you can still take your axe out into the wilderness and build yourself a cottage overlooking the ocean with the forest at your back and a tame wolf by your side. It's a game that's very good at letting you create your own space and inhabit it.
And I love that.
If you get Minecraft, we should totally meet up on Mineplex and play Sheep Quest or something. Or you could set up a server and we could rock out and slay zombies together.