I’ve been playing Minecraft since October 2010. I don’t play it very often any more. What I enjoyed most about the game is gone, due to both Mojang and third-party server operators. Before I get into what has changed for the worse, let me first explain what I liked about the game.
When I started playing, Minecraft was a very simple game. You collect resources, built tools, and then use those tools to collect better resources. You could build structures much as you can now, but creative mode wasn’t an option and so you had to gather all of your materials. If you wanted to build a grand citadel made entirely of obsidian, gold, and diamond, then you would need to spend several weeks down in the bowels of the earth. There were also several mechanisms available, like mine carts, mine cart tracks, and redstone dust. Powered rails, pistons, and redstone repeaters—core components for modern Minecraft mechanisms—did not exist. It was this simplicity that I enjoyed the most about Minecraft.
The serenity of the world is what initially drew me in, though. Exploring a vast yet barren world, roaming the rolling hills, and diving into caves was bliss. An empty world ripe for the taking! Finding caves on the surface and harvesting coal and iron was fun. Crafting a set of iron tools and armor before heading out to find deeper caves was fun. Arranging my gathered resources into shapes and actively crafting new items was fun; discovering new items independently was just as much of an adventure as exploring the world.
My many adventures to find caves would expose a certain beauty that can only be found in Minecraft. You can see the hills rolling off into the distance, the deserts and the tundra, and you can’t help but be taken back by it all. The valleys, the waterfalls, and the overhanging cliffs all have a natural sense of beauty. When exploring a cave, you would find this organic maze, twisting and turning upon itself as it snakes its way down to bedrock. When you reach the depths of the cave, you’d find great lakes of magma with flows coming down from above. There was something to fall in love with anywhere in the game.
The deep caves offered something of their own to the world, too. Diamond and gold ores would glisten in the darkness. I would see them and my heart would pound; a rare and precious resource! Then a shadow would cross in front, and excitement shifted into fear. I’d have to fight through spiders, zombies, and skeletons to get my prize. Worse, I’d be fighting in the darkness on uncertain footing. Lighting the area and fending off the monsters at the same time didn’t always pose a challenge, but it was certainly fun. There was a risk factor associated with all of it, too: do I return to my base and deposit the hard-earned loot I’ve already collected and come back later, or do I fight for the diamonds now and reap the rewards sooner.
If you weren’t in the darkness when you spied the resources, then you’d be in a magma cavern. Wandering mobs could push you into the magma, if you didn’t fall in on your own anyway. You’d lose everything to the magma with no chance of recovery. Worse, the diamonds or gold you worked your way toward could fall into the magma and be incinerated! There was a lot of risk associated with the collection of resources and that made it far more rewarding when you walked away unscathed. Of course, there was nothing preventing you from finding another dark cavern on your way out beginning the cycle anew.
So what went wrong with Minecraft?