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Going Backwards? My issues with Mojang and how Minecraft is moving forward

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Cosmopath
Level 18 : Journeyman Scribe
10
I've been playing Minecraft for...god, who knows, six years now? As with any product created by a growing start-up, I experienced the wave of changes that Mojang brought to Minecraft over the years. Some were fantastic updates, and others were disappointments, but for the most part that was okay; we all understood that Mojang was just a tiny Swedish studio with a handful of employees founded by oblivious and ambitious gamers (Persson and Porsér), with a more traditional but just as ambitious business executive (Manneh) to ride along.

Mojang has no excuse anymore. The news of Mojang's acquisition by Microsoft in 2014 shocked many, and players including myself were both confused and skeptical of why this was. Thankfully not to my dismay, Microsoft seemed to keep the studio the way it was for quite some time. With the exception of all of the original founders leaving, Mojang chugged along just like it did years before, this time with more employees and funding from one of the world's most well known corporate giants.

Image result for microsoft buys mojang

Under the assumption that Microsoft would keep up this behaviour, I felt that Mojang was safe in their hands, and that it could only produce positive results for consumers, but with some notable advancements and updates made recently, I'm not entirely sure if I can assume this anymore.

My worries mostly fall under Mojang's new engine for the game, dubbed the Bedrock Engine. This engine is powering not only the console versions of the game like the Xbox One's, but also the new Windows 10 Edition copy that was released on the Windows Store in mid 2015. While the old version was built on the programming language Java, this new engine is coded entirely in C++, which has shown results of the game being much more responsive and playable on older or weaker devices, along with some other minor features like being touch-friendly if you have a tablet like the ones Microsoft's Surface Pro series.

This all sounds great, but new developments essentially create a blank slate. There is a massive community around modifying the game all the way from using a texture pack to changing how the entire game runs and plays using "game mods" such as Feed The Beast. Many of these members are veteran Minecraft players who have grown out of the unmodified "Vanilla" version, and as such have resorted to mods.

Image result for feed the beast ,minecraftAs of now, it is impossible to add any mods to versions of Minecraft running on the Bedrock Engine. While this is not much of a problem for console copies, it definitely raises some concern for the Windows 10 Edition. Although at first this version was only seen as a way to bring Minecraft to phones and tablets running Windows, Mojang has gone on the record to say that they would like to replace the new version with the old Java version entirely (example). They have also not said anything about using mods on the new version, both in terms of if players can use their own or how developers can make new ones for the new engine. That raises the question; will any type of user modifications, even if that means creating your own player skin, come to the Windows 10 Edition? If not, it's bound to take a lot of players off the game including myself, or convince them to keep the old version going while it is unsupported (which must be done manually; it's heavily rumoured that Mojang is planning to update everyone to the Windows 10 Edition through their launcher), causing a major divide between players.

On a very similar topic, Mojang recently announced a "marketplace" for versions of the game with the Bedrock engine. This store will offer player skins, texture packs, and maps created both by a highly selective number of people from the community and by Mojang themselves. Here's the real kicker; they're all paid.

Marketplace devices

This announcement has sparked huge controversy, especially in the modding community. Everything mentioned above has been free ever since the game was a tiny clone of another game called Infiniminer, and to a great extent, arguably helped kickstart its success. Somewhat ironically as others have pointed out, Mojang has forbid the sale of any player-made assets including skins, texture packs, and maps through the EULA (End User License Agreement), and yet that is exactly what Mojang is doing here.

At the very least, this entire scenario brings up a very interesting point for discussion. If Mojang was still an independent studio, would this have happened? Critics have been quick to compare the in-app purchase decision to Microsoft, citing how they have held an interest in and incorporated in-app purchases in their own products, along with relating it to the criticisms of Windows 10, and how Microsoft has been shown to take user data and show advertisements for their own services inside the operating system. Combine that with the fact that Microsoft clearly has a goal of making as much profit as possible, saying that Microsoft has been responsible for all of these changes may be a valid assumption after all.
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Logdotzip did an interview with Jeb asking about java and the community edition. What I get from the video is that they plan on first getting all the devices on the same level, with the same game (if that didn't happen already). Then they will try getting the community edition and the java edition on the same level. Lastly, they do plan on adding better and more customizability.

During all this time, probably years, the java version will keep being updated for the modding community until there is mod compatability or an alternative. They surely know how much the java version is used and as long as the alternative is a worse version, they won't force us to move.

This is my opinion, don't roast me (it's simply what I got from his video).

www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZWBJwpaGcI
  • Xoyjaz
  • Level 60
  • High Grandmaster Architect
  • June 19, 2017, 12:54 am
This is a nice blog, its interesseting reading this but if you are referencing things f.eks Mojang has said you need to have source links. I think that helps a lot. Other then that keep up the content :)
  • Cosmopath
  • Level 18
  • Journeyman Scribe
  • June 19, 2017, 5:51 am
Good idea. After further review I did get one thing wrong in my post, the launcher update was only a rumour (but a very strong one that seems likely). I've edited my post appropriately, and added a link to comments from Tommaso Checci in my post. Thanks for the heads up.
  • Zeshio
  • Level 1
  • New Crafter
  • June 18, 2017, 11:45 am
Well written article, and I agree this is a major concern (not just for 'hardcore' players, but everyone). Almost all the content we see on Minecraft via Twitch.tv or YouTube is modded. If you remove that, I could see that really denting the popularity and purchasing desire for Minecraft. I think MS would at least acknowledge that issue, and hopefully come forward with the future for modding support on the C++ version.

If not, then we need to come together as consumers and demand it from MS. Consumerism goes both ways, and we also have some power when we band together.
Also, I've just come up with a solution for this. Buy Mojang from Microsoft and tell them not to discontinue the Java Edition! Perfect, right?
Mojang can't install Windows 10 edition through the launcher; I use Windows 7!
  • Cosmopath
  • Level 18
  • Journeyman Scribe
  • June 18, 2017, 11:25 am
"Windows 10 Edition" is nothing more than branding. The new engine works fine on Windows 7, it may require some optimization though.
  • HbTextures
  • Level 49
  • Master Modder
  • June 18, 2017, 12:48 am
Honestly, who cares about the win10 edition?
  • Cosmopath
  • Level 18
  • Journeyman Scribe
  • June 18, 2017, 6:37 am
People should start to care soon, because it's intended to be a full replacement to the current Java version. They're going to be dropping support for Java and moving all focus and development to C++.
  • HbTextures
  • Level 49
  • Master Modder
  • June 18, 2017, 6:48 am
A replacement? According to who?
  • Cosmopath
  • Level 18
  • Journeyman Scribe
  • June 18, 2017, 7:04 am
Some technical analysis on my part (which seems to be shared by a good amount of people in the Minecraft PC community, both from those I've actually talked to and those I've read discuss this on communities like Reddit) that I am highly confident about. There's no reason to continue development of a technically inferior version due to mods, which represent a small part of the playerbase. Although said portion of the playerbase is important, seemingly Mojang doesn't care about them much after they insulted us with paid mods (Minecraft Marketplace). As such, you're looking at one platform where the vast majority of players are settled and giving you their money through in-app purchases making it extremely profitable (C++), while all the hardcore players have flocked to a platform where they stray from the Vanilla game and use mods constantly, on an old engine making things like crossplay impossible, adding nothing to Microsoft's profits (Java). When it comes to a financial standpoint, I think it's clear that one has a much greater chance of survival than the other. Reminder that Microsoft is not the consumer's friend. They have profits in their mind first.

Minecraft developers, notably Tommaso Checci, have said that they have a serious interest in killing off the Java version in favour of advancing the Windows 10 Edition as a unified platform, but at this point in time did not want to, in order to prevent the fans of the Java version from getting angry (and likely not migrating at all) with absolutely no type of mod support except for limited paid ones currently on the platform.

Sure, it's not confirmed, but I think I make a very strong argument here. This ties back to the conversation I had with Blue Zircon below - Mojang isn't some tiny studio anymore who listens to the fans, it's all run by businessmen in suits who care about optimizing profits more than anything else.

Feel free to come back to this comment in a year or two, see if I was right.
  • HbTextures
  • Level 49
  • Master Modder
  • June 18, 2017, 8:03 am
So, mojang will stop developing the java version?

FINALLY! No more crappy watered-down updates which add nothing but still make people feel like updating, moddng will be so much easier now. I can renounce pretty much every last bit of future content mahjong will ever put out, as since 2014, no noteworthy changes have been made. I'm stuck at 1.7.10 and I can gladly say that I won't ever leave.
Too much to read ;I
  • Blue Zircon
  • Level 25
  • Expert Dolphin
  • June 16, 2017, 11:06 pm
Wow. I think I just found the best blogger on here for the 2017 era. You really deserve some sort of reward for making something like this after many months of reading (let's just say) peculiar blog posts. Well done!

With that out of the way, I have to agree with you. After the Microsoft deal, I really do think that Minecraft is doing poorly in terms of good updates. Heck, I even realized after the big "Minecraft Story Mode" hoopla that it was getting corporate! I played Minecraft for (I don't know, it's been a while) 3-4 years, and during that time before the incident, I felt a sense of effort and community went into the game, and the customization aspect made me like it even more. Unfortunately, Microsoft and the ever-so-corporate mastermind "Not Bill Gates" (Because he retired) turned it from a heartwarming experience into a corporate monster that forces people to shove money down it's throat to satisfy itself and gives them only half of the real thing when they could just get the remains of the comfy Java version.

In short, I blame capitalism for this.
  • Cosmopath
  • Level 18
  • Journeyman Scribe
  • June 17, 2017, 5:43 am
Thanks a ton for the compliment! I really appreciate it.

Great point on Minecraft Story Mode, actually. If Mojang was not in Microsoft's hands, I highly doubt that would have ever been a thing. Story Mode was entirely made by Telltale, which, while they're fantastic developers...really feels like a corporate decision to push the Minecraft brand as much as possible. I've heard the game isn't really all that fantastic compared to other Telltale games, which is a shame but not much of a surprise.

Also, you're on the money with what's happening with the new Windows 10 version. While being able to run on weaker devices is nice and all, it was certainly far from the only reason why it's being developed for in the first place. As Microsoft continues to push Windows tablets along with their Store, it's starting to bring a more mobile-like ecosystem to the operating system, and as we all know, a big chunk of mobile games are filled with things like in-app purchases, and when it comes to ports or remakes of desktop games, there's almost always a lot of fat cut out from the games.

I fully agree that it very much seems that instead of doing what's best for the players, Microsoft is unfortunately just trying to maximize their profits with the brand, and perhaps that was the intention all along when they acquired Mojang. I correctly predicted back in 2015 shortly after Mojang was bought out that Microsoft had a large interest in bringing the game in some shape or form to their HoloLens virtual/augmented/mixed reality glasses (CEO Satya Nadella confirmed this after the blog was published), but as this point it seems fully possible that this reason was only a cover-up for the potential true motive behind the acquisition, which would definitely be fueled by capitalism.
  • Blue Zircon
  • Level 25
  • Expert Dolphin
  • June 18, 2017, 11:43 pm
No problem, pal! I'm so crazy, that I read your entire comment. So, I'm pretty darn glad you agree with my points saying that Microsoft is squeezing the cash out of Minecraft, but thank gosh they're not touching the Java version anymore. When 1.12, I was actually hoping for no more new updates because I not only couldn't keep track of modifying my texture pack to confirm to the latest version, but the updates got blander and lazier as they went on. It's like Microsoft wasn't even trying anymore and they just want money!

Besides all the corporate nonsense with Microsoft, I'm sort of excited for the Holo-Lens. If it actually could project augmented reality images from the internet, I would be sure to love it to bits. Come to think of it, it kind of reminds me of this thing coming in 2020 to the public called "Claytronics", which is basically programmable matter, and you can make it into whatever you want, even cartoons. Imagine having a real-life Zircon, Transformer, Peridot, Pokémon, or even Bendy sitting in your room and you can program it to do whatever you desire. From the images of the Holo-Lens that I looked up, however, it just looks like stock-images that you could use for this rather than ones from the internet, and you can't touch them physically, making you look like an doof touching the air in the eyes of other people. Plus, they look ridiculous when you put them on, so this is why my money will go to the Claytronics. Besides this Holo-Lens vs Claytronics talk, I think Microsoft will eventually go down the drain, just like how Google is with YouTube. People will still use it, but still want good changes rather than bad.

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