Saturday, October 18, 2014

Vanilla Reloaded - Authoring a quest driven experience

Minecraft is one of my great gaming loves for the last year.  I've played countless hours of vanilla, as well as modded packs.

However, when I try to introduce friends to Minecraft, sometimes it doesn't stick.  I think it doesn't stick for a variety of reasons

  • Some players hear that Minecraft is an "open world undirected game" and decide it's not for them before they even start.
  • Some players try it for 20 minutes but get stuck and frustrated and drop out.  The early game experience is not kind and they don't know what they're supposed to do.
  • Some players are so used to a directed game experience they simply can't play games anymore without a task list.
To try and solve these problems I've begun work on a questing pack for Minecraft.  I am using the Hardcore Questing Mod (HQM) by the Hardcore Questing team.  Don't let the name fool you, it does not have to be Hardcore.  I'm mostly interested in the Questing component of it.

Before anybody says I'm "destroying the magic of Minecraft" by creating a directed experience, let me say - I love the Minecraft open-ended experience.  However, I believe many gamers simply don't know how to play without a task list anymore.  An important rule in game design is "don't fight the player psychology."  Or at least, if you're going to fight player psychology, you better have a good reason to do so.  I contend that most of the people who are ready for an open-ended experience already enjoy Minecraft.  I'm not making this mod for them. This mod is for people who haven't been able to enjoy the game in it's native state.

Have you noticed that Minecraft tends to be more popular with kids than adults?  One reason for this is that children's brains naturally look wide. They are easily distracted, naturally curious, and always looking around them.  Adults on the other hand have a greater ability to focus, but that ability to focus comes at the cost of our brains filtering out distractions.  We're also more task focused as adults, more satisfied when we feel like we've gotten things done.  I believe many adults who are able to pick up Minecraft are the ones who've been able to retain some of that child-like, unhurried curiosity of the world.  Many who don't would still love Minecraft if there was a quest log focusing their attentions towards the next task at hand.

I'll close with a teaser shot of Vanilla Reloaded during development.


11 comments:

  1. I've been playing a lot too. Have you tried Agrarian Skies?

    One thing I notice with non-adopters is the achievements do a decent job of getting them through the early game. It's more a lack of long term goals and long term rewards that seems to lose them. (And it's hard to set goals for something like "build a castle".)

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  2. Yes! Agrarian skies is actually where I got the idea to make a vanilla pack. I finished Agrarian skies 100% complete in all categories :) And I had 0 deaths to boot :)

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  3. I found the HQM mod today and I was looking for a vanilla set of quests that weren't made by me so it would have that magic you know! I found one but the link was broken!! I'm making my own very light modpack because I don't want to get overwhealmed by 100 mods (like you see in most modpacks) and have any idea of what to do with them, and also because my PC is a 5 year old laptop! I can run Vanillla MC at 60-80 FPS with Optifine and max settings but I usually get low framerate in modpacks! The modpack is very simple, it only has a few mods that make MC more emersive, like Dynamic Lights mod, Better Animations mod, and I have some mods that add more bows, swords, and amor! I'll also add Tinker's Construct to have better tools, and maybe if it doesn't lag I'll add Biomes o' Plenty :D
    Man I'm so glad I found your post, it took some time to find but it's TOTALLY FREAKIN worth it!!
    I'm really exited mate about this mate, thank you for it!
    Also I don't know what shape or form I will get a notification on your reply, so could you email me the reply pleaseee?? That would be great! My email is hexthrill@gmail.com
    (I check my email everyday multiple times a day, and I just stopped a checkbox that says "Notify me" and then a pop-up displayed a message "Follow-up comments will be sent to hexthrill@gmail.com" so If I get it I will reply asap, but just in case, if I don't reply for a day just send me an email ok? :D THX ALOT!!!

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    1. Alright Jose I'll let you know!

      I finished all the authoring and I'm testing it now. I want to make sure it's pretty fun as distribution widens so I'm testing it out on a few extra people at a time.

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    2. Nice mate! Really cool! Can't wait to see it :D

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  4. Hi, I have installed Vanilla Reloaded via Technic, and I am loving it :-) Really helped me get back into the game after a lull, and I love the HQM mudpack to drive progress.... I have noted a couple of observations and wondered where would be best, to provide this level of feedback?

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    1. Hi sorry for being so slow to reply! If you leave feedback here I get it! I check the blog whenever I sit down to work on the modpack, but I haven't had a chance to work on it last year which is why I never saw this (sorry) - but I'll be checking it for the next few weeks while I look into updating it.

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  5. it wont down load for me

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  6. dont know if you even check this site anymore but the water bucket quest doesnt work for me. i think its cause they don't stack but not sure. also have you done anything new like your own modpack? if so i'd like to give it a try.

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    1. I haven't worked on a new modpack but I noticed that water bucket bug - thanks for pointing it out!

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