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Erik

The "Minecraft-clone" problem

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The "big marketing push" happened and while it probably doubled the player count, it wasn't hugely successful, only animating four moderately big youtube channels to create videos. I suspect the increase in sales is only temporary and will drop of after a while.

But why is this the case? Why didn't more channels make videos of the game?

The comment sections of the new videos provide a clear answer: "This is just a Minecraft clone/copy, I can do this with mods"

While it is quite harsh critique, it holds some truth. The first impression of this game is far to similar to Minecraft:

  • Similar artstyle
  • Similar stack/slot based inventory system, even with offhand
  • Similar 256 block height world gen
  • Similar trees and plants
  • Similar stats: health and hunger
  • Similar crafting: 3 by 3 grid
  • Similar bad combat
  • Similar crafting stations: Campfire = Furnace
  • Similar premise: Monsters appear at night 

It's not like there aren't things that make VS different from Minecraft, but they are often overlooked and overshadowed by the first impression. Even when considering the new things the vast majority have been done or are doable in a similar fashion with mods for Minecraft. The reason why it is so similar is because Vintage Story is a Minecraft mod turned standalone.

What has had most people interested were the unique crafting mechanics, because they truly were something new and original. But the mechanics are admittedly, while visually impressing, very shallow and repetitive, which has also been often brought up in the comments of the new videos.

So how can we fix all this?

Changing the artstyle is something way too time consuming with no gameplay benefits for existing player, so that is out of question, however the other points are things that can be done:

  • Making the inventory system weight based, rather than stack/slot based
  • Utilizing cubic chunks, having a nearly infinite world height and impressive terrain
  • Making trees less blocky, more dynamic
  • Adding thirst and stamina
  • Replacing the crafting grid
  • Improving combat, adding depth
  • Reworking the campfire to be more unique and GUI-less
  • Focusing on GUI-less blocks, removing GUI from exiting blocks
  • Making existing unique crafting less repetitive and adding more depth

The problem is that all these changes take a lot of time to implement, some aren't even designed yet, and we only have Tyron who can code those things. I imagine the most effective changes would be the infinite world height, weight based inventory and GUI-less blocks as they are something that is not really possible in Minecraft, even with mods. Even then, these changes would sadly take a lot of time, which could be spend on new features, but having these changes implemented later makes their implementation even more difficult.

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I think a well done trailer that almost only emphasizes on the differences would go a long way already

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1 hour ago, Tyron said:

I think a well done trailer that almost only emphasizes on the differences would go a long way already

While it would certainly help, it would still not prevent comments like "This can be done in Minecraft with mods" or "This is just a Terrafirmacraft ripoff". Especially with Hytale coming closer to release, there need to be some unique stand out features, so it can compete against it. Hytale is going to have a standard world height of over 256 blocks, probably 512 and while VS has a configurable world height, anything above the standard height takes ages to generate and is unplayable to the way world generation only scales vertically.

I really want VS to succeed, but the current situation worries me, as the length time it took to release the last update and the lack of some essential features in it (world configuration screen, configurable climate, oceans/landform size) shows, that VS needs more coders and thus more money to hire them.

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Having watched like 16 hours of Dakphan's series so far, I can say that at least certain people are also impressed when they see the multiple container thing, how easy it is to load mods, and just generally the very well thought out nature of the game.  Small details like skipping stones attract notice.   Longer streams like Darkphan's allow people to see the very large amount of small qol things that make the game superior.  It also gets better as Dark learns all the little tricks like waypoints.  Personally I think that perhaps the most bang for the buck in terms of near term updates would be getting an animal-powered automation system going for the early game.   People love animals, and love automation.  A non-redstone automation system will help set us apart a lot. 

My other choice would be an immersive armor/clothes construction system.   I don't see 'getting rid of the grid' as a pressing goal.  it's very tricky for mass-made things like building materials.  As long as we create immersive methods where it makes sense, I think people will remember those, and forget about the simpler grid stuff.

I don't think the game is ever going to get past the first impression minecraft clone thing because it's a blocky game.  It just looks the same at first glance, period.    But the more other cool features, the quicker people will be able to recognize that it's not the same.

Edit: As for hytale, it's just not the same game.   Hytale has dozens of people on staff.  That's hard to compete with directly.   Hytale also fully embraces fantasy in a way VS probably never will.  Between these things, they're always going to have more mobs.  The weakness of both minecraft and Hytale is that they have to appeal to the hugest, dullest common denominator.  VS can choose to appeal to more detail oriented crowd.  The details are what will shine.  So more details is I think better than going back and trying to re-work old stuff.

Edited by redram
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26 minutes ago, redram said:

Having watched like 16 hours of Dakphan's series so far, I can say that at least certain people are also impressed when they see the multiple container thing, how easy it is to load mods, and just generally the very well thought out nature of the game.  Small details like skipping stones attract notice.   Longer streams like Darkphan's allow people to see the very large amount of small qol things that make the game superior.  It also gets better as Dark learns all the little tricks like waypoints. 

The problem is that most people today have a very short attention span, so they will watch three minutes and then form their opinion of the game. These players don't get to see most differences from Minecraft, but all the similarities. And most people also mod QoL things into MC, so they are no huge benefit to them.

29 minutes ago, redram said:

Personally I think that perhaps the most bang for the buck in terms of near term updates would be getting an animal-powered automation system going for the early game.   People love animals, and love automation.  A non-redstone automation system will help set us apart a lot. 

That is certainly something I want to see, but as it is more of a midgame thing, it won't be visible in the first impression of the game for many players. It is not a pressing matter, so it may be better to implement it later.

34 minutes ago, redram said:

I don't see 'getting rid of the grid' as a pressing goal.  it's very tricky for mass-made things like building materials.  As long as we create immersive methods where it makes sense, I think people will remember those, and forget about the simpler grid stuff.

For me the grid crafting feels rather out of place compared to the other crafting mechanics, it's just there to remind people it is in fact a Minecraft clone. Other than that, having to look up the recipes for it is also a drawback.

38 minutes ago, redram said:

I don't think the game is ever going to get past the first impression minecraft clone thing because it's a blocky game.  It just looks the same at first glance, period.    But the more other cool features, the quicker people will be able to recognize that it's not the same.

Maybe not, but it at least should try. I imagine the reason why so many youtubers haven't made videos about it, is because it is too similar to Minecraft and there are little mayor improvements, just different features and graphics. I think we need at least on "WOW-feature" that VS has against the competition and I think that would be utilizing cubic chunks to generate impressive world gen, like huge mountains.

45 minutes ago, redram said:

Edit: As for hytale, it's just not the same game.   Hytale has dozens of people on staff.  That's hard to compete with directly.   Hytale also fully embraces fantasy in a way VS probably never will.  Between these things, they're always going to have more mobs.  The weakness of both minecraft and Hytale is that they have to appeal to the hugest, dullest common denominator.  VS can choose to appeal to more detail oriented crowd.  The details are what will shine.  So more details is I think better than going back and trying to re-work old stuff.

Sure, Hytale has a different focus, being more of a fantasy RPG. But Hytale succeeds to set itself apart from Minecraft and is a direct competitor for parts of the playerbase of VS. In the absolute worst case, Hytale is vastly better on the core features of a voxel game and people mod VS's features into it, making VS redundant.

Details are nice, but Minecraft also has many details. Details just don't sell the game, as marketing 1 big feature/improvement is much more effective than marketing 100 small details.

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I also have to work with literally a hundred times smaller or 1% of the budget that Hytale has :<

[Edit:]
Anyhow, several of your initial suggestions can easily take hundreds of hours of efforts, I think there's more cost effective ways to make the game stand apart. Also depends of course how they'd be implemented, but if its on the same level of quality as previous content it would take a long time. 

I know its tempting to find something to silence the critics, but I'm personally less worried about that and just really want to make a great game. I'd rather pick up the most interesting ideas from this forum than the ones most likely to set us apart from MC.

But thanks for the suggestions either way!

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I'd say I agree with Erik's assessment of the game's shortcomings. I don't think being "less like Minecraft" is necessarily what's important, but rather "more like a proper game". Minecraft has set a bunch of standards for sandbox bloxel games, some of which are simply not good game design. It would be worth revisiting the basics to create an experience that is more concise and immersive. (I really do like the term "immersive".)

I'm looking forward to people from the community writing mods to explore these aspects. I've been thinking, perhaps Tyron might be interested in taking over these ideas if they're indeed successful and implementing them into the game proper, or suggesting these mods as enhancing the default Vanilla play-style. The night is still young!

Edited by copygirl
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21 hours ago, Erik said:

The problem is that most people today have a very short attention span, so they will watch three minutes and then form their opinion of the game.

For one channel, it isn't that most people today have very short attention spans, it is (I believe) the mindset of the viewers. There is a very loud (and aggressive) group that has an intolerance for anything outside of their immediate interest. I doubt they would even look at the game before giving their expert opinion on how this is just MC.

eta: and this is based on comments to an Ark Survival LP, where there was very hateful and aggressive demands to do MC

Edited by dakko

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On 5/15/2019 at 11:50 AM, redram said:

Edit: As for hytale, it's just not the same game.   Hytale has dozens of people on staff.  That's hard to compete with directly.   Hytale also fully embraces fantasy in a way VS probably never will.  Between these things, they're always going to have more mobs.  The weakness of both minecraft and Hytale is that they have to appeal to the hugest, dullest common denominator.  VS can choose to appeal to more detail oriented crowd.  The details are what will shine.  So more details is I think better than going back and trying to re-work old stuff.

I agree completely with the regards to MC and Hytale aiming for the broadest player base.  If you can do it, it works well (as far as that goes), but there aren't many OF ANYTHING that achieves that goal.  Heck, WoW is a prime example; 15 years after release you still you hear people say "it's a WoW clone" when talking about a new MMO.  The result was a decade of companies chasing that elusive "WoW killer" title, and generalizing their games as much as possible to the detriment of players looking for something with more flavor and depth.

Fortunately it seems the industry is shaking that off, and realized that a great, enjoyable and profitable product is possible without targeting trillions of users.  Personally I see a lot of promise in games like VS and  RimWorld (perhaps Pantheon Rise of the Fallen; we'll see).  Beautiful, detailed and deep product that do not aim for the most generalized experience, knowing full well they are targeting a particular subset of the overall gaming audience.  Personally I am very glad to support them fully, and I just hope others value it too. 😃

 

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The biggest issue that I see right off the bat, is that it just looks like a stand alone version of TerraFirmaCraft. There isn't anything it is currently doing different than that mod that I can see. That is just based off the features I have read about, and the videos I have watched. Nothing has convinced me that it is something I would want to purchase however.

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Interesting thread and I can totally see the issue. 

Having just bought the game last week and now having some times in it I love it. I certainly love MC too but this to me feels like a more thoughtful and adult MC-like game.  There are many differences but I can see how that is first thing someone sees when looking at this game for the first time.

Personally I think this game could shine in another way too and in doing so it would appeal to a whole different group of players.
Along with MC I am also a HUGE fan of the farming games, Stardew, old Harvest Moon games and all the like.  I am an older gamer but my son got me addicted to Harvest Moon games back when I was raising him, sitting on the couch playing on Gameboy!

This game already has a much more involved farming system than MC and I think that is an aspect of the game that could really be built upon, maybe not like those games I mentioned but if done properly it could appeal to that huge group of players who love those games.

Things I would do if I wanted to expand farming in that way would be:

1. Expand the number of crops even more. Its already impressive for a game such as this but more is always better. Not too much but some more would be great.

2. When seasons come to the game, I think I read seasons are coming at least I hope so! If we get seasons there could be seasons specific crops.

3. Like the traders in the game maybe add farming traders that trade all sorts of seeds or special farming tools for payments of different types of produce that the player grows.  Maybe traveling traders. That would be cool too. Traders that move around the map.

4. Not technically farming but it goes with it, expand beekeeping more if there is something that makes sense to expand upon.

5. And last but not least would love to see brewing added to the game. Honey mead, beer, ale, wines.  That would be really cool and maybe have a chance of some interesting random effects on brews that you make that you can share with other players.

Anyway just come ideas that came to mind as I am learning this great game. I really really like what I see so far and very much want to see this game succeed and shine as its own special game not just a cool game kind of like another game everyone knows.  In my humble opinion expanding the direction of the game in those kinds of areas would open it up to a whole new group of players that love farming type games.

Thank you for taking the time to read.

 

 

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Some ideas to make the game different and perhaps more interesting than minecraft:

1. Enphasize the survival aspect by introducing stats like fatigue, thirst, hot/cold and so on.

2. Introducing afflictions like infections, common cold, psychic traumas and some kind of immersive way to heal them. (I'm thinking about the survival visor of metal gear 3 in this moment) 

3. I also vote for the weight based inventory and since it will inevitably reduce the carry capability more "stuffs on the ground" solutions should be inplemented. In particular, I'm thinking about storing bulk materials like rocks, ore nuggets or seeds in bags that can be either let on the ground without despawn, hung on trees (to prevent animals to destroy them if full of food) or combined with a frame made of sticks in order to make a Yukon pack.

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Having played about 7 hours here (and looking forward to more!), and many hundreds on variations of Minecraft & it's mods the main thing I'd love to see a different take on is mob spawning.

Less: "Oh look another surprise wolf (almost) got me, I bet there's another behind the next hill, oh no it's getting dark better find a spot to wait for day."

More: "The wolves came to my camp to turn me into a sandwich so I made spears, went to the forest, found their den, took the high ground, turned the wolf pack into porcupines, and now all your trees (and a fancy wolf cape) are belong to me!"

 

 

 

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Some sort of seed (map seed) bound macanic like the mod intangible did in minecraft. This will change the game slightly each time someone plays. An example could be that you make bear with 2 potatoes and 1 carrot to get one effect on one map but on the next map you need 3 carrots and 1 potato to get the same effect 

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IMO this problem isn't a problem. It's only a problem with people who don't understand the game, oversimplifying what it is. TerraFirmaCraft will forever be bound by the inherent limitations in Minecraft, and since Minecraft almost never evolves under the hood, TFC will forever be hamstrung and marred with Minecraft's deep engine flaws. The game can't even keep up with other versions of itself - Minecraft for Windows 10 runs substantially faster at drastically higher draw distances and implements all the same features.

When I heard about Vintage Story, I bought it almost instantly because I knew the implications of a standalone game based roughly on TFC, made in C#, with mod support (many people forget, Minecraft to this day doesn't actually support mods - all mods require interim jar hacks/injections, like Forge or Bukkit, a mess that splinters the player base). It runs better, it looks better, it plays better, and it's gotten more attention to detail in less than a year than Minecraft still has in a decade.

I also need to emphasize that the marketing push was positive, despite the negative "it's a clone" responses - I bought the game because of it, I then convinced a friend to buy it, and I may have convinced yet another person to be buying it soon. As a programmer, I recognize good, well thought out game design, and I want to make sure it's rewarded so it doesn't go away. I'll do a lot to make sure this game doesn't go away - it's way too promising.

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