Posted 12 July 2012 - 08:27 PM
Minecraft clones are popular--XBLA is riddled with them--but they're all trying to do the same thing. It's gotten to when the phrase, "Voxel-based game" is synonymous with "Minecraft clone". They'll add in a couple features, or change a couple things about how blocks move, but ultimately it's the equivalent of a Minecraft mod that's built on a crappier game than Minecraft. ShawnCowles' idea for a voxel world that's largely open space and is built on freedom of movement, taking a holding real estate and difficulty that scales with travel distance is a great one. It's fresher and more imaginative than the thousands of ideas that start with, "It'll be like Minecraft, except..." That ellipsis can be followed with anything from, "with machineguns," to "in space," to "gravity is sideways," to "projected on the surface of a tesseract."
I liked Minecraft, and I quit because it turned into work too quickly. The first couple nights can be tense, since you're underequipped and outmatched, but after only a short time you can be established in such a way that the only real challenges for you are beating the random number generator. At this point, I can be in a mob-proof house with the tools and supplies to thrive well before the sun sets on day 1, so I just dig for materials and go out during the day to ravage trees and pigs. The only task is finding enough diamond to get started mining obsidian. Then you grind blaze rods, then ender pearls, then you go finish the game. It's a brutal grind, and even when I just settle in to treat it as a creative sandbox and make some sweet mechanisms or architecture, I'm immediately ashamed when I see the stuff other people have done with it.
It needs more videogame. Shawn's scaling difficulty is a lot like my dream for MineCraft. I wanted the center of the world to be safe, on easy mode, with no mobs, no danger, and no valuable resources. As you venture farther afield, you start finding better stuff, but you also are beset by greater danger, and you get into a sort of Diablo-style gear/challenge economy, where wild expeditions into the distance are foolhardy, and will almost always cost you more than you gain, but grinding at home grants trivial rewards. I'd prefer a wider array of gear and crafting, maybe even along the lines of Terraria.
You might want to take a look at Minecraft mods, there are a bunch and many are very clever. Youtube has a few hours' worth of well-presented footage that spotlights scores of mods, some more interesting than others.