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Over the past year or more, more and more Cemetechians have been discussing the building/RPG game Minecraft, a Java game in which players mine for resources, build structures and towns above and below ground, avoid death from monsters, and even build large-scale circuits. Up until this week, I had resisted playing the game on principle, both to avoid yet another drain on my free time, and to show my loyalty to Cemetech's pet project, Freebuild. Unfortunately, at the generous prompting of rcfreak0 and the persistence of my good friend ElderofMagic, I finally gave the game a try this week, and as is common with me and new games, I was immediately hooked.

If you have been living under a rock and are not familiar with Minecraft, it's a singleplayer and multiplayer building game where the world is an infinite expanse of cubes. The ground is cubes of dirt and rock and cubical tress and pixelated animals, under the ground are cubes of rock and coal and gold and diamond and a peculiar substance called redstone, the clouds are pixelated, and even the spiders and skeletons and zombies that appear every game night trying to kill you are pixelated. Your goal is three-fold: avoid being killed, mine resources, and use them to create awesome builds. To start in with the comparisons, the Freebuild concept follows only the last of those unless you're playing a Deathmatch game, in which the first and last apply. I feel that this is a point for both games. Freebuild allows you to build arbitrarily complex structures with no need to get blocks before you can use blocks, and allows you to scale, rotate, nudge, and rearrange blocks to your heart's content. Minecraft (unless you're hacking or an admin giving yourself freebies) forces you to find and collect things before you can use them, limiting the size of your structures and items you can create to what you can find. Tools must be created to mine resources better or faster, and tools degrade over time and are eventually destroyed. Finally, since everything in the game is a cube of the same size, the controls are very simple, as no rotation, scaling, or nudging is possible or necessary.

Minecraft has a bunch of the things I had always wished I could put into Freebuild, especially circuits and trains. The minecart system in Minecraft is fun to work with in my early experiences, but still leaves me wanting more, as it is constrained to the same cubic grid of the rest of the game. The redstone circuitry, though slow and requiring huge spaces to build anything useful, is quite powerful and intuitive, and I feel is a great tool to inspire aspiring electrical engineers. I'm looking forward to exploring these parts of Minecraft more than the building features, and comparing them to the vehicle system in Freebuild. Of course, the Freebuild vehicles work on a real physics engine, and all the complexities that that brings, a positive in terms of all the extra power, features, and realism, but a huge negative for development time. Freebuild has dynamic things like switches and movers, but they don't have the same connectivity that Minecraft's Redstone incorporates.

My overall impression is that Minecraft has a lot of potential, and is clearly extremely addictive, but has plenty of shortcomings as well. On every server that I've visited, players universally curse the name of Notch, and in my opinion with good reason. Although clearly he is a relatively competent coder to have gotten the game to its current stage of popularity and completion, the game has its fair share of bugs, lag, and inefficiencies, in no small part thanks to the fact that it is written entirely in Java. Freebuild wins as a native C++ program with ASM components in its rendering engine, and though it's certainly slower to code and debug C++ than Java, the speed increases are enormous. If Freebuild could achieve builds as large as some of the worlds I've visited in Minecraft without lag, and could provide for a lot more blocks placed with no stretching and no lag, I think it will become a serious competitor to Minecraft.

Please feel free to share your own thoughts and feedback on Minecraft, and on Minecraft in terms of Freebuild.


Four of the five towers of the above-ground portion of my Evocat.us empire in Minecraft.
Good article Smile One thing I would like to add is, in Minecraft, since you have to obtain everything that you build with, you get a much greater sense of accomplishment when it is all finished. Building a 100x100 cube in Minecraft takes much more effort than the same in Freebuild (assuming you are just building walls, and use Freebuild's scaling). I also think it would be great to add Minecraft's level of redstone and circuitry to Freebuild, but in a new way. As in, not an exact copy, but the same thinking of low-level, only-able-to-use-negation, etc. All in all, I can't wait to play Freebuild and get hooked on it for hours-on-end.
I personally never tried FreeBuild and just found out what it is, so I can't really compare the two games.

On the other hand, I've played Minecraft Classic and I have to say the concept of the game is amazing, it's application is also good, but a game where you can build anything out of nothing in an infinite world with other people is spectacular.

The game itself could be improved, especially speed, maybe Java cuts down the speed a lot. I also have to say that what notch did is epic. He managed to make most of that alone in a few months, which is admirable.
Scout, you should definitely give Freebuild a try then, so you can see what it's like. It's an extension of the concepts of Blockland, first released at least seven or eight years ago, and I'd be lying if I didn't say that I think Notch was heavily influenced by Blockland.

_player1537 wrote:
Good article Smile One thing I would like to add is, in Minecraft, since you have to obtain everything that you build with, you get a much greater sense of accomplishment when it is all finished. Building a 100x100 cube in Minecraft takes much more effort than the same in Freebuild (assuming you are just building walls, and use Freebuild's scaling). I also think it would be great to add Minecraft's level of redstone and circuitry to Freebuild, but in a new way. As in, not an exact copy, but the same thinking of low-level, only-able-to-use-negation, etc. All in all, I can't wait to play Freebuild and get hooked on it for hours-on-end.
I agree absolutely on the first point, cf:

OP wrote:
Freebuild allows you to build arbitrarily complex structures with no need to get blocks before you can use blocks, and allows you to scale, rotate, nudge, and rearrange blocks to your heart's content. Minecraft (unless you're hacking or an admin giving yourself freebies) forces you to find and collect things before you can use them, limiting the size of your structures and items you can create to what you can find.
I'll be making the trains in Freebuild my own personal project, but it will be up to someone else to implement some kind of circuitry, I think. Metal bricks and ICs embedded in bricks gogogo?
KermMartian wrote:
Scout, you should definitely give Freebuild a try then, so you can see what it's like. It's an extension of the concepts of Blockland, first released at least seven or eight years ago, and I'd be lying if I didn't say that I think Notch was heavily influenced by Blockland.


Yeah I sure will, as long as it can be played in Linux Smile
Yeah, there's definitely a larger sense of accomplishment with Minecraft. Of course, sometimes it's frustratingly tedious but that's not a bad thing necessarily. It gives you more time to think over your creations and can force you to take breaks so you don't burn out your creativity too quickly.

What I find to be the best aspect of the game, though, is the exploration. If you want iron or gold or diamond or obsidian, you have to adventure. You need to explore. Who knows what you'll find? The world is infinite after all. Beyond that, there's that feeling of joy that overwhelms you when you're exploring a cave and see a glint of precious diamond, a real reward for your tedious digging and exploration.

Ironically, I find Minecraft to be much more like LEGO than freebuild is. Even though everything is cubical, the limitations of certain resources and overabundance of others forces you to think creatively with what you've got and work hard to get more of what you need. Like with how I build LEGO in real life, I don't always have the parts I need so I'm always pondering how I can find/get more or redesign the creation to use parts I do have.

KermMartian wrote:
Scout, you should definitely give Freebuild a try then, so you can see what it's like. It's an extension of the concepts of Blockland, first released at least seven or eight years ago, and I'd be lying if I didn't say that I think Notch was heavily influenced by Blockland.


Minecraft was based off of Infiniminers. Notch may have had some influence from blockland, but I don't think Minecraft was too heavily influenced by it.
hmm, and let us not forgot the various mods that you can get for minecraft, although those should probably have review for themselves as they are seperate from the game....

in my opinion, I think I got my money's worth when I bought minecraft, although I do wish I could be able to play it with something higher than the short render distance.
Quote:
On every server that I've visited, players universally curse the name of Notch, and in my opinion with good reason.


Heh. I was wondering it was just the server I played on. Razz

Nice article.
Thanks TC01. I doubt it; I play on Julosoft and Evocat.us thus far, for creative and PvP respectively.

Qazz42, ahh, then you need a graphics card and rig like my beastly desktop that lets you spread it across a lot of monitors with a long fog distance. Of course, Java sucks, so there's no reason it should be as resource-intensive as it is.

ScoutDavid, it most certainly can!

TsukasaZX, what might you recommend to the Freebuild devs to make it more attractive? Remove the ability to fly and stretch bricks and place bricks in midair? While I was playing Minecraft today, I was thinking what would happen if all the ridiculous number of keys that Freebuild has were removed, so you don't place ghost bricks and then instantiate them, but just directly place bricks. That would be a lot close to the simple Minecraft point-and-place interface, allow Freebuild to be a lot friendlier for laptop keyboards lacking a numberpad, and force a bit more creativity. People could always mod and hack flying and in-air placement back in anyway.
Quazz look up Optifog its a mc mod that makes it run so much nicer ^_^


I agree with the review it has a lot of short comings but its still epic and enjoyable...there is a great sense of accomplishment with it which makes it even more fun xD
KermMartian wrote:
Over the past year or more, more and more Cemetechians have been discussing the building/RPG game Minecraft, a Java game in which players mine for resources, build structures and towns above and below ground, avoid death from monsters, and even build large-scale circuits. Up until this week, I had resisted playing the game on principle, both to avoid yet another drain on my free time, and to show my loyalty to Cemetech's pet project, Freebuild. Unfortunately, at the generous prompting of rcfreak0 and the persistence of my good friend ElderofMagic, I finally gave the game a try this week, and as is common with me and new games, I was immediately hooked. -snip-


Im glad you finally tried it and liked it! I really like the massive tower(s) that you built. Pretty much tops a few of the structures i even have Smile might have to go build something now ha. But in all seriousness i like it a lot, I should come look at again. Feel free to play on mine too! [/shameless server plug]
I will absolutely come play on yours. You should also stop by Julosoft one day so I can show you some of the things I'm learning with minecarts and redstone when I can make stuff for free. Smile
KermMartian wrote:
I will absolutely come play on yours. You should also stop by Julosoft one day so I can show you some of the things I'm learning with minecarts and redstone when I can make stuff for free. Smile

I will! We have alot of cool stuff with minecarts too Smile
I should mention that a minecraft-like game mode would be absolutely trivial to implement in freebuild. As for circuitry, Catgoesmoo has been playing around a lot with the wire mod in Gmod, and I'm sure, should the demand arise, she's a competent enough programmer to recreate some of that low-level stuff in Freebuild.
Gotta love minecraft. I was playing on my cousin's account for a few months (does that count as piracy?) before I decided it was worth the $20. Now I have an avatar who looks like me Razz

SMP would be awesome If I could find a server that isn't super-overcrowded, but has a decent system set up. Haven't tried anyone's in the calc community yet Razz

And BTW: Love the new logo.
willrandship wrote:
Gotta love minecraft. I was playing on my cousin's account for a few months (does that count as piracy?) before I decided it was worth the $20. Now I have an avatar who looks like me Razz

SMP would be awesome If I could find a server that isn't super-overcrowded, but has a decent system set up. Haven't tried anyone's in the calc community yet Razz

And BTW: Love the new logo.


My server is very un-crowded at time, mainly a lot recently. Mines pretty vanilla still minus a few fun plugins, and there's no mobs at night. And very few server rules as well. Let me know via PM somewhere if you want to check it out sometime.
I enjoyed browsing your server today, rcfreak0. Smile Willrand, there's also Juju's server, which is a lot of fun, and a server that ElderofMagic is on, which is a PvP and also a ton of fun.
KermMartian wrote:
I enjoyed browsing your server today, rcfreak0. Smile Willrand, there's also Juju's server, which is a lot of fun, and a server that ElderofMagic is on, which is a PvP and also a ton of fun.

You were on? Aww i missed you i mustve been at work Sad did you like what you saw? Feel free to build if you find a nice spot Smile
I think a good part of the fun of Minecraft isn't the mining, it's actually the survival aspect of the game. While I really enjoy my build world, the life-or-death aspect of survival adds an interesting challenge to overcome and you really have to be creative to survive.

As for what Freebuild needs, I can't say I've ever played it, but one of the worst limitations of Minecraft redstone is the fact that you can't really interact with much. The Pistons mod goes a long way towards fixing that, but increased manipulation of the environment would be awesome.
And the floodgate mod helps a ton as well. The problem is, redstone was an afterthought, really, not so much an intended feature.

Then again, minecraft itself was an overdeveloped afterthought Razz
  
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