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The Potential of Simple Actions. Vol. 535
Yoiko’s Minecraft Survival was an interesting show, so I decided to start playing Minecraft. I don’t usually go back to games after I’ve completed them, but when something piques my interest, it can’t be helped. Wait a second. This time I’m going to be playing on the Nintendo Switch, so I’ll be starting with a fresh slate, without my previous save data. I’m also going to go through Survival Mode instead of Creative Mode because it puts an exciting spin on the game.
This isn’t a mode where you can relax and take a carefree approach. You have to hurry to chop down trees, hurry to build a shelter, and hurry to start digging. Survival Mode is more intense than even a lot of action games. There’s no time to get lost! I have to hurry!!
Build a base. Build a house. Set up a farm to gather resources. The main focus though is to advance further by digging your way deeper and deeper underground.
The action itself is pretty simple. It’s kind of like having to do manual labor. You just take your pickaxe and start breaking down the rocks in front of you, and when it gets too dark to see, you start placing torches. Then it’s back to digging. When you reach a cave, it’s time to do some exploring and placing torches. Then it’s back to digging. When your inventory gets full, you go back to the surface to store and organize your materials. That’s the Minecraft life.
The digging itself is a simple action and there isn’t much in terms of strategy, but it makes for an interesting and very satisfying game. What makes it feel this way?
I think it’s the, ‘I bet I can use this later,’ feeling. It’s an element that’s important to any game, right? In Minecraft, if you dig up something good, you can use it to build all kinds of tools and contraptions. Even a plain old rock can be used as a building material so you want to grab those for crafting, too.
You can build to your heart’s content, which makes gathering the resources you need to actually do that building, fun. The simple action of digging has a payoff in the future. This is a type of fun that can’t be had in Creative Mode.
On top of that, there are ravines, enemies, encounters with spewing magma, and other moments that feel like special events. They don’t always go your way, but they spice things up.
If someone tried to build a resource gathering game like Minecraft, it wouldn’t necessarily have the same kind of fun. Having plenty of ways to use the resources you’ve gathered is what adds the fun. If there isn’t a good balance between the two, I think the game would start to lose what makes it interesting.
Suppose you tried to make a game in the crafting genre. What would the focus of it be? If you simply made a game in the same genre but tried make the combat more interesting, it probably wouldn’t be satisfactory. When what you’re doing now is a factor later on, it makes the future more interesting and the game deeper. I think this is applicable in a lot of games.
If a game is made up of simple actions, as long they mesh well with some other type of enjoyment, like gathering experience points, advancing to the next stage, or moving the story forward, then they’ll work just fine. In the case of crafting games, being able to make many types of things carries a lot of weight.
At the start, I wrote that starting with a clean slate is fun.
Seeing your resource-gathering pay off is one thing, but with a fresh start, there are endless possibilities, countless things you can do to move forward.
Plus, if the actions are simple, I can do them while riding my exercise bike. That’s all I’ve got!
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