Subject: General Tech | October 26, 2016 - 05:19 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, paint 3d, Minecraft
At a press event today, Microsoft was promoting their platform with a focus on creativity. The show opened with a video that highlighted upcoming changes in accessibility. For instance, they are adding a preview mode to Microsoft Edge developer tools that help developers make their application accessible to people with impaired vision, who are reliant upon screen-readers. Immediately following that few-minute video, Terry Myerson gave a speech and announced that the next feature release of Windows 10, which was codenamed Redstone 2, will be officially called the Windows 10 Creators Update.
Naturally, Microsoft wanted to associate the creative potential of PCs with... MS Paint. This application is used by over 100 million poor, unfortunate souls per month, because it is simple... and, of course, pre-installed on basically every Windows machine ever. This transitioned to an announcement of Paint 3D, which is actually quite interesting. 3D applications tend to be a daunting mountain of tools for countless use cases, which helps professionals but somewhat hinders the hobbyist.
Paint 3D tries to strip it down to the use cases of home users, especially children, who want to goof around with creating stuff. Take a photo, remove the background, and place it in a sand castle that you scanned with your Windows Phone (just kidding, we all know you'll be using it on Android or iOS) into a 3D model. Position the 3D camera just right, and you have a summer holiday postcard. They also have a service, Remix 3D, that allows sharing of 3D content, even from Minecraft. You can then order 3D prints of these objects, seemingly from the service although I haven't been able to see an explicit announcement of that.
Moving on, Microsoft has also released a few videos of this event. In a couple of them, they included a short clip of another, otherwise unannounced application, Groove Music Maker. It appears to be a competitor to Apple's GarageBand, mixing recorded and generated tracks to create music. On the PC side, there really isn't much apart from Fruity Loops and a handful of open source applications to solve this need, and music is definitely a creative avenue. I assume that we'll see something announced about this in the near future.
The Windows 10 Creators Update will be available in “early 2017”. Rumors point to March, based mostly on its expected 1703 version number; still, the early August release of Windows 10 Anniversary Update was listed 1607, so it could vary a bit.
I mean, I hope they will release it when it's stable enough this time.
Subject: General Tech | December 19, 2014 - 05:02 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Mojang, telltale, Minecraft, minecraft: story mode
Mojang and Telltale Games have announced their collaboration on an adventure game that is set in the Minecraft universe. Minecraft: Story Mode will feature a cast of characters... none of which are Steve... and tell a story that does absolutely zero explanation of the Minecraft universe. Telltale will release the game episodically, with the first release in 2015.
This comes on the heels of news that the Minecraft movie has lost its director, because they could not come up with a sufficient story. While the movie has not been scrapped, it does show that those who are left at Mojang will veto whatever they dislike. I guess that means that Telltale has successfully pitched them a narrative, because this seems like an oddly confident announcement to make.
MineCraft: Story Mode Episode One will be released in 2015 for Xbox, PlayStation, Mac, iOS, and Android. It will also be released on the PC, which I think is the platform of choice for most of our viewers. It's just a hunch.
Subject: General Tech | September 15, 2014 - 03:23 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Mojang, Minecraft, microsoft
Mojang AB, a company with about 22 employees, has been sold to Microsoft for $2.5 billion. Being that the studio is based in Sweden, I would expect that it was purchased with funds that would be taxed heavily if brought back into the States, so the large sum might not feel as large to Microsoft as if they were purchasing an American company. It should be noted that they did not require that the founders, Notch, Carl, and Jakob, stay on as employees -- and they aren't.
This, of course, leads to many concerns for die-hard Minecraft fans. First of all, what platforms (if any) will be deprecated? PlayStation? Mac? Linux? Java itself? Second, how will Microsoft change the franchise? Will they remain faithful? Will they reduce or remove third party content?
As for the founders? Only Notch seems to have commented on his next plans: participating in game making competitions and creating "small web experiments". Additionally, he says, "If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I'll probably abandon it immediately." Most of his blog post references issues between Mojang and its community, regarding the EULA, server and mod monetization, possibly the CraftBucket GPL issue, and so forth. Honestly, I like the idea that Notch would spend a significant amount of free time developing web demos. I think he would contribute a lot to Web standards, especially if he is happy doing it.
As for Microsoft? Clearly they are buying Minecraft because they are running out of Halo codenames.
Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2014 - 03:04 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: mojang ab, Minecraft, microsoft, consolitis
First and foremost, I would like to remind everyone of the Twitch.tv and Google acquisition rumors. Things are not done until they are done and it could be significantly more complicated than it appears on the surface. And yes, I am speaking from the position of someone who was bitten and wrote a news post on the subject.
Regardless, discussion has been circulating that Mojang AB, creators of Minecraft, were in talks to sell their company to Microsoft for $2 billion dollars. First, this tells us that randomly generated diamond and gold is worth a fortune; second, it tells us that Mojang, like Oculus, is twice the company that Instagram was. I guess all it took was those OpenGL filter effects.
Joking aside, two billion dollars is a significant chunk of money, about a third of Computing and Gaming Hardware's annual revenue. Minecraft is definitely a valuable asset, especially with the licensed media and merchandise, and would be a good addition to a publisher's portfolio (along with their employees if convinced to stay on). It is not entirely without basis, either. Competing publisher, Activision-Blizzard, allegedly planned to spend $500 million on Destiny, although Bungie denies that, which Activision claims is the cost of launching a new franchise nowadays.
The most interesting part of the rumor, to me, is the Bloomberg report which claims that Notch initiated the discussions. He was quite outspoken against Microsoft for a while, especially with the licensing requirements for Windows Store. Apparently, current head of Microsoft's Computing and Gaming Hardware division, Phil Spencer, is friends with Notch and has been visiting him and Mojang AB.
But until something official is announced, this is all speculation. That said, Notch has been particularly quiet about the topic on Twitter. To me, that strongly suggests that something is up.
Subject: General Tech | October 24, 2013 - 07:23 PM | Scott Michaud
These new high-end videocards are fast! How about Minecraft in windowed mode?
The latest version of the voxel-based sandbox (and dirtbox, and stonebox) game will be launch Friday morning for us North Americans. While several of the features might be paradoxical if you think about it, "Less ocean, more awesome" vs "Fishing!", this is an absolutely gigantic release. Most importantly, they have overhauled their world generation code and completely rewrote their networking systems.
If you currently run a server, be sure to make a pit-stop at version 1.6.4 before upgrading to 1.7.1. The release highlights for 1.6.4 contain:
This update fixes world generation bugs that would appear in 1.7. It is recommended that you use this version and load up important areas of your world before heading into Minecraft 1.7 ((Emphasis mine))
I would follow this advice very carefully. (But what do I know?)
The update also adds several new blocks: stained glass, packed ice, red sand, podzol, new types of wood, and so forth. Stained glass, in particular, was once an April Fool's 2013 joke (like Block of Coal or, to some extent, horses) which made its way into the game proper. This should hopefully address some of the more bland designs caused by the limitations of glass.
Minecraft 1.7.1 will drop Friday at 15:00 CEST. Because PC Perspective is a North American company, this translates to 9am EDT and 6am PDT.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | October 17, 2012 - 03:35 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Minecraft, far cry 3, crossover
Ubisoft crafted an olive branch for their PC gaming fans, and Mojang’s fans too…
Far Cry 3 might be coming to North America in early December but Ubisoft thinks you might need something to tide you over until then. Of course, Assassin’s Creed III could have held us over if it were launching alongside its console brethren but - oh never mind. I guess I should cut Ubisoft some slack. They probably did not have a whole lot of Olive planks for the Olive branches. I mean they probably had to spend four on the crafting table alone and then there was that creeper so Ubisoft totally needed that wood sword.
Lost? Oh! Where are my manners?
In an effort to promote the release of Far Cry 3 for the PC - a simultaneous release with the other platforms - Ubisoft created a Minecraft mod team. The order: create a map in Minecraft themed like Far Cry 3.
Get my agent! I want to star in an Indie PC cross-over mod too! One with pigs!
Machine for Pigs? I’m having a hard time remembering that… but if you say it is popular…
The team consists of Michael Lambert with Axel Janssen and Yohann Delcourt providing texture work. Michael, known as Sacr3 to the Minecraft community, made a name for himself with his large city build, Novax. He replied to a comment on his World Trade Center video three months ago when confronted about his activity:
I'm working on something big right now, i'll get back to this map once i'm done my other project.
I would say so.
So I buried the lead long enough - what is the mod about? The environment is themed and textured based on the aesthetic of the game. Accompanying the custom map are a new set of weapons and tools with themes rooted in the game. You will be able to find Vaas, Citra, and the protagonist Jason all in Minecraft style along with 50 Easter Eggs. If anything it is an interesting tactic to draw brand recognition especially with such a PC-centric strategy. I am guessing Ubisoft knows where their brand has been tarnished most and especially wants to recover it with the Far Cry property. Well done Ubisoft.
The mod is expected to be released on October 26 at their official Far Cry website.
Subject: General Tech | April 16, 2012 - 12:49 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Minecraft, DOTA
Defense of the Ancients, originally a mod for Blizzard-based games which inspired games like League of Legends and DOTA2, comes to Minecraft. Unlike other variants, it is from a first-person perspective rather than top-down -- and it’s in Minecraft without needing client-side mods.
If you are a PC gamer -- firstly, welcome home -- but also you are probably will aware of something called a “mod community”.
Minecraft lends itself well to mod developers. Minecraft for the PC allows for their community to edit much of the game to customize it to their likings. Even without editing the core game client itself, there is a large amount of customization possible from within the game -- including, apparently, developing a fully functional DOTA game type.
I cannot possibly describe how epic this is…
The game type of DOTA is quite simple in concept: kill AI to get money, use money to buy items, use items to kill the enemy team and their base.
Normally played from a top-down perspective, Minecraft DOTA is played from a first person perspective. One or two towers are placed in each of your team’s three lanes out to the jungle. In order to kill an enemy, you must destroy all five of their towers which is a feat requiring at least two people to accomplish. Once all five towers are destroyed, you can destroy their nexus (which requires three attackers) and win.
Check out the latest build at MineCraftForum.net.
Subject: General Tech | February 18, 2012 - 01:22 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Minecraft, Lego
Most of the success of Minecraft can be attributed to that little part of your brain which desires to be creative while at play. Prior to Minecraft, other toys such as LEGO clung on to that yearning for their successes. A mash-up between the old and the new is a natural stage in the evolution of Minecraft. LEGO and Mojang announced a LEGO-themed Minecraft set.
Who knows, maybe we will eventually get LEGO Minecraft the videogame and complete the circle.
Recent events would lead you to believe that Mojang has enough money -- and you are correct. The Minecraft LEGO set was created from LEGO’s CUUSOO program. If a CUUSOO product is selected to become a part of LEGO’s portfolio, it can collect 1% of total net sales of the product. According to the official LEGO press release, Mojang will donate the royalties they collect from this LEGO product to charity.
If you desire to explore blocky caves in real life then head on down to the Jynx website and submit your order. The set is expected to be available sometime in the summer. Also, check out the LEGO CUUSOO project to submit or vote upon other potential products.
Subject: General Tech | July 29, 2011 - 02:35 AM | Scott Michaud
Minecraft, the insanely popular videogame from independent developer Mojang, follows in the PC gaming history of providing customers with constant free content updates along with the usual bug-fix patches. Many developers have been swayed recently by the thought of micro-transactions and have to some extent pushed their customers toward paying for whatever content was not on the disk, and sometimes even paying extra for that too. Notch, the most high-profile member of Mojang, has been teasing about possible additions to be made in upcoming patches: the possibility of boss fights and a screenshot of an enigmatic new mob.
I wonder if the bosses will have derpy eyes too.
One thing that has become a common view about Minecraft is that it will kill you and aggravate you in many annoying ways unless you are very careful (and often when you are). The creeper is often considered annoying by Minecraft players due to its ability to spawn or move into difficult to deal with spots, be even more difficult to deal with when there, and cause demolish your creations when there. Many players got frustrated enough to the point of disabling the mob or its destructive capabilities altogether. A development screenshot posted by Notch on his Google+ a new experimental mob doing what many fear could be the new creeper: hold a block! Where did (s)he get the block? What will (s)he do with it? Could the game itself grief you? No other details are available yet but it certainly puts players off ease for the possibilities… but not necessarily in a bad way.
See this? This is someone’s nightmare.
(Image from Notch, Mojang)
Mojang has wanted to lead Minecraft more towards a more typical game model as an alternative to a tool for creation without much else to do thereafter. Due to an admiration of another Minecraft-like game, Terraria, Notch has mentioned the desire to add boss battles to the game. The catch is that, like Terraria, you would have the ability to create the terms for the boss battle rather than be guided to a game designer’s creation until you either quit playing or overcome it and move past it. I should also say that there have been plenty of additions to Minecraft that have been planned or worked on in the past that ultimately get scrapped so there is no guarantee that anything in this news story will end up in the game proper.
Subject: General Tech | July 1, 2011 - 01:34 PM | Scott Michaud
Videogames are not necessarily a medium about consuming. One advantage of videogames is that they are inherently a platform for creativity. You often see creativity happen haphazardly in terms of strategies and the “water-cooler moments” where an event happens and you just cannot help but discuss it. A second layer of creativity is when videogames support third-party content: you are allowed to modify the game as you desire and create your own game based around the other game. The third layer of creativity is when the game itself is mostly a platform for creativity. Minecraft falls under the vein of a “Spore”, a "Farmville", or a “Lego” where the player is less interested in accomplishing an objective than they are channeling their creativity. Now players of Minecraft have more options to express themselves as it advanced to version 1.7; or just end up piston around.
I’ve got a baaaaahahahahhhhhd feeling about this.
(Screenshot taken from Modacity Minecraft Server)
Changes for this version involve the addition of Pistons which allow you to move blocks, items, players, and mobs. There are two types of pistons: regular pistons which can push items, and slime-upgraded pistons which can push and pull items. Some possible usages include more inventive traps, flood gates, triggered stairs, and so forth. Another addition is that TNT must be lit on fire or triggered with a redstone circuit to allow players to remove potentially misplaced TNT by punching it. Fences can now also be stacked which is useful for those attempting to use them artistically or who just want a really tall fence. The last major change was the addition of shears to trim trees and sheep.
Check out these changes in action with Minecraft’s official 1.7 update video.