So, Telltale are doing a Minecraft game. We know very little about it, apart from the fact that it'll be episodic and narrative-driven. Mojang have added that "we’re not intending on creating an 'official' story for Steve, or explaining the world of Minecraft in detail. It will be a cool game."
That could mean anything as far as what this thing will look like.
It doesn't seem like the most obvious fit to begin with, but these are two huge names coming together in an intriguing way next year. Here's what we made of the announcement...
I'm all for crossovers, but I have to be honest, this collaboration confused and enraged me at first glance. The idea of Minecraft being adapted into another narrative-driven adventure game seemed completely insane, and doubly galling since I'm slightly worried about Telltale taking on too much (remember, only a few years ago they were seriously slumping due to developing too many mediocre licensed games too quickly) and selfishly would much rather they took on Cowboy Bebop instead. Come on. How great would that be?
But then again... why shouldn't Minecraft be able to support a strong narrative adventure? After all, it already does.
Every time you play Minecraft you'll experience a different story. You'll build magnificent sculptures with friends, only for griefers to attempt to tear it down. You'll survive long terrifying nights, dig deep, find new opportunities and fresh horrors below the surface. You'll battle dragons, punch cows and load up a thousand mods, whether alone, with strangers or with friends.
So why, then, shouldn't one of these stories be told? The LEGO movie works a treat. Minecraft has countless hours of machinima. Go for it.
Then do Cowboy Bebop or Ghost In The Shell, dammit. I can't even [okay that's your lot, Jon - Ed]
I can't help but feel that Telltale doing an episodic adventure game for Minecraft sort of defeats the entire point of Minecraft. After all, the narrative experience of Minecraft is whatever the hell you decide that you want it to be. The whole point of Minecraft is that anything can be built, mucked about and played around with. Whatever you do, your experiences change each and every time.
It's not an obvious fit for Telltale at this point in time either, particularly not in the mould of their recent titles. When it comes to The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, Tales From The Borderlands, and Game of Thrones, all of these series are geared towards mature audiences, with the main focus of gameplay being making tough decision that impact the story. With the exception of Borderlands, though, all of those series are all about tough decisions and living with the consequences. Even going back to Sam & Max and the Monkey Island games that Telltale produced, these were IPs with deep roots in strong narratives and story-driven experiences.
Minecraft is the complete opposite. It strikes me that this is the answer to a question that no-one, apart from Microsoft, is asking.
Then again, Microsoft didn't buy Mojang to simply sit on this brand. Minecraft is massive even beyond the PC game, and that means there's room for brand expansion. It'd do Telltale good to put out a game series that can marketed to gamers under the age of 15, and none come bigger than Minecraft. But Minecraft is a game that is all about gameplay, and Telltale is a studio that puts out games with laughably bad mechanics. Something's going to have to give to make this strange marriage work.
First off, kudos to Mojang and Telltale for making an interactive press release with the same level of charm that Minecraft exudes. It's also got everyone talking, so well played on that front as well.
The thing is, once I had a moment to really think about it I began to wonder what the point of a Minecraft / Telltale title would be. After all, the press release states that it won't focus on Steve and his "sordid past", or even establish a deep lore for the Minecraft universe (so no, we're not going to learn where baby creepers come from... which is probably for the best.) So, what the hell is the point? Well, after a few more minutes of contemplation I came up with a theory - it could all be an elaborate way to get a new generation of players to jump into Minecraft proper.
We all know it will be a "choose you own adventure" style affair like the rest of the recent Telltale back catalogue, and because it will introduce new characters I suspect it will be about a 'group of players' and their story of setting up a town in-game. It will give the player choices of which to build, which holes to explore, whether to keep going or turn back home - that sort of thing. You may well say "but I can do that in Minecraft already," and you'd be right, but then this game won't be aimed at you - it will be aimed at those who find the idea of jumping into the creative soundbox an intimidating experience, seeing this adventure of a group of people setting up a town and saying to themselves "I could totally do a better job than these guys. In fact, you know what - I will." They then go and buy Minecraft and experience its creative addictive brilliance.
It's a win-win-win for Mojang, Telltale, and the consumer. If that's the route they are going, then it's a brilliant idea. Of course, we hardly know anything right now, but that's besides the point. That important thing is that Telltale + Mojang = money printing machine, and I expect it will be one of 2015's more important releases as a result.
How about you, dear reader? What do you make of all of this? Let us know in the copmments below!