Daniel Golberg - “Minecraft”

The Unlikely Tale of Markus “Notch” Persson and the Game That Changed Everything Not a great art piece. Nonetheless, an interesting book.

I liked how it portrayed Notch, the main author of Minecraft. I was bored by some of the lengthier passages about dinners, architecture and Sweden. I was inspired by the story of a self-made developer creating its own thing and ending up financially and artistically independent. I was warned by the sobering counter-example of his friend developing Wurm Online, a MMORPG without any acclaim or financial success.

Plot

Markus had a drug addict father and sister. He was a loser without a job, living with his mother, spending a lot of time on his computer. He finally got pushed by his mother to start working for a Web company, which he hated. But he found a job at a company doing easy Web games for King.com where he started talking with people about developing games. He had ideas for a MMORPG called Wurm Online, for a card game called Scrolls. He had a primitive game engine called RubyDung. He got inspired to make it into a game with ties to Dungeon Keeper and Dwarf Fortress after Infiniminer source code was leaked. This became a hit.

He started collecting money for the alpha version, was very open about how he’s developing it, shared info on his blog, YouTube, etc. He had to leave his job since the employer didn’t like his additional income, had a short affair working for a giant studio (didn’t like it, felt like a cog in a machine so big he didn’t even understand what it was designed to do). Found a job at Jalbum and stayed there for a number of years, while also continuing to develop the game.

Finally he created Mojang with his previous boss from Jalbum, hired some people that now are developing Minecraft and after a few years left the company to focus on a crazy game that was never finished.

The book also briefly covers Minecraft EDU, versions for Xbox and Android phones, conventions, the release of version 1.0.