Notch Leaves Mojang after Microsoft Deal

Markus Alexej “Notch” Persson, the man behind Minecraft, has officially stepped down from his role at game studio Mojang. This decision comes at the heels of the announcement that Microsoft spent $2.5 billion dollars to acquire the game company.

When talk of this potential deal first came to light, members of the fan community were surprised, incensed even, over the news. Notch has long been considered a “voice” of the gaming community. With his anti-establishment mentality and pithy Twitter, he was a counter to the mainstream rhetoric of game giants like Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. With Mojang “selling out” to Microsoft, it was natural that some gamers felt betrayed.

Notch has announced that he will be officially leaving his role at Mojang as soon as the now-confirmed deal is complete. In a very frank and personal open letter, he addresses his reluctant role in the gamer community and what’s next on his agenda. I think it’s a worthwhile read (source):

“I’m leaving Mojang

 

I don’t see myself as a real game developer. I make games because it’s fun, and because I love games and I love to program, but I don’t make games with the intention of them becoming huge hits, and I don’t try to change the world. Minecraft certainly became a huge hit, and people are telling me it’s changed games. I never meant for it to do either. It’s certainly flattering, and to gradually get thrust into some kind of public spotlight is interesting.

 

A relatively long time ago, I decided to step down from Minecraft development. Jens was the perfect person to take over leading it, and I wanted to try to do new things. At first, I failed by trying to make something big again, but since I decided to just stick to small prototypes and interesting challenges, I’ve had so much fun with work. I wasn’t exactly sure how I fit into Mojang where people did actual work, but since people said I was important for the culture, I stayed.

 

I was at home with a bad cold a couple of weeks ago when the internet exploded with hate against me over some kind of EULA situation that I had nothing to do with. I was confused. I didn’t understand. I tweeted this in frustration. Later on, I watched the This is Phil Fish video on YouTube and started to realize I didn’t have the connection to my fans I thought I had. I’ve become a symbol. I don’t want to be a symbol, responsible for something huge that I don’t understand, that I don’t want to work on, that keeps coming back to me. I’m not an entrepreneur. I’m not a CEO. I’m a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter.

 

As soon as this deal is finalized, I will leave Mojang and go back to doing Ludum Dares and small web experiments. If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I’ll probably abandon it immediately.

 

Considering the public image of me already is a bit skewed, I don’t expect to get away from negative comments by doing this, but at least now I won’t feel a responsibility to read them.

 

I’m aware this goes against a lot of what I’ve said in public. I have no good response to that. I’m also aware a lot of you were using me as a symbol of some perceived struggle. I’m not. I’m a person, and I’m right there struggling with you.

 

I love you. All of you. Thank you for turning Minecraft into what it has become, but there are too many of you, and I can’t be responsible for something this big. In one sense, it belongs to Microsoft now. In a much bigger sense, it’s belonged to all of you for a long time, and that will never change.

 

It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity.”



I doubt will have heard or seen the last of Notch but I hope the guy finds happiness with whatever he does next.

- E.B.

Featured Art(ist) – Grzegorz Rutkowski

This week’s featured art(ist) is Grzegorz Rutkowski.

Rutkowski is a Polish native and professional digital artist. Focusing primarily on fantasy-scape, sweeping set pieces, you can see his work throughout the nerd community. He has worked on a number of video games, included titles for Ubisoft and Bigpoint, like the piece below:

Likewise, he’s also designed very cool box art for table top board games, like Galakta’s Kings and Assassins:

I love fantasy art in general and I find Rutkowski does a fabulous job with colors and textures. I think the cobblestones and puddle in the picture above are a great representation of that – I mean the lighting in the puddle is amazing. He also has a online shop where you can order his prints if you’re interested: INPRNT Gallery

- E.B.

Review – Velocity 2X

This week’s featured review is Futurlab‘s Velocity 2x for PlayStation systems.

As a member of the PlayStation Plus Network, I receive two free downloadable PS4 titles every month. This month, I downloaded Velocity 2X on a whim and was totally blown away. Since I had heard nothing about the game previously and it was a free download, I assumed it was a sub-par indie title. Boy was I wrong!

Basic Plot Synopsis: The sequel to Velocity Ultra (which I have not played) this game is a shoot ‘em up extravaganza. While most games in this genre lack substantial plot, FuturLab clearly tried to craft a worthwhile narrative around their slick mechanics. Players assume the role of Lt. Kai Tana, who wakes up after a horrific accident to discover her body is now cybernetically enhanced. Tana is desperate to return to her ship, so she teams up with fellow prisoner, alien Hjun Ralan III. Together, the two work to defeat the murderous Vokh species so Kai Tana can return home.

Velocity 2X on PS4 and PS Vita

My Thoughts: Velocity 2X seamlessly integrates vertical scrolling and side-scrolling action. Whether you are piloting a spaceship or running around as Tana herself, your main objective is to blow up everything you possibly can. Speed is integral to winning and the game play lends itself to a fast, smooth, controlled yet chaotic style. Thanks to teleport abilities, even the vertical scrolling sections require a dynamic horizontal and tactic movement. This variety keeps Velocity 2X feeling fresh and distinguishes it from other titles in the genre.

When you play a level, there is a strong sense of rhythm. The more you play, the more you feel the pulse of the game, allowing you to more gracefully navigate the levels. There are a few puzzle-based objectives in every section, adding variance to the cadence of a play session and preventing the player from just “going on automatic.”

The transition from spaceship to on-foot action is fluid and natural. The game slowly adjusts the players to the switch throughout the first few levels. After ten minutes, the on-foot sections feel like natural extensions of the game, and offer a greater sense of atmosphere. The visual design of the game is modern and aesthetically appealing. The bright lights against the crisp graphics and sharp illustrated 2D cut scenes give the game a sense of refined visual polish.

It wouldn’t be a shoot ‘em up without boss battles and Velocity 2X delivers. Forcing players to utilize all of their various mechanics, the bosses pose threatening tactical problems instead of just being gigantic damage sponges. It is much more enjoyable to fear for you life in completely totality for a few brief minutes than slog through a half an hour of punch-and-hide game play seen in most genre boss fights. I am a big fan of how Futurlab address this hallmark of the genre.

With 50 stages, the game goes by surprisingly fast. However, with so many components to achieving a perfect score there’s a lot of replay value. If you have PlayStation Plus, you MUST download this title. If you aren’t a Plus member, still consider giving it a purchase, even if shoot ‘em ups are not your thing. They’re not mine, but I am definitely a fan of Velocity 2X.

- E.B.

Cosplay Wednesday – Annie and her Favorite Bear

This week’s featured cosplay is TitanesqueCosplay‘s Annie and Tibbers.

League of Legends is one of the most popular MOBA games in the market – with a very strong and devoted player base. Likewise, this game has one of the most dedicated cosplay fan bases around, due in part, I think, to the wicked cool character designs. TitanesqueCosplay is a group of four accomplished U.S. cosplayers, Sumner, Heather, Marissa, and Caitlin. Together, they work together to create their own outfits, accessories and ensembles – with pretty fantastic results.

This particular set features members Sumner (Tibbers) and Heather (Annie) and I think it’s possibly one of the best in the League cosplaying community. Sumner’s Mr. Tibbers is just really impressive, both on scale and execution of detail. Heather’s full Annie ensemble is well tailored, with high-quality accessories including a perfect fit wig. It’s a great piece that’s part of the group’s larger League of Legends costume group:

It’s amazing what people can do when they work as a team!

- E.B.

What’s More Important? Destiny or the iPhone 6?

So, if you haven’t been on the internet for the last 72 hours, you might have missed that Bungie Studio’s new game, Destiny, releases tomorrow. The studio responsible for the famous Halo franchise has a new massive, online role playing extravaganza lined up for the gamerverse. If my Facebook feed means anything, people are psyched.

People have been talking about this game all summer, thanks to a very successful Beta launch in July. This is the such a hot game title it might overshadow the annual installment of the Madden NFL franchise (which is kind of a big deal).

If you’re not plugged into the gamer/nerd world, then tomorrow might bring a different type of excitement for you. Apple’s long awaited iPhone 6 is officially announced tomorrow, much to the joy of devoted Apple fans. With competitors poking fun at the anticipation of the “phablet” version of the iPhone, tech geeks everywhere are speculating if this risk for Apple is really worth it. Below is Samsung’s brilliant and pointed ad poking fun at Apple:

So the question becomes, what’s going to matter more to the tech universe tomorrow? Destiny or iPhone 6? The short answer is that the world of business will care about the new iPhone more than Destiny, given Apple’s role in the market. However, in the mind share of the general public? That’s harder to determine.

“Latest iPhone” is trending on Forbes’ website, but #Destiny is all over Twitter and Facebook. Both are hot topics according to Google analytics and headlines with media outlets like Gamespot, TechCrunch, etc. Destiny is also officially confirmed to be the most pre-ordered new IP video game in history as of this morning. As a geek who loves both games and Apple products, tomorrow is like a very special pre-Christmas!

-E.B.

Featured Art(ist) – kawacy

This week’s featured art(ist) is kawacy!

Based out of Japan, kawacy is a professional artist and illustrator. His work ranges from custom designs to fan art – but seriously this is some of the best fan art I have ever seen. In particular, his Pokémon themed artwork is stellar, and a standout in that particular fan community. Check out the piece below for proof:


He does an excellent job of capturing drama or sweetness, and very much so in the flamboyant style expected from illustrated manga. I’m a huge fan of that particular athesetic, so this stuff warms the cockles of my heart (gotta love that phrase).

- E.B.