August 20, 2013 2:03 AM | Staff
Anyone familiar with game development knows that, even in the face of ideal conditions and best-laid plans, some projects will never see the light of day. Players are a little less accustomed to this idea -- stories abound of developers being hounded on social media for project updates, or of players outraged over studios "hiding" the existence of a project while still early in its production cycle. These stress points only multiply if you're a developer with a considerable fan following.
Such is the case with Markus "Notch" Persson and the ill-fated 0x10c, a massive space game whose proposed scale is only outstripped by its voracious fan following. So, when a fan asked Persson during a Team Fortress 2 stream how the game was coming along and Persson answered that he wasn't working on it, "it became news."
"I understand why, and it really shouldn't surprise me," Persson acknowledges in a new blog post, "but I really really don't want to turn into another under delivering visionary game designer [in the press]. The gaming world has enough of those."
While 0x10c was always intended to be "quite ambitious," in Persson's words, in his eyes it was just another project. "If I failed, so what? A lot of my prototypes fail before they get anywhere at all."
Unfortunately, Persson says, "the pressure of suddenly having people care if the game got made or not started zapping the fun out of the project... I spent a lot of time thinking about if I even wanted to make games any more."
Persson mentally shelved the project and focused his efforts elsewhere, on smaller, simpler projects. He recently participated in 7DFPS, a week-long game jam. Persson's game, Shambles -- described as "a hectic shooter greatly inspired by Doom" -- was "the most fun programming I've done in many months." It also solidified for him a new direction for his work.
"This is what I want to do... I used to [want] to make huge games. [Now] I want to do smaller games that can fail. I want to experiment and develop and think and tinker and tweak," he says. "So that's what I'm going to do."
Meanwhile, the concept behind 0x10c is far from dead in the water, with new developers taking on the mantle in a spirit of collaboration resonant with the robust community-driven culture of Persson's Minecraft.
"Some people in the 0x10c community decided to work together to make their own version of their game, called Project Trillek. I find this absolutely amazing," Persson enthuses. "I want to play this game so much, but I am not the right person to make it. Not any more. I'm convinced a new team with less public interest can make a vastly superior game than what I would make."
[Kris Ligman wrote this article for sister site Gamasutra]