Since Notch announced his “space game,” 0x10c, a few months back we haven’t really heard that much about the project. Fear not however, as promised he has been working on it, releasing a video of the progress he’s made on the game’s engine so far. It doesn’t look like much as he’s still testing the game’s underlying tech, but he advised fans on his Twitter page that they’re working on adding a “test scene” for the game’s art very soon. Even though it’s still in its infancy, and even though barely any information has been released, the game’s forums are buzzing with ideas from the community. Notch and Mojang operate in pretty much the opposite fashion of every other developer; there’s no hiding or teasing hype, fans are invited to join in the discussion, kept in the loop, and shown the game’s development in real time.
I can’t imagine another developer showing off what is essentially a tech demo for a game that’s still in the early stages of production. Videos such as this are usually kept for some kind of post-mortem well after the final product has been released. But that’s not how Notch, and by association Mojang, like to do things. It’s more difficult to keep in touch with fans and listen to what they have to say about a game’s development than to keep them in the dark for years before releasing teaser trailer for a game no one’s ever heard of. Not only does it take more work tactically to keep everyone in the loop through social media, it also takes a bit of trust to release an incomplete and unfinished video for the sake of openness.
It’s served them well in the past. Minecraft was developed in a similar fashion and so too has Mojang’s upcoming game Scrolls. They’ve really had nothing but success doing things this way, and they’ve proven that developers can be both open and successful if the core game is fun and engaging, and if they take the community’s ideas into consideration. It’s very much a grassroots marketing campaign, completely different from the corporate marketing we’ve all been exposed to since the beginning of gaming. I hope that we’ll be seeing this behavior not just from Notch and Mojang, but other developers in the future.