Blog from the developer of FortressCraft

Blog from the developer of FortressCraft

Open Letter to Notch

Dear Notch,

I just came across the interview Ars Technica did with Re-Logic and with me on our games Terraria and FortressCraft, respectively. They invited you to say a few words about the games. Normally you’re quite recalcitrant to comment on FortressCraft, so I was pleased to see that that you’d written about it. I was quite a lot less pleased when I read the content, though :

Notch : “I strongly believe that true greatness comes from being influenced by other people’s work and improving it, making your own version of it, by mixing and matching your best influences and a few original ideas of your own,” Persson told Ars.

“Both FortressCraft and Terraria appear to be inspired by Minecraft, which in turn was inspired by many other games, including Infiniminer, Dwarf Fortress, and Dungeon Keeper. However, I do not believe you can achieve something great or interesting by merely attempting to emulate something successful. It becomes especially embarrassing if you publicly deny any inspiration when it’s painfully clear how much of a copy it is.

“Terraria is an amazing game, and if Minecraft is any inspiration for it, I feel proud to be part of its lineage. I play it frequently, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for it. FortressCraft is an obvious attempt to just take something popular and clone it as closely as possible. I still think it’s important that people are allowed and able to do things like that, but it’s hardly graceful.”

Where to start? I think the best place to start is the phrase ‘as closely as possible’. Whereas the vast majority of Minecraft clones out there begin by emulating Minecraft’s blocky, retro style, I tried as hard as possible to bring the Voxgame kicking and screaming into the modern, shader-driven era. With parallax mapping, thick vegetation, multiple coloured light sources, refraction and reflection, as well as beautiful, highly-detailed tools; I find the phrase ‘as closely as possible’ extremely hard to swallow. And all of this crammed into a machine with a total of 512 megs of RAM!

As I’ve been seen to rant on YouTube occasionally – ‘If I wanted to make a Minecraft clone, the second video I uploaded would have had a Creeper in it’

I don’t think it’s particularly fair to dig at your erroneous comments, Notch, but one in particular warrants examination: ‘a few original ideas of your own’.  Last time I played Minecraft, it lacked these, instead cobbling together many ideas from other games into the Minecraft we now all know and love. But original ideas? Zero, as far as I’m aware! (Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong there!)

But let’s give you the benefit of the doubt here and assume you simply meant ‘Ideas not in the games that inspired the new game’ – in Minecraft’s case, Infinimer, et al.

Bear in mind that – as far as I know – you’ve not played FortressCraft, you simply admit to ‘having watched a few videos about it’’ – ). – xNotch is you, I believe!

Let’s have a quick look at all the things that FortressCraft 1.09 has, that Minecraft does not have.  You know, those original ideas mooted above?

  • Rayguns
  • Trampolines
  • Rewards for creating highly-rated servers
  • Multiple game modes (including FreezeTag, Hunt and Spleef Arena)
  • Highly-configurable world creation
  • Highly-configurable detail options, including lots of fun postpro shaders
  • Automated machines to dig for you
  • Tectonic Rise
  • Teleporters
  • A crafting workshop that lets you craft your own unique blocks
  • Varied blocks – kiddie, futuristic, pixel creation

I could go on, but I feel my point there is made: whatever criticism could have been laid at FortressCraft’s feet back when I described it as ‘Basically Minecraft creative’ really doesn’t hold true now. Incidentally, that was around Feburary 2011.  FortressCraft is ‘basically Minecraft’ in the same way that Minecraft is ‘basically Infiniminer’. It’s just that Minecraft has been out a hell of a lot longer, and I have an enormous list of plans and ideas I want to put into FortressCraft as time goes on.

And finally, the suggestion that FortressCraft denies its inspiration: again, it’s quite obvious that you’ve never played FortressCraft, Notch – so I’ll leave you with a few lines from the in-game credits:

Inspiration : Notch’s Minecraft

Inspiration : Tarn Adams’s Dwarf Fortress

Inspiration : Chris Sawyer’s Transport Tycoon

Inspiration : Bullfrog’s Dungeon Keeper

Inspiration : Puck’s Minecraft HD Update

“If I have seen further, then it is by standing on the shoulders of giants” – Sir Isaac Newton, inventor of gravity.

If you’d like a copy of the game to try out, Notch, just drop me a tweet, @fortress_craft, and I’ll get one over to you to have a play with – maybe you could teach me a thing or two about fast Perlin!

Yours sincerely,

DjArcas, creator of FortressCraft


I think it’s important to make clear the tone of this: I don’t hate Notch, as I’ve said before, I have an enormous amount of respect for him. I’m not jealous of Minecraft’s success, I’m inspired by it.  Minecraft made Voxgames popular, that has helped FortressCraft enormously – I’ve never denied this, and I’m very happy to be a part of this new and popular genre!

I love FortressCraft. I have created the best thing of my life this year, and I am very protective of it. I don’t want anyone to simply glance at it and go ‘Oh, it’s a copy of Minecraft’, and not play it, instead choosing to watch videos of it. I want people to look at it and see it for what it is: a great game in its own right.

5 Responses to Open Letter to Notch

  1. I’m surprised to see Notch’s comments, they seem to indicate he has not actually spent any time reviewing FortressCraft. He himself says that ‘true greatness comes from being influenced by other people’s work and improving it’. I would have expected him to have taken some time to investigate FortressCraft and see what draw or features it has that Minecraft lacks (if any). Even if he did think it is was straight copy there is still a pretty good chance certain aspects would have been done differently and might have solved a problem he has come across in a different way.

    Hopefully Notch will take a moment to review FortressCraft and appreciate the obvious differences and maybe even find something he wants to include in his game. Wouldn’t it be novel to have 2 games giving each other credit in the footnotes…

  2. steveman0 says:

    I find it interesting that Notch, a developer who seems to spend more time playing games and tweeting about them (after all his team’s progress lately hasn’t matched what other developers like Arcas and Redigit have done single-handed), couldn’t find time so much as pick up and try Fortress Craft, probably his greatest competition, for even a few hours to get a feel for the game before commenting.

    He didn’t even so far as read the game’s FAQ on the main website or look at the unique pictures you’ll encounter with the new features in the game. A quick browse of the forums would have also revealed many planned ideas and goals for the game. I know that Notch must be a busy person but it doesn’t take more than a few minutes in the forums to find a list of planned features and links to amazing videos of upcoming features unlike anything the Minecraft community has seen before (even from modders!).

    It is even surprising he didn’t come across any of these things in the ‘few videos’ he watched. Surely he would have come across the workshop which is one of the most advertised upcoming features of the game or at least become familiar enough with the future direction of Fortress Craft to know that Arcas has ideas of his own that will distinguish the game.

    Honestly, that kind of attitude only comes from someone who would either rather remain blissfully unaware of any competition entirely (in which case his proper response should have been ‘no comment’) or someone who feels so threatened that his first reaction is to defensively respond by shunning it publicly.

    It doesn’t speak well for Notch or the prospects of Minecraft if his plan is to encourage the kind of ignorance that has been the most significant hindrance in FC gaining the shared support of the MC community. I once considered myself a proud fan of both Minecraft and Fortress Craft but this recent release combined with my growing dissatisfaction with Mojang’s progress leaves me wondering if there is much left to support in Minecraft besides the incredible work coming from the modding community.

    I hoped that Notch would have taken a liking to FC the same way he did Terraria and he could have become friendly rivals with Arcas or even shared ideas. Such a spirited competition would have only been for the best for the progress of both games and for the gaming community as a whole. I think Notch’s comments reveal a significant character flaw on his part as his response to Fortress Craft can be best summarized as “hardly graceful.”

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  4. Scoobytim says:

    It seems to me that notch is a tiny bit worried that Fortresscraft will have a bigger following on the Xbox360 when he eventually gets to release Minecraft on the console, after all ” The best form of defence is attack.”

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