Yes, it’s pretty much 2D Minecraft, but is that a bad thing?
The three gentlemen that make up Bytebin, a brand new indie development studio, are not shy at admitting that their upcoming game is inspired by Minecraft. In fact, their initial idea for Deepworld came when trying to setup a Minecraft server for them and their friends to play together online. They were disappointed at all the steps and money required to create a functional online server for the game. I’ve been through this experience myself, and while there are paid services for renting premade Minecraft servers, the process of creating a Minecraft server on your own is certainly not the easiest. While Minecraft was built as a single-player game before eventually being updated to support multiplayer, Deepworld is being designed as a cloud-based MMO from the very start.
At it’s essence, Deepworld can be simply described as “2d Minecraft”. As I said, that’s definitely not an insult by any means, but it also leaves one wondering what will set Deepworld apart from Mojang’s monstrously successful title. The team at Bytebin are all experienced Minecraft players, and are essentially building an experience that is a response to their frustrations and observations from the original game. They are taking what Notch created with his bare hands and hat, placing the idea in a lovingly-drawn 2D world, and adding to it to improve the experience for players. For instance, nowadays if you want to start playing Minecraft you have to do so with it’s wiki open on another screen; otherwise you’re pretty much lost when it comes to discovering crafting recipes. In Deepworld, you will unlock crafting recipes as you level up your skills in mining, woodworking, etc. You will be able to see what you can craft based on your current inventory and skills, while future items will by grayed out, giving you a hint at what’s to come. I like this a lot, as the crafting/alchemy system in Minecraft is probably the biggest point of frustration for new players, and for me personally.
The idea of Deepworld being built from the ground up with a MMO focus is exciting to me. Each 1000×1000 block “zone” will take place in a much larger cloud-based world, with players being able to pass from one zone to another. There is also talk of creating private “zones” that players can build/explore on their own, while only allowing certain players to join. The inevitability of griefing was brought up during our talk, and while the crew doesn’t have a specific way to address it at the moment, a really interesting “bounty” system was brought up that rewards players for defeating griefers – with a bounty that increases based on what the griefer has done. Considering this game is currently in a very early pre-alpha stage, be sure to take what I’m writing with a grain of salt!
While the worlds and zones of Deepworld will be procedurally generated, they will all take place in a post-apocalyptic world where steam is the primary source of energy. From what a saw there seem to be some “steampunk” inspiration to the art and design of the game. The team admitted that, while there probably won’t be the same insane functionality of Minecraft’s redstone in Deepworld’s steam, players will still be able to build machines and power them using pipes. Another cool aspect of Deepworld is the ability for players to be able to create devices and vegetation that will turn demolished areas into fruitful utopias, or destroy the areas further. For example, in wasteland area the rain will pour down acid instead of water, which eventually forms acid puddles that have a negative effect on the environment. If you manage to terraform the environment enough, the rain will change to water that will ultimately benefit the environment.
In addition to mining, crafting, and terraforming, Deepworld will eventually feature monsters to battle and an overarching storyline. We weren’t told whether or not there would be an endgame, but considering what a disappointment that was in Minecraft, I’m not too concerned either way. Bytebin also hasn’t worked out how PvP will be handled, but they did mention that it will be added to the game in some form or another.
As a huge fan of Minecraft, I’m really excited to see what three bright-eyed indie developers can pull off with Deepworld. It’s nice so know that there are devs out there that would prefer to improve on existing ideas while innovating with ideas of their own, rather than just blatantly ripping off a game and calling it something different. Deepworld is probably a long way off, but if you want to join in testing the alpha and beta versions of the game, you can sign up here and check out the official website while you’re at it.