Minecraft Legends: Brings down the tempo
During an interview at Gamescom this week, creative director Magnus Nedfors explained that when Mojang decided to transform Minecraft into a strategy game, they had a few specific objectives in mind. Firstly, the game needed to maintain the distinct “Minecraft feel.” Secondly, it had to be compatible with a controller for console players. Nedfors shared that Mojang and development partner Blackbird Interactive achieved both goals by creating an action strategy game, a genre combination that has few successful examples to draw from.
Nedfors highlighted that Minecraft always incorporates a hero character. Through their collaboration, Mojang and Blackbird developed a game that encompasses both hero-centric gameplay and army control. The final product is an action strategy game where players navigate the battlefield on horseback and take charge of armies from the ground, in contrast to the conventional real-time strategy games that are played from a distant perspective. “This is a unique aspect of the game,” Nedfors acknowledges.
The realization that they had stumbled upon something unique dawned on the game makers. According to them, finding a gameplay style that is not common among existing games is a special feeling. Indeed, there are not many character action games that incorporate unit command strategy, with only a handful of successful comparisons such as Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord. Additionally, the game Kingdom Under Fire 2, which combines an RTS with Dynasty Warriors-style action, comes to mind, although its western launch in 2019 was plagued with issues.
It is unlikely that the aforementioned game was the exact example that Nedfors had in mind. However, he did express his belief that drawing inspiration from things that one may not necessarily consider good is beneficial. According to him, recognizing what does not work in a game helps to identify ways to improve it. He acknowledges that it may seem unusual to draw inspiration from bad things, but it is something that he personally does.
In game development, it is more common than studio leads may openly admit to draw inspiration from unsuccessful competitors. Nedfors shared his candid perspective on the iterative development process involved in transforming Minecraft into a strategy game. According to him, the pace of play in a strategy game is typically faster than that of an action game due to the numerous actions involved in maneuvering with a cursor. However, having a hero in the center of the game, which cannot be present in multiple locations, can slow down the tempo of the game. Interestingly, this design choice can improve gameplay on consoles that utilize a controller.
During the interview, Nedfors admitted that the discovery of a design element was somewhat unexpected. Instead of claiming that the team had planned it from the beginning, he chose to be honest and acknowledge that it was something that they discovered during the prototyping and development phase of the game. Additionally, in the same interview, executive producer Dennis Ries and Nedfors discussed the various unit types and new mobs that were being added to Legends. The interview turned out to be more informative than expected, as Nedfors’ experimentation in the strategy genre implied that Minecraft Legends may offer more than just another Minecraft spin-off. Although, the author was hoping to gain insight into building fortifications, as the gameplay videos only provided a glimpse of players constructing structures.