Discussion: Terraria & Minecraft

And Lo, the Bloglomerate did descend upon Terraria, consuming it with fervor in the fallout of the catastrophe known as Diablo the Third. Verily, Terraria did provide a unique and thrilling video game experience that the blogging conglomerate thoroughly enjoyed, and experimentation began with creating PvP arenas to siphon further joy from the game – but disagreement lurked on the horizon.

Lawyersaurus Rex

Sooo…. whenever the next time we play Terroria is, here’s the plan: Our PvP towers were pretty rudimentary. We deserve a spectacular arena. So let’s create a new map (without wyverns) and build something amazing.

Ideas for something spectacumazing:

  • Hide-and-go-seek was pretty fun. We could construct a map that’s really dense in widgets and furniture to support that. Expanding the background walls outwards from whatever we build would allow it to still be dark during the daytime.
  • Spikes, lava, and hellstone (like stone but you take damage for touching it) would make great hazards.
  • Trap doors and false walls (stone blocks that are wired to disappear when a lever is pressed / panel is stepped on) represent completely untapped potential. Putting these on timers could also be interesting (e.g. a platform that appears/disappears every 3 seconds).
  • We were talking about king of the hill, and I have an awesome idea for that: goldfish. So it turns out the Fish Statue we have, when supplied power, poops out goldfish. If you put that on a 5 second timer, it’ll poop out a goldfish every 5 seconds for anyone to come and collect. Put that on the tip of a tower, say the person with the most goldfish after 15 minutes is the winner, and brother… you got yourself a stew going.
  • Similarly, the Heart Statue (which we don’t have) poops out hearts when powered. It’ll only have 3 out at one time max, but if we put that on a 1 second timer, it’s a place you can go to heal up at 20hp/second. An interesting alternative to Claire.

WHAT TO DO: design a cool arena layout?

An interesting note: if YouTube is any example, everyone else’s PvP arenas kind of suck.

Cranberry Thunderfunk

How do we feel about spawning items at this point? Not sure how you do it, but I’m sure there’s a way. Would be kind of silly to go hunting for all these items we need when we can just spawn them.

Finnagus McLauditron

So I think we were really on to something with the flight maze to be honest. Perhaps this is just because it was more conducive to Juggernautery, but I felt like it allowed for a lot of cool grappling moves. Would it be possible to make a floating block level and still have pressure plates or will it be impossible to link up things decently while still having gaps all over the place? In general I think set up a huge pvp zone with a bunch of mini areas, with various games confined/not confined to them. THE AREAS: A wizard tower (fish on top, or in a central room) with lots of auto opening doors and a few global switches, a bunch of floating walls (as we have already) with lots of little holes, an area with a bunch of larger squares/orbs (as we have at the bottom of the current floating wall zone), and a WATER ARENA where we fight for air with low-damage high-knockback boomerangs.

I kinda like the haphazard arsenal we have atm, and wouldn’t want to ruin that, though if we can do that for building supplies I guess that would make a lot of sense. Alternative is that we could make an expo server and just strip mine it over the course of an hour, since we have all these power tools. I guess if we want to spawn equal weaps that could be a fair idea, though I feel like part of the fun was that we really didn’t have the best weapons – just weird ones.

Well okay mine was pretty sweet.

Also forgot to saw before: hell block obstacles and death pits are good ideas. I considered throwing those Spike objects around Healygirl but figured that would be going too far.

Lawyersaurus Rex

There are a couple of points where your relationship with a game changes.

  • You beat it.
  • You start using a wiki/FAQs.
  • You start using cheats.

As far as I can tell we’ve beaten Terraria. Now we’re in fuckfunnery territory. I peeked at the wiki to see if I could wire anything to keep track of how many times you push a button and saw the goldfish statue thing. Using cheats is the final transgression.

I instantly lost all interest in Minecraft when the developer mode came out. Instant block removal and (by far the worst) the ability to fly would have made building the Statue of Liberty… pretty forgettable. You would double tap space, circle around it in 5 seconds, and say… cool, Rex.

Personally, I don’t like the strive for perfection that comes with having infinite resources and ability. I actually think things are better when everything’s a little less perfect The top of my tower was a big empty space because I ran out of gold brick, and that turned it into a big death pit. The two PvP towers were crooked and had lots of doorways because I was too lazy to farm any more Ashblock, so I supplemented with the floating dirt islands and that turned out great.

What I can understand is not wanting to farm any more dirt or stone or crap. Agreed. Here’s my suggestion: I save Rexworld and send it off to you guys so we each have our own copy. That means you guys don’t need to bother creating housing in order to buy wires or bombs or whatnot. It also quadruples our supply of stored resources since we all have a copy of Rexworld. It’s an exploit, but a limited one, and I think it would be kind of fun to talk about how each of our versions of Rexworld are being ravaged. Plus I got a lot of explosives stored in my tower, so that should give us some digging power.

Cranberry Thunderfunk

To satisfy my curiosity and tried out TerrariViewer, which is a character editor. I’m pretty glad I did because it’s saved a shitload of time in experimenting with stuff. I made a new character and put him on a new map, so nothing existing has been tainted. There’s a few things worth considering, I think, about the weapons and items. I suspect there’s going to be stuff that we’ll want to spawn because fuck knows I’m not going to farm for more ore at this point. Things I think are worth spawning:

  • Armor. I think a level playing field is important, but again, I have no interest in farming for the best stuff. Why not just spawn it?
  • Weapons. Same deal here, except there’s way more options – a ton of these we haven’t even found/crafted yet. I tried all the new ones out and we’re definitely missing out. There’s a sword that calls down stars, there’s bouncy fireball things, there’s light disc-boomerang things, and plenty more. Rather than find all this ourselves, we should really just have a master chest with all of these weapons so that we can choose whatever we like.
  • Accessories. I’m not sure what to think about angel wings Combined with the spectre boots they give you 10-15 seconds of flight, plus you can glide and slow your fall speed, not to mention fall damage is negated anyhow. Fall damage is clearly a great mechanic to have as a part of the game – it just makes things more interesting and hilarious. There are other items worth considering, though. If we had a water arena, Neptune’s Shell would be amazing. Titan’s Grip is cool – it increases knockback. Feral claws increase melee speed, which we should never let Finnagus have because he already swings fast enough goddammit. There’s many interesting build possibilities, but a lot of these are rare drops, and I think everyone should have access to this stuff.

The inventory edit program also lets you set prefixes on items. Lots of ways to modify items in this manner.

I agree that I don’t want the option of making a perfect arena by having access to all of the blocks – that’s a fast way to kill the fun. I do think that our fun will be enhanced by getting access to all of the available weapons and armor.

Finnagus McLauditron

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeh I dunno man. I mean that’s just more into this than I had thought we were going to go I guess? I feel like the game isn’t tight enough for us to take it at all seriously. My favorite part of last night was that it was all gimmick all the time and nobody cared much about balance (though the jumping issue made escaping you guys pretty tough but since nobody was keeping score it didn’t matter) and I fear if we start spawning top tier weapons/armor sets or piecing together actual builds and combos we’ll just end up being sad that certain things work better than others objectively. Last night the situation was pretty much that I could kill anybody I managed to get on top of (not having that jump was probably for the best when we were death-matching) but if I wasn’t careful all the time you guys would murder me with range. I was keeping a raw death count for a while in the middle and realized I was dying about 1.5 times as often as you two combined (admittedly largely to gravity), but I still didn’t really feel underpowered or anything since everything depended on positions and sweet grapple action. I guess I see this much more as a pvp playground, not really a battleground. I guess the mentality can stay the same, but I did love the cobbled together feel of things, and the 10 minutes I spent looking at online PvP resources told me the build culture of this game is probably not something I really want to think about.

Also I for one am still going to explore and fight bosses for drops just since I haven’t done so yet, I literally saw one boss ever and we just died to it and didn’t go back. Totally understandable if you guys don’t want to go through that all again though. Maybe it won’t really matter, I don’t know if armor actually makes a difference and what not, and if you guys think it’s not worth the time to hunt down weapons (or more likely, weird spells) I’ll totally trust your judgement on that.

Lawyersaurus Rex

Have to agree with Finnagus. The fun is in how stitched together everything is. I wasn’t using that Ball o’ Hurt because it was getting me kills. It’s just wonky and ball-battling Finnagus’ Sunfury was… baller.

I dislike the idea of getting more powerful weapons just because they’ll probably be better and not weirder. Consider this: if we upgrade that means the harpoon is outmoded, and that’s a fun weapon right there. No spikey balls, no throwing knives… We might upgrade armor if we want fights to last longer, but I thought the # hits to kill someone was about right.

Cloud in a Balloons are pretty vital though. I created a new map to try to get one for Finnagus McLauditron but ended up finding a Starfury! I was so excited to show you guys but then I saw your e-mail where you tried out all the weapons and armor and it made me so sad Cranberry. So so sad.

Like I said, I think it’s fair not to want to mine silver ore anymore, but if we pick and choose the exact armor we want and weapons with the exact mods we want, the game’ll last 3 more hours for me and then I’ll probably never touch it again. Honestly.

Finnagus McLauditron I’d enjoy bossing and dungeoning with you still. I bet there’s weapons and spells in the dungeon that we don’t have yet (that’s where we got the Magic Missile and Water Bolt) and if not we need a Magic Missile for you and Nate anyways.

But this is all besides the point WE NEED AN ARENA DESIGN!

Cranberry Thunderfunk

Rex, I have to challenge your statement about what killed the fun in Minecraft. We had full access to all blocks, the best mining tools, etc. from the beginning. If all we ever did was fly everywhere then the statue of liberty would indeed be a bit more pointless, but we didn’t. We made a world with gravity in mind because that’s how we interacted with it. Which is the same thing we did the other night, removing our anti-knockback and fall damage items because those are fun mechanics.

The point isn’t to get more powerful stuff, it’s to make things as interesting as possible by letting each of us play how we want to play. I think it would be great fun to use some of those guns, but there’s no way I’m farming up 75 gold for gun parts or ammo. Some of the coolest weapons are also the most powerful, but it’s no fun if we’re one-shotting each other because we’re all wearing crap armor. You’re right that if we upgrade armor the harpoon will be worse – but there’s a ton of prefixes to choose from that we can use to help balance that out. We could put negative modifiers on the powerful stuff and positive modifiers on the average stuff. Unless you want to spend all your gold reforging things until you get the right modifier, that sounds like unnecessary tedium to me.

Point being: I think the real fun here is in shooting at and chasing each other.

Oh, and a few things more directly related to our goals here – Rex, did you see the other statue effects? Such as the star statue that gives mana, and the monster statues that make monsters? Those have some really great potential. We could really make Donkey Kong if we wanted to – one guy on a platform at the top, hopping from pressure plate to pressure plate trying to drop skeletons on people climbing up. Sounds like fun to me!

Another idea I had – setting the difficulty higher such that items drop when you die. I don’t know if this works for PvP, but that presents its own design possibilities.

Lawyersaurus Rex

Hey, I baked those Statue of Liberty bricks in my own ovens from my own stone. That lady was pure. The reason I lost interest after Garbendorg (during which we were spawning items, albeit inconveniently) was because the idea was entertained that we should start a new server with that god mode thing enabled. But anyways, you’ve gone and convinced me of a couple things.

I did not see the monster spawners, but making one of the hazards be a pit full of skeletons would be pretty classy. We also don’t have a Heart Statue which would be great fun. Collecting those things would take 10+ hours of farming, so let’s agree those are rare enough and fun enough to cheat for.

As for building materials, I may have invented a money device. You see, goldfish sell for 2 silver each, so I rigged up a 1 second timer to the Fish Statue and a dart trap and well… money isn’t an issue anymore. (I tried lava and coercing a zombie in there, but the dart trap worked best. I was so proud that I thought about adding my scheme to the wiki, but then I noticed the exact setup is already written there. Sad times.)

So for farming building materials, I can understand wanting to spawn all that stuff in, but let me propose an alternative: let’s buy explosives with the infinigold we now have and blow the shit out of our corrupted-ass hellworld. Honestly I think the best building materials are going to be stone, dirt, and wood (stone because only stone blocks can be toggled on/off using wires), so we can just make huge ass fucking craters in the world and use that to found a new, better world.

The thing I don’t like about spawning materials is then you start spawning diamonds and then you start pumping out diamond blocks and suddenly the whole place just reeks of “You cheated to make this place.” I just like the cobbled together feel of our crap towers. It makes me feel warm inside.

As for the weapons, all I want to do is build an awesome arena right now. But when the time comes, I don’t think I can say it better than Finnagus:

I mean that’s just more into this than I had thought we were going to go I guess? I feel like the game isn’t tight enough for us to take it at all seriously. My favorite part of last night was that it was all gimmick all the time and nobody cared much about balance (though the jumping issue made escaping you guys pretty tough but since nobody was keeping score it didn’t matter) and I fear if we start spawning top tier weapons/armor sets or piecing together actual builds and combos we’ll just end up being sad that certain things work better than others objectively. […] the 10 minutes I spent looking at online PvP resources told me the build culture of this game is probably not something I really want to think about.

Finnagus McLauditron

Honestly, I never got bored of Minecraft. I would have built at least 15 more things had that server not died miserably. But I’m not sure we can compare the two simply because I feel like the scales of construct coolness between the two are vastly different. In a lot of ways Terraria is much more about interaction with a clean nonintrusive wire system, awesomefun grappling hook madness, and the ability to fly around in the manner that we did and the fact that resource collection can be far more entertaining than it ever was in Minecraft make it more of an action game. Minecraft (for me at least) was entirely about Lego. When I was like six I used Lego to build tiny fake 6x6x6 temples and spaceships so I could then invent vast imaginary backstories for a crazy ass world I dreamed up and Minecraft let me do exactly that. I would never do this in Terraria although it was by far my favorite part of Minecraftery because Terraria just doesn’t fit as well for such things – the building mechanics are slightly messier, and between the relatively small screen size and 2-Dness at best you make a cool shape (similarly, in Minecraft I could often wander the world aimless just to see natural shapes and think “oh that’s cool” but that never happened in Terraria). Don’t get me wrong, I think all the stuff in our server is great, I just don’t think I could ever look at something as I did at Credotir and think “Yeah. That’s perfect. What sort of people would worship this.” and start imagining a finance-centric religion.

And the end of the day, a list appears!

I think that a large number of items qualify for the rare enough descriptor, and if it turns out (as it quite likely will) that there are certain spells/weapons with cool effects that only exist at rapetastic power levels then by all means lets deck ourselves out to prevent one shots. I do think that in an ideal world we’d have some manner of random generator (which the game has basically done for us with chests) that didn’t take hours so that we wouldn’t have identical weapons, but oh well.

  1. Explosive strip mining would be an amazing way to spend an evening.
  2. I would totally play more Minecraft, not that anybody really cares.
  3. I think we shouldn’t be comparing infinite resources between the two games, nor should we compare what is fun about the two, for whatever that’s worth. Minecraft was entirely about building things that were fun to look at and think about, this is all about building shit thats fun to run around and climb on (though not climbing in puzzle form).
Cranberry Thunderfunk

I, too, did not get bored of Minecraft. If I weren’t so disappointed in the development of the game I’d have more interest in picking it up again, but they did none of the things I hoped they would. I had dreamed of making our world a giant adventure fantasy story, which is why I landscaped so much of the land, I had a very specific vision for that place. The game just didn’t develop in a direction that made possible the kinds of structures and puzzles I wanted. The netcode was shitty and Notch never really advanced the creative potential of the game after he included pistons. He didn’t even make a proper mod API, so there’s not much hope for some kind of total conversion or what have you, something that would rescue it and take it in a different direction.

That said, man, I really miss working on Garbendorg. It was a crazy satisfying creative exercise.


Lawyersaurus Rex

You definitely took ownership of that town. It should have been called Garfunkdorg in its end days. I wouldn’t mind starting a Minecraft server again, but no flying. I honestly liked just building spectacles and never really thought about it as a place to play around. As you said, the netcode is terrible terrible terrible.

The comparison of Terraria to Minecraft is only because it’s the most recent game where I’ve been offered “ultimate convenience” in the form of flying mode, instant block destruction and placement, and infinite resources. There have been other games where that’s offered but they’re old now, Sim City and Age of Empires and the like. In all cases, my interest in the game waned shortly after I started cheating.

Inconvenience serves inspiration. I wouldn’t be interested in Legos if whatever I dreamt was built instantly. The fun is in finding one of those hinge pieces and going, “Yeah this is the start of a robot” and then not finding two claws to use for arms so you use that shark you found for its other arm and suddenly that’s way cooler than anything you were going to think up on your own.

But all you guys seem to be talking about is weapons and armor, so Cranberry why don’t you handle getting us a nice armory in place. I’ll trust your judgement. As for building the arena (which is what I’m most interested in), let’s blow up Rexworld and supplement as necessary. Cranberry, for sure we’re going to need a couple things, so if you don’t mind:

  • 1-2 Heart Statues
  • 2-4 Monster Statues of each interesting variety
  • Wires up the ass
  • Bombs up the ass

One thing we could do is start a new world and then blow a huge crater in it so we can build an underground floating fortress. That way we can make use of the glowing mushroom grass. I tried it on my tower, it only grows underground. We might also find a way to incorporate sheer cliff faces or ceilings into the fun that way.

Cranberry Thunderfunk

The following has little to do with Terraria at this point, I just want to comment on this Minecraft/Lego/creativity thing.

We never had instant block removal (unless you count diamond tools) or flying on our server. IIRC, flying wasn’t even in the game until we were mostly done with Garbendorg. I certainly never had use of it in any of the projects I worked on, and I think I was the last one to do any work there. I certainly would have used it were it available, but I say that already having spent a thousand hours creating complex structures without it, and any novelty of that limitation had faded.

When the server first started, I’d already spent 20+ hours playing the single player. I had the experience of mining to the bottom of the world, crafting most of the available tools and equipment, and building a giant fortress by hand. Doing things the normal way was clearly exhausted. Limitations and inconvenience inspire creativity up to a point. There’s only so many things you can create with stone and dirt, and many types of structures are grossly impractical without some kind of assistance with mobility (we had the /home and /warpto commands).

Yes, limited resources forced you to improvise, which lead to a shark-handed robot, which was awesome. But what came after that? That box of Legos was only so large, and it didn’t take us very long to get bored with what was possible to do given the types and colors of pieces it contained. On the other hand, that box was the perfect size for guests – they could sit down and create something small in ten minutes, which wouldn’t be feasible if we had crate upon crate of meticulously sorted pieces. My point is, you can’t just say “limitations -> creativity” without accounting for the scaling demands of creative expression over time.

Terraria is exempt from most of this because it just doesn’t engage my creativity in that way. What’s interesting about Terraria is movement and navigation of the environment, and PvP motivates that in a really stellar way. For that purpose, dirt and stone are as good as obsidian and gold.

Lawyersaurus Rex

Oh, with Minecraft I never lost interest until after the server was down and it was revealed/proposed that we might start over with the flying/godmode thingy. That was why I never really pushed to get a server up and running again.

Alright, let’s settle this shit real-style.

I’ll define convenience growth to be any advancement that makes accomplishing a given goal easier. It would be fucking stupid to be forced to use wooden tools for the entire game, so better tools are a natural and positive example of convenience growth.

But I’d bet there’s a turning point where excessive convenience growth begins to invalidate goals, which disturbs players’ brain organs cuz the things they were so connected to and proud of and spent so much time on are now worthless pieces of glass and obsidian that have spread out across the whole map (should flying have been enabled, I mean).

So okay, maybe that’s not true, I don’t have anything to back it up, but perhaps the bad feeling is that your significant gain in convenience is at the price of everything you’ve done up until then, which traumas your mind cells and leads to abandonment disorders okay I’ll stop.

Maybe you don’t experience that, but I kind of do.

But anyways, I’m not going to farm for weapons or statues, so spawning them just saves time. I feel like blowing up the world for dirt and stone is fun, so I’m going to do that. All besides the point though as we need a DESIGN! Is there a free, collaborative drawing program out there, by chance?

Cranberry Thunderfunk

This has been a pretty damn interesting discussion, I must say. Just one more thing to add!

It’s important to distinguish between design tools and game mechanics. As a design tool, flight makes complex creations much more viable and a lot less frustrating. As a game mechanic, unlimited flight is completely broken and absolutely renders most designs irrelevant, so clearly we should never design things that assume players are using it. You can have omnipotent design tools but still make structures that assume the limited scope of the game mechanics.

It doesn’t sound like we’re headed in this direction, but if we were to do another Minecraft server, I’d really want it to just be the old one. Even if just to document the stuff that I missed. Which reminds me – I dunno if you ever saw, Rex, but I have 200 screenshots of our creations in a Picasa album.

Lawyersaurus Rex

The problem with cheats and flying is you don’t stop. It’s like a drug, man. No quitting once you start.