When Mojang’s Minecraft launches on XBLA, supposedly later this month, it will do so sans Kinect functionality, according to statements made at Microsoft’s Spring Showcase event. However, 4J Studios — the team responsible for the Xbox port of the popular world-building PC title — has plans to eventually patch support for Microsoft’s motion controller in at some point after the launch.
Roger Carpenter, lead producer of the XBLA version, told Eurogamer that there is good reason for the delay. They were afraid that if they crammed Kinect controls in on day one, there was a chance they would “for want of a better phrase, mess it up,” Carpenter explained. “Minecraft’s so dear to so many people that we had to nail it on a controller, and on Xbox.”
With the proliferation of motion-based control systems this generation, many developers have haphazardly jumped on the bandwagon and shoehorned in the functionality to mixed results. Hurriedly cramming that sort of thing into a title to add a “back-of-the-box” bullet point can be tempting, but 4J is steering clear of that potential pitfall. Hopefully the eventual result will be a game that uses the motion sensor in ways that are intuitive and enjoyable — even if that means waiting a bit longer for what will presumably be the option to wave or yell the world of your dreams into being.
Carpenter’s team is already facing a monumental challenge in the form of delivering a console version of Mojang’s baby that stays faithful to the original and successfully makes the transition from keyboard and mouse to controller. Once they pull that off, the developers will have time to get Kinect working with Minecraft in an as-yet-unspecified manner.
Yet Xbox owners won’t have to wait for the eventual patch in order to experience new in-game features. The XBLA version will have an in-game wiki and a tutorial system that will introduce players to the game’s mechanics.
When XBLA gamers fire up the title for the first time, they’ll find themselves playing a port of Minecraft 1.6.6, which arrived on the PC last May. On top of the aforementioned Kinect patch, 4J is also already thinking about a number of updates that will eventually bring get the console release on the same page as the PC game.
Carpenter says that “1.6.6 is the level playing ground that Microsoft, 4J and Mojang agreed on at the start. At some point we’ll announce how the updates are going to come about — we will slowly but surely bring the Xbox version up through the versions.”
Giving Xbox Live Arcade a proper rendition of a game that was so clearly designed with the PC in mind won’t be easy, but it sounds like Carpenter and his team are serious about making it work. Their stated dedication to offering regular updates and even features not found in the original game is proof that this isn’t meant to be a quick cash-grab port. They’re going to make Kinect owners hang in there a bit, but the result should be an experience that controls well both with and without a controller.