I'm sure there are many here that dream of having their idea be a huge success but aren't really interested in becoming the next Bill Gates or Zuckerberg. They just want to cash out so that they can have their financial freedom and then go out of the limelight and back to doing the same things they enjoy but without having to constantly worry about job security and putting food on the table. Notch achieved this in the most spectacular way possible and I think he handled it perfectly.
I remember watching some parts of notch's livestreams. I loved the enthusiasm he had. He was a bit like a young boy, trying things, throwing some away, creating games. I'm happy for his decision.
Wozniak was unusual in that his story wasn't entertainmnet-related, but most of these "I can't handle the public's demands for my attention" stories come from the entertainment industry.
Unfortunately, Vint Cerf is not close to being a billionaire. Our economic system doesn't award brilliance, it doesn't award productivity, it awards the ability to convince other people to give them more money. I'm not saying that that's totally bad, just that the money chasers scare away some great minds.
There are numerous examples of this in the past 6 months and in Notch's case, it happened with EULA and 3rd party server support.
A community that supports this sort of behavior wouldn't have my support either. I don't blame him.
Is it really fair to characterize this of a specific generation?
> “Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.” — Socrates
Not that I'm disagreeing with you, however. There comes a point when the amount of vitriol you're receiving isn't worth the success.
What, you don't think that people who have paid for a game client and server have the right to run that client and server? That's Freedom 0, and it's fundamental. Attempting to violate it with any sort of EULA is simply wrong.
I hope he will produce another master work, but either way, I wish him a very happy life with all the money he earned.
This is the part of the post that bothers me, especially in the context of 0x10c which seemed to follow that exact track. Its his life obviously, I just wonder what awesome stuff won't be made because Minecraft made him wealthy enough that he didn't need to worry about being productive anymore.
I think it's more than you think. I think Notch expressed clearly that he did not expect nor want his project to become a big hit. He may have been flattered for a while but he now sees it clearly: success is shit, big success is a shitstorm.
The exact opposite of the entrepreneur spirit. I think pg may have overlooked this side of the hackerhood.
I guess part of the reason I feel the word "hacker" lost its meaning today is the rise of paper-toilet hackers (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8319102).
I'm not critisizing him, I'm glad he has that opportunity, and I'm glad he's recognized what opportunity he wants (which is apparently NOT the opportunity to try and make even more money).
But it's a bit more complicated than "success is shit", success is what's allowed him to ignore success from here on out, without having to worry about a roof over his head, health care, etc.
Maybe, probably, he was already able to hack things he liked without worrying too much about survival: he actually did I guess, when he started Minecraft.
The problem is that he got an offer he could not refuse (as in The Godfather)...
In the broader picture, I am struggling to understand some of the opinions of this story out there, particularly on HN. What I mean is, I suspect that a majority of us dream of this type of success. We dream of connecting our creative force with financial success, especially when that success would free us to work on practically anything that we wanted. I would say that a lot of us dream of being able to lead entirely self-directed lives that financial freedom can afford.
Therefore, why is it bemoaned when we see the very success that we dream of unfold for someone else? Why are there suddenly opinions of, "Well, I can't believe Notch would work on something that he would abandon?" Or, "Notch should spend his money this way or that way."
It just feels, well, extremely egotistical. Who is anyone to call out how someone else should spend their money, enjoy their time... live their life?
A similar situation happened with Dong Nguyen. He essentially tapped into the modern-day equivalent of Pac-Man Fever. In the 80s, it swept the world, to the tune of billions of dollars. It was the highest-grossing arcade game ever produced. People simply loved the game, and they couldn't get enough of clearing boards of dots, power-pellets and ghosts.
In a similar way, Flappy Bird took very simple game-play, and combined it with a simple challenge. This is, of course, not the first game to do this, but it took off. The power of the Internet has made Nguyen's name known, and quite sadly in some circles, despised for his financial success, when how much he was making on ad revenue was revealed. Or, with comments like those found in this piece , its intellectual lamenting with, "[...] I begrudge a society that would turn it into a phenomenon."
I suspect that the author would have said the same about Pac-Man.
I really feel for Notch, Dong Nguyen and those creatives of the world that worked to bring a dream to reality, only to have this happen to them. I'm reminded of a phrase from the song Limelight  ...
Cast in this unlikely role
Ill-equipped to act
With insufficient tact
One must put up barriers
To keep oneself intact
Quiet in conscience, calm in their right; confident their ways are best. 
> I would say that a lot of us dream of being able to lead entirely self-directed lives that financial freedom can afford. Therefore, why is it bemoaned when we see the very success that we dream of unfold for someone else?
A lot of us do share that dream, but many feel most alive when they're part of a group movement. There's a little of each in everyone, but it's easy to understand how those who lean strongly to one side or the other might not be able to see through the eyes of folks across the gap. I think that, for the most part, any backlash against Notch isn't fueled by jealousy from those who aspire to the position he's reached; rather, it's from a sense of betrayal and abandonment from people whose core values are loyalty and unity.
I don't. He cashed in and, well somehow wants the sympathy of free & open-source wish-keepers.
He's in the money; and that was his choice.
One of the thing's I admire about Notch's communication is that it always comes off as sincere and matter of fact. I think that is admirable in the face of the reality one faces in becoming internet-famous.
The internet has a big problem with mob-mentality entitlement. People jumping up to call Notch a hypocrite for going back on his word, or otherwise critiquing every little move he makes really don't have a leg to stand on. I mean sure everyone is entitled to their opinion, but the actual power that these people deserve to have over Notch is infinitesimal; it's just noise on the internet with no significance. Look at it this way, if suddenly 10 million people started scrutinizing what you were up to, I'm sure they'd have a lot of complaints, but what do you owe to them?
Included there is a dedication to (eventually) make the work open-source or public domain, and to contribute to it so long as people are paying. Those promises drove MindCraft praise, good will, and adoption. Do you think asking someone to keep these promises, the ones that drove adoption (and hence his current good fortune) is... entitlement?
Notch gave the world a fun game, you gave him a small purchase price in order to enjoy it, end of transaction. The fact that he published thoughts and future plans does indenture him as your eternal entertainment provider. He should be free to leave daily development and do with his creation as he will, including deciding to do something differently than he originally envisioned. This is his prerogative as creator. To all the people who claim their participation "made" the success of Minecraft, I say bullshit, you are playing a fucking game.
You know what's a lot worse for humanity? When Twitter decided to be a media company instead of an infrastructure company. That also pissed off a lot of people who "made" the success of the company. But you know what? Same deal. It's their prerogative. You can cry and gnash your teeth, and of course you are entitled to your opinion, but the value of all those opinions? Farts in the wind.
Notch isn't your bitch.
I personally don't care, bought Minecraft, enjoyed it and moved along as I realized the modding system would never see the light... but I definitely understand why people feel disappointed.
A blog post is -- if, as most are, it is composed of words -- verbal. Its not "oral", but those two don't mean the same thing.
"The term verbal contract is sometimes incorrectly used as a synonym for oral contract. However, a verbal contract is one that is agreed to using words, either written or spoken, as opposed to an implied contract."
It's funny how GP is heavily downvoted even though he's right. Downvoters (which I assume you're one of) didn't even check their facts.
Sometimes HN sucks.
Can you find any example of usage of "verbal contract" to mean anything other than "spoken contract"?
Contrary to common wisdom, an informal exchange of promises can still be binding and legally as valid as a written contract. A spoken contract is often called an "oral contract", not a "verbal contract." A verbal contract is simply a contract that uses words. All oral contracts and written contracts are verbal contracts. Contracts that are created without the use of words are called "non-verbal, non-oral contracts" or "a contract implied by the acts of the parties."
A verbal contract is simply a contract that uses words.
How is that not an example of a use of "verbal contract" to mean a category which includes both written and oral contracts?
Since you're the one claiming "verbal" equals "oral", you're the one who's supposed to do the research. Wikipedia has a citation on that specific paragraph and there are lots of results in Google. Do your homework before your claims.
But anyways, "verbum, verbi" means "word" in Latin while "os, oris" means "mouth". That should be a clue.
This is about usage, not definition. To interrupt a hrwad with a pointless aside in a snarky manner about a common (mis)use of "verbal" deserves a downvote.
Your inability to find an example of someone using "verbal contract" to mean "written contract" has been noted. :p
Did you even search Google? Do your homework!
here's one. Oh wait, they're using verbal to talk about oral contracts.
here's another. oh wait! they're doing the same.
Here's one from a national UK newspaper. They're using verbal to mean oral.
Here's another UK newspaper: http://careers.theguardian.com/careers-blog/contracts-employ...
And again, they carefully use written to mean written and verbal to mean spoken.
The first two pages of my Google search failed to show anyone using "verbal contract" to mean "written contract" - and it's pretty obvious why. A written contract is just a contract, or if you really need to specify whether it's written or spoken you'd be obtuse to use the word "verbal" to describe a written contract.
Perhaps it's a US / UK thing?
EDIT: put more smilies in.
Sales are not dying and minimum time did not passed. It does not even look like the sales will die soon. He was thinking about releasing the game when the game is dead and abandoned by gamers. Even if you take the above as a promise, the initial condition is not met and there is no requirement on him to do anything.
As for releasing it as open source, I went to your link and it says 'Once sales start dying and a minimum time has passed, I will release the game source code as some kind of open source.' How do you know he has gone back on this promise, as I have not seen any statement to the contrary so far?
Your claims of entitlement seem to rest on unproven assumptions. Is there some evidence out there you could link to, for those of us who don't follow the company/product closely?
Once sales start dying and a minimum time has passed, I will release the game source code as some kind of open source.
Given that sales are still growing, I don't think you can even hold that against him.
He also said:
I'm going to have to include some way of winning the game
That never happened, either. Intentions change, and you don't see people judging him on that.
Your sense of entitlement is why corporations now include "forward looking statement" disclaimers.
But it's not really the point of the game is it?
The fascinating thing to me is that WoW's success was predicated on keeping people playing by paying content creators to come up with new goals for players to strive for, but minecraft demonstrates that people are more than capable of creating their own goals and successes within a sufficiently open ended game. For me, it was a lava moat. Then a pitched roof. Then a farm. Then a railway that took hours to build (and didn't go anywhere useful in retrospect). Then... etc
Notch wasn't the only owner. In fact, he owns less than 50% and they have 40+ employees.
Open sourcing it would likely screw his co-founders, employees with stock options, etc. compared to the size of this deal.
Tbh, I'd be happier if he donated 10% of his earnings from this sale to Open Source projects and feeding people. Rather than, y'know, having gone the route you suggested. He also seems like the kind of guy that would.
"Once sales start dying and a minimum time has passed, I will release the game source code as some kind of open source."
So he can release it as open source, to make good on what? Some "About" page he wrote fucking 4 years ago when Minecraft was nothing but a PC indie sleeper hit?
Especially a promise to a community that throws him under the bus whenever something happens they don't like (even if he isn't involved)?
I don't think that is reasonable.
"Once sales start dying...as some kind of open source".
I somehow suspect he might give money to something else in the end.
Piracy is not an argument in this, because pirating Minecraft for single player has always been and will always be piss easy, and multiplayer will still be impossible.
For my kids sake, I hope they take a little while before they turn Minecraft into a FPS on Xboxlive.
Its such a lame end for "the story of Mojang". Let's see how long it takes for the word "mojang" to be forgotten. Lego is still called Lego, and Pixar still hasn't yielded its name to Disney (they sortof managed to coexist) to take just two examples.
The sad thing about Mojang is people are inspired by "vision". Money ? sure, we all want to earn as much as we can... But when did money give anybody any inspiration.
If nothing else, he's got to be leaving an astonishing amount of cash behind. These agreements always come with long vesting periods ("golden handcuffs").
Also, Mojang as a whole went almost dead silent between the time the WSJ article hit and today. Even routine twitter interaction that had nothing to do with the deal was greatly curbed. Somebody was making sure nobody said a word until they were allowed to.
And I'm sure Notch has an expensive lawyer telling him what he's allowed to do and when. He could certainly afford it even before this deal, and there are signs that he's had skilled legal advice in the past (e.g. the licensing of Minecraft to Mojang rather than outright transfer).
(For the record, I think most of his opinions are great opinions.)
I'm open to the idea that people can change their minds, or that the circumstances might be different, or that he felt he couldn't do the job anymore, or didn't fit in, or whatever else. But the fact remains that this sale runs in direct opposition to basically everything he's ever said in public. Now, maybe he doesn't want to live a life where what he says "in public" has some kind of significance apart from what he just says in general. That seems to be the case - it's his prerogative and if he thinks that's what best for him I'm sure he's right. But people are still going to call him a hypocrite, and that's the price he's going to have to pay.
And that's the part that makes me a little sad. I like Minecraft, but not so much that I'm going to be heartbroken when Microsoft inevitably ruins it. But I did find myself in agreement with Notch on a lot of things, and I was glad that he was able to do what he did and be outspoken about things he thought were important, etc etc. And with this sale, we also lose that. Oh well.
Have you ever looked at a hello world opengl program in java that includes textures and bump mapping and light source stuff? Its a mess.
Also being highly productive has bugger all to do with writing "good code". Almost no code gets the job done.
I've written plenty of stuff that is "bad code" that runs faster (in a world were speed is important) and makes more money than the elegantly designed frameworks i've built.
I would go so far as to say good code is contradictory to highly productive solutions that get the job done. Indeed i know one large firm that employs and spends millions trying to find the best c++ programmers they can.
All they do is sit all day arguing about the best way to do things. Chatting to them in the pub they guess they write about 1000 lines of code a year that gets into production.
can't you have a company by hiring someone to lead instead of you, only giving him directions ? I mean couldn't mojang become some sort of game development laboratory instead ?
for example google throws money they get from advertising at other experiments, I'm really dreaming of doing that for game development.
It has always amazed me how down to earth Notch is. Now, he's going to be a billionaire doing little game jams. It's hard to believe and quite awesome. It's like Bruce Wayne deciding to spend the rest of his life playing with legos.
I like this image. Bruce Wayne's character in batman is always thinking big. He tries to push things in the direction he thinks is right. The idea that someone would have all the power and decide to play with toys makes me worry about the rest of us. I would like to see people like Notch (creative, thoughtful people) having a say in what the future holds. However, it seems inevitable that after a certain point, you have to choose between living the life you want or ceeding at least some of your time to the whims of the masses of the public.
Someone else mentioned Jobs and Wozniak - Notch feels like Wozniak and Mojang has no Jobs. How can we keep the Wozniaks and Notchs of the world involved in making decisions in a way that keeps them happy? We don't want to have to choose between scale and creativity.
No, Bruce Wayne is incredibly myopic. If you have billions of dollars and you want to fight crime, the last thing you should be doing is developing fancy equipment so that you can personally go after criminals one by one. If Bruce Wayne truly wanted to use his money to reduce crime, he would be donating it to preschools and after-school sports programs.
Instead, he wants to take revenge on criminals, like the criminals who killed his parents. 'reduce crime' isn't the same as 'fight crime', he requires the FIGHT part, and the revenge part.
Yeah, that makes him somewhat less sympathetic, but isn't that what everyone likes about batman these days, the darkness?
To be fair, Bruce Wayne does, in most versions of the Batman stories, incredibly vast amounts of local charity of that type (and others), as well as personally going after criminals one by one, and there's probably limited capacity to productively absorb those funds (Wayne's pump-priming charity would probably also be increasing that capacity and enabling Wayne to shift more money into those approaches productively, were it not for the fact that it is somewhat counteracted by the rather extraordinary frequency of supervillian-initiated civic destruction in Gotham, which probably has a negative impact on capacity-development efforts.)
 - http://lesswrong.com/lw/6z/purchase_fuzzies_and_utilons_sepa...
I don't. I have absolutely nothing against Notch, in fact I have the deepest respect for the guy as a hacker and as a person with, clearly, a lot of personal integrity. However he says quite clearly himself he's just interested in tinkering. Minecraft wasn't a deeply though out, perfectly executed, planned exercise in mass market game publishing. It was an entirely accidental result of pretty much randomly hacking ideas together. He had absolutely no idea what the future held for Minecraft when he produced it. Expecting him to have any deep insights into 'what the future holds' is projecting attributes and expectations on to him that I don't think he'd welcome.
That the game became a financial success is indeed somewhat accidental. But that the game was fun was certainly not. Since Notch was "just tinkering", he optimized for a fun and interesting game, not for a profitable game.
I think this is the distinction aeturnum had in mind and I agree with him. We need Notches, Wozniaks and Musks to have more say in where the future goes, because they care primarily about the problems they're solving, and not about the money they're getting.
Yeah, it's amazing to me how many people who even play Minecraft and enjoy it don't understand this. The default state for games is not fun, and it's an incredibly deliberate (and usually difficult) process to get them there.
I think you come up with a publishing model. E.g., you front them money, provide staff, orchestrate delivery/maintenance, handle legal issues, but otherwise you leave the creative control in the hands of the author. This has worked in movies, music, literature, etc. The key is that creative control can never be challenged by business priorities (and if it is, the author needs to be able to take their IP and find another publisher).
Edit to add: at a certain point, a project ends and people like Notch need to move on to actually contribute (to society). No one complains when bands switch labels or directors stop making sequels.
He's taking the exploration path, instead of iterating on something which has already proved successful.
I can't wait to see what Notch does next.
>If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I’ll probably abandon it immediately.
He doesn't want you (or anyone) excited about what he's doing. He doesn't want people to like what he creates - he wants people to like the process of creation. The product is much less interesting to him.
Many people here are working towards the sort of success Notch achieved. Strangers everywhere enthusiastically adopted his creation. His considered reaction is to cut all ties to what he made. He's been to the top of the mountain and he thinks the mountain sucks.
Now, that's fine. It's his thing, he can do whatever he wants with it. I'm not of the school that thinks he "owes" anything to anyone. But I think we should all worry a little about this as a 'case study.' Notch did a good job keeping minecraft on track. Some people might quibble over its direction over the years, but ultimately it's continued to be updated be extremely popular. But, even with massive financial success, near universal acclaim, abundant funding and total creative freedom - he decided he would rather build toy games on his own. Maybe that's just how Notch is, and it doesn't say anything about how we've organized the industry most of us are a part of, but I think it probably says /a little/ about the industry.
Notch had (nearly) every advantage a creator could have if they wanted to take a small project and scale it up into something else. He decided to walk away - I just think we should examine the forces that led him to sell Mojang. We may find we're focusing on the wrong things in our own attempts to make ourselves happy.
I don't think that's what he's saying at all. He's simply saying the spotlight makes it difficult for him to stay sane (see first and last paragraph) and he doesn't want to be pushed into roles he's not (e.g. CEO, entrepreneur). He wants to be himself without all the issues that come with fame (see the video he linked).
> he wants people to like the process of creation. The product is much less interesting to him.
He likes the process of creation, but he doesn't necessarily want others to like it too.
> Many people here are working towards the sort of success Notch achieved.
That's the big difference. They are working towards this sort of success, Notch was not -- it just sort of happened (see first paragraph).
> Notch did a good job keeping minecraft on track
Yes, ultimately he's responsible for that, but there are others that deserve at least as much credit as Notch for keeping it on track.
> But, even with massive financial success, near universal acclaim, abundant funding and total creative freedom - he decided he would rather build toy games on his own
This isn't surprising. Many of us would only be able to do what we really wanted with the freedom that comes from (financial) success.
> Notch had (nearly) every advantage a creator could have if they wanted to take a small project and scale it up into something else.
And he still has those advantages should he wish to do that.
I'll be honest, I'm bitter and jealous, :(
Sure, I envy his success and would like to make something great that will leave its mark on the world, too. I haven't, yet, but if anything, I'm inspired - and been so way before he sold his company.
There was a school of thought that the only reason that Steve Jobs liked being CEO of Apple was so that he could build the products he wanted, how he wanted, without anyone else telling him what he could and couldn't do. He basically created a role where he was a Product Manager with near unlimited resources who didn't have to answer to anyone else.
Better than dressing up in a gimp suit, and liable to get fewer people killed.
I think that's the essence of being a real game developer.
It's sad that Notch feels this way, I think the majority of old school games guys and girls were just like that.
Since it's become a big business with huge studios and ridiculous budgets the market has been spoiled. But Notch/Mojang and team have shown that there is still a place for great indie games and bootstrappers.
And I actually believe him that this deal is not about the money. Projects like these can become albatrosses.
I think that's the eseence of being a real X, X = insert whatever you claim to be in.
In my mind I divide companies (and professionals) by whether their occupation is an instrumental or terminal goal. As an example, advancing rocketry and electrifying transport to advance humanity is a terminal goal for Elon Musk. I.e he cares about that and works on Tesla and SpaceX to achieve that. Contrast with most of companies, that do what they do as an instrument to get money. Such company, for which i.e. making cars is an instrumental goal would gladly switch to producing toilet paper if it was a more profitable sector. I like to refer to such a company as "toilet-paper company".
For an example that would likely appeal to the audience here, toilet-paper companies are common in start-up world nowadays. That new SaaS business that tells you (i.e. lies) how it cares about users and solving their problems, while the founders are planning on getting acquired by Google/Amazon/etc. and dumping the product (aka. exit) - that is a paper-toilet startup. Whatever sells.
What's the value I find by dividing companies by whether their work is terminal or instrumental for them? For one, I tend to trust former much more than the latter, because I expect that they'll optimize their product primarily for solving the stated problems and not primarily for selling ability.
So basically, Notch doesn't want to be a paper-toilet game developer; he wants to make games.
That's a super good observation, thank you. It instantly explains why I have such a loathing for some companies and people and others I feel only pride. Wow. Never ever thought about it that way.
I suspect this may also help you to pick out good founders from an investors point of view and good co-founders from a founders point of view.
I completely agree with this. It's basically optimizing for getting rich instead of optimizing for happiness. Many entrepreneurs make decisions (i.e. run their businesses) with the main focus being amassing money and getting rich. These are the ones that we find ourselves loathing so much. Whereas other founders make decisions with the main focus being happiness and passion for their work. These are the ones we admire.
From the practical perspective though, people seem to have a limited capability for introspection. Maybe for Musk solving the big problems/retiring on Mars is only instrumental to feeling righteous, which is only instrumental to being happy, etc. but humans don't usually introspect that deep. The recursion stops somewhere around the moment where you feel you care about something for the sake of that something. That's what I meant by terminal goals here.
It must have come out from the fact that in my native tongue toilet paper is "papier toaletowy"; the same two things but in different order. Therefore my mind didn't spot it on re-reading. I'll be more careful in the future.
>I think that's the essence of being a real game developer.
Really? (to be read with the least amount of snark possible)
I think most game developers have the same sort of mindsets as other people in creative fields, and while the objective is to make great games, most developers seem to have that little twinkle in their eye, the 'what if my game suddenly becomes huge' thought stuck in their head, and ultimately to change the world at least a little.
If you look at people like Jonathan Blow or Phil Fish (who unfortunately needs to hide himself from the world after being constantly attacked), they all seem to have this objective of creating experiences to share with the world.
(There are examples of people who do develop games much like others write their diaries,in a very personal fashion, but I think the majority are out to create hits)
Edit: and even then he doesn't have to hide from the internet except to avoid the flamefests he keeps actively starting, fueling, and turning into Twitter pileons against people he dislikes if he doesn't.
And yeah I've seen the video about him becoming a symbol, which is terrible and all but still not a consequence of his creative output.
You mention it being a big business and all, but like you say yourself, thanks to Notch / Mojang, the rise of crowdsourcing and self-publishing thanks to platforms like Steam, indie game developers have a lot more opportunities than Notch/Mojang did back when he started out with Minecraft.
And the "worst" games that we see now are at best mediocre if they were coming out 2 generations ago. The bar has gotten higher because so many high-quality games have been released
I will never forget RISE OF THE ROBOTS.
> If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I’ll probably abandon it immediately.
So sad. Imagine if Jobs/the PayPal guys/etc had taken this approach after their initial succcess.
Now I'm all for people being free to do what they want and only this guy owns his life and no one is entitled to have him work for them (hat tip Ayn Rand), and obviously this guy has had a bigger impact on the world than I have, but I tend to agree with Immanuel Kant (and Jesus) that we all have a duty to develop and use our talents in a way that benefits humanity and not just indulge ourselves in idle amusement once we're comfortable. And to be honest, this probably applies more to me than to Notch.
From "Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals":
> A third finds in himself a talent which with the help of some culture might make him a useful man in many respects. But he finds himself in comfortable circumstances and prefers to indulge in pleasure rather than to take pains in enlarging and improving his happy natural capacities. He asks, however, whether his maxim of neglect of his natural gifts, besides agreeing with his inclination to indulgence, agrees also with what is called duty. He sees then that a system of nature could indeed subsist with such a universal law although men ... should let their talents rest and resolve to devote their lives merely to idleness, amusement, and propagation of their species- in a word, to enjoyment; but he cannot possibly will that this should be a universal law of nature, or be implanted in us as such by a natural instinct. For, as a rational being, he necessarily wills that his faculties be developed, since they serve him and have been given him, for all sorts of possible purposes.
What you are suggesting is impossible. No one, not even Steve Jobs sits down and says "My life mission is to benefit humanity". This is because we really do not know which efforts will have the largest impact on humanity. You could waste a lifetime trying to make a better battery - but it might never happen.
Or you could hack around on a game and watch it explode and impact millions of lives around the world.
In my opinion the important part is that you are doing something meaningful to you as an individual. If it ends up exploding and benefiting humanity all the better. But the world would be so much better off if we just had everyone doing this.
Musk might be considered a counter-example here. In fact, part of his mission is literally to "make a better battery". Of course in depends on how much you buy into his mythology. Certainly he could have comfortably retired after Paypal though. (Rather than moving on to run two groundbreaking companies - something I'm not sure how one person manages to successfully do.)
Musk clearly finds what he does meaningful to himself and is not doing something he does not enjoy simply for the greater good of humanity.
Notch did not enjoy being part of something so large. I find it odd to belittle him for choosing the path of doing small things, since that is where something as impactful as Minecraft was created in the first place.
I'd say Minecraft was grown in spite of the way Notch works. The way he works has been the bane of a lot of modders, who are (arguably) the reason his game is so successful.
> In my opinion the important part is that you are doing something meaningful to you as an individual. [...] ...the world would be so much better off if we just had everyone doing this.
You can't separate yourself from humanity as a whole. That's like saying your liver should do something meaningful for itself as an organ, and if it ends up helping your body, all the better. We don't work individually. Humans require other humans, and all of our motivations and desires are influenced by this requirement.
Notch may not have begun Minecraft with the larger gaming community in mind, but he certainly continued development in some small part because of it.
But of course this is all just a personal opinion and highly subjective.
Notch however, clearly did not enjoy working on something with so much publicity whether it benefited humanity or not. I don't think we should belittle him for that.
Not knowing how to do something doesn't stop me from trying to do it. Why does it stop you?
However, for all of his good qualities, like 99.9999% of humanity, Notch is not wired up to be a hugely public figure, who is constantly interacting with the public, and is under continuous scrutiny to make another Minecraft. That's right, for the rest of his career, everything he does will be held up to the yardstick of being "the guy who created Minecraft".
I know, boo hoo and all that, given that he is now possibly a billionaire (on paper at least, and maybe only before taxes, but still!). But that doesn't instantly change his psychology- it doesn't flip any of the axes of whatever his Meyers/Briggs personality type is. If he's not comfortable and not happy being a public figure that everyone stares at waiting for the next Minecraft to pop out, no one should be able to hold that against him. He's not obligated to continue being that guy if it's not who he is.
After a few years out of the limelight, if he wanted to he could be a Mark Shuttleworth kind of guy: someone who struck it big while still young, and decided to invest a chunk of that money (and most or all of his time) to a passion project. I've gotta think that after the Microsoft deal, Notch won't have to work, but maybe in a few years he might decide to reinvolve himself with the community in a role that is a better fit for him. Or not, it's up to him. I would personally like to see some kind of Act 2 from him, because he is clearly a very creative and occasionally inspired person, but I won't hold it against him if doesn't want to.
With Notch's new found wealth, he could, say, start a charitable foundation or whatever he wants which could impact people a whole hell of a lot more people and in arguably better ways than Minecraft 2: Electric Bugaloo.
It seems like he got lucky, and was good enough to leverage his success into more success and was good enough of a businessman to profit handsomely from the whole thing, but that's about it. I understand that he hasn't done anything on Minecraft in quite a while. His attempts at something new don't seem to have gone anywhere. (That weird space programming game from a while back got a lot of attention but never resulted in anything.)
So, maybe that was it. Notch is a one-hit wonder. And there's nothing wrong with that. I'm sure he's already contributed more to the world than most of us ever will. But that doesn't necessarily mean that we're all losing out on anything significant if he doesn't keep trying to make more big things.
And from the other side of things, it seems like Minecraft came out of one of these ridiculous idle amusements. If you had described Minecraft to people before it was made, they would have thought it was ridiculous. Oh, a volumetric 3D world with a 1990s-era renderer. Great. Sounds about as useful as a Doom map viewer written in Dart. Yet it turned into something huge. So if Notch does have another hit in him, it will probably come about the same way, through more strange messing about.
People like notch and other indie developpers are looking for things beyond immediate technical prowess or easy instant fun. They are after something you may call poetry, and how to explore new opportunities created by technology.
In this regard and judging by the large interest of children for minecraft, this man is talented.
But merely looking at what Notch has done, it looks to me like he got lucky rather than having some vast talent for making fun games.
At the top is the idea that if you make a game fun enough it will take off like Minecraft, but virality is not simply a product of fun, there are so many intangibles that go into blockbuster successes, and the people who get really good at wrangling those elements and distilling out a formula are not renowned for their talent (eg. Hollywood blockbusters).
But unpacking further, talent is something that needs to be developed. Natural talent is nothing without practice upon practice. Talent in some area requires years of practice that laymen will never really understand or appreciate. We can all talk casually about various kinds of talent, in programming, in art, in game design, in music, etc, but any kind of serious discussion needs to touch on the nuances of the specific work they are doing. Claiming Nickelback is more talented than Arcade Fire because they've sold more albums is a sure way to kill a conversation about music.
My problem is simple: you define talent as being "successful" by your opening sentence. From the beginning you question his talent because you haven't seen more successes from him. That's what I'm taking issue with.
Of course I don't want you to define other things needed for success, that's precisely the problem. Success is not a barometer for success, more like a very very loose correlation.
I question his talent because I haven't seen anything interesting from him since Minecraft. If he had produced something great that nobody bought, I wouldn't be saying what I'm saying. But he hasn't made anything of interest.
I sure failed to deliver a follow-up to Minecraft, but that was never his goal. He just wants to tinker and have fun, which is also why most of his game projects just stay at the embryonic stage; it seems to burden him greatly to follow up on the ideas, when the initial glee of tinkering with a new idea has worn off.
He's very good at taking an idea and making it work, then building new stuff on that, but less so at actually making things robust in an architectural sense. Moving on to the next thing that interests him also doesn't help that.
A lot of the biggest hiccups in Minecraft's stability are more-or-less directly caused by having to work around stuff that was coded in a way that made sense at the time, but gradually fitted less and less well to the game as it now stood.
I'd say at this point a lot of Notch's original code is outright gone, and that's a good thing. His vision is still at the core of it, and that's what he really brought to the project.
People confuse popularity with merit. Things become extremely popular because of chance network effects. Humans are herd animals. You get a big hit if you are lucky enough to start a stampede. (Or if you spend a lot of energy carefully engineering a stampede).
Not getting a stampede doesn't mean you didn't make something amazing.
He did build something new and successful with 0x10c. That demo is amazing. Its a 3d shooter with an awesome laser gun and a _full 80s computer emulated inside of it_. And an abstraction for virtual peripherals, a virtual monitor, and a virtual 3d vector display. Its fucking awesome.
Did he make $100 million selling that? No. Does that mean it isn't awesome? No it absolutely does not. For starters, it was never for sale.
Here is a song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBAtAM7vtgc that is an absolutely horrible parody of itself (intentionally, for comedic effect (we hope)) that was in the top five of the charts for its category. It sold quite a lot of downloads, purchases and products. Incredibly popular. Complete crap.
Judging the merit of something on the basis of how excited the herd gets is completely wrong.
You can't always catch lightning in a bottle again. And I don't envy having that hanging over the heads of oh who am I kidding I would totally love to be in the position of potentially disappointing thousands of fans when my next comic doesn't appeal to as many people as my most successful one did.
I'm sure Steve Jobs didn't care what people thought of him either. He just defaulted to "they will love what I do because I will create something great", whereas Notch seems to be more like "people are trouble, so go away." Which would probably be how I'd do it too.
That is 6 years. Minecraft has been around for 5 years. If we take the premise that Notch comes up with really good ideas once every 6 years he works on games, he'll hit this timeframe next year.
Alternately, the clock might only start from the moment he stopped personally working on Minecraft, which was in November 2011. In that case we will have to wait another 3 years for him to collect ideas.
I think that Phil Fish video that he linked really hit the nail on the head.
That's not a very good proof. If anything, that would show that they are productive. "Noteworthy" is very subjective, and it's not a measure of talent, though there can be correlation. If I have a big marketing team, I can make something noteworthy by someone's standards.
> Sure, someone can be very talented but have only a single thing to their name, but it's just as likely they got lucky.
Notch is talented. He got lucky with Minecraft. That doesn't make him any less talented. And now that he's "famous", his odds for being lucky have increased since he now has a bigger audience, more connections, more money - basically more opportunities.
If he ever does create another big game, I'd expect it would be many years down the road, after he's toyed with a lot of ideas and had more than a few false starts.
Honestly I think his is more of an artistic than entrepreneurial mindset. How many artists set out to "change the world" with their art? Not many. But still many do.
I for one would be happy if paypal didn't exist. However, I like Musk's other companies.
But I could just be optimistic.
I wish I had a pithy explanation as to why this was but I haven't figured it out yet. "some people aren't cut out for fame" doesn't really do it justice, because the problem isn't entirely in the Notch's of the world, but also how we relate to them and how fame is characterized in our culture.
Can you please post a link to his streams? I bet it'd be fascinating to watch.
He is getting away from Minecraft and Mojang precisely so that he can perfect his craft and continue to work.
He's not leaving Mojang so that he can go and kick puppies or club seals. I find the calls on him to do something noble to be deeply unpleasant.
The question answers itself. There is no earthly reason why he should have. None whatever.
Of course, the price of being a cult figure is many who follow you do not really care who you are but care a great deal about who they think you are. If you are a vital symbol for the cause, then all that you do must conform to the symbol or you become a betrayer, a hypocrite, or both. And that is unforgivable.
And so we arrive at the world of caricature where symbols rule the day, even at the expense of facts. Buck and kick all you want, there is no winning in that world once you fail to conform.
That, I think, is the point of this piece. In effect, it says: "You have made me larger than life. Well, I'm not. I am who I am and I love what I do. If you have made me out to be something more, I can't help that. I am just like the rest of you. No more and no less. If you want me to shape my life by what you think, you will be disappointed. I will shape my own life regardless of your expectations."
Who knows if this really is betrayal or hypocrisy? Usually the reality is much more complex than the caricatures make it out to be but no one really knows except those directly connected with the events.
As for me, I have no ideological axe to grind and can simply stand back and say, as many people likely feel, "that is one helluva ride for one so young to make."
I think Notch represents quite well what a lot of us would be like if one of our software got incredibly popular overnight (We're talking worldwide sensation) and we got a massive amount of money out of it (Billions with a B).
Confused, dazed, surprised. "That's quite cool but I never actually meant for that to happen". Try to do good things with the money but end up with responsibilities we don't want regarding the product, the money and ourselves. Not be able to have a private life all of a sudden and wanting out of the drag.
Edit: I see above that the poster was referring to Notch. Just a simple case of an unclear antecedent (and being unfamiliar with Notch's and Rowling's recently releases ;) )
In fact, Tiptree, not Sheldon, has been inducted into the science fiction hall of fame, which is even weirder.
Maybe that's really why he stopped the development.
He just wanted to make music and play in small clubs. And he went back to playing guitar by himself and making solo albums. (Also heroin use, but that's a different story).
And he rejoined in '98 or so, had 3 huge hit records, and then left again a few years ago. He made a few more solo albums and experimented with electronic music.
Some people are not cut out for fame. The intrinsic joy of what they do is even more powerful than fame.
It's a multiplayer html5 game, so drag a friend into it with you :-)
"Then I had another thought: Physics disgusts me a little bit now, but I used to enjoy doing physics. Why did I enjoy it? I used to play with it. I used to do whatever I felt like doing - it didn't have to do with whether it was important for the development of nuclear physics, but whether it was interesting and amusing for me to play with. When I was in high school, I'd see water running out of a faucet growing narrower, and wonder if I could figure out what determines that curve. I found it was rather easy to do. I didn't have to do it; it wasn't important for the future of science; somebody else had already done it. That didn't make any difference. I'd invent things and play with things for my own entertainment."
I think we should take serious stock not only in what Notch is saying here but also his overall success: if you get off making ephemeral photo-sharing apps or a Salesforce clone then keep on trucking otherwise you should ask yourself why you're doing it in the first place.
Are your little projects a ton of fun to work on? Notch makes an all around good argument for pursuing your passion.
I don't know much about Minecraft or whatever issue Notch is referring to in his post. But I'm always struck by how quickly people snap to emotional argument and response, without thinking about the other side of the question, without thinking about how their response will be read or felt by others.
The first step in any dialogue is trying to understand why the other side has said or done what they have, and how that might seem reasonable and right to them. Without that, how do we have any hope of learning anything, or moving to any actual agreement? And yet 98% of what I read presumes that any disagreement must be ignorant, stupid or evil.
I understand many of the reasons why people talk this way, and yes, it's hard to avoid it. But we now have more communication amongst ourselves than at any other time in human history. Maybe it's time to start thinking hard about how each of us can communicate better.
Wouldn't it be great if we could get to a community where some idiosyncratic dude could write a monster hit without feeling himself battered for reasons he can't understand?
People do not tend to be understanding when it comes to loosing money they wanted/expected.
Moreover, I suspect that managing Minecraft is a lot about merchandize selling, cons organization, making deals with lego and everyone else who want to produce themed items and so on. Not necessary what you want to deal with if you consider yourself gamemaker or programmer.
It's sad to see the effect this has had on the servers I've played on. And it was all so pointless: at the end of the day, who really cares if players who chuck in $10/month get a free set of diamond armour or a house?
Little Johnny finds a server that is selling diamond tools for $100 a pop. He says something about how he doesn't know hoe to buy things online, and a nice server admin walks him through "borrowing" his parents credit card and making the purchase. His parents get the bill, hit the ceiling, google "Minecraft", get a number for Mojang, call up, and start screaming at people to refund the money.
It happens. Having a decentralized server system with unregulated "in app purchases" and a very young fan base in a recipe for bad publicity, angry parents, upset kids, and bad vibes all the way around.
People should be sane. The right response to a lunatic who blames Mojang for his child's actions is to hang up.
Mojang cared somewhat about pricing patterns. It is the same thing as lego consistently refusing adult themes. They have an idea on what the brand should be (e.g. kid friendly or not play to win) and this went against.
Mojang clarifies: EULA is meant as written, nothing changes. Not even enforcement, they were not starting campaign to kill those servers. And everybody looses mind.
This is a nice thing.
Notch gets the resources and freedom to do what he actually wants to be doing: Exploring and experimenting with game ideas. And Minecraft gets to continue developing as a product people enjoy.
It sounds like he doesn't want to be a part of anything that big - he just wants to have fun hacking on games.
I have the utmost respect for notch after reading that.
I don't think he'll ever be at a loss for creativity. If he spends the rest of his days streaming (or not streaming!) him coding random small games, or tinkering on a renderer that is never used, I expect that he'll be happy and feel fulfilled.
Sometimes I wish he would have just stuck with Minecraft as the only developer and stayed away from the spotlight. Plenty of very popular game creators have done so (Icefrog, Toady One).
I really enjoyed the times back when Minecraft was just getting popular and you could tell Notch was adding features that he genuinely enjoyed (Redstone update, for instance). Then he started up a giant company and started assuming responsibility for things like server admins charging money, when he should have sat back and let people do what they want.
His fame had never much of anything to do with the success of Minecraft. It just came with it and it didn’t really work out. It doesn’t seem like he has a problem with many people playing his game (or making money doing what he loves to do), he has a problem with being famous.
Watch the video he references, it makes many of the same points.
This seems to be a theme. The guy who had the frontpage the other day, flappy bird, etc. Must be nice to have the cash entitlements to "keep it real." I can't blame him, I think money just becomes arbitrary numbers after a certain point. Minecraft has probably grown to a point where its just only going to get smaller in the future and in a few years be a fun little nostalgia piece for the tweens today who will be in college, the same way we dusted off the NES when I was in college.
Obviously, there's something about the nerdy personality that wants none of this, but it really makes me wonder about guys like Gates or Carmack or Zuckerberg or Jobs who thrive in these environments. Are they the rare ones or are guys like Notch the outliers?
I wouldn't list Jobs either for almost the opposite reason in that while he had a huge impact on the tech industry, he was always a "suit" (even if he didn't wear one).
Maybe it's because Valve is near and dear to the gamers, but I think they've been keeping their community happier than if Icefrog was still running this as a solo job on a WC3 mod. I daresay it has been better for the game too.
I think more and more people should stream like Notch does. It is incredibly entertaining and educating to watch how people write code similar to how people play games.
A great learning opportunity. Different format compared to prepared talks and tutorials. I wish there was a list of people with programming streams that I can just tune in.
With all the money he has, he could at least try to share or expand his passion in some way.
It's true that he's lucky, you sense the modesty, that he doesn't want to be perceived as talented.
But even if that's true, he could at least try a little bit more. I mean he seems content with his work, but if I had such fame, at least I'd try to use it and approach game companies to negotiate deals, and share his vision of gaming.
Hasn't he ever tried to lead some team and get in touch with programmers he likes to do something ? Can't individuals like him hire a manager to do the job and project his vision into something ? I mean aren't there decent people able to know when there's potential, and solve the relational stuff ?
I mean you can't be modest like that all the time. at some point it's grumpiness, not modesty.
I wish there were businessmen able to notice those modest, hard working loners and just get small companies working with them. Not even companies, just small teams and projects. Some coaching. I wonder what's Carmack's story. I'd love to hear about the work stories of those guys, or maybe hear them talk about work politics. Of course they don't want to, because they might be made fun of, but meh.
I think you may be ascribing meaning to a man with no such vision. He says he just wants to have fun and tinker, not change the world and I think that probably sums up his sentiments pretty well. I myself would love to change the world, I don't think you'd ever hear me speak those words. If you're a like-minded individual then I think it can be hard to put yourself in those shoes. Some people actually are just happy doing what they enjoy.
Then why no try to promote tinkering ? A game company dedicated to game development in a way he deems fit ?
> Some people actually are just happy doing what they enjoy.
There's always some small thing you wish you could be able to make, some quirky, imaginary idea you want to achieve. When you see what's on the market, you know and wish you could just do better. This kind of mindset enables you to feed your tinkering enjoyment. I mean you don't just spend time programming, your sense of creative smell makes you think about projects.
With the fame and money he has, he might be able to hire people and develop those projects, and if he can't, maybe he could try to make a game company or structure that helps other small developers work on their own ideas and concepts.
Something to counter the corporate, uncreative way AAA games are made.
But why? If he doesn't want to run Mojang, he probably doesn't want to start another game company at the moment.
Can he enjoy tinkering around himself without having to go on some divine mission to spread his ideas and passions around the world?
you're exaggerating. that's not what I'm saying. maybe he just doesn't really like video games after all, he just like writing lines of code without any interest in the result ?
Why does he keep having small projects though ? I don't understand what's the purpose of keeping it small. Why not hire people and tell them what sort of algorithms he wants ?
Some programmers have a fetish for the code itself, not for the result. Just being proud of "I did it myself". How about making a game that can be enjoyed, that's the only thing I think that really matters I think.
"Promoting tinkering" is not "tinkering". That is a distinct passion, which he very well may not have.
For indie game developers, this story is kinda sad, that's all. To see a lone dev exiting through the back door like that, it is kinda discouraging.