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This whole Minecraft thing has been very interesting to follow. I tried the game a few times and it's not really for me but everything around Notch's story is interesting (I bet their going to make a movie about this at some point). Not everyone can be an entrepreneur and I feel that in this case (on a different scale of course), we basically watched a plausible version of how Apple could have gotten started if there was only a Wozniak but no Jobs.

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 think the analogy to Wozniak is great. I remember an article some months ago in which he basically said the same: He wants to tinker and hack.

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.

I see the echos of that enthusiasm in my daughters when they build in their Minecraft worlds. Notch's sense of wonder and joy of creating has been spread to millions.

It's unfortunate that all our greed and crazy fandom keep scaring the great minds away from continuing to push us all forward.

Come on, it's the entertainment industry. You don't see greed and crazy fandom pushing away fundamentally important people like Vint Cerf, since their work isn't related to entertainment.

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.

I see what you are saying, there are many smart, if not brilliant people out there. Woz is able to "think different."

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.

I think it's less the greed and crazy fandom and more a new generation of people that feel they are entitled to everything and anything they want and if they don't get it, start an online witch hunt.

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.

> a new generation of people that feel they are entitled to everything and anything they want and if they don't get it, start an online witch hunt

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

This is just what happens when you sell 54 million copies of your product. Granted, I'm not exactly entrenched in the Minecraft community, but I'm guessing it's just the usual case where the vocal minority start getting uppity. Whenever you have a group that large, there will be some bad apples.

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.

No, its just that a really small minority has the chance to be absurdly vocal on the internet.

> …in Notch's case, it happened with EULA and 3rd party server support.

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.

Yeah, exactly. Dealing with social media as a divisive personality is exhaustive - either you completely shut it off and let some underpaid underdealing deal with it, or you will get horrendously burnt out by all the negativity.

I hope he will produce another master work, but either way, I wish him a very happy life with all the money he earned.

> If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I’ll probably abandon it immediately.

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 don't think "so wealthy he doesn't need to be productive" is what happened. Rather the horrific experience of having indie game fans obsess over him made him determined never to do anything that would draw their attention again.

If this analogy is so good, and I'm not doubting it, then is MSFT like adding Jobs to Minecraft? Will we see a small successful company become a dominant global technology/gaming company?

> 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.

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 think what pg might have overlooked, looking back at his old essays, is that hackers of old, driven by their love for their work turned into paper-toiler entrepreneurs today. There is nothing precluding a hacker from leveraging the economy to scale up his favourite hack (which I believe pg's early essays were about) or, as Notch did, just to secure himself a peaceful and secure environment to continue his hacking without having to worry about things like food, health and shelter. But that is a different type of hacker than the ones that are attracted to the startup scene nowdays.

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).

yes. just right.

Of course, it being a big hit is what gives him enough money that he now can live comfortably while working on whatever the hell he wants without worrying about making money.

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.

He's Swedish. He didn't need to strike it rich to escape worries about a roof over his head and health care.

Yes. Other commentators here assume he was starving and is now rich, which should be an improvement. But maybe he was not starving, maybe he already had a roof and some food, either from some previous work, or from goverment, or from his family.

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)...

You only get unemployment benefits it you are enrolled in a job seeking plan. So while you may not need to worry about becoming homeless, getting unemployment benefits is an entirely different predicament than what Notch is in now.

There might be a different documentary/biopic/film, but there is currently Minecraft: The Story of Mojang[1]. It only really covers the first year, however.

1: http://www.2playerproductions.com/projects/minecraft

"I'm sure there are many here that dream of having their idea be a huge success [...]"

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 [1], 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 [2] ...

Cast in this unlikely role

Ill-equipped to act

With insufficient tact

One must put up barriers

To keep oneself intact

[1] http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2014/02/03/flappy-bir...

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKpn0esJ73w

Skip forward a few tracks:

Quiet in conscience, calm in their right; confident their ways are best. [1]

> 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.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHH17-cMOu0

"I really feel for Notch"

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.

I don't think he wants sympathy, that's not how I read this at all. I think he wants freedom, and he is not asking for it but simply stating for the record how he is going about this.

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?

Perhaps it's that Notch invited the entitlement with an explicit promise ? http://web.archive.org/web/20100301103851/http://www.minecra...

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?

Yes, yes I do. The fact that you see his future plans as some kind of ironclad contract is precisely the problem. Minecraft did not explode because of these promises, it succeeded because of the reality on the ground as a fun game.

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.

Or as Neil Gaiman would have said it:

Notch isn't your bitch.


The repeated use of the verb "will" definitely tricked me into believing it was a verbal contract, not just fuzzy plans (and I still believe he meant it as a contract).

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 neither "verbal" nor a "contract", no matter how many times the word "will" is used.

> A blog post is neither "verbal"

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.

Don't be obtuse. The phrase "verbal contract" is specifically oral contract.

Quoting Wikipedia:

"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.

Even wikipedia says you shouldn't use them as a reference.

Can you find any example of usage of "verbal contract" to mean anything other than "spoken contract"?

> 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."

So, that's clearly saying that people use "verbal contract" to mean "spoken contract" - it's not an example of someone using the term "verbal contract" to mean "written contract".

> it's not an example of someone using the term "verbal contract" to mean "written contract".

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?

Don't be obtuse ;)

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.

"Verbal contract" always refers to spoken contracts!

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

> 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.

That wasn't a blog post. It was an About page for a product. It's essentially the product's description.

Quoting the page you just linked: "Once sales start dying and a minimum time has passed, I will release the game source code as some kind of open source. "

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.

I don't see that he, personally, has to contribute free expansions, it's enough if Mojang does. A lot of people seem to be assuming that purchase by MS means the end of mods and the start of paid expansion packs. Is there definite evidence for this claim, or is it just speculation?

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?

What he actually said is worth quoting:

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.

If you kill the ender dragon you get a credits screen. Does that not count as winning?

Yeah, maybe I guess..

But it's not really the point of the game is it?

It can be, if you want it to - that's the whole point. Much like there are people who play WoW to accumulate gold, or PvP rankings, or raid success, or epic gear, or a working guild, or to craft all of the recipes, or something else I've not encountered.

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

Would Minecraft be in better hands if Notch open-sourced it instead of selling it to Microsoft?

Maybe but is it really a fair question?

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.

He said he'd open source it, but it never happened. I think this pre-dates Mojang, but I'm not certain about the exact timing.


I think you are ignoring the condition on that sentence.

"Once sales start dying and a minimum time has passed, I will release the game source code as some kind of open source."

Sales will, at some point, start dying. He has, as far as I can tell, relinquished control of the source in a manner that will forbid him from open sourcing the game at that point.

You think it's reasonable that he should continue at the helm of Mojang and retain control of Minecraft IP until what exactly? 10 years pass and the brand (which Minecraft has become) finally fades in popularity?

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?

Get real.

So what? He should screw his business partners out of 2 billion so he could keep a promise from years ago when he had no clue how this would go?

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.

I agree. That's why I don't recommend ever open-sourcing any software with commercial possibilities. You'd be throwing money away.

Right. He never thought he was going to make the current juggernaut. He thought it was going to be yet another moderately popular project with a limited duration and impact.

He didn't really.

"Once sales start dying...as some kind of open source".

Dunno, he would have to be a strong man to donate that much to open source after all the hate vomited his way about it.

I somehow suspect he might give money to something else in the end.

Why would open sourcing it screw his co-founders? You can open source the code, interact with the community and improve Minecraft, while still selling the game. You don't have to open source the artwork and assets.

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.

Microsoft wouldn't pay $2 billion if he open sourced it. So they'd get a smaller payout.

"we basically watched a plausible version of how Apple could have gotten started if there was only a Wozniak but no Jobs."

Nailed it.

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.

Is it just me, or do you think that Nintendo acquiring a company like Mojang seems more appropriate? I shudder at the thought of Microsoft stripping Minecraft of its creative and inspiring qualities and turning it into a simple FPS.

I just hope he didn't make a mistake by posting what he did, when he did. Rest assured there are clauses in the purchase agreement that cover anything that might lower the value of the business... such as announcing that you're jumping ship before the ink is dry.

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").

Notch didn't make his blog post until well after the official Mojang post (which he obviously did not write, and which announced the founders were leaving) went up.

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).

Woz doesn't stir up drama on Twitter every time someone in his industry does something he doesn't like. Notch sorta does (cf. "I’m a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter.").

(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.

Yea but Woz isn't contributing technically anymore

Is notch? I was under the impression that notch has not worked on any real production code in a long time. I was always under the impression that he is not "technically" that good and the original minecraft code was very inefficient but I could be wrong.

Every time game programmers get called out for writing bad game code i get a bit angry. Games are a very convoluted thing to have to express in a procedural fashion.

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.

> Not everyone can be an entrepreneur

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.

Such a reaction is borderline ridiculous and coward. Others like Wozniack are mature and strong enough and are definitely able to sustain a business well. Several levels apart!

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