What is Minetest, and what does it do to be that?

I will consider both, the present and the future, simultaneously, because it would be bad if there weren’t any continuity like that. This kind of unifies history and future in a way that I would see best.

Minetest is about:

  • Messing around
  • Being able to do crappy but interesting stuff which nevertheless is enjoyed by other people
  • Not taking anything seriously
  • Doing this in a voxel-based multiplayer sandbox game.

That is what it has always been about. However, as a project grows, it’s impossible to keep total anarchy or dictatorship, so we need some way of fitting this into the fairly scalable architecture (development-wise) we have now. The alternative would be to scale the project down and make an army of forks. It could be fun too, but don’t think it is generally desirable.

Particularly, Minetest is not about making fancy-looking things at the cost of freedom. Go away right now if you want that.

In order to build upon a larger base of work, the larger base of work must be chosen somehow. Minetest uses these approaches:

  • Keep the common base small enough to be manageable, as it is bound to be a monolithic chunk. This is what is called the Minetest Engine. It’s sole purpose is to enable cramming all kinds of messing-arounds into one in a decent voxel world experience.
  • Keep the common base (the Minetest Engine) as universal as possible. I like to compare everything that goes into the engine for how well it suits a gravitation-less space game without ground surface. If everything is either disableable or suitable for such, then it gives much more freedom for people to experiment and create interesting things, even in ground-based worlds.
  • Keep the common base lightweight, simple and well-written enough for it to not become some monster that everyone fears, because everyone is dependent on it.
  • Following these limits, incorporate features that help people do the things in the first list.
  • It mustn’t be made unnecessarily hard to make polished content even while most content isn’t polished.

Then there is the work that is built upon this common base. It has it’s own issues. Here are the issues that come to mind and how Minetest solves them:

  • Lack of creativity: Minetest tries to make it easy to experiment with weird and unconventional things, and publish those things to inspire others.
  • Lack of consistent and large pieces of content: Mods facilitate organization of huge amounts of content. Subgames(*) allow collection of them to coherent wholes. While Minetest’s culture isn’t very focused on consistency, Minetest tries to make it possible if someone wants to focus on it.
  • Lack of publicity: Minetest tries to make it easy to share anything, and the community is all about sharing everything.
  • Lack of main direction: We suck at this. Short suggestion below.

It’s starting to seem to me that we need to change the Minetest distribution to contain a bunch of different subgames instead of trying to have one main game. New ideas or thumbs ups for this?

Hopefully this explains for example why Minetest isn’t *necessarily* a Minecraft clone, and why it *kind of* is, and why it doesn’t matter in itself.

(*) I use the word subgame here because it’s less confusing for people not involved with Minetest