Minecraft + Frustration + GeekFame + NotFinsihingWhatYouStarted = Angry Squarhead.

I’m a massive fan lately of minecraft, it’s quite an addictive game (even has my 8yr son hooked on its crack). It’s a game made by a swede named “Notch” who basically by all accounts slapped the game together during some off time he had.

The game now has millions of subscribers all paying their once-off fee to buy and the part that really threw me for a loop was he made it in Java…. Oh Java, how I often reflect on your greatness (pre-Microsoft that was my drug of choice).

So what's the overall problem? Let me vent a little.


Apparently Notch is caught up in both his new found geek celeb status and attention is focused elsewhere on a game called Scrolls which is pretty much a hexagon magic battle game that reminds me of chess - Sorry I Snoozed off.

To be fair, he made his mark and he’s now off doing other things and has left Minecraft in the hands of some new found employees he’s made in the company whilst he continues to also hang in some influential circles mainly the valve software guys - (Hey I know Robin @ Valve to, I used to play TF/Quake in Oz with them, and I’d pop in for a visit or two at Valve when I was at Seattle..).

That did sound a bit venomous, I guess for me the reason I’m frustrated as this game has so much more potential ahead of it but poor Notch has suffered from the dreaded curse of “Shiny object syndrome meets geek celeb install” where the attention is spent on vNext not vNow? (he’s got a company to grow I guess, so it makes sense).

Problem is this game is unfinished and now when you look at the mod community around it you can’t but help stare at all the failings of the game – that are forgiven provided you embrace the mods that occur on servers that allow them.  This is why Quake failed in the end, they forgot the reason why people played the game, its why Teamfortress team couldn’t also go further given the license issues of Quake 2 Engine (which was geared towards charging the mod community for usage).

I also watch the various staffers of Mojang via twitter and I can’t but help roll my eyes at some of the stuff being said, Its mainly due to me thinking “oh dear, they’re still coming to grips with fame… this one’s going to take a while..

As someone who’s seen a few geeks turn into the geek-celeb status, I almost want to email them “this is what you’re going to experience, here are the things you need to avoid and you should never forget what got you in the door in the first place – minecraft”.

Today we stare at the game, waiting with drool hanging down from our lips at the slightest hint of an update, and I’m the first to line up for it as well.

Curse you Mojang for starting something that you clearly aren’t enthusiastic in finishing to which I would simply say this (since it appears he’s a massive fan of Valve/TF).

In the early days of Teamfortress, Robin and the guys made a mod of Quake, it took the game to new heights outside id Softwares initial imagination, to be blunt, TF made Quake fun. Robin, John and the others were able to ship and they had talent and fame to match. Its what created the fusion between them and Valve and they’ve both since changed the landscape of gaming industry today to which one would be proud to say “hey I know that guy”… but the point is, they stayed focused and they created and Robin is quite a shy guy in person, but has insights into how the industry and its people function – deep insights that make you walk away and shake your head “that bastard was so right..”

Notch the CEO should probably spend a few more sessions with Robin and the guys on how to finish a product like Minecraft, I think we the audience would gain a huge amount of entertainment and fun from such a fusion of talent.

I am frustrated minecrafter because I want more…. Its an awesome game and Notch despite this attention span failing, deserves the success and riches that come with them. Sadly, we want an encore and I don’t’ think Cobalt and Scrolls will give him the equal amount of attention (sure you’ll get fan spillage happening, but seriously..)

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The Likes & Dislikes of Microsoft in 2011

The calendar increments by 1 year now and as it does I think about the last year and ponder what I liked and disliked in my sandbox that I call the Microsoft ethos

Windows Phone 7

  • I liked Nokias approach to branding the product; they really took what they saw and made it the focal point of what the experience for consumers should be. That is, they did what I asked at the start of the year; make the metro design your familiar face in the crowd.

  • I liked the WP7 Design contest; I rarely ever give an endorsement to contests as they are a desperate response to bad marketing, in this case though the designs that came back were actually tidy and immediately wanted you to explore the apps. Now to see if they make it into the appstore.

  • I disliked WP7 marketing from Microsoft, it was chaotic, it lacked depth and $500million in marketing spent later, I still can’t put my finger on one message that you could hang your hat on. Compare Apple iPhone / Android marketing to Wp7 and it baffles me as to what is going on in that team – I think they just carpet bomb SeaTac / LAX airports with it knowing that Microsoft Execs travel through there and hope that’s enough to convince them they are “everywhere” – reality is, Bus shelter ads aren’t putting the wp7 logo on the bottom of their “get our apps” signage – which is a fail.

  • I disliked the WP7 app store pricing model, fact is they are charging the same rates as iPhone devs or there about and in the end you have a marketshare that Samsung is even beating. I agree with Laurence MoroneyReality check for two please and can we have that to go.
  • I disliked the compete b.s that came from Staffers at Microsoft around WP7, fight the internal metrics and rise above the whole “heh did you see that, Apple just copied us!” mentality. Its very weak and if you are to beat the competition then you need to stop watching their every move hoping and praying for a weakness to occur. If Apple copy you, great, internalize that victory but keep it internal and instead move the bar higher as the best way for people to absorb that reality is when someone who doesn’t have an MVP or Blue-badge says “Did Apple just copy Microsoft?”.

Windows 7 and 8

  • I liked the intent for Microsoft to bring balance to the UX force, which is a consistent looking brand / feel across all products from now on.
  • I disliked the execution of the consistent branding. I wished they would keep all design decisions in a central team, which is everything from website design to UI design(s) for products. Allowing individual teams within Microsoft to interpret Metro outside of the central team at this early critical stage is clearly not working. If you want to attract a design enriched audience that want to take inspiration from your work, stop farming it out to agencies who nickel/dime their way through design creation and instead double down on providing a central experience.

    Hate it when Microsoft gets a hold of a design concept..and then just sodomises it #badmetro #bldwin
  • I liked the energy that the Windows teams have around device development, we’ve asked for this way back in the days of Surface birth. I think that’s healthy for the industry and will put touch enabled devices into more and more people’s hands sooner rather than later.
  • I disliked the artificial inflation of the metrics (Windows and Wp7). Inside Microsoft you gauge success based on your ability to ignore qualitative data and instead focus on quantitative given it looks bigger. This often spills over into the marketing engine(s) at Microsoft resulting in just bad reality checks thus creating more distance between the ability to trust anything the brand states.

  • I disliked the development experience required to get access to the touch enabled world. A friend of mine sent me this break down of tag trends over at Stackoverlow, basically if you are working with Silverlight and/or WPF the chances of you not using Stackoverflow in some form of way is next to zero. WPF and Silverlight dead? Can I have an extra order of reality check for team Sinofsky please?


  • I liked the notion that Windows 7 is on the rise over Windows XP, the growth you have is great, and the sooner we can stomp on the neck of Windows XP the happier my development sandbox will be.
  • I disliked the fact that Windows 7 has a huge market share right now, today, that I can’t access and instead am told to “chill” until Windows 8 AppStore comes online via Windows 8. It’s like the Microsoft team decided “How else can I really fuck my customer base over” then some clown in the back puts his hand up and tells them of an idea to hold back AppStore whilst everyone just sits there nodding like he’s telling them that touch will be the future for Microsoft back in 2007 – oh wait… has anyone seen JJ Allard lately as that guys going places.

Silverlight / WPF.

  • I liked the fact we got some releases for these products, shows there is still someone within the company stoking that release fire.
  • I liked Silverlights new 3D capabilities, it hints at what could have been possible had we had it sooner. We back in the early days would often discuss how 3D would be our next frontier of innovation for the product and my hat goes off to the engineering efforts for pulling it off – they worked hard.
  • I dislike that Silverlight release was late and I especially disliked the way it was done. Microsoft phoned in the release, let it happen in the dark of night instead of the grandeur we’ve been used to in the past. That for me sent a clear signal to the developer base – it’s time to move on, finish up your creations and wait for next shiny object to come to a install near you.
  • I dislike WPF feature list, it was less than we were promised (technically it was more tease / flirt) and lastly the release itself was more of an internal upgrade spilled over onto external HDD’s – that is to say, the features were more derived from internal needs than external. MIC check, is this thing on, WPF is dead in the eyes of Microsoft but its far from dead in the eyes of your average .NET code jockey.
  • I dislike the energy spent on HTML5 is the future, I’m yet to meet a developer who uses Silverlight/WPF get excited at the idea of abandoning this for HTML5. It must be the other developers I don’t’ see who want it – well that’s what we may be assuming amongst each and everyone one of us “must be the other guy needs it” (ie “Pretty girl syndrome”).


  • I liked the SDK experiences that come with this ….product? … I think it is much easier at times than people give it credit for. I’ve used Amazon quite extensively this year and often will grow impatient that its not like Azure.
  • I dislike the pricing models for Azure. I’m a fairly intelligent guy but even today I’d not say I can for certain grasp the pricing model needed for me to respond to a work order request from some of my clients (mining companies who pay very large sums of money may I add).
  • I dislike the fact Scott Guthrie is running this only. In the short time he’s been the custodian of this product its gotten better, great, but Scott should be a higher power across all products. Steve Sinofsky you suck the life out of Microsoft development.
  • I liked the way Bizspark program is breaking down the pricing barrier of entry for Azure, I was skeptical of this program when it first started (My office was near the creator of this program back in the day, wand watched its birth). I think this program is what stands between adoption and non-adoption but at the same time it has really piss poor marketing behind it so unless you know someone who knows someone, it needs more help (See Catherine Eibner in Microsoft Australia, she’s got her head screwed on tight around how this should work going forward. Promote her to lead the charge here).

Internet Explorer.

I liked the fact IE6 is hated in a more formal fashion at Microsoft, but overall I just wish this product in its entirety would just die. Everyone else is embracing Webkit, stop fighting the obvious and bend over accept you lost proprietary way of life and jump into the stagnant waters of Webkit FTW.


  • WCF team can rot in hell. I think there is enough issues around this product to simply state, stop what your doing and think about its effects on your audience. Until then, rot in hell.
  • Entity Framework team, make a decision and stick with it or at least promote the reasons why you change APIs and their pro’s / con’s.
  • Zune. Great idea, pitty it never left Redmond zip code.
  • Surface 2 – Great idea, pitty it never left Redmond zip code.
  • Bing. I googled Bing, enough said but the fact you didn’t have a Santa Tracker at Christmas – you are dead to me.

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