When Telltale announced that they'd be working on an episodic Minecraft adventure game [official site], the old hound cynicism sloped across my chamber and nestled its head in my lap, looking up at the screen with eyes like sorrowful saucers. He let out a wheezy whine. The size of the license is more important than the potential for pleasant, semi-passive interactive storytelling, it seemed to say.
The first trailer, which you can see below, has sent the cur scurrying back to his den within the scullery. Story Mode doesn't look particularly interesting, during this initial glimpse, but the direction Telltale are taking is clearer. It's somewhere between the blocky playfulness and creative commentary of The Lego Movie, and the ongoing adventures of a thousand Minecraft Youtubers.
A significant proportion of the generation of kids growing up with Minecraft probably find the idea that it isn't a "Story" game quite baffling. I know youngsters who spend their leisure time either playing Minecraft or watching Minecraft. It's their favourite TV show as well as their favourite game, and a huge part of the appeal is in the experiences of others, whether they be famous gangs of Youtubers crafting multiplayer sagas, or folks experimenting with weird and wonderful mod packs. I'm not particularly knowledgeable about Minecraft as a narrative engine or genre but I suspect Telltale are attempting to tap into some of that energy.
They haven't hired a cast of Youtubers for the voice acting though. Main character Jesse is played by Patton Oswalt, and the cast is rounded out by the likes of Ashley Johnson, Corey Feldman, Martha Plimpton, Billy West, Corey Feldman, Paul Reubens and Corey Feldman. There are further announcements to come on that front, it seems.
And there is a perhaps unavoidable Lego Movie vibe. Whether there'll be an earworm of a theme song with grim lyrics and lessons to be forgotten in its own bouncing rhythms, I cannot say. Some kind of exploration of the meaning of creativity and sharing would be appropriate though. If only it hadn't been done before, and so recently. Perhaps they'll stick to comedic cuboid animal hijinks.
Here's the word from the press release:
You'll control protagonist Jesse throughout the season, as portrayed by actor Patton Oswalt. Jesse and his group of friends revere the legendary Order of the Stone; four adventurers who slayed an Ender Dragon. The Order are the very best at what they do: Warrior, Redstone Engineer, Griefer, and Architect. While at EnderCon, Jesse and his friends discover that something is wrong... something dreadful. Terror is unleashed, and they must set out on a journey to find The Order of the Stone if they are to save their world from oblivion.
OK. I'll be in the scullery if anyone needs me, among the kibble and bits. I've been on holiday for a week and Old Dog Cynicism has grown hungry in my absence.