We've got an interview with SpaceChem designer Zach Barth (of Zachtronics) going up tomorrow, but I've got to give you just one terrible tidbit now. Two years ago Zachtronics made a game called Infiniminer, which as you may or may not know was the game that inspired Notch to make MineCraft. Why did Zach make Infiniminer? Why did he stop making it? Does he now spend every night howling into his pillow, mourning for the riches that might have been his? Read on for these answers.
What does Infiniminer have in common with MineCraft? A look at any of these screenshots should tell you that. Both games are set in cuboid worlds where players can strip blocks away with the greatest of ease, but while MineCraft is (currently, at least) about the joy of building, exploring and excavating, Infiniminer was about the joy of competing, exploring and excavating. In the words of Zach, "Infiniminer is a combination of Infinifrag, Team Fortress 2, and Motherload. I wanted to make a competitive mining game, and this was it.".
As for what happened next and why he didn't continue to develop the idea, Zach's answer had me sucking air through my teeth in sympathy.
"I stopped working on Infiniminer when the source code was leaked. It was totally my fault, as that’s what I get for releasing an un-obfuscated .NET assembly, but it nevertheless enabled hackers to create hacked clients and players upset with my balancing decisions to fork and write their own clients and servers."
Ow. We'll never know precisely how popular Infiniminer might have gone on to become, but it's still a wincesome situation, albeit one that Zach is magnanimous about.
"The act of borrowing ideas is integral to the creative process. There are games that came before Infiniminer, and there are games that will come after MineCraft. That’s how it works."
Fine words, Zach. For more of Zach's fine words, tune in tomorrow on this very site.