It's pretty easy to guess what the big conversation in development offices all over town has been for the last few weeks, since the moment “The LEGO Movie” hit theaters with nuclear force.
Right now, executives at every studio are asking their kids, “What do you like to play with?” And I am willing to bet that they are all hearing the exact same word in response.
At this point in the life of my own kids, computer games are not an option, especially if there is any part of those games that can be used to communicate with them from other people. Even so, thanks to their friends, they are just as “Minecraft” crazy as the kids who are actually playing it.
The game was developed as an indie title, and it's a building creative game, not unlike Lego. The difference is that they're building using blocks in a digital world. There are other aspects to it as well, and the gameplay is either in survival mode or creative mode. The big difference between the two is that survival forces you to reserve your resources because your character has to stave off hunger and maintain a certain level of health. In creative mode, you can pretty much do anything, even fly.
This is a game that has sold something like 35 million copies so far, and it seems like one of those brands that inspires some serious passion. The entire world of the game is generated by the players. It's an endless landscape that they are allowed to build anything. There are mountains and caves and oceans and rivers for people to explore, and for every 20 minutes you play the game, a “day” goes by. During the daylight hours, everything the player encounters is friendly or benign, but at night, you can run into zombies and something called Creepers.
There is a way to reach the end of the game evidently, involving a dragon and an alternate dimension, but I have no idea if that will be any part of what producers Roy Lee and Jill Messick will do with the property. It was smart of Warner Bros. to snap this up before anyone else can get their hands on it, and Lee, who was a producer on “The LEGO Movie,” has got to be happy that no one can use this as competition now.
Whoever the writers and director of this one are, it's not going to be easy to craft into an actual film with an actual story, but that's the same thing they said about Lego, so I guess we'll see what happens. There are two other things I'm not sure how they'll handle. First, the Deadline story says they're approaching this as live-action, which seems strange when the game has such a distinct 8-bit look. That raises the other question, which is how much of this sort of 8-bit fetishism pop culture can take. Sony's trying to get the Adam Sandler video game-themed comedy “Pixels” up and running, and the short film it was based on uses a very distinct 8-bit throwback style.
I think it's ridiculous to assume that buyng “Minecraft” automatically hands the producers another hit, but it seems like a very smart purchase based on what could be almost unlimited story potential.