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It can’t be argued that one of the biggest things going on around the gaming world and the internet in general these days is Minecraft. It’s a game that began as a side project by a Swedish Java developer, but now has taken over the lives of almost 1.5 million gamers through almost entirely word-of-mouth advertising. Minecraft has been praised for the freedom it gives players and how it inspired hundreds of YouTube videos showcasing the constructions of players around the world. It’s definitely worth looking at the man behind this incredible game.
Markus ‘Notch’ Persson began programming when he was 7 years old. He produced his first text adventure game when he was 8 years old using his father’s Commodore 128. Much later he worked professionally as a game developer for King.com, developing web games using Flash. During this time, he founded an MMORPG called Wurm Online with another designer by the name of Rolf Janneson.
Markus Persson has been an indie developer for a long time. He made numerous indie games for competitions like the Java 4K Game Programming Contest and The Ludum Dare competition. Due to his use of Java, Notch’s games are very different in their design from normal games, which in the past have been “demakes” of classic and more recent games such as Mega Man and Left 4 Dead.
According to Markus, while several games inspired Minecraft, such as Dungeon Keeper and Dwarf Fortress, the key game that truly inspired the giant sandbox game was an indie game called Infiniminer. Infiniminer was a team-based cooperative first person game that involved teams of players excavating precious minerals. It was developed by Zachtronics Industries and is the primary inspiration for Minecraft.
Markus began development on Minecraft on May 10, 2009 following Persson’s departure from King.com in order to spend more time working on his indie projects. Although Markus initially held a part-time job programming at Jalbum.net, he soon quit to work on Minecraft full-time. On May 17, 2009 the first playable version of Minecraft was released to the public.
Markus took quite a risk on working full-time on Minecraft due to its unorthodox financial model. He allowed people to buy the game while it was in alpha to help fund development. While it was a risky move, it definitely paid off for Marcus with the sales of Minecraft. At one point it surpassed sales of Starcraft 2 during a month in 2010.
Throughout the development of Minecraft, Markus kept a blog under his psuedonym “Notch” in order to solicit more feedback from fans. Over the next year, popularity of Minecraft continued to grow. It jumped dramatically when the game invaded Valve by the creators of the Half-Life games and the Steam Digital Distribution platform.
Over a year after the release of the first version of Minecraft, Markus announced that he would be using the money he made from Minecraft to form a development studio with some fellow Swedish game developers. The company they formed is known as Mojang, and has since moved Minecraft into beta and started work on an official iOS version of the game. Markus ‘Notch’ Persson started as a humble Flash Developer but has become an almost rockstar-like figure in the gaming industry. He recently gave a sp eech at GDC ab out piracy a nd announced Mojang’s second game, a digital trading card game called Scrolls.