Minecraft is a great game. I had the great privilege to write a little code for it: right place + right time + a bit of elbow grease = Sweet! Recently however, a large number of people have been cooking up their own code and want to have access to the source. Some of these mods are really neat! Some of them are barely strung together in to a half-working jumble. The real problem, though, is that mods require constant maintenance. When a new official release comes out, it will probably break all the mods, requiring a lot of work to keep them up to date.
So, why doesn’t Notch just let everyone have access to the source code and allow everyone to commit their own mods to the game? Then the game would get way better way faster, right? Well, there are a few problems with this.
- Some people are not good at coding. They can write mods that (barely) work, but are difficult to develop or maintain. This is like allowing your bum nephew to re-plumb your kitchen. It might work now, but when you have to fix it later you’re going to be really annoyed.
- Some mods don’t play well together. Even if they are well written internally, they may not have been designed with the overall architecture (and future development) of Minecraft in mind. Getting three people’s code to fit together is hard enough; with thirty (or hundreds) it would be a job in itself.
- Some people (actually, all people, but that’s not the point) are evil. Since you can’t tell who, you would have to either allow malicious additions to the game, or screen everyone’s contributions. Both are bad solutions.
Of course, Notch could just release the source code freely, not officially support mods, and leave it at that. This would essentially make Minecraft free for anyone to use, develop, and give away. Although this is pretty drastic, he has already promised to do just this when the game stops selling so well. So really, the question is if Mojang should let others contribute to the game development or not. Notch let me contribute, and I am grateful. But he doesn’t have to. No one is forcing him.
I’d hate to see Mojang bow to pressure and release the source of their cash cow at the height of its popularity. I’d also hate to see the modders locked out as second class citizens. Really, I think the modding community has just gotten started too soon. Wait until the game is fully developed and has stopped selling so well. Notch will release the source code then, and we can all make it into whatever we want.