I’m a little conflicted about this. While I certainly wasn’t in the very early alpha for Minecraft, it now feels as if I was playing it before it become a major explosion in the larger community. For me, that was late-2010 or maybe a bit earlier. I remember only because the podcast I was producing at the time had several episodes on it and many of us were talking about the then-upcoming The Walking Dead premier and the official beta status of Minecraft at the same time.
Which is not to write that Terraria is Minecraft. It’s clearly not. However, it does many of the same things and capitalizes on many of the same actions the genre, if there can be said to be one, does: deconstruction of the environment and building things out of collected parts. At least in the couple of sessions I’ve had with Terraria, it also seems more combat focused than I remember my times with Minecraft being. And it also seems as dense too.
That’s actually what I liked about those early times with Minecraft. People were still figuring things out and new techniques were being developed and disseminated every day. I was constantly reading about new worlds, buildings, and creations. It was all fresh and very exciting. I was spending hours every night split between my own collection of structures and those I was helping to build on a multiplayer server. There was a connection to a community for me.
And then, as it always seems to happen, I slowly lost interest. The podcast I was doing with some friends was coming up on its first year anniversary and we were losing steam with the banality it had become for us. The same community of people I had enjoyed playing with had rebooted their server and were now asking for people to come back and build again. Everything I had spent weeks putting together was gone. We stopped talking about Minecraft altogether soon afterward.
That’s the baggage I bring to something like Terraria, and also why I am so conflicted about it. Especially in this recorded session, I was rather bored at times. While fighting the zombies added some degree of tension, I would have much rather spent that time building things and learning about how the different systems interacted with each other. That’s always where these types of games shine and I’ve gotten very little of that in my time with Terraria.
I also get the feeling I would probably like it more once I understood how many of the parts worked together, but I’m also not interested enough to invest in what I can only imagine are many hours of dying and being frustrated to gain some degree of mastery in a game I know none of my friends are playing — or will probably ever play. For worse, at least for me, Terraria is too similar to Minecraft for me not to just generate a new world, play a little bit, and then have my Minecraft fix met for weeks if not months met. I already know those worlds and how they work. There is very little reason to adjust to a new game when I still have access to the old one.