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Let’s talk about clones, baby

February 22nd, 2012

Terraria is dead, long live Terraria.

Terraria is one of those games I admired at a distance. I own it but never took the time to play it fearing it would consume what was left of my ever dwindling free time. However, I admired it.

Of all the conversation to come out of this turn of events it was this article on Free Gamer prompted me to write. The TL:DR (“Too long, didn’t read”) version is that there will be clone projects, and if you’re planning on starting a clone project you shouldn’t just clone it but try to bring something new to the table. Now I agree wholeheartedly that you should bring something new to the table. In fact for this point alone the original article is worth the read. But I think the article is ignoring a couple of points:

  1. Terraria was, itself, a clone bringing something new to the table. It was Minecraft in 2D but it stood out because it wasn’t simply Minecraft in 2D. In fact some would argue the relationship but, trust me, Minecraft was the primary source of inspiration for Terraria, that’s simply lost because it makes no attempt to look like minecraft. So Terraria is itself a fine example of innovating when you imitate.
  2. If there were going to be clone projects they wouldn’t have been waiting around for this announcement. Since there aren’t a bunch of clones I doubt there will be now.
  3. Terraria’s regular updates were the key to it’s success.

So, no, I don’t foresee any freeware Terraria clones in the future. But like I said, the article kinda skims off that point and dives into how to properly clone and I feel it’s worth your time. In fact his ideas can be applied to any creative process since there are allegedly no original ideas in the world out there anyways.

I don’t blame Andrew Spinks aka Redigit for wanting to cut ties with a project that to properly maintain you’d need to devote your life to. Unless you’re independently wealthy or your game is making you Minecraft millions so you can open your own studio it is just not feasible for most people. (Tangentially I’ve just decided to slip “Minecraft millions” into any relevant conversation I can.) I happen to have some small experience with something similar. There comes a point where you have to say you’re life is more important. But take my word Mr. Spinks, it will plague you. It will haunt you. It will forever be in the back of your mind what you want to do with it. Believe me.

Funny thing is I had an idea about a week about how to prolonging the life of a commercial project like Terraria indefinitely that would require less of your time but produce possibly better results depending on the popularity of the project. However this is already running long so I’ll set that up as another update…

To be continued…

One Response to “Let’s talk about clones, baby”

  1. Joe

    In retrospect that title might lead you to believe I was going to talk about the rash of video game clones in the disposable medium of mobile and social gaming. Sorry if I caused any confusion.

    For the record I haven’t chimed in on that conversation because there’s so much gray area it’s becoming hard to remember there was ever color. There are clear bad guys in some cases but in others there’s not. There are others discussing this with much more eloquence than I can muster so I’ll let them discuss it.


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