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Interviews

Minecraft Xbox 360: memory limits, mods, splitscreen and free updates

OXM talks building blocks with 4J Studios' Roger Carpenter

The thought of Minecraft on Xbox 360 remains a mind-blowing one, months after Mojang announced the port with 4J Studios at the helm. Here's a title that carries the torch for independent PC gaming - a bubbling sandbox adventure cum world-builder that created its own development and funding model - spreading its boughs across console's walled garden.

Minecraft is vast in both physical scale and possibility. 10 minutes in, you're just a guy with a pickaxe; a few dozen hours later, you could be standing atop a hand-cut cathedral, filled with cuboid sheep. The quick-fix thrills offered by other downloadable titles cling to this one's pixelly magnitude like limpets to a sperm whale. What on earth is it doing here? How will Xbox Live Arcade ever manage to contain it? For answers, OXM's patrician Jon Hicks dug his way through Microsoft Spring Showcase crowds to Roger Carpenter, lead producer.

So functionally this is the same as the PC version, right?

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It's Minecraft as you know and love it. It's not the same version number as the existing Minecraft. When we started development, Mojang, 4J Studios and ourselves discussed what level playing ground we should take the port from. The version number is 1.6.6, which is kind of still "beta" in Minecraft speak, so that's the level playing ground. Compared to what the PC version can do now it's not exactly the same, but in all aspects it's Minecraft.

There was talk of changes to Microsoft's update process to accommodate the number of tweaks you'd need to make to Minecraft - I recall reading an Edge article on the subject. Is that still the plan?

There's no change in [Microsoft's] policy, absolutely no change in policy, but it's an unusual product in that we can see exactly what updates we need to do. Normally a game releases, and then you bug-fix it with updates. Whereas with Minecraft we can see all the way up to the latest version on PC, and therefore we can plan and say we're going to do an update that's going to take this long, to bring it from 1.6.6 to whatever the latest version may be. We're going to plan it out - is that OK with the platform? It's not a free update, it has to go through all the usual processes and stuff, there's no streamlining - it's just understood in advance.

It wasn't that people kicked off, but we knew that was going to get posted about, and people were going to raise eyebrows at it. And the Edge article wasn't incorrect, but it wasn't the whole story. We're committed to update Minecraft on Xbox 360.

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What version will it be at launch?

It's a continually moving goalpost. We can only climb to 1.2 at the moment, but Mojang are going to keep taking it further and further. I would like to say we'll get closer and closer over time, but it's not just down to us. It takes a certain amount of time to do the work that we've done. And it takes a certain amount of time to do the additional updates. Even though you can see everything laid out in front of you, some of the updates are massive - they significantly change how the game works. They're epic, potentially, a complete redesign of what we've got already.

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But you're prepared to do all that.

It's all part and parcel of what Minecraft is. We're in it for the long haul.

You're adding multiplayer, including PvP. How does that work?

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