Minecraft

Our First Marketplace Release

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Our first Marketplace release, our first lessons.

We released our first piece of content to the Marketplace after developing for over 6 months. We learnt a few things along the way, and now we do Minecraft a wee bit better.

Part of a community.

Playing Minecraft has always been about creating. Creating countless blocky worlds to explore, beautiful textures to color them, mobs and entities to populate them, and stories to fill them. As professional content creators for Minecraft we find that we spend more time out of the game than we do in it. Not just in the business side of the job, but also in the creative side.

Minecraft content is created these days using tools like GIMP, Photoshop, Aseprite, VSCode, C4D/Blender, and more. However, we also heavily rely on community created custom Minecraft tools like Blockbench, Bridge, MCC Toolchest, Amulet, Mineways, World Painter, and also tools for the Java servers like World Edit, FAWE, Voxel Sniper, Builder Utilities, Arceon, GoPaint, GoBrush and more. These tools would not exist without the millions of untold contributors to the game since it blew on to the gaming scene at the beginning of this decade. Many are still around today, having grown from teenagers into adults, developing amazing game design, programming and creative careers in the process. We are happy to say that we have been a part of this community throughout those years, growing alongside these amazing peoples.

Piki Studios joined the Minecraft Marketplace around a year ago and have enjoyed getting to know even more of the Minecraft community personally. We have had the opportunity to support these amazing people directly through sponsorship and becoming Patreon supporters, and perhaps even through contributing ourselves via bug reporting and testing the tools during our content development cycle. We want to acknowledge that we simply would not be able to create the content we do without the continued development of these community created tools, and want to thank everyone in the community for all the work you do.. tirelessly.. so that we in turn can create content for everyone else.

He mihi tēnei ki a koutou mā e tautoko ana i te kaupapa nei.. Kei te mihi, kei te mihi!

Creating what we want. Creating what they want.

At the start of 2020, the crew count for Piki Studios was 1. By March that year we had over 10 people in trials for work with us, one Manager (Marc Villanueva), and dreams of designing not just great Minecraft content, but great gaming content in general. We spent many weeks doing game design sessions, playing popular content in Minecraft and games from platforms like Steam and Origin. We really took ourselves seriously, and set our goals high. Not long after, Marc applied as a partner to the Partner Program and became the first Pilipino Marketplace partner in the world! He created Kubo Studios and assembled a team of amazing creators very quickly, and pumped out some amazing content that gained awesome reviews and great feedback from the rest of the community. We hired two amazing young people, 3exu and Zipix, who would go on to become the core team for Piki Studios, and be the drive for several of our biggest projects we have undertaken. These two are without a doubt the most talented creators I have worked with.. ever.

During 2020 we have had up to 12 pieces of content under development in one form or another, with some being as simple as changing the vanilla entities into cubes, to sprawling RPG style adventures that cross an entire continent. Somewhere during the year, we realized that despite our heavy development cycle we were nowhere near releasing any content in the Marketplace. We called a meeting to discuss our projects and decided that we needed to get some content out ASAP. We discussed which of our projects might be best for first release, with many being advanced in development, but decided on a map idea that had largely gone undeveloped: Mega Lucky Skyblocks. This map started out as a joke. A satire of the hyperbole that is often seen in children's content to stimulate the interest in a world full of interesting looking things. We plucked out the two most popular content subjects in Minecraft (Skyblocks and Lucky blocks), smooshed them together and then added the obligatory MEGA to the start of it.

We already had some tested concepts around the idea and so started development that day. The build was fairly straight forward, and gave us an opportunity to use all the experience we had gained over the previous months of development. Things like player scale, pathing, texturing, soft and hard borders etc.. The Mechanics proved to be a much much harder exercise. We had only just established our core group of 3 creatives and it fell on me (Whetu - FETXU) to learn how Minecraft works via the inbuilt scripting tools and components in a much deeper way than we had needed to in the past. I set my self to the task with probably far too much seriousness, and essentially overbaked the solutions to our project in one way or another. After 2 frustrating months of rapid learning based largely off trial and error we finally completed our first piece of content.

It wasn't what we had planned for all those months ago. It was not what we had imagined would be our first piece of content. So with an expected nervousness we submitted our content, picked a release date and waited for that fateful day of release.

The day of release came and we all restarted the Minecraft client constantly for several hours (we did not know the time the Marketplace Store released new content) and eventually got distracted by work we needed to do on other projects. All of a sudden, we realized the Marketplace had been refreshed and there was our first piece of content! In the sidekick spot of all places!! We were in the first 5 pieces of content that a player would see when visiting the Marketplace! We were over the moon to say the least, as this spot would put MEGA LUCKY SKYBLOCKS in a great position for sales. Over the next week we saw our piece get over 1000 ratings and over 10,000 downloads. This was an amazing success for our first piece of content, and we enjoyed the buzz around it for a few weeks more.

What we realized after watching the success of this piece was that sometimes we need to acknowledge the audience that we are creating for. Sometimes we need to compromise on our internal creative standards to get something into our audiences hands. Sometimes we just need to take ourselves a little less seriously and have fun making the games that we hope will bring fun and happiness to others.

Sometimes.. just sometimes.. we need to create for other people.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

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