It’s been an interesting couple of weeks in which to start thinking about building Portus in Minecraft. A fortnight ago, after a consultation with my nine year old Minecraft expert, and some reading around the subject I was about to recommend Bukkit to my colleagues as as the best way to set up a custom server, perhaps using some Rome specific modifications and textures (more on those later).
But, having closed my browser and headed off to the Archaeologies of Media and Film conference in Bradford (more on that, maybe in another post), unknown to me Bukkit was being taken off the internet. So when I came to look for it the following week, I couldn’t find it. What seems to have happened in that two of the main developers of the software had managed ot get a job with Mojang, the creators of Minecraft. And what the rest of the community had only just discovered was that they had also sold Bukkit itself to Mojang. One of the other developers (it seems, according to this link) isn’t sure that everything has played out fairly, and has invoked the United States’ Digital Millenium Copyright Act, to have the software removed from public availability (and I guess to make things difficult for its new owners).
This of course was pretty concurrent with hearing that Microsoft was interested in purchasing Mojang, and I wondered whether Mojang recruiting the Bukkit team was to make themselves more attractive to Microsoft. I think I was right in that speculation, because earlier this week Microsoft’s purchase was officially announced, along with the news that Notch, the main developer of Minecraft, and two partners were leaving the company. I wish them well in their future endevours, and hope they enjoy spending their share of the very impressive reported price.
So, where will Minecraft go now? Some have been quick to portend doom and gloom, but I prefer to wait and see.
Now back to Portus. We’re not the first to think about creating ancient Roman civilizations in Minecraft. Romecraft is an ever expanding community/set of projects with similar aims, they’ve already produced texture packs for “Germania,” “Roma” and “Aegyptus”, and built two role-play Minecraft Servers, and right now there is a project going on to recreate Pompeii.