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Interview: Tuning Minecraft for smartphones with Mojang's Daniel Kaplan

Shorter day cycles and control tweaks

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Product: Minecraft - Pocket Edition | Developer: Mojang | Publisher: Mojang | Genre: Adventure, Brain training | Networking: wireless (adhoc)
Minecraft - Pocket Edition Android, thumbnail 1
Minecraft Pocket Edition is an intriguing little thing. Unlike many mobile games, but similar to its PC counterpart, it was released as an alpha build, and is slowly being built up with feature upon feature.

Initially, it contained just the sandbox creative mode that was the original Minecraft all those years ago, but was recently updated to feature a slimmed-down version of the classic Survival mode.

On tune

Daniel Kaplan, Mojang's business developer, today told Pocket Gamer that the team is working on tuning the Survival mode to make it more compatible with mobile gaming players, compared to PC gamers.

"We have tuned the timing of stuff - HP (health), amount of hits needed, the day/night cycle," he explained.

"A day [in Pocket Edition] is shorter compared to the PC version," he continued, although he noted that "the days and nights are equally long - but we intend to change that too."

"We're tweaking this because we think that people on touch-devices will get more done in the shorter span."

Touch and go

In Pocket Gamer's review of the Android version of Minecraft PE, we noted that the touch-screen controls aren't up to much snuff, especially compared to the PC version.

Kaplan told us that Mojang is "looking at them [the controls] all the time", although he admited that he "doesn't know how they will evolve." Hopefully we'll see alternative solutions over the coming months.

The Pocket Edition recently hit 1 million downloads in total - an incredible feat, given that the app is relatively expensive compared to the average game on both the App Store and Google Play.

Kaplan hopes that it will become just as popular as the PC version, although he says that it "has a long way to go before we can say that... we will see when we introduce the PE specific parts!"

Part and parcel

And what of those "specific parts" - can he divulge any secrets to us?

"Cant tell anything yet," he answers. "We are still experimenting and don't want to talk about stuff if they won't be in the game."

Finally, we're intrigued to know how mods would work in the Pocket Edition of Minecraft - how exactly will users be able to download mods for the game in the future?

Kaplan admits after a dramatic pause for effect, "I dont know right now how it would work..." That's a sad, frowny face from us right there.

Reviewer photo
Mike Rose 20 March 2012
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