In the first of (hopefully) many live developer Q&As for Oort Online, Wonderstruck Games developers Robert Wyle and Ben Furneaux took to Twitch to discuss many of the upcoming features for their voxel-based sandbox MMORPG, plus where they stand in the genre as a whole.
Particularly interesting was their stance on the inevitable comparison to the sandbox juggernaut, Minecraft. Where so many developers strive to distance themselves from such comparisons, Wonderstruck embraces them as a compliment. But while Furneaux sees Minecraft as an inspiration, he doesn’t see it as a limitation on where Oort Online can go:
Of course people are going to compare Oort Online to Minecraft. Why wouldn’t they? It’s a voxel game. The most popular voxel game in the world is Minecraft… But if you can have one game which has a very specific set of complimentary mechanics like crafting, building and fighting and have a convention, Minecon, dedicated to that one game, then that game is popular enough that there is a space to explore.
We spent a lot of time this weekend [at i52] talking about things that we wanted to do. Things that we knew other games wouldn’t be able to do, like ‘slopey’ blocks. In order to add ‘slopey’ blocks to your environment [in existing voxel games], you would have to regenerate every single world there was. You can’t do it. It’s impossible, you’d break mods. There’s just too much to change there.
There’s a lot we want to explore. There’s so many opportunities, so we don’t mind the comparisons to Minecraft because it’s an awesome game. But at the same time we want everyone to know that we are really, really doing new stuff and we’re so passionate about exploring the opportunities.
We played Terraria and Minecraft and so many games and all we saw were all the opportunities to do new stuff. We weren’t sitting there going, “Oh well, let’s copy that and that.” That’s not how it works at all.
It’s a refreshing take towards a topic that developers would typically prefer left off-table. In a lot of ways, Wonderstruck’s willingness to embrace Oort’s inspirations and acknowledge competitors is indicative of not only their love for the genre but also their commitment to deliver a voxel sandbox MMO unlike anything we have yet to play.
Contemplating the voxel sandbox genre’s relative youth, Furneaux went on to liken Oort Online’s potential to that of some of the earliest first-person shooter games — the ones that have defined the genre to this day. Being one of the first ten voxel games to hit the market, Oort is in a similar position. There are countless features yet to be created, further explored or refined. He has no doubt that there is still plenty of room for Oort Online to find its own space and establish itself as a pioneer alongside Minecraft.
The Q&A in its entirety is an interesting watch and is available via Oort Online’s Twitch VOD archive. We encourage you to take a peek for everything Furneaux and Wyle had to say.