Noxcrew talk about their amazing Marketplace maps
Marketplace is new to Pocket and Windows 10 - for the first time it offers a way to browse, buy, download and play community content from within the game itself. Over the next few weeks we’ll be showcasing some of the cool stuff people have made for the launch! You can go check it out right now by clicking here!
“Some of our best ideas start with us coming up with the most ridiculous name for something, and then trying to figure out what how that could be turned into a map,” says Joe ‘Avondale’ Arsenault - who along with Stefan ‘Noxite’ Panic helms famed Minecraft crewator outfit Noxcrew. You may know the name, or at least you should: Noxcrew are responsible for, among many other things, one of the most smartest adventure maps to date, Terra Swoop Force - a thrilling descent into the centre of the Earth, unexpectedly bookended with a hilarious story. Now they’ve brought four stellar maps to Marketplace, full of fancy bespoke features, absurdist wit and fun.
“Destructobot 5000 is the perfect example,” says Joe. “The entire map was created because of that name! Even when you look at the enemies that you fight in the map. Stefan said he felt like we needed a mini-boss, and I said, ‘How about Minius Bossius?’ and he started laughing!”
“So we just went with it!” says Stefan. The result is an imposing robot in a city-slicker suit, with a pompadour haircut and two massive boxing gloves. It’s just one ludicrous visual gag in a rapidfire succession of silliness and smashy action.
“Destructobot 5000 is this map where you mount this massive mech-suit thing and defend the world from an invasion of these robots that have filled in the city,” explains Stefan. “And as you’re walking around the city, Destructobot is talking to you, giving you silly status updates on his progress throughout the mission. ‘Turn left at the next crossing!’ Little jokes like that.”
“We even made him beatbox,” adds Joe, still giggling. “I think the number one focus for our projects has always been fun and wacky first but making sure the gameplay is solid too,” says Joe. “I think we’ve managed to pull that off.”
They certainly have. Destructobot 5000 is some of the most joyous custom-made chaos I’ve ever experienced in Minecraft - but it’s not just throwaway jokes and robotic fistfights. It’s really noticeable how cleverly it’s been tailored to work on portable platforms, too.
“We definitely tried to tailor the gameplay to being able to play it five minutes at a time and not having it detract from your experience,” says Joe.
Stefan agrees. “Before we even began thinking about what themes we were gonna go with, we tried to figure out what felt fun and intuitive on Pocket Edition, focusing on how the player was going to control whatever they were doing. There’s a different style of how people play Minecraft on Pocket Edition. You can just take it out wherever you are, like on a subway or on the street, and play for ten minutes, then put it back in your pocket and carry on with it later. Which is not something you can typically do with the PC if you’re out and about, right?”
It’s true of their second Marketplace map, too - Adventurer’s Dream.
“The idea was to try to take every fairytale fantasy theme, exaggerate them, build on them, and cram them all into this one cohesive seamless world,” says Stefan. “You can just travel in any direction for a couple of minutes, and move from a snowscape, to a desert, to dwarven mines - and you’ll always find something to do. Like you’ll find a dungeon with its own little gameplay mechanics inside it and discover treasure at its end. It’s the kind of map that we envision people playing for hours and hours - but ten minutes at a time.”
As well as being a substantial experience - there are ten dungeons you need to complete to reach the end of the main questline - it’s an intensely detailed world, too. You can easily pass through an area five or six times and still spot new things in it each time.
“There’s so much stuff, you’re just constantly getting distracted,” says Stefan. “We’ve completely reskinned all the mobs and redone some of the models and behaviours as well to try and fit into the fantasy world. Each different area has its own different monsters and theme. We made chickens into dragon whelps!”
“They will mess you up!” says Joe, laughing. “They are not fun.”
The two other maps are smaller offerings - a test to see what players respond to best. Both are survival spawns. Dustville takes inspiration from the Old West - a densely-built township of saloons and stables that you can populate or remake as you see fit.
“It’s really interesting to start a survival journey in a mesa biome because it’s just that bit more barren than a regular biome,” says Stefan.
“You get barely any wood, but all the gold you could possibly imagine,” Joe adds.
Stefan describes their other survival spawn, Fallen Keep: “We picked out a really nice seed and built a castle on top of this big mountain range. Then we just kind of ruined it, really breaking it down and leaving behind these little foundations.”
“We wanted to inspire the player to try and make those foundations into whatever they want,” Stefan says. “I think there’s this human trait that we all have where if we see something that’s not quite right and we have the ability to fix it, then we will, you know? We’ve left it in this vague broken state so that the way that you fix it is completely up to you.”
These four maps will not be the last we see of Noxcrew on Marketplace, you can be sure. Stefan suggests that what they’re working on next will dwarf any of their initial offerings - and their success on Marketplace has given the freedom they needed to embark on something yet more ambitious.
“I hope that we can really show what we can do with Minecraft and prove to people that this is the best thing for the map-making community that could have possibly happened,” says Stefan. “It’s re-energised our creative spark in a few of us for sure,” says Joe. “Without spoiling the project that we want to do next, I can say that we really want to pursue bringing the kind of mini-games that we make in a more mobile setting.”
“Here’s where me and Joe are different people - in a good way,” Stefan interjects. “Because I really love adventure maps and Joe really likes mini-games.”
“And the best thing about our working relationship is neither one of us is satisfied until we’re happy with the other one’s work!” says Joe. “Which means we spend the last two to three weeks of every project alone in a channel on Teamspeak screaming at each other - but we come out on the other side with something great!”
Keep on screaming, I say.
You can find Noxcrew’s awesome maps by going straight into the in-game Marketplace here