A Positive Aura
Meet the team making a massive RPG in Minecraft!
When people describe themselves as ambitious, what they usually mean is that they want a high-paying job or to get out of helping us with the washing up. But those paltry aspirations pale in comparison to what the team behind Aurafall is attempting - a sprawling role-playing game built specifically for the Xbox One edition of Minecraft! It's bold enough to make even Elon Musk say: "oooh, that seems a bit much."
And when we catch up with the project's owner and lead builder, ARK Gunslinger (Joe to his friends), he explains that Aurafall isn't just a lush fantasy-themed world. It's also boasts a mighty selection of quests to pursue, dungeons to explore, and loot to collect. If you've ever played Skyrim, that all probably sounds pretty familiar.
"I'd say think of it as Skyrim but with the open-world and the ability to morph things to your vision," Joe tells us. "You can still build, you can still mine, just like you can in Minecraft. You can still craft everything, obviously. But with the added RPG element of questing, and loot-finding. You can also purchase your own plot spaces out in our world and build on them."
Take a look at the latest trailer below!
Currently, Joe and his team of builders are hard at work finishing up some of Aurafall's challenging dungeons and wiring up the complex redstone systems that will supply these spaces with loot. And although there's still an awful lot of building to do and lore to write, the team's hoping to launch Aurafall publicly sometime around Autumn. Getting to this stage wasn't easy.
"It started almost four and a half years ago, the idea, and that was with my brother Anthony," Joe explains. "We started off hashing out rules - what would define it as an RPG and not too much of a vanilla Minecraft experience."
The pair spent months building on this early version of Aurafall, huddled in front of the Xbox 360 edition of Minecraft and brainstorming ideas for the game's detailed backstory.
"So when Xbox One came out, we decided to start fresh. But little did we know that the next worlds - worlds 2 and 3 - after about a year each they had to end. They got corrupted…" Joe trails off as if reliving a traumatic memory. "Something crazy went wrong physically with the saves. We pressed on though!"
Even now, the result of all that perseverance is impressive. Much like a big-budget fantasy RPG, Aurafall lets you choose a character class with its own strengths and weaknesses, but Joe and his team are going further by letting players choose from a large number of occupations, too. You might want to pursue a career as a monster hunter, chasing down savage beasts for profit. Or perhaps you'd prefer the rustic life of a lumberjack.
"Pretty much any job you can think of, you can make money in the game for it," Joe says. Head to a major city and you'll find special merchant villagers that'll trade your monster pelts and freshly-chopped logs for precious emeralds.
"Any direction you travel, our goal is to add a point of interest out there."
And then there's the story that serves as backdrop to all your Aurafall antics: "So almost every dungeon, every point of interest you discover or find will have its own backstory to it," says Joe. "Ultimately, there is an overarching theme and story to the whole world, but everything's kind of broken up into its own environment."
How much you engage with that central storyline is ultimately up to you, but Joe and his team are beavering away to ensure there's plenty of dangling narrative threads for you to grab should you choose.
"Any direction you travel, our goal is to add a point of interest out there," says Joe. "Something to explore and something to do with a goal attached to it."
Making this for the console edition of Minecraft could actually work in Aurafall's favour, too: "We realised that the console edition doesn't have a lot of things of this much ambition on it. There aren't many groups that would go this far," Joe says. "I've seen build teams that build magnificent structures that go all out, but a lot of those build teams don't do what we're trying to do. And I'm hoping that we would be the first to raise that bar a bit for console. And in the end I guess that just became our goal: to pave the way."
So as you can see, Joe and his pals are an ambitious bunch! Currently, you can check out their work on the Aurafall website, or even join the Aurafall club on Xbox Live to keep track of development as it progresses. And if you're an ambitious sort yourself, you can even apply to help them out with the project.
"It was never really anything to do with ambition in the past," Joe tells us, with the characteristic humility of an incredibly ambitious person. "We just kind of set out like 'oh yeah, it's just a small RPG world for friends', and it grew from that."