If you ever looked at Mojang Studio’s Minecraft, and thought, that would be a perfect game for Lego, you are definitely not the first. In a new podcast series celebrating Lego’s 25th anniversary in games, we finally learned of a Minecraft-Lego collaboration that sadly never made it to reality. Games journalist Brian Crecente helps co-host Bits ‘n Bricks, and the first episode focuses on that particular coming together that could have given us Brickcraft.
While Mojang Studios was still in its infancy, it had something special as Minecraft marched towards its full release back in 2011. Lego was focused on pushing out its own Lego Universe at the same time. However, the similarities and potential for a partnership were there for all to see. It is under this premise that developers Markus “Notch” Persson and Daniel Kaplan tried reaching out to the Lego group.
As Bits ‘n Bricks goes into details, the final product was to be Brickcraft. It would have taken the design of Minecraft and the gameplay loop, but with a layer of the Lego aesthetic added. However, there was a key difference. Instead of building one block at a time, there was to be a mix of stuff to play with. Different shapes would have made the game more complicated, but also equally more room for creativity.
Notch began working on the first prototype of Brickcraft based off this idea. With the Lego bricks as a template, he successfully made a prototype that could generate terrain alongside the different shapes. This took place through a first-person perspective, where you could move around and place bricks however you like.
Yellow brick road
In fact, Notch shared more about this project back in 2011, under the codename of Project Rex Kwon Do. The project was greenlit, and two coders were brought on to work on the game. Unfortunately, within six months, it would be over. Mojang pulled the plug.
Great progress on Project Rex Kwon Do today. This is the clearest screenshot I can show: http://t.co/08Rbdkm
— Notch (@notch) September 7, 2011
The decision was made as the partnership would have stretched the Mojang team too much. With Lego having high expectations and equally high demands, the back and forth was not something the team felt was worthwhile pursuing Brickcraft. Instead of feeling like “consultants rather than the ones running the project,” Kaplan shared more about the doomed partnership.
Disagreements from adding scratches to the Lego bricks to too much interference from lawyers, it was too much to take. Brickcraft would have been too big a departure from Mojang and Notch’s vision for the game.
After the collapse of the collaboration, it was not the end. The Lego group considered briefly the idea of acquiring Mojang. The combination of Microsoft’s interest and the final $2.5 billion price put an end to those thoughts. Looking back at things now, it was a clear miss for the company. No one could have predicted the enormous success of Minecraft, but taking a gamble on the potential could have paid off handsomely. Brickcraft never came to be, but there are certainly shades of the idea in the world of Minecraft.
If you are interested to learn more, be sure to tune in to the entire episode. It is definitely worth a listen if you are invested in Minecraft and Lego.