Cube World Resurfaces for Full Release

Well, this isn’t what I thought I’d be posting today. Frankly I didn’t think there would ever be occasion to talk about Cube World ever again except possibly in passing. But, well, here we are:

A release trailer?!?

If you’re unfamiliar with the history, Cube World came into some degree of fame during the Minecraft craze with early videos and screenshots looking like an amazing mix of Minecraft and Zelda. There was a huge generated world with regions, cities, towns, dungeons and more.

Eventually it ‘came out’ in the form of a paid for Alpha in 2013. It received one update a couple of weeks post this launch and then… Nothing. Radio silence.

The game as it existed could still be used as a vehicle for some fun. And some people perhaps rather doggedly did exactly that. But it would also be fair to say that what was there was very… Bare bones.

As the months ticked up without word, reaching the year mark, and then yet more months still… People begun to believe — as you would, I know I did — that it was an abandoned project. Wollay — the developer of Cube World — had always been somewhat reserved, but hadn’t struck me as someone who would grab the cash and run. Some people did come to this conclusion though and the fallout was probably about as toxic at points as you can imagine.

Eventually news did come, in the form of additional screenshots here or from time to time another video showing a new feature or significant tweak that had been added. But they were sporadic. At times with 2 year intervals between.

So seeing the release trailer announcement today was really quite something. I don’t even know I have quite the same tastes in games as I did when I was hyped through the roof for this thing. I rather suspect I’m now less interested in playing the game than I am in seeing Noclip doing a documentary with Wollay on the development of the game.

I don’t know if we’ll ever get that degree of insight, but earlier in the month Wollay posted to his own blog1 — the first in 6 years. In his own words, “As some of you might remember, we got DDoS’ed as soon as we opened the shop. It might sound silly, but this event traumatized me and kind of broke something inside me.” Wollay always struck me as the quietly passionate type so this more than tracks. It is easy to imagine the pain and anguish that would arise from having something you love — finally being shared with the world for the first time — after years of toil, being greeted in this fashion.

To be sure, it had fans that loved the game — but it is very easy to get lost in the moment when such things happen.

Wollay went on to say, “I never told anyone about it, and I don’t want to go into the details, but I’m dealing with anxiety and depression ever since.”

Every time he felt close to releasing an update to the alpha, he would be overcome by a fear that it wasn’t good enough. And so he’d go back to work, sometimes redoing systems several times over before feeling ready to move on to something else.

I struggle to imagine the degree of mental fortitude required to keep going in these conditions, and to reach a point of releasing what Wollay describes as “basically Cube World 2.0” to the world.

So even though I’m unsure how much time I’ll end up giving Cube World here in 2019, I can’t help but to appreciate the fact that it exists, and is coming soon. So from me — a huge, huge degree of kudos for Wollay for the mental stamina on display. In not only persisting with the work on the title — but even in sharing what detail you felt you could on what happened behind the scenes.

Thank-you.

If like me, you bought into the Alpha way back in 2013 — you will have a Steam key waiting for you in your Picroma account. You can activate it now for the beta which will start 23 September, and the retail release lands with us 30 September.

Gaming Addiction

Roger recently posted on the topic of WHO declaring Gaming Addiction as a recognised disorder. It’s an interesting topic and still one subject of much debate. As you might expect, the ESA is up in arms about it — but even within the profession, it is by no means a decided matter. The DSM-5 notes it as an area worthy of further investigation, but without sufficient evidence to categorically state it is a condition in and of itself as opposed to a further symptom of other underlying issues.

Although it is possibly worthy of note that the DSM-5 was published in 2013, and there have been additional years of study since.

Roger’s post already talks through some of the potential issues with this becoming a recognised disorder and I noted some others in my reply comment but the topic has stuck with me in the days since. And in particular that my initial response possibly lacked a certain degree of care and empathy. It was by and large reflective of a younger-Nait’s way of thinking, a less-informed-Nait’s way of thinking.

I can claim no particular expertise on the topic from a professional standpoint. I have no way of knowing whether my own experience is typical or atypical. Nor can I absolutely claim it would have met the diagnostic criteria set out by the WHO.

But as implied by that paragraph — I have been through a time in my life where I suspect I would have met the criteria.

The False Alarm

Before getting to that — there was another time in my life when I was not addicted, but nonetheless my Mother was worried enough to send me along to a psychotherapist for a chat over it. Luckily I had a good one who listened and understood, so it was a positive overall experience regardless. But it could have been worse and I share the worry Roger expressed of parents equating a lot of gaming with problem gaming.

Essentially, I’m very far along the ‘Introvert’ end of the Introvert / Extrovert scale. I had friends at school — and Mum knew this, as I both had them visit and I visited them on fairly regular basis — but I still needed a lot of me time to recharge after the average day of school or in preparation for such an event.

Gaming was not only a hobby, but it was my vehicle for gaining that necessary social charge. Plus of course, the fact I loved it in and of itself too. It was fun.

So I did it every available moment — which I suppose is where Mum’s concern came in, despite the other healthy indicators. Also of note here, when I say ‘available moment’ that is not meaning that I put aside school homework / projects. I did my work, I studied, I did pretty well — if I may say so myself.

I maintained social contacts (offline) as noted and so overall was very much not letting gaming run my life. Just my free time. (Incidentally, Asheron’s Call was a part of it at this point in my life too!)

Probably the Real Deal

Later on though, after I’d left home something did change.

I was now at University, studying Computer Science. First year was pretty good — I remember getting an A+ in CompSci 101 and being pretty pleased with myself. Math 108 I think I only got a B+, but even that I was OK with given my general dislike for Math. Heck I even joined the student council that year.

Second year, I started down the path of falling off the rails.

I started prioritising raiding in WoW (on a US schedule, whilst living in NZ) over attending classes. I prioritised playing over getting out with the friends I’d made the year before.

Projects were given a backseat, any work I deemed as optional (i.e., I thought I could reach the mandatory class percentages without it) were not done.

In short, I did the bare minimum to not fail. And I did that only grudgingly. When I did attend lectures, or tutorial classes I was always giving thought to being back at home and playing more WoW.

Worse still, at the time I was lying to my family about my attendance and sometimes going to lengths to achieve the deception such as leaving the house by car in the morning only to return when I knew the house would be empty again.

This carried on for the better part of a year — and it is only the fact it was less than 12 months in duration that make me doubt it would have met the current WHO criteria. The criteria state a duration of 12 or more months unless driving especially severe consequences.

I was fortunate. Very fortunate. While I tanked my GPA to be sure, I maintained a pass grade in all classes (barely). On the home front it certainly caused tensions with my now-Wife, then-Partner. As even after Uni hours, I still wanted to do very little else but play WoW.

Here’s where the diagnosis might be key…

…And partly why I cannot say for sure whether my experience was typical or not.

As bad as my behaviour was — I always knew that for me it was a choice. It was something I was doing to myself and to others. It was a selfish and terrible choice, but it was one nonetheless.

In my case at least, I don’t feel that I was under the thrall of some disease and therefore had no agency (or blame) in the matter.

I don’t mean to say it was an easy set of choices to start reversing — because it wasn’t. Not by a long shot. I’d put it on par as being at least as difficult as establishing a new set of habits around eating or exercise for someone not used to maintaining these disciplines.

I was helped too, in a way, by there coming a tipping point wherein the obvious upset I was causing my partner — someone I still loved very much through the gaming haze — was simply not worth the in-the-moment transient joy of playing the game.

In fact, thinking on it further… I’m unsure I would have possessed the strength of will and necessary discipline to change my behaviour otherwise.

Huh.

And with that realisation, I wonder if I otherwise would have even sought to change my habits. Or what the trigger might have been. Or whether I would then have required professional help.

Another way I have been lucky…

…Is that unlike substance addictions or the other behavioural addiction currently recognised (gambling), it hasn’t been necessary in my case to cut gaming entirely from my life.

I have no way of knowing whether this is going to be the typical experience or not.

But once I set the proper checks and balances back into place, and even more importantly — made sure I clearly understood my priorities?

Gaming has been able to make a full return as my means of recharging my social batteries. I can still enjoy it as a hobby without it taking over. I’ve even been able to return to raiding in WoW without letting the game run rampant over my life. (Although of course part of this was switching to an Oceanic timezone, too!)

I guess in closing just a final word to a couple of different groups…

To the parents of kids who game: Long hours alone does not a problem make. Not if they’re still meeting their other school commitments and getting the sleep and exercise they need to remain healthy. It’s OK for kids to be introverted and need time alone. If they need this — let them have it. At the end of the day, the key questions are: Are they happy? Are they healthy? If yes — then try not to worry.

…To anyone who thinks they might have a problem: I think you will know. That you wonder it is quite likely indicator enough. If you are sacrificing your health to play more, if you are sacrificing your offline relationships to play more — it’s time to really buckle down and make a change. And just like a personal trainer or nutritionist can help you stay motivated and sticking to your health goals — seeking help from a professional might just be the best thing to keep you on track with the necessary changes here.

This need not come at cost, either. If you can’t afford professional help — there are any number of avenues to check down. Employed? Check in with your EAP (Employee Assistance Program). If you’re at school, approach the school counselor. In the US, check out this link. In New Zealand? This one.

There will almost certainly be a page similar to these for your own country if you live elsewhere. Just look for it now while its top of mind.