Season 1, Episode 9 – “Tropes”

We take a look at flow, Mizzle II, and announce the (quiet) release of Simburbia! We’re joined by rsmalec, the map reviewer extraordinaire for a roundtable discussion on tropes in Minecraft custom maps.

Editor’s note: Apologies for the late arrival of this podcast. The audio recording may also include some desyncing issues. We’ve been working for hours to manually clear them up.

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We’re now available on iTunes! Search the store for “Limited Engagement” in the Podcast section!

Hosts: Moesh, nickflame20, MaxSizeis, and neonerZ
Guest: rsmalec
Time: Friday, August 15nd, 2014 at Midnight EST
Music: Ramen Remix by Michael Aranda
Image: Render by ApexGamester


  • 00:01:07 – Introduction
  • 00:01:22 – Editorial from Moesh
  • 00:02:07 – Host introductions

Response from Community Challenge

From the Mouth of Mojang

Media Updates

Map Releases

Roundtable Discussion

  • 01:21:45– Tropes


  • 01:48:45Community Challenge: Play a custom map. Identify the tropes used in the map. Be as descriptive as you please.
  • 01:50:30– Closing words

Additional Resources

  • Add “mdaligulv” on Skype to get added to the Crit.Map chat, a group which supports and connects novice map makers!



    1. This happened because we wanted to release the podcast. It takes an extra 20 minutes or so to go through. We experienced a lot of audio issues this week. Sorry about that!

      1. Oh I understand, I just wanted to leave this here so you don’t get 70 comments of the same thing.

  1. Yeah, I couldn’t finish a map because I kinda didn’t have a computer. I had just left for college, and hadn’t gotten my school laptop yet. 🙁

  2. Community Challenge response:

    A map series many people have heard of is Captive Minecraft, by The Farlanders. The third map in the series seemed to have an underlying “Escape the dungeon” trope going for it. While previous maps gave players a feeling of free reign, Captive Minecraft III starts the player deep underground, in a dungeon. If you manage to work your way all the way to the top, you get a happy little island. I think this was a really good way to give the players a sense of freedom and victory after escaping the dark wet dungeon. The map managed to execute the whole “you’re trapped in a dungeon, escape from it!” theme very well.

  3. Sorry for being late, I was kinda busy.

    Anyway, I played the topmost map on the forums at the time:

    This map… It’s kinda buggy, and lacks in tons of places. But for tropes:

    – It tells me where I am, although you can easily figure it out by your environment. Don’t do that…
    – The story isn’t really there. You’re locked up in rooms, and you need to find your way. Like all puzzle maps, you’re just locked up and need to find a way out. No reasoning, nothing.
    – When you finish the map, there’s the sign saying it ended. If the map ends, you should know that, unregarding a sign saying “this was it, thanks for playing”
    – Don’t cheat rule
    – You got to know what to do by either reading it, or it just doesn’t tell you. Puzzles should be about exploring your environment, there should never be a guide saying “push these buttons in the right order to get out”.
    – Parcour (with long iteration cycles too). Why does every map use parcour as a filler? The map would be better if you didn’t have to jump on random fences every now and then. And if you do parcour, don’t let players take a while to get back on track after they failed.
    – It’s crafted without considering the player not knowing things. There’s one puzzle, that when you finish it, opens up a door out of the players sight. You need to run back a few rooms to find it. I’ve seen this a lot in maps, make sure it’s always clear something has triggered.
    – Room based. There’s almost a sign saying the puzzle started.
    – Button based puzzles, where the input is clear, and whenever you do the input in a random correct order, you win.

  4. Tropes in Simburbia:
    *** Item collection quests. There are a number of quests in Simburbia that follow the tried and true trope of item collections. They give you a list of items either in book form or not where you have cryptic clues (or no clues at all) to find each item, bring them back and submit them for a reward. It’s an easy mechanic and I’m sure that’s why he used it since it also makes the game artificially hard since the play field changes depending on the actions of the player… Which actually is a trope in itself, Fake Difficulty because the quest is reliant somewhat on luck for some items, indeed this can frustrate players.
    ***Easter Egg tropes. There are hundreds of easter eggs in Simburbia ranging from text references to item references from a myriad of source materials including weird al songs and even this here podcast. They’re sort of like inside jokes which makes let’s plays interesting because the comment box is filled with different people identifying with the one they noticed.
    ***Emergent Story. The city is yours, and because of the choices you make and the random disasters that occur, the story of each persons city is different. Indeed what happens within it too, the different villagers interracting with each other can create a story like what can happen with rsmalec and his Slave trading situation, or firerockerstudios where he didn’t fix the abandonment issues and his cash slowly spiraled out of control and ended up in huge debt.

  5. feminism
    noun fem·i·nism ˈfe-mə-ˌni-zəm
    : the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities
    : organized activity in support of women’s rights and interest

    “Politically correct?” Having people of color represented in game is essential! MC is a global teaching tool.

    Many advances in science, computing, coding, etc. were put forth by women, people of Color, LGBTQI folk. But our contributions are suspiciously absent from both history and Minecraft.

    Rather than discouraging diverse participation, we need to encourage it.

    Have you any idea how discouraging & intimidating it is to try to learn all this, with no encouragement or background, come in to a podcast like this and hear a panel of white men brush off our struggles for inclusion as insignificant, trivial and inconvenient?

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