Snowball fights and other delights!

Pathway Studios tell us how they find brilliant builders!

My favourite thing about the Minecraft community is the mighty creative prowess that seems to flow through every ‘crafter. Whether I’m digging through forums, chillin’ on servers or chatting with creators, there’s always a surprise waiting just around the corner! Not always a pleasant surprise, mind. To the crafter who built a cell full of spiders that I couldn’t escape from: thanks for nothing, jerkface.

A good example of a Minecraft creation that I, for one, had never dreamt of, is Dinosaurs in Space. This pack was the work of Fred, a young and talented skin artist. But it reached us thanks to a little extra help from Pathway Studios, who ensured his prehistoric pals rocketed onto the Marketplace.

I spoke to Gerald Bove and James Dusek, who run Pathway Studios, about how they help small-time creators get their work out to you, the Minecrafters who get to enjoy all their peculiar-but-cool ideas!

“What we realised as soon as the Marketplace came up,” James explains, “was that there’s a lot of creators that have the abilities, the skills, the talent to get into the Marketplace… those are the people that we’ve spent years and years surrounding ourselves with. And we said there’s these people who deserve to have their art seen by the world, who deserve to make income off of their art, who deserve to achieve their goals.

“But maybe they don’t have the resources or the connections that some of the bigger teams, the bigger studios, the big, traditional build teams have in order to get onto the Marketplace themselves.”

Gerald and James have known each other for a long time, cultivating their passion for community content over the last six or seven years. They originally got involved in the Player versus Player (or PvP) community. Now, they help to release a variety of creative add-ons for Minecraft through the Marketplace, including texture packs, skin packs, maps and game modes.

They've even put that extensive PvP experience to work by publishing and developing Snowball Fight - a festive and fun frolic made by VanillaBurp and Sybillian especially for Minecraft’s Twelve Days Of Christmas.

“Snowball Fight,” James explains, “is a party PvP kind of game where there’s three arenas and it’s snowy outside. You play as these kids running around outside and [playing] in the snowball fight.”

“When we were first conceptualising it,” says Gerald, “we thought, ‘How can we take a snowball fight and make it a little bit more fun, a little bit more Quake-like?’ – so we added extra speed and higher jumps, just to keep the action moving and bouncing around.” This is where the long PvP history comes into play.

“We also tried to focus on that feeling that we had as kids,” Gerald continues, “when on the first day of snow, we’d run outside to play. So whenever anybody spawns into the world, they all spawn in a random house so that they can come out and recapture that feeling.”

Let's try this snowball fight then! Don't see anyone yet... which means no one throwing snowballs at your hero (me). So far so good!

Is someone behind that fountain, ready to pounce? Is that grass block a vicious snow-hurler in disguise? Gah! This is too tense!

My poor nerves are calmed when I see this friendly-looking fellow. Ahoy-hoy new friend!

ARGGGGHHHH! WHAT THE HECK?!??! I THOUGHT WE WERE BFFS 4 LIFE YOU SNOWBALL-LOBBING TRAITOR!!!

Even this snowman is getting in on the snowball-chucking action! Wait... he's not... he's not throwing bits of himself at me, is he? Ewwwww!

“It’s a very, very action-packed, exciting snowball fight,” James says, giving it a totally unnecessary hard-sell - as someone who fantasizes about throwing snowballs at Tom’s dumb face all day, I’m already on board.

In tandem with Snowball Fight, Pathway also decided to release some free skin textures. Living up to expectations, these skins are delightfully festive and perfect for going out in the shiversome weather with warm hats, gloves and coats.

So how does one go about making new content for the Marketplace? James gives a sense of what he’s looking for in a creator and their work. “‘Creativity’ is too broad of a word. Ingenuity, maybe?

“Are you trying to do something that other people aren’t doing? Are you trying to really push the boundaries, not just trying to do what other people are doing, but doing it better? Are you really expressing new ideas?

James stresses that creators need to be dedicated to their work. Need to show humility, take on feedback and be willing to make revisions. Essentially, a willingness to learn. “And that’s not an easy thing to learn either,” explains James. “How to swallow your pride and learn, and to take the time to learn.”

“It’s fun!” Gerald adds. “But it takes a lot of dedication and a lot of will and drive to be able to take a project that is an idea - or just something that you’ve conceptualised - and actually turn it into a tangible game. Something that you can play, something that’s polished, that people have fun with. It’s a lot of work.”

Often times, even for veterans such as Pathway, it comes down to luck. “It’s such a big community,” James says, “sometimes we’ll get applications from someone that we’ve never heard of, and we’re like, ‘who is this person? This is incredible!’”

As such, they’re eager to continue being a part of the Minecraft community and growing their knowledge base and experience. “We want to get to know people who can be making maps, who are making maps and people who are playing maps,” says James. “We want to get that feedback. [It’s] really been invaluable, being accessible to people who are playing our stuff and using our skins and engaging with our content.”

Above all, it needs to be a fun experience. “Minecraft is a joyous game,” James explains, so that’s something they ask themselves about continuously during the process. “Are you bringing joy to [your players]? Is your content giving them these experiences that can make their life and their day just a little bit brighter?”

Don’t know about you, but hurling snowballs at strangers always brightens my day.

You can find all the projects Pathway talk about here on the Minecraft Marketplace.

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