Hey! This is a script for THIS video... but its not exact. Feel free to watch the video for some nice visuals and maybe better articulation.
Recently, I dove back into watching minecraft SMPs. It was almost over 10 years ago when I watched my first SMP, Mindcrack. Minecraft as a whole has evolved greatly, but properly getting back into SMPs after some years off has shown me how much SMPs have also changed.
This isn't a video where I want to be nostalgic and say that new SMPs aren't good, or how new minecraft updates have ruined minecraft- because I don't see it that way... but rather I find the shift to be so interesting when you get down to it. Its not just the commentary style, the abundance of livestreaming, or the humor. Just think about the view you have when you watch these videos. The way that you see it through those youtubers' eyes- its your only way of seeing the SMP- until perhaps, there is a map download and you can look at it yourself.
The intrigue of SMPs back when Mindcrack started were due to the idea of such a community existing, and when you're a kid playing minecraft you want that too. Running around a server with your friends, playing pranks, looking at builds, and overall just having a fun community to hang out with. So if you didn't have that, you were able to project through these videos by watching every person walk around and expirience the server themself. Even if you did have your own game or server to play on, there was definitely a different kind of pull to watching funny youtubers play on a server with a variety of skills.
Still, things are not like how they were 10 years ago. There's many reasons I think this shift has occured, and I find it interesting to break it down to see why- whether or not its for the better.
It's probably the most obvious one- minecraft has had so many updates in the last 10 years, it only make sense that the way people go about playing the game has also changed. Players who have been doing it for the last decade have simply gotten better at playing, but there have also been many additions to the game that changed how you traverse it entirely. Of course, I am talking about the elytra.
The elytra were added to minecraft on October 7th, 2015, about 7 years ago. Which is interesting to note, because it shows that the Elytra has been around longer than that prime time of early minecraft youtube SMPs in 2012 to 2013. Regardless, its been around enough that we've all become used to it now- its an incredibly useful item that allows you to make your way around minecraft with ease. In most cases it seems like the first thing people seek out on their SMPs when it comes to servers focused on building and getting around to a variety of players' bases. I can hardly think of an episode of something like Hermitcraft in recent memory where I don't see people flying around with rockets in their inventory. More often than not you'll feel more inconvinienced to not have one these day.
The use of elytra has entirely re-framed minecraft SMPs in videos- its honestly the biggest factor to this change I noticed. Now, players get their elytra so that they can make their way around as easily as possible. No walking on foot or struggling with horses. If a nether hub doesn't exist or hasn't been set up, its the fatest way to make it from one place to the next, or to just start exploring for resources you need for your builds.
Easier ways to explore means that youtubers aren't forced to slow down when it comes to making their way about the server. It also means that they can go far out of reach out others and not be concerned about how long the travel time would be. These details all get bundled up into the Why of these videos feeling so different compared to years ago. But aside from a gameplay addition, there's one other thing.
This video is titled this way for a reason! Outside of the Elytra impacting the actual gameplay of Minecraft, the second most important impact is what you see. Like, what you see through other people's videos.
You watch videos on youtube, on your phone or your PC, where ever it might be- The video is presented in a specific aspect ratio and the camera of that video is... the first person camera of the player, or perhaps a cam account for timelaspes. That is the frame- the camera, that you witness these SMPs through. Its more often than not a relatable POV in first person, the POV you probably see 99% of the time you play as well.
This perspecitve is integral to how you expirience the videos from other people online. You're not nesscarily disconnected, disembodied from the creator, and when they're walking around or building you're seeing into from that personal perspective. But this has changed over time... I mention the first person perspective, but also the random instances of cam accounts and timelaspes as something new. Nowadays, you do often see SMP videos where people throw in timelaspses. If not that, you more often see people go into F5 mode to introduce themselves or talk to the viewers. These are minor changes in the style of video making- not exactly things related to thsi overall topic, but it just points to how trends form and change.
When I look back an videos from ten years ago, and I think about this kind of framing- looking through the eyes of that player- I beleive there is a special tie to what they see, and how people felt when watching the videos. As the Elytra was brought up earlier, this comes into play. In old videos, you had to walk on foot everywhere, so what were you looking at then? You were looking up from the ground. Up to the sky, the tall buildings, etc. You had to slow yourself down and you had to look from a literally grounded perspective. Every build was taken in from that angle. While some people made some crazy things back then, it seems to be that the limitations of being grounded kept builds in a certain kind of limit. It wasn't easy to fly around up to the top of your creations, or get down from them. Mega builds back then were not mega in the same way as they are now.
But since the elytra, builders were no longer stuck to that. Soon, everything could be seen from any angle. Builds could become more and more mega, as the elytra allowed them to navigate the build in ways you were unable to to. Additionally, from the camera perspective- you could view them from so many angles while recording a video. People do not walk on foot in the way they used to... The frequency of walking on land has now transferred to flying in the sky.
Our perspective has literally shifted as time passed, and minecraft changed. Having watched Youtubers playing this game for over ten years, its impossible for me to not feel like something had changed... and that was it- its really the actual framing of these videos.
Years and years of development have changed minecraft over time. And none of what i describe about new videos and old ones is to make a jab at new stuff being bad-- but the way we look at the game through those we enjoy watching is a key element to me, that defines why old videos feel nostalgic just in their style. Even when I play the game myself, I am convinienced by the elytra immediately, and it feels different to play that way inherently.
The implementation of the elytra was certainly not a bad thing- its been around longer than it not being around. Its hard to imagine what it'd be like without it, and when looking through new SMPs, i don't think people would be creating the stuff they do as easily if they didn't have it! But its interesting to think about- the way things get framed by force, when you were limited to the ground.