In my view, Minetest is a powerful (game) engine which allows you to make your own gaming experiences.
Yes. Every time I spin Minecraft up again I feel cheated. And I'm not saying that lightly, because I love the Minecraft game. But it doesn't give the same options as Minetest.
I'd also love to see games made with this engine which are then distributed separately, like you'd do with games made with Unity or Godot.
Minetest will need better graphics or onboarding / documentation to compete with Godot.
I believe a large part of the problem is a lack of time and a lack of motivated individuals to oversee a large creative project - you need to put a lot of effort into making sure the game design is consistent, and follows a vision. Everyone has a slightly different view on what a good game is, which ultimately makes it hard to gain contributors to create features.
This is very common in every open source / collaborative effort I've been a part of. Same kind of thing as trying to build a progression guild in an MMO. 99% of the work is done by one or two people and the rest just show up for the goodies.
In the context of a high grade Minetest based game, everyone wants to play but few will find it enjoyable to build or have the time to do it.
I also believe that a lack of sharing of basic features causes issues - MTG is a mess, and makes it hard to reuse stuff in a new game. This means that a lot of the initial effort is on defining initial boring nodes, which has been done before.
When you start getting into it, even developing a game for a very polished and feature rich platform like Minetest is a daunting task. You have to learn the APIs, build the code structures, do the design, do the art, develop the features, do the testing, and the balancing. I believe that there are so many "new node" mods out there because a lot of modders start with dreams and passion but get swamped. At least if I can crank out a new node or two I can hold onto hope.
Compared to modding, there isn't as much game help available. There are no bare basic games which provide you the bare minimum to start from - just nodes, player model, and inventory.
This, * 1000. You mentioned Godot. I'm sure you know (but I'll mention it anyway) that Godot has really good tutorials and examples compared to Minetest. And Godot's documentation is always being criticized as being insufficient. With Minetest you can't
start developing a new game without piggy backing on existing mods. There is no generic gameplay infrastructure to build on. Sure, you've got this fantastic mod and this fantastic mod, all good work, but there are incompatibilities, different approaches, too many features here, not nearly enough over there, etc. Each major mod has built up the infrastructure itself to solve that mod's problems. I'm not putting the mod developers own, you folks do amazing work. But for someone coming to do a new thing it basically means they have to build the game infrastructure from scratch.
New Minetest projects need help with documentation, tutorials, and WORKING CODE.
There is a desperate lack of artists in this community. This impacts on quality, and makes every game feel a bit like MTG. The look and feel of a game is very important. Not just the textures, but the UI, sounds, and game design. The last one intersects with problem 1: a good project leader needs a good eye for game design, as they will be the person that oversees the direction and feel of a game
I disagree with you on two points. The project leader should lean on someone to oversee the overall game design and focus on overall game progress. "Mostly okay but could use some work" art in a released game is way better than "amazing art!" in an unfinished game.
Sounds and animation, absolutely. These things take time and are really hard to do "right". Oh, you increased the run speed for balance? Better fix the animations! But for regular pixel graphics, writing, design, and shear creativity I think the Minetest community is amazing. Just my observation.
A good game needs a team behind it.
I think this relates to the collaborative project human nature issues.
What is preventing you from making a game with Minetest?
Lack of working core game framework
code. Seriously. The platform itself is really good but it is a struggle to get up and running. As an example I'm trying to add some mobs in which use a more utility / behavior based mechanic. Gotta write code to scan for stuff to see if the mob should pay attention to it. Okay, now I know what is around me but I've got to see if the mob cares. Could use item groups but those groups are hard coded in and inconsistent between mods. Okay, so gotta write something which fixes that. Now I've got to tell the mob to move. Whelp, the existing mod movement code is okay but an absolute jumbled mess as the mod authors had to tack on this or that over the years. So gotta clean that up but it is so intermixed you have to start from scratch. It goes on and on. If you want to get started and do something even slightly different you either start from scratch and build on the core APIs or you twist yourself in a knot and shoehorn you game onto an existing mod, there is no middle ground.
Couple the lack of starting code with the graphics, the really limited scripting language (seriously, Lua sucks at frameworks and is a major time sink for no other reason than Lua), the issues with display updates being hard linked to server ticks (CSM please save me!) and you just start to wonder if it is worth it.
I think some good, well maintained tutorials and docs would help a lot. A working generic game framework would help even more. The game engine has a good foundation, the gameplay needs one as well.
BTW I'm more than willing to help out if needed. Otherwise I'll just keep plugging away at my own thing and I'll end up writing "framework" code that meets my needs but no one else, thus continuing the chain of abuse :)