Minecraft

Minecraft
Minecraft
Minecraft Beta 1.8.jpg
Minecraft Beta 1.8 main menu window
Developer(s) Mojang
Publisher(s) Mojang
Designer(s) Markus "Notch" Persson
Jens Bergensten
Artist(s) Kristoffer Zetterstrand
(In-game artwork)
Markus "Junkboy" Toivonen
Composer(s) Daniel "C418" Rosenfeld
Version 1.8 (Beta)
1.0 RC2 (Release candidate)
Platform(s) Java platform, Java applet, Android, iOS, Xbox 360
Release date(s) Full Version: November 18, 2011[1]
Classic: May 17, 2009
Beta: December 20, 2010
Genre(s) First person, sandbox
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer
Media/distribution Download

Minecraft is a sandbox building[3][4] independent video game written in Java originally by Swedish creator Markus "Notch" Persson and now by his company, Mojang, formed from the proceeds of the game. It was released on May 17, 2009, with a beta version on December 20, 2010. Official releases for iOS and Android are released and the full version of the game will be released on the 18th November 2011 ; the Android release was temporarily exclusive to the Xperia Play but is now available to the rest of the Android market.[5][6] A version of the game for the Xbox 360 with Kinect support is under development by 4J Studios and delayed until 2012.

The game is focused on creativity and building, allowing players to build constructions out of textured cubes in a 3D world. The game has two variants – free Classic and paid Beta. Classic is focused entirely on construction with unlimited material supply, whereas Beta has two modes: Survival requires players to acquire resources themselves and keep their health and hunger up, whereas in Creative the player has an unlimited supply of resources. Both Beta modes contain many more features than Classic, as well as the addition of mobs. The gameplay is heavily inspired by Infiniminer by Zachtronics Industries,[7]and Dwarf Fortress by Bay 12 Games.[8][9]

The game is currently in development and Beta is the only continuously updated version of the game. Minecraft was developed for about a week before its public release on May 17, 2009, on the TIGSource forums, where it gained a considerable level of popularity. It has been continually updated and patched since then, and while it was still in alpha release, it garnered several hundred thousand sales and received critical notice and acclaim from many reviewers. It passed a million units sold on January 12, 2011,[10][11] less than a month after reaching Beta. By November 7, 2011, the game had sold 4,000,000 units.[12]

Contents

Gameplay

A screenshot of a randomly generated Minecraft Beta landscape

The core gameplay revolves around construction. The game world is essentially made of cubical blocks arranged in a fixed grid pattern which represent different materials, such as dirt, stone, various ores, water, and tree trunks. While the players can move freely across the world, objects and items can only be placed at fixed locations relative to the grid. The player can gather these material "blocks" and place them elsewhere, thus potentially creating various constructions. Currently, there are no set goals to achieve in Minecraft, so the game cannot be won.

Minecraft has two currently available gameplay modes, Survival and Creative, both with single-player and multiplayer options. Classic is the earliest free version and initially featured only creative game mode with only building (block placement and removal) aspects of the game and unlimited block supply. The game was then split into single-player survival mode (referred to as "Survival Mode Test"), which contained monsters and a much greater variety of blocks and items available, as well as requiring players to mine their own blocks.

The game starts by placing the player on the surface of a huge procedurally generated game world. The player can walk across the terrain consisting of plains, mountains, caves, and various water bodies. The world is also divided into biomes ranging from deserts to snowfields. The in-game time system follows a day and night cycle. Throughout the course of the game the player encounters various non-human creatures, referred to as mobs. During the daytime, non-hostile animals spawn, which can be hunted for food and crafting materials. Hostile monsters, such as large spiders, skeletons, zombies and the dangerous exploding "creeper" will spawn in unlit areas, such as in caves or during the night.

Complex systems can be built using the in-game physics engine with the use of primitive electrical circuits and logic gates. For example, a door can be opened or closed by pressing a connected button or stepping on a pressure plate. Similarly, larger and more complex systems can be produced, such as a working arithmetic logic unit – as used in CPUs.[13]

The game world is procedurally generated as the player explores it. Although limits exist on vertical movement both up and down, Beta allows for an infinitely large game world to be generated on the horizontal plane, only running into technical problems when extremely distant locations are reached.[† 1][14] The game achieves this by splitting the game world data into smaller sections, called "chunks",[† 1] only created or loaded into memory when the player is nearby.

Survival

In this mode, the player has a health bar which is depleted by attacks from monsters, falls, or environmental damage, such as drowning or falling into lava. The player also has a hunger bar, which must be periodically refilled by eating various food (porkchops, bread, etc.) in-game. Armor can help mitigate damage from mob attacks, while weapons can be used to kill enemies and other animals. Health replenishes when the player has a full hunger bar or by playing on the easiest difficulty, where the health bar regenerates by itself. Upon dying, items in the player's inventory are dropped and the player is respawned at current spawn point, which by default is where the player started, but can be set by "sleeping" in in-game beds. The items can be recovered if reached before they despawn.

The player can acquire different resources and craft tools, weapons, armor, food, and various other items. By acquiring better resources, the player can make more effective items. For example, tools such as axes, shovels, or pickaxes, can be used to chop down trees, dig soil, and mine ores respectively, and tools made out of better resources (such as iron in place of stone) perform their tasks more quickly and can be used more heavily before breaking. The game has an inventory system and the player is limited to the number of items they can carry, specifically, 36 spaces.

Creative

In creative mode, the player does not take environmental or mob damage, is not affected by hunger, and can fly freely around the game world. The player also has access to unlimited resources or items through the inventory menu, and can place or remove them instantly. All creatures in the game, including hostile ones, may still spawn under proper conditions but they cannot damage the player.

Classic

A screenshot of Minecraft Classic (single player)

Older versions of Minecraft are also available for players. Unlike newer versions of Minecraft, Classic is free to play, though it is no longer updated. It functions much the same as Creative mode, allowing players to build and destroy any and all parts of the world either alone or in a multiplayer server. There are no computer creatures in this mode, and environmental hazards such as lava will not damage the player. However, some blocks function differently as their behavior was later changed during development. For example, in Classic mode, TNT will act like any other block and break when hit, but in newer versions it will detonate after its fuse is lit.

Development

The developer of Minecraft, Markus Persson aka Notch, had previously worked on games such as Wurm Online and as a game developer for King.com for over four years.[9][15] Minecraft development began on May 10, 2009, soon after Persson had quit his job at King.com in order to concentrate more on independent development.[9][16] Persson was inspired to create Minecraft by several other games such as Dwarf Fortress, Infiniminer by Zachtronics Industries, and Dungeon Keeper by Bullfrog Software. He was still working out the basics of gameplay when he discovered Infiniminer and played with others on the TIGSource.com forums.[15][16] At the time, he had also been visualizing an isometric 3D building game that would be a cross between his inspirations and had made some early prototypes.[9][17] After discovering Infiniminer, Notch declared "My god, I realized that that was the game I wanted to do".[7] Infiniminer heavily influenced the style of gameplay that eventually resulted in Minecraft, including the first-person aspect of the game and the "blocky" visual style.[16]

A screenshot of the Minecraft Beta crafting screen, showing a stone axe being crafted

Minecraft was first released to the public on May 17, 2009, as a developmental "alpha" release. Although Persson maintained a day job with Jalbum.net at first, he later moved to working part time and has since quit in order to work on Minecraft full time as sales of the beta version of the game have expanded.[15] Persson continues to update the game with releases distributed to users automatically. Persson plans to continue these updates after the release of the full game as long as there is still an active userbase.[16] These updates have included features such as new items, new blocks, an alternate "Hell" dimension (accessible through construction of a portal) that Persson terms "The Nether", tamable wolves that assist the player, and changes to the game's behavior (e.g., how water flows). Persson plans to eventually release the game as open-source after sales have dropped off and when he wants to move onto other projects.[15]

A screenshot of "The Nether", an alternate dimension

In September 2010 Persson announced that he and a friend were starting a video game company, Mojang, with the money earned from Minecraft. This company was intended to back the development of Minecraft and an unrelated game, Scrolls, which his friend would primarily work on. As part of creating the company, Persson has hired "an artist, a web site developer, and a business guy", additional programmers, and established an office in Stockholm.[18][19] Although Persson plans to spend the majority of his time working on Minecraft while his partner spends the majority of his time working on the other game, he says that "everyone working at the company will be involved in both projects to some degree".[19] Persson said that part of his motivation behind hiring staff was that he felt he was spending too much time working on the website and reading emails rather than developing Minecraft.[19] The four additional employees hired in 2010 were Jens Bergensten, a programmer; Daniel Kaplan, the "business guy"; Jakob Porser, who will be working on the other game for Mojang; and Markus "Junkboy" Toivonen, a pixel artist.[20][21][22] The plans for Persson's new company were delayed by weeks when his account with PayPal, containing over US$763,000 in proceeds from Minecraft sales, was frozen due to a "suspicious withdrawal or deposit".[23] On October 20, 2010, the official Minecraft website suffered a prolonged DDoS attack.[24][25]

On December 11, 2010, Persson announced, via his personal blog, that Minecraft would be entering its beta testing phase on December 20, 2010, and that the price would increase to €14.95.[26] He further stated that users who bought the game after this date would no longer be guaranteed to receive all future content free of charge as it "scared both the lawyers and the board." However, bug fixes and all updates leading up to and including the release would still be free. At the start of 2011 Mojang expanded to include Carl Manneh as a "managing director" and Tobias Möllstam as a programmer.[27] On April 7, 2011, Persson made a post on his blog that Mojang has decided to move the game out of Beta on November 11, 2011; however this would not be the "finished product", as the game would be continuously updated before and after the release.[28]

Minecraft.net provided online systems to authenticate logins and host the player's profile including its modifiable character skin pattern and the purchased gift codes. On January 18, 2011, Persson announced in a blog post that Minecraft's web servers would be switching to being hosted solely on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) content delivery network. Notch stated in his personal blog that their old web host was having trouble and that Mojang would be switching to using AWS as their host for both Minecraft.net and Minecraft's web functions such as logging in.[29] This was followed by a tweet the next day confirming the migration and that Tobias would be the one to setup the new servers.[30] Upon this hosting migration, both Minecraft.net and Minecraft game features experienced fluctuating down time.[31] On February 21, Mojang hired Dan Frisk to oversee the servers and back end for both Minecraft and Scrolls.

On May 19, 2011, Persson announced via his Twitter account about an additional dimension which is currently being tested to add to the game. The "Sky Dimension" is similar to the Nether, however set above the sky with floating islands.[32][33]

Currently, an official iOS port of Minecraft is being developed by new Mojang employee Aron Nieminen for release later in the year 2011.[5][6]

Minecraft 1.8, popularly referred to as the "Adventure Update" was leaked on September 9, 2011 by Jens Bergensten, a Mojang developer,[34] and then subsequently released officially on September 14, 2011 after a long trial of bugtesting and fixes.[35]

On his Twitter account Jens Bergensten noted that the Pocket Edition of Minecraft is written in C++ and not Java, due to iOS not being able to support Java.

Reception

Minecraft has received favorable responses from critics, and has had notably large numbers of sales.

The game has been praised for the creative freedom it grants its players in-game, and for how dynamic the overall gameplay is.[36][37][38] PC Gamer listed Minecraft as the fourth-best game to play at work.[39]

A review of the alpha version, by Scott Munro of the Daily Record, called it "already something special" and urged readers to buy it.[40] Jim Rossignol of Rock, Paper, Shotgun also recommended the alpha of the game, calling it "a kind of generative 8-bit Lego Stalker".[41] On September 17, 2010, gaming webcomic Penny Arcade began a series of comics and news posts about the addictiveness of the game.[42] Video game talk show Good Game gave it a 7.5 and 9 out of 10, praising its creativity and customization, though they criticized its lack of a tutorial.[43]

In December 2010, Good Game selected Minecraft as their choice for "Best Downloadable Game of 2010" title,[44] Gamasutra named it the eighth best game of the year as well as the eighth best indie game of the year,[45][46] and Rock, Paper, Shotgun named it the game of the year.[47] Indie DB awarded the game the 2010 "Indie of the Year" award as chosen by voters, in addition to two out of five Editor's Choice awards for "Most Innovative" and "Best Singleplayer Indie".[48] It was also awarded "Game of the Year" by PC Gamer UK.[49] The game was nominated for the "Seumas McNally Grand Prize", "Technical Excellence", and "Excellence in Design" awards at the March 2011 Independent Games Festival[50] and won the Grand Prize along with community-voted "Audience Award".[51] At Game Developers Choice Awards 2011, Minecraft won the award for Best debut game, Best downloadable game and Most Innovative game award, winning every award for which it was nominated.[citation needed] It has also won GameCity's videogame arts prize[52]

On May 5, 2011, Minecraft was selected as one of the 80 games that will be displayed at the Smithsonian American Art Museum as part of "The Art of Video Games" exhibit that will open on March 16, 2012.[53][54]

Sales

In September 2010, after an impromptu "free to play" weekend, the game had a spike in sales of over 25,000 purchases in 24 hours.[55][56] On January 12, 2011, Minecraft passed 1,000,000 purchases,[10][11] less than a month after reaching Beta. At the same time, the game had no publisher backing and has never been commercially advertised except through word of mouth.[57] By April 2011, Persson estimated that Minecraft had made €23 million (US$33 million) in revenue, with 800,000 sales of the alpha version of the game at €9.95, and over 1 million sales of the beta version at €14.95.[58] On July 1, 2011 Minecraft passed the 10 million registered users mark.[59] As of November 7, 2011, Minecraft had over 16 million registered users, and over 4 million purchases.[12]

Ports

The game has been released so far on Android as Minecraft – Pocket Edition, and is set to be released on several other platforms, including iOS and the Xbox 360. The Xbox 360 version of the game, developed by 4J Studios, will support Kinect play and cross-platform playability with the PC version.[60]

Minecraft – Pocket Edition

On August 16, 2011, Minecraft – Pocket Edition was released exclusively for the Xperia Play for $6.99. It has now been opened up to the rest of the Android market as of the 8th of October.

The first, and current, version of the software concentrates on the creative building aspect of the game, and allows for multiplay across a local wireless network.[61][62]

MineCon 2011

On May 11, 2011, Persson announced via his blog an official Minecraft convention titled "MineCon 2011" to be held November 18–19 in Las Vegas, in the United States. On August 11, the MineCon website was launched,[63] with the ability to buy advance tickets for $99 until September 30, after which the price rose to $139.[64][65]

The event is advertised to include the official launch of Minecraft; keynote speeches, including one by Persson; building and costume contests; Minecraft-themed breakout classes; exhibits by leading gaming and Minecraft-related companies; commemorative merchandise; and autograph and picture times with Mojang employees and well-known contributors from the Minecraft community.[66][67]

As well as this, free codes are to be given to every attendee of MineCon that unlock Alpha versions of Mojang's other upcoming game, Scrolls, as well as an additional non-Mojang game, Cobalt, developed by Oxeye Game Studios.[68]

As of October 28, 2011, all of the 4,500 tickets for MineCon have been officially sold out.[69]

Fan consultation

Persson consulted fans on whether they would be interested in attending a Minecraft convention, and what location it should be in, on May 11, 2011. Persson expressed his intention to locate the event in Las Vegas, where it subsequently was decided it would be located. A plurality of respondents, 31.2%, voted for the convention to be held in the United States.[70][71][72]

Date change

Initially intended to be held on November 11, 2011, Persson announced that MineCon 2011 would have to be held on a different date due to the facilities at Las Vegas being completely booked on, and around, that date. Because of this, it is now to be held November 18–19, 2011.[73]

Soundtrack

Composer C418 released a soundtrack, titled Minecraft – Volume Alpha, on March 4, 2011.[74]

Minecraft – Volume Alpha
Studio album by C418
Released March 4, 2011
C418 chronology
I forgot something, didn't I.
(2011)
Minecraft – Volume Alpha
(2011)
72 Minutes of Fame
(2011)

See also

Portal icon Sweden portal
Portal icon Video games portal

Footnotes

  1. ^ a b In a blog post, Persson explains:

    First of all, let me clarify some things about the "infinite" maps: They're not infinite, but there's no hard limit either. It'll just get buggier and buggier the further out you are. Terrain is generated, saved and loaded, and (kind of) rendered in chunks of 16*16*128 blocks. These chunks have an offset value that is a 32 bit integer roughly in the range negative two billion to positive two billion. If you go outside that range (about 25% of the distance from where you are now to the sun), loading and saving chunks will start overwriting old chunks. At a 16/th of that distance, things that use integers for block positions, such as using items and pathfinding, will start overflowing and acting weird.

    Those are the two "hard" limits.

References

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