-building 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 as an alpha on May 17, 2009, with a beta version on December 20, 2010. Official releases for iOS
and Android have been released and the full version of the PC game was released on November 18, 2011 at MineCon 2011. The Android release was temporarily exclusive to the Xperia Play
but is now available to the rest of the Android market. A version of the game for the Xbox 360
with Kinect support is under development by 4J Studios
and delayed until 2012.
Minecraft is focused on creativity and building, allowing players to build constructions out of textured cube
s in a 3D
world. Gameplay in its commercial release has two principal modes: Survival
, which requires players to acquire resources themselves and maintain their health
; and Creative, where the player has an unlimited supply of resources. A third gameplay mode, named Hardcore, ratchets up the difficulty of surviving. An outdated Classic version is also available for free, although it is no longer being developed. Creative Minecraft resembles Classic, but with many more features.
The gameplay is heavily inspired by Infiniminer by Zachtronics Industries,and Dwarf Fortress
by Bay 12 Games.
The game was officially released at MineCon on November 18, 2011. 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, less than a month after reaching Beta. By November 7, 2011, the game had sold 4 million units.
GameplayThe 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.
Minecraft has three currently available gameplay modes, Survival, Hardcore and Creative. 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 biome
s 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.
The game world is procedurally generated as the player explores it. Although limits exist on vertical movement both up and down, Minecraft 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.
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 buggierSoftware bugA software bug is the common term used to describe an error, flaw, mistake, failure, or fault in a computer program or system that produces an incorrect or unexpected result, or causes it to behave in unintended ways. Most bugs arise from mistakes and errors made by people in either a program's...
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 bit32-bitThe range of integer values that can be stored in 32 bits is 0 through 4,294,967,295. Hence, a processor with 32-bit memory addresses can directly access 4 GB of byte-addressable memory....
integerIntegerThe integers are formed by the natural numbers together with the negatives of the non-zero natural numbers .They are known as Positive and Negative Integers respectively...
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 overflowingArithmetic overflowThe term arithmetic overflow or simply overflow has the following meanings.# In a computer, the condition that occurs when a calculation produces a result that is greater in magnitude than that which a given register or storage location can store or represent.# In a computer, the amount by which a...
and acting weird.
Those are the two "hard" limits.
The game achieves this by splitting the game world data into smaller sections, called "chunks", only created or loaded into memory when the player is nearby.
SurvivalIn 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.
CreativeIn 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.
ClassicOlder 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.
"Primary win condition"Although Minecraft is mostly a sandbox game, it contains some adventure elements. And, with that, a "primary win condition", which is achieved by reaching an alternate dimension known as "The End" and defeating the deadly "Enderdragon" that flies around the map. This dimension is also home to the "Endermen", a race of seemingly-sentient beings that are rarely seen on the main world. To find "The End", one most locate underground ruins of an ancient civilization (referred to ingame as "Strongholds") which can be found on the main overworld.
Upon beating the boss creature, the player is allowed to leave the dimension via a portal, which will cue the game's ending sequence and credits. The player is then teleported back to their original spawn point in the overworld, and, if certain criteria are met, will receive the exclusive achievement, "The End.".
DevelopmentThe 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. 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. 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. 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. After discovering Infiniminer, Notch declared "My god, I realized that that was the game I wanted to do". 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.
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. 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. 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.
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
. 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". 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. 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
. 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". On October 20, 2010, the official Minecraft website suffered a prolonged DDoS attack
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. 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. 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.
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 Minecrafts 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 Minecrafts web functions such as logging in. This was followed by a tweet the next day confirming the migration and that Tobias would be the one to setup the new servers. Upon this hosting migration, both Minecraft.net and Minecraft game features experienced fluctuating down time. 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.
Currently, an official iOS
port of Minecraft is being developed by new Mojang employee Aron Nieminen for release later in the year 2011.
Minecraft 1.8, popularly referred to as the "Adventure Update", was leaked on September 9, 2011 by Jens Bergensten, a Mojang developer, and then subsequently released officially on September 14, 2011 after a long trial of testing and bugfixing.
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.
ReceptionMinecraft 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. PC Gamer
listed Minecraft as the fourth-best game to play at work.
A review of the alpha version, by Scott Munro of the Daily Record
, called it "already something special" and urged readers to buy it. Jim Rossignol
of Rock, Paper, Shotgun
also recommended the alpha of the game, calling it "a kind of generative 8-bit Lego
". On September 17, 2010, gaming webcomic
began a series of comics and news posts about the addictiveness of the game. 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.
In December 2010, Good Game selected Minecraft as their choice for "Best Downloadable Game of 2010" title, Gamasutra
named it the eighth best game of the year as well as the eighth best indie game of the year, and Rock, Paper, Shotgun named it the game of the year. 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". It was also awarded "Game of the Year" by PC Gamer UK. The game was nominated for the "Seumas McNally Grand Prize", "Technical Excellence", and "Excellence in Design" awards at the March 2011 Independent Games Festival
and won the Grand Prize along with community-voted "Audience Award". 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. It has also won GameCity
's videogame arts prize
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.
SalesIn September 2010, after an impromptu "free to play" weekend, the game had a spike in sales of over 25,000 purchases in 24 hours. On January 12, 2011, Minecraft passed 1,000,000 purchases, 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
. 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. On July 1, 2011 Minecraft passed the 10 million registered users mark. As of November 7, 2011, Minecraft had over 16 million registered users, and over 4 million purchases.
PortsThe game has been released so far on Android and iOS
as Minecraft – Pocket Edition, and is set to be released on several other platforms, including 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.
Minecraft – Pocket EditionOn August 16, 2011, Minecraft – Pocket Edition was released for the Xperia Play
. It was 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. An iOS version of Minecraft was released on November 16th, 2011.
MineCon 2011On May 11, 2011, Persson announced via his blog that an official Minecraft convention
titled "MineCon 2011" would be held November 18–19 in Las Vegas
, in the United States
and on August 11, the MineCon website was launched.
The event included 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.
As well as this, free codes were 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, which is being developed by Oxeye Game Studios.
MineCon sold all of its 4,500 tickets.
SoundtrackComposer C418 released a soundtrack, titled Minecraft – Volume Alpha, on March 4, 2011.
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