Minecraft Preview: Over A Million Sold and still in Beta

Minecraft

Minecraft has taken the independent game scene by storm. First available to the public on 17th May 2009 as what would later be called “Classic” mode – Minecraft provided a sandbox environment and unlimited building blocks to create anything the player desired. However, this was not all Notch (Markus Persson the creator) wanted from his software.

He needed there to be a challenge. To break away from being just a tool he needed the game to emerge – enter Survival Test. Monsters, farming, mining, crafting and treasure hunting were about to join the simple-yet-rewarding concept of building to the World of Minecraft.

The world now follows a day and night cycle. Pigs, Cows, Sheep and Chickens spawn in the day providing a source of food, wool and leather. Zombies, skeletons, spiders and creepers spawn at night or in other dark areas waiting for their next prey. However if you are brave enough to fight them you are rewarded with gunpowder, arrows and string – unobtainable elsewhere.

Minecraft - A skeleton that sneaked up on me in a cave

A skeleton that sneaked up on me in a cave

Immediately upon starting a new game your challenge is to survive the first night. to do this you must collect enough wood to build your first crafting table. This allows you to make more complex items like the all-important pickaxe (you are able to craft simple items like torches without a table).

Minecraft - Wooden Pickaxe

Crafting a wooden pickaxe: 3 wooden planks and 2 wooden sticks

Minecraft - Furnace

Crafting a Furnace: 8 blocks of cobblestone

With this you are now able to mine stone effectively – you can do it by hand but it takes a very long time. The clock is ticking. 4 Wooden planks are crafted from 1 block of wood. 4 wooden sticks are crafted from 1 block of wooden planks.

You will need shelter to protect yourself from the monsters at night – simple dirt will be ideal at this stage. Sand is no good as the roof will collapse. You also need to create some light – if only to save your trousers. Monsters will not spawn where there is sufficient light so you at least need to illuminate your shelter – I like to put a few torches outside too for extra peace of mind. For this you will need wooden sticks and either coal or charcoal. Coal must be found and mined with a stone pickaxe. However if you can’t find any in time then charcoal can be made in a Furnace by burning wood. If you start in a place without any trees or stone then you are going to find things very hard.

If you have time you can make a door with 6 planks of wood (make sure to place it from the outside of your house otherwise skeletons can shoot you through them) otherwise you will have to block yourself in unsure on when dawn will break. When the sun does finally rise any skeletons or zombies will burn in the sunlight. However spiders and creepers (who are like walking sticks of dynamite) like to hide out of sight waiting for you to emerge from your hiding place and are not affected by the sunlight.

Minecraft - Aerial view of my house

Aerial view of my house and surrounding area

Successive days are about whatever you want to do to continue surviving. Do up your house? Set up a farm, an orchard or maybe explore a little? The landscape of Minecraft features many different landscapes comprised of mountains, trees, water, sand, soil, snow and caves potentially covering 8 times the size of the Earth. However the engine or your PC will probably crash before you can travel that far. Created worlds could potentially reach terabytes in size if we had the computers to deal with it. However there is often more fun and adventure to be found underground. Either through one of the many caves or by mining where ever you please.

Minecraft - Going deeper underground

Going deeper underground...

After tooling yourself up with spades, pickaxes, torches, swords and armour you may feel brave enough to venture to the bountiful subterranean layers of your Minecraft world. You can discover natural caves potentially filled with monsters, water, lava or all three. Dungeon are also there to be found – these contain a monster spawner and some treasure chests – which contain rare items some not available anywhere else – like a saddle used to ride a pig!

Many rare materials can also be found anywhere by digging you way around. These include coal, iron, gold and diamond and redstone. This magical redstone allows you to implement basic electronic circuitry and logic gates in your game. This allows you to make traps or a simple button activated door but has also allowed one genius to design the beginnings of a computer!

A tasty game emerges then – although it is still lacking an ending or any semblance of story. These are features still on there way as of the time of writing. In the mean time though wouldn’t you like to be able to share this experience with a friend or two?

Minecraft - Me outside on my decking

Me outside on my decking

On June 28 2010 the paid-for Alpha build was released for €9.95 with the first official version of Survival Multiplayer. An astute move that allowed current supporters of the game to help fund the development. The more money the project could generate the more time Notch would have to update and complete the game.

It worked.

It was announced in September 2010 that he had set up Mojang – a game development company with his friend Jakob “JahKob” Porser – all on the proceeds of Minecraft.  Now comprised of eight people Notch continues to devote most of his time to Minecraft whist JahKob concentrates on their new game Scrolls. “Classic” mode continues to be free to this day but as it’s development ceased on 10th November 2009 it is now severely lacking in features and is mostly redundant with compared to the current build.

The Alpha phase consisted mainly of implementing and fixing multiplayer, but it also saw many stability increases and game-play additions. The biggest of which is the Nether. An mysterious “evil” world – accessible only through obsidian created portals – filled with lava, new monsters and materials. It also provides a method of fast travel across the main world. A risky but profitable place for the player.

 

Minecraft - The Nether

Notch gives the public their first look at The Nether

December 20 2010 saw the game enter it’s beta phase of development and a price increase to €14.95 (The game will be €20 on actual release). This sees the end of focusing on bug removal and multiplayer testing and moving to a phase of new features. Music Blocks, Cake, Beds and Squids have since been added.

Only time will tell on where Minecraft ends up on it’s official release –  but with rumours of Adventure, Zombie Siege and Capture the Flag modes being added in the future this could really be a masterpiece for everyone to enjoy.

Less than a month after the start of the beta saw sales hit the 1 million mark. As of today 1,720,861 copies of Minecraft have been sold.

It’s not even been released yet…

Sources:

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