Games: Learning your Minecraft

 
 

The dexterity and creativity that typifies the world of Minecraft has enthralled Matthew Jones and provided hours of fun for countless gamers

You click ‘new game’. After a few moments, you find yourself alone in a world. There is no tutorial, no equipment, just you, your fists and the occasional pig that wanders by. You set about breaking down a tree for wood and picking up stones. You create a primitive shovel and pickaxe and dig into the ground. There is reason for your frantic efforts to build a basic shelter, as when night falls, the monsters come out.

Keep digging and you find some coal, using that and some wood to make a fire, you light up the little cave that you have created. It’s almost dark now, so you seal your walls and get ready to survive the night. In the distance, shambling towards you, come zombies, skeleton archers and giant spiders. Gone are the gentle pigs of the daytime; the night belongs to monsters.

Somehow, the monsters don’t find you. As dawn breaks they retreat, looking up at the sun, you know you have to create a better shelter and some weapons for tonight. Looking at your watch, you realise that it has only been 24 minutes.

This is Minecraft, an independent game that forgoes all advertising, instead spreading through word of mouth. Created by Swedish programmer Notch, the game revolves around digging and building. It doesn’t sound like the most fun concept in the world, but it truly is.

Using Java programming, Notch has kept the design simple to prevent any issues from appearing in the game. Its cuboid graphics are oddly retro, and don’t take away from the experience.

Currently, the game is in the beta development stage, which means that those people who have bought the game at a discounted price give feedback to improve the game. So far, there are almost three million registered players giving feedback for updates, which Notch then includes in his weekly updates to the game.

This year, PC Gamer awarded Minecraft with their Game of the Year award, praising its originality. You, the player, are truly free in the game. Want to create a clock or a music player? Get the materials for circuits and you can do it. The game is only limited by your own ingenuity. Seriously, it is.

The entire world is randomly generated and covers a surface area three times the size of the Earth. No two worlds are alike. It is this emphasis on originality that captures the imagination of every player and inspires them to create soaring castles, and anything that takes their fancy.

Ultimately, it’s Lego for grownups, where you can change the landscape and share your creations with an ever-growing community. Quite simply, if you can imagine it, you can do it.

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