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Minecraft is an indie Java video game created by Markus Persson (aka “Notch”). It is a sandbox mining / building game in which the player gathers various resources and combine them in different ways to create new objects and building structures. It has developed a significant following online with popular player-run servers, YouTube videos, and image derivatives. The full version of the game was released during the MineCon 2011.
This first version of the game was released on May 17, 2009, and it is currently available to play for free in single-player and multiplayer modes. Many features had not been added yet, such as mobs, health, and crafting, and the player had an infinite amount of blocks at their disposal. It was mainly a creative multiplayer mode, where players would collaborate to build. The official server software is available for free, but there are also third-party server software’s with added functionality.
The Indev development phase started on December 23rd, 2009 and ended on February 27th, 2010. It was preceded by Classic and followed by Alpha. Indev included many of the features that Minecraft would become famous for such as crafting, an inventory, being able to drop and pick up items and blocks, the day / night cycle, armor and adjustable difficulty.
Minecraft Beta was released on December 20th, 2010 and has been continuously updated. In this version, the player is thrown into a randomly generated game world where they start with no items and must build everything from scratch. Typically a player will scramble to make some sort of shelter before the sun goes down, and dangerous enemies will come out and attempt to kill the player. Players call this game play style “Survival” Mode.
On September 14th, 2011, Minecraft 1.8, also known as the “Adventure Update”, was released by Team Mojang with several new features including a food system, experience bars, sprinting, and the Slenderman inspired Enderman mob.
Notch has confirmed that this update is only Part 1 on the adventure update. They have said “Part 2” is to be released as Minecraft 1.9 (Which eventually released as Minecraft 1.0).
Creative mode was released as a part of the Minecraft 1.8 Adventure update. Players may choose this mode when creating a new world, instead of the default “Survival” mode talked about above. In this mode, players can fly by double tapping their jump key, have unlimited materials to build with, and can break any block instantly.
Full Release (Version 1.0)
[work in progress]
On November 18th, 2011 in Las Vegas, Minecon 2011 started with Notch pulling a life-size lever (Identical to the in-game switch) releasing Minecraft 1.0 for players to update.
Minecraft 1.0 ends the Beta stage and has many of the features promised in the 1.8 update but not released with 1.8 due to time constraints. Some of the major updates include a new realm named “The End” where the ending of the game can be achieved, enchanting items and various other updates.
Hardcore mode was released in the Minecraft 1.0 update. Players may choose this game mode while creating a new world. Hardcore mode is the same thing is survival mode, except for one detail. If the player dies, then the player’s world file gets deleted, and he/she can not recover it.
The game has seen overwhelmingly positive reviews from PC Gamer, Good Game, Gamasutra, and Rock, Paper, Shotgun. The Smithsonian American Art Museum’s “The Art of Video Games” exhibit opening on March 16th, 2012, will be displaying Minecraft as one of the 80 games that were selected for the exhibit.
According to Wikipedia, Minecraft sales began to soar in September of 2010:
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. 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 the 11th of November, 2011 it was revealed that Minecraft had sold 4 million copies and had 16 million registered users .
On July 26th, 2011, Notch posted an update on Google+ saying “The new mob I’ve been working on is a bit creepy..” with an attached Minecraft screenshot showing several creepy dark characters off in the distance. You can also see a giant mushroom in the backround, which would also come in the update.
When the image was posted to Reddit the same day, Notch replied to the thread saying he would be officially naming them “Endermen”, referencing the mythical Slenderman creature.
In a blog post, Notch revealed that the mob would have some interesting AI mechanics:
I made the Endermen freeze and turn towards you when you look at them. As long as you look straight at them, they stand perfectly still and look straight at you. As soon as you look away, they will run (very fast) towards you.
And they teleport. If they’re too far away to reach you in a short period of time, they will teleport about once per second. They try to make sure they always teleport to somewhere you can see, as I don’t want to confuse the player as to what is happening.
Endermen have since been released as part of the Minecraft 1.8 adventure update.
Mojang AB announced that MineCon, a convention for all Minecraft players, would be held on the 18th and 19th of November at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. The official website for event announced that they would be celebrating the official launch of the game:
Celebrate the official launch of Minecraft with your friends from around the world and the Mojang Team. Get ready for a fun weekend of everything Minecraft. The first MineCon is sure to blow away all of your expectations. Set in the fantastic city of Las Vegas, we are ready to have the ultimate “block” party.
Minecraft in Education
Also that month, a group called TeacherGaming LLC announced MinecraftEdu, a custom mod of the game built specifically for teachers to use in the classroom. Working with Mojang, they have secured educational discounts on the game and organized workshops for teachers to learn how to use the game in their classroom. The project was spearheaded by New York teacher Joel Levin who runs a YouTube channel featuring Minecraft instructional videos, which receives about 1700 views a day.
3D Recreations ad pixel-art
One common practice in Minecraft the building of 3D versions of objects and character sprites using different colored blocks. Internet memes have often been the subject of these recreations:
For more, browse the Minecraft machinima video gallery.
For more, browse the Minecraft virtual engineering video gallery.
More can be found in the minecraft parody video gallery.
More can be found in the minecraft let’s play video gallery.
Search queries for “minecraft” saw a significant increase around the same time as the “free to play” weekend of September 2010, which also marked a significant increase in sales. As of June 2011, search queries still appear to be rising in volume.