So What The Hell is This Minecraft all About Then?

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Since its release last month, the efforts of the one-man developer Markus “Notch” Persson have been drawing all sorts of attention, the majority of it very favourable indeed. Not only have the number of Minecraft players rocketed since its launch, but the game’s media coverage has spread far and wide, recently attracting an ongoing series of comic strips from Penny Arcade.

This Inception inspired fan-made video provides an exciting intro to the world of Minecraft:

Evolution of Minecraft 2009-2019

But why is the game supposedly so addictive? What is all the fuss about?

Broken down to basics, Minecraft places you in a first-person perspective of a vast sandbox world of charmingly retro and rudimentary graphics. Blocky mountains, rivers, fields and forests surround you, all untouched, all ready to be shaped.

The beauty of Minecraft doesn’t lie in the individual look and feel of its mass of blocks, it lies in the near unlimited potential for what those blocks can become. You, the player, have the tools, the raw materials and the scope to build as magnificently as your imagination allows you. Don’t believe me? Check out some of these gigantic labours of love:

The aim of the game, as the title suggests, is to mine stuff and then craft more useful stuff with it. You start small, fashioning basic tools out of wood, then work up to more impressive projects such as building yourself a house or even your own city, until eventually you can move mountains and divert rivers.

Here’s the kicker though. You’re only safe during the day, when night falls, all hell breaks loose.
Minecraft Zombie

While you remain free to build your towering constructions during the daylight hours, the night holds a host of terrors as spiders, zombies and skeletons scuttle across the land, hell-bent on tearing down your lovingly built architectural wonders and using your corpse as a welcome mat to nightmare-ville.

So what’s a minecrafter to do? Well you craft weapons and traps of course. Using your crafting skills and your environment to your advantage, you have to fight off the nightly waves of undead horrors in order to live to see the sunrise. Then it’s back to mining and crafting again the next morning.

Don’t plan on getting any sleep, because neither you nor your character will have the time!

It sounds so simple, chop stuff up, build a house, craft a sword, hit the baddies till they die from it. Using graphics that predate the days of Doom and its ilk should be laughable in an age of visual delights such as Mass Effect 2, Final Fantasy XIII and Gran Tourismo 5, shouldn’t it?

No, of course it shouldn’t. One-man-band Markus Persson has recognised one of the fundamental formulaic principles of creating a “good” game that so many huge developers have a criminal tendency to forget: Gameplay > Graphics.

The heavy focus on creativity is the critical strength of the game. The best part is, it’s not even finished yet. The game has come a long way since we first tested it in Alpha mode back in September 2010 while Persson himself continued to tinker and craft and shape the game further still.

Now the only thing minecraft needs to worry about is roadblocks..

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