I need to share some information with you regarding one of the best games released this year that hasn’t even hit a beta yet. It’s a game where your goal is to dig. You dig like the world depends on it, and then you use what you have dug to make fantastical monuments of amazingness. I am, of course, talking about Minecraft, the game to end all games.
To get things started, just watch this thing I made of a tiny, tiny, tiny bit of the world that exists on the server that I play on.
As you can see, this game is simple, but at the same time eerily beautiful. There exists a really interesting exchange between simplicity and complexity that occurs in this game. All of the building blocks in this game – save for a few – are one block high and one block wide, and that’s the metric you go by for building. The best part for me, thought, is at end of a project, even if the result is a jagged facsimile of what you had in mind, your brain will just fill in the blanks and you will see this grand structure before you. There is an in-game clock with really nice sunsets and rises, dynamic lighting, and the ability to make floating objects because hey, why not?
But I am getting a little ahead of myself. What is the actual point of the game? In the single player world, the goal is to survive and also have fun building things, but in the multiplayer space (as of the most recent build), all you do is create. There are bad-news monsters in single player that can kill you if you don’t run or fight back, and that’s fine and dandy. But the game really shines as a cooperative effort online, where you have the ability to make things with others. I personally have only played the single player for about fifteen minutes, but I am also lucky enough to know a lot of people that actively play. If you can get a few people together (with one that can host a server), this game becomes amazing.
To make all of these fantastical things, you need materials. To get materials, you dig. When you start the game, all you have available to you is your fat, square fist. You punch some dirt for a while and get some dirt. Every square of earth that you destroy turns into a tiny block that you can pick up and use, so that tiny dirt block becomes a usable item that you can build with. You have the ability to construct a ton of usable items from the materials you have gathered. For example, you start out empty handed, but if you are valiant enough to punch a tree to death and some stone, you can make a pickaxe, and with that pickaxe you will shape the world. You then will probably make a shovel for the dirt and an axe for trees. And then you destroy with the utmost efficiency. But then you build, and it’s glorious!
The terrain you begin with is randomly generated, so no two person’s game will be the same from the get-go. The online component is very interesting because the world expands as you explore (the single player game probably does this, but I haven’t checked). The game essentially grows as you need it to, creating more random terrain as you go. So many possibilities! The “ceiling” and the “floor” of the world are both high and low, respectively, as well. I built a tower (shown in that video) that’s about 30 stories tall that emerges from nearly the bottom of the earth and hits the highest of heights. You will have plenty of room to create.
Minecraft really is for people who played with Legos as a kid and never found an adequate substitute. Well here it is. You do have to purchase the game, but right now at its Alpha build it only about $13. When the game is officially released, it is supposed to be about $20, and it will be free to upgrade, so it is in your best interest to buy it now. And hey, it’s always fun to help someone who has made an awesome thing. And this is an awesome thing.
You can find Minecraft at its site, where you can download the game (PC and Mac), or you can simply play it in your browser. Yes, this game is THAT awesome (just don’t get caught playing at work). And if you have a computer that was made in the last five years, you really should have no problem running it. Go dig!