I have a problem. I lose track of the hours because they pass like minutes. I sleep through the afternoon because it’s practically dawn when I finally get to bed. I neglect my girlfriend because I don’t notice the phone going off. I actually had to make time to review that other –craft game! Why? Let me explain…
I first heard of Minecraft a while back when my little brother showed me he had been creating some 8-bit art (turns out a lot of people do that with the game). I thought nothing of it, but a couple weeks ago I remembered the name and went to its official website on a whim. After reading about the game and what it was about, I immediately paid the $13 for a full license because I knew it was right up my alley.
What the heck is Minecraft?
Minecraft is a sandbox-style building game with a variety of rather large blocks representing materials in the world’s environment. (Yes, its graphics are about on par with Doom; if you can’t look past that you might as well stop reading now.) Every map is procedurally generated with grassy plains, forested hills, sandy beaches, towering mountains, and most interestingly, sprawling networks of underground tunnels and caves. There is no real point of the game but to explore and build to your heart’s content. That, however, is where the similarities between the free and pay versions of the game end.
Classic mode (the free one) is purely a no-holds-barred virtual sandbox. You have access to unlimited materials of every type for building and you can destroy existing blocks instantly by bashing them with whatever you’re holding. Every map is randomly generated when you start playing, so if you don’t like what you see, it’s easy to start again with something fresh. Most people start wandering around, maybe building a castle or tower or something, but I’ve seen lots of art making creative use of the range of colors available. Then there’s stuff like this:
Notice how the shadow is very defined? Minecraft’s grass dynamically spreads to adjacent blocks of dirt if it has sunlight, but in the shade, the opposite happens. This effect is more pronounced in Classic because the sun is always in the high-noon position. There is actually a day-night cycle with dynamic lighting in Alpha, which I’ll delve into on the next page.