Minecraft — The ultimate sandbox

Minecraft is a game with blocky mod­els, low res­o­lu­tion tex­tures, only basic sound effects, and no plot. The AI is lim­ited at best, and inter­ac­tions are sim­plis­tic. You must play this game!

Con­fused? Every­thing in the pre­vi­ous para­graph is absolutely true, Minecraft was devel­oped by a small team, orig­i­nally just one devel­oper (since expanded to a hand­ful of peo­ple), there are no indus­try stan­dard design doc­u­ments, every­thing about the game flies in the face of con­ven­tional wisdom.

What makes the game a truly reward­ing expe­ri­ence is that although the inter­ac­tions between objects are sim­plis­tic, left click to destroy/​activate, right click to use/​build, the sheer num­ber of pos­si­ble inter­ac­tions cre­ates an emer­gent game­play expe­ri­ence where you can build almost any struc­ture or mech­a­nism you can think of. One indus­tri­ous player actu­ally built a work­ing com­puter proces­sor inside the game world. It takes up an area of land the size of mul­ti­ple foot­ball fields, but it works now obvi­ously the aver­age player won’t be mak­ing some­thing quite that com­plex, but it shows that nearly any­thing is pos­si­ble in this game.

The way the game starts is you’re thrown into a world of ran­domly gen­er­ated blocky ter­rain, you have noth­ing, but you can col­lect resources from the envi­ron­ment, and build some sim­ple tools, maybe even a small struc­ture. But then night comes, and mon­sters start to spawn. Which is one of those sim­ple inter­ac­tions, any com­pletely unlit area will spawn mon­sters, they can spawn in the day as well, but since most of the world is lit by the sun they won’t. Chances are unless you researched the game before play­ing those mon­sters caught you by sur­prise, and killed you. They aren’t too tough once you fig­ure out how to make torches and weapons though, and if you make a bed and sleep in a safe area you can even skip the night entirely.

Everyone’s expe­ri­ence is going to be dif­fer­ent since the game is ran­domly gen­er­ated, but to give you an idea of the com­plex­ity of the worlds, here are some screen caps of my home in singleplayer.

Front yard

Back yard

A labyrinthine nat­ural cave sys­tem under the house, the depths of which I haven’t com­pletely explored yet, but I leave torches behind as I do to make the next trip down a tad eas­ier (mon­sters spawn in the caves otherwise).

Unfor­tu­nately, unlike the last few games I reviewed, you’ll have to pay a small entry fee to play this game, you can find it at http://​www​.minecraft​.net

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