Minecraft has become a rather big sensation among avid PC gamers over the last few years, and the game has finally ‘gone gold’ and offers a retail version now. That being the case, the classic version is now available to play, for free, on the Minecraft website.
Back in 2009 a smart guy named Markus Persson quit his job as a game developer for a company, and decided to work on his own indie games.
Independent game developers are rapidly becoming a contender in the world of game development, especially for the PC and Mac platforms. Mr. Persson was a bit ahead of his time, perhaps, as he was one of the first to make the transition successfully, with Minecraft. These days, you can find tons of great indie games online, some for free, some for cost.
Places like DigiPen (a great game development school) produce excellent games that are rather indie since they are produced by students at the school. Indie games are rapidly becoming a viable alternative to spending fifty dollars on a game that might last you twenty hours. Gamers want value for their hard earned cash, and they don’t care if it comes from a big glitzy studio or from a group of guys working out of a garage and hopped up on Red Bull. The end result is the important thing.
Markus tells us that the idea of Minecraft (classic) was already there in a game called Infiniminer from TigSource. After playing the Infiniminer game for a while, it became obvious to Markus that such a game concept could turn into a really fun and dynamic game, if the right attention and care was paid to developing it. He continued to think about things he would add or modify in the game and what it might look like in a finished version. “There were plenty of ideas floating around in my head,” says Markus, “But most of them required a really long development time.” Given that he didn’t have a job anymore, he was perhaps concerned that if he dove into those ideas he might not be able to complete them. Minecraft was therefore the best option to pursue. The rest, as they say, is history.
Minecraft quickly grew in popularity among the people who had been lucky enough to try it. It combined so many different concepts from different games, and kept the underlying ‘builder’ nature from being submersed in features and challenges. As the program neared its first completed stage, more and more people were talking about it, and when that first version was released in a private circulation, word of mouth spread like wildfire among the gaming community about this great game that was dynamic and all about personal customization. It was an underground hit, at that point, and by the time the final retail version was released, it met with grand approval and acclaim almost before anyone could load it. This is a perfect example of the synergy between information and software in cyberspace, and many other small indie companies have taken their cue from Mr. Persson’s success.
So, with the advent of the retail version of Minecraft, in which you have to deal with killer zombies at night and dastardly pitfalls and catastrophes during the day, not to mention all the building you have to do, the “classic” version of Minecraft is now available to play using Java on the Minecraft website! This is exciting, because it gives everyone a taste of what Minecraft is like, at its core, and also because it’s just plain fun!
For those who are not familiar with Minecraft, it works like this: You are a miner, with a magic hammer that can destroy blocks or build them, depending on which mouse button you push. There are many different kinds of blocks, too. Everything from grass, stone, metal, and wood to exploding TNT blocks, glass blocks that you can see through, and even flower blocks for decoration. Each block can be placed or destroyed one at a time. The dynamic nature of this, as mentioned, is that you can build almost anything you can imagine, block by block, in this 3d pixel world. The graphics are retro, as they say, but even they blocky pixels don’t take away from the fun of unlimited building power and potential.
Now, this is not a demo version of the Minecraft retail game. It is an early development version that has been polished and presented on a Java platform so you can play it on the web. It gives you a taste of the retail game, yes, but it is a full blown game all by itself, and is perfect for the more casual gamer as well. Personally, I find much joy and peace in playing it, building castles and caverns to explore. Sometimes you’ll get unexpected mishaps, like a lake flowing in through a hole you didn’t notice and flooding your building. If you get tired of what you’ve created, or you just want a bit of variety, you can create a whole new world with one click in the menu and begin anew. If you register at the site (totally free and painless) you can save your crafts and come back to them later. You can also play multiplayer or host your own server for others to play!
If you’ve ever heard of Minecraft and want to see what some of the fuss is about, or if you just want to try out a really nifty building game, Minecraft Classic is for you. Until next time, my friends.