I’m ever so slightly addicted to Minecraft, the game that’s a cross between Lego, Quake and Sim City, and right now is the second biggest selling iPhone app in the States. I was going to write a blog post about it over the weekend, but didn’t – because I was playing Minecraft.
Generally speaking, I try and keep a healthy distance away from computer games. I’ve not switched my PS3 on for a game in six months, only because I know that if I order Assassins Creed III or such like, it’s ‘Game Over’ for my life. Games on my iPhone or iPad only cause temporary addictions (you can only play Plants vs Zombies for so long).
Anyway, however worried I am about the amount of time I’m sinking into Minecraft, I’ll still be less than 0.000000001% as addicted as a user called Lentebriesje, who’s creating the whole planet earth to 1:1500 scale. Wow! You might think he could be applying his undeniable skills to something more ‘useful’, but you can’t deny it’s an impressive feat.
Heres’s some pictures of the project, via PlanetMinecraft.com
Explaining how it’s done, Lentebriesje says:
“This custom terrain was made with the help of Worldpainter and a heightmap created using the ETOPO1 global relief map. This map was then cleaned up & tweaked and thereafter biomes and forests were painted on. The suggested use for this map would be to use it as a creative map, undergroud everything is stone.”
Here’s the link to the architect’s blog post, where he will keep fans updated on his progress mapping planet earth.
Hang on, I’m confused, what is on earth is Minecraft and why is it so popular?
The first version of Minecraft was created by a Swedish chap called Markus “Notch” Persson as a PC-based game in 2009 and has been released on iOS, Android and Xbox 360. It essentially has two modes: “Creative”, where players have unlimited resources to create their own world; and “Survival” which has finite resources and challenges players to gather enough materials to survive the night-time, when zombies and other creatures come out. There’s also a mutli-player version, which I haven’t tried, while players can also host Minecraft on their own servers and make up their own rules (there’s a sub-culture of Star Wars inspired challenges, for example).
To date, Minecraft has been sold over 18 million times, making Markus Persson filthy rich. It’s pretty impressive for what appears to be a simple game and has been created for a fraction of the budget of other blockbuster hits such as Assassins Creed or Call of Duty. For me, the appeal is a combination of the simplicity of playing and its creative open endedness.
I’m often put off buying games, especially on the PS3, because I know they require a significant time investment to become rewarding. With Minecraft, it’s advisable to check out some of the beginners’ guides on YouTube before starting, but once you’ve watched them out and had a play, you’ll get the hang of the basics within half an hour.
The creative side is apparent to anyone who grew up playing Lego. There’s no way I’m going to invest the time taken to create some of the environments shown in the video below or Lentebriesj’s planet earth, but it’s still rewarding to collect the resources to build a medieval tower, before battening down the hatches for a Zombie-infested night-time.
Another reason to like Minecraft is its innocence. Yes, there are zombies and creepers, but you can’t compare the blocky, cartoon baddies with unsettlingly realistic shoot ‘em ups, like Call of Duty. Minecraft’s violence extends to chasing and killing a cartoon pig. And even that has an educational message…. you can eat it.