MUVE platforms – Minecraft

Minecraft is a Multi User Virtual Environment. It is a 3D block builder game where a user is a character that is free to explore the progressively generated infinite world. Minecraft worlds are made up using a variety of different blocks (one meter square in size). Virtually all the blocks can be interacted with. The main aim of the game is to survive (in survival mode, other modes are available) the hostile world using the blocks to build structures and tools/weapons. All the blocks have different purposes and when picked up from the environment most can be used to “craft” other items.

Minecraft 1.9.2 12_04_2016 3_19_48 AM.png

Minecraft has a built in crafting system that is used by picking up items from the environment and using them in a combination of different ways to create new items. For example wood, taken when a tree is cut down, can be made into planks, which can be turned into sticks and then the sticks and be used to make a ladder. That ladder can then be placed in the world, allow the user to then climb the ladder.

There is a variety of different computer controlled non-player characters in the game also. These are broken into hostile mobs and non-hostile characters and animals. Hostile mobs only appear (spawn) in dark areas or at night. While non-hostile characters and animals spawn in when the world is developed or by the user “breading” them in the right conditions.

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All these come together to create the minecraft world. You then play as the character called Steve, a block representation of a human, in first person. You have to stay alive by growing and cooking food to keep your health from eventually decreasing which will lead to death. Mobs can also hurt you which will decrease your health, so you will need to fight these off. To help stay alive you can collect blocks to build a structure to keep the mobs out. You can go mining underground for coal and metals. Coal will be needed for cooking items and for torches.
You can go about surviving anyway you want. It’s all up to you.

If trying to survive is not your forte and you just want to build amazing structures then there is  creative mode. This is where the mobs don’t attack you and the games allows you to cheat in every block in the game.

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Multiplayer;

Minecraft also has multiplayer built in. This allows user to play together in worlds, both in survival and creative, in real time. There is no limit to how many players can play together although connection speeds and server capabilities limit this. Users can interact in the world by giving items to other users and communicating through a text based chat that is built in. The chat allows user to directly chat to other users but by default messages sent go to all users.
Whole communities of gamers have been formed around one online world. Groups of user’s role play together, survive together or create together.

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There have been servers setup with minigames. This is where users a pitted against each other to complete a challenge while staying alive or be the last man standing. The user can do these individually or in a team.

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Minecraft multiplayer doesn’t allow much in the way of personal player customization, the user can change their players skin colors and wear a cape if they choose. The main user expression is through the structures they build in world or there playing style.

Who it is developed by?

Minecraft was originally developed by Markus “Notch” Persson and then further developed and published by Mojang. Development started in May 2009 but it wasn’t published until November 2011. Mojang has since been sold to Microsoft (November 2014) for the absorbent amount of 2.8 billion US dollars.

The game is still in development through the release of versions. As of 21/03/2016 they are up to version 1.9. Each iteration of the game brings in new features or bug fixes that have be found.

Minecraft was originally developed on Windows, OS X and Linux and was released these platforms on release. Other platforms quickly followed. Below is the full release dates and the different platforms the game is available on.

Different Platforms Release dates

How well it runs?

Minecraft is built using the programming language Javascript. Therefor Java needs to be installed on your computer. The requirements to run the game are very low meaning that all new and many older systems will run it lag free.

From my experience in game there is little to no lag all the time. There can be the occasional lag spike as the game generates a new section of land. But this is when the game is used in moderation. When players build enormous structures or spawn in hundreds of non-player characters then lag spikes can become more frequent as the game has to track all the blocks or characters. Other things known to introduce lag are better texture packs and mods.
Texture packs can cause lag as they change the textures that the different blocks and characters use. Most texture packs have better quality textures which put added strain on graphics cards.
Mods can cause lag because they are extras to the game. If they are well written there impact will be minimum but large mods or poorly written mods can cause lag. Mods are used to add extra functionality to the game with a variety of different mods often used together to create a modpack. These modpacks are often well tested. Feed The Beast is a launcher that launches the minecraft with modpacks installed.

How it compares to others?

When minecraft was released there were very few games that were similar. It allowed users a new sense of adventure and allowed more creativity than before. Even though the game is relatively simple it allows for creativity only limited by the mind. Recently there have been many releases of games that are similar to minecraft or try to copy its game play style. I find that many people new to gaming start with minecraft (maybe it’s a gateway game). I think it is because so many others have played it and it is easy to learn but allows the user to progress to complicated builds. It also allows for many different gameplay styles. You can play for the adventure, the survival or the creative style or mix them all. Other games are normally focused around one or the other.

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The multiplayer aspect of minecraft is simple to grasp as well. There are lots of servers available to play on for free. These servers are normally focussed around the different playing styles. There are others that host minigames, for example last man standing, PVP (player vs player) matches and team games.
Users can also create their own local hosts or rent servers and have the and online game hosted there. The developers have recently released a version with a service called minecraft realms.

Realms.PNG

This allows the user to rent a server from in the game menu.
Many other games don’t have these features integrated yet or never will. This put minecraft above the competitors.

What your impressions of it are?

I have personally put around or over 500 hours into minecraft, mainly modded minecraft. This time has been both single and multiplayer games. I have enjoyed it. It is a simple game to learn and a great way to explore to create side of you mind. It is easy to get immersed in the world. That is the thing that got me with minecraft is how fast time past while playing the game. It felt like you had been playing for about an hour but actually it would be like 3 hours. This is the first game that really had this experience with.
I think that minecraft is a great learning tool also. I know of lots of people that have got into programming java through minecraft. I personally learnt a lot about setting up public servers and server management through hosting minecraft servers myself.
There are so many great aspects to minecraft. It covers such a broad spectrum of areas in the gaming community.

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