"11. Ahawks This may be "confidential" information, but I have to ask: As a developer, I am amazed at the amazing world that's created dynamically. Towering mountains, twisting caves opening up to caverns, islands, precious ores sprinkled throughout, etc. Notch, could you explain at a high level how the world generation algorithm does this?
I'm not sure how to explain it without getting technical.. The complicated high level technical version is: First I generate a linearly interpolated 3d perlin noise offset along the y axis. I fill that in so that everything except the top x blocks is stone, then I do a second pass to add features like grass, trees, gravel, sand, caves and flowers. The world is generated in chunks of 16x16x128 blocks, based of pseudorandom seeds that are a mix of the level base seed and the chunk location in the world. This ensures that you always get the same terrain in an area regardless of what direction you traveled there from."
Ken Musgrave's work on Terrain rendering is worth a look. He did similar things. The book 'Texturing and Modeling: A Procedural Approach' gives a nice explanation of a lot of the techniques and they used to give a course at SIGGRAPH on which the book was based but I can't find a link right now
If anyone is interested there it is - written in C++ with SDL, libparagui and a few other SDL_* libraries. Probably compiling it will be hard - I've used libparagui that was in gentoo at that time, then I've learned it is patched version, and on other systems older version was in the package managers.
Strange that nobody seems to have asked the obvious question: what does he think makes the game so much fun? More specifically, how much thought/effort did he think into getting the creeper/sound/cave mechanics just the right amount of scary/destructive? I imagine it's intentional that dying can easily make you lose all of your inventory (that is, 5 minute decay). How vital are these decisions to how fun the game is?