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New Game: Minecraft Earth (minecraft.net)
441 points by eDameXxX 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 227 comments

Since there's not much info on this, and since I missed the relevant thread last week, I'll just note here for the record that Mojang's other recent release, a browser-based retro game called Minecraft Classic, was built on my voxel game engine.

[game] https://classic.minecraft.net/

[engine] https://github.com/andyhall/noa/

if anyone's interested. It's pretty weird waking up one morning to find out that Mojang built a game on your tiny solo project...

Interesting note indeed. I remember there being a different Minecraft Classic mode from somewhere around 2009-10 that just ran on Java and you could play it through a browser (Java applet I guess) or download a Java client. The server was in Java too, of course. So perhaps they decided to rewrite it in JS?

I used to be an admin on one server and split my time between building stuff and banning griefers/undoing the griefing on the main worlds to make everything pretty again. Great memories.

Minecraft Classic was the original Java based game around that time.

Congratulations! Really cool of them and you. Is there a statement from Minecraft how much they'll be developing this?

Thank you! But I don't know a thing about it - I only found out it existed because an internet citizen looked at the source and let me know.

It's a little bizarre that they didn't get in touch with you at all.

It would have been friendly, but FWIW they seem to have forked my project in mid 2017, so I'm guessing it's an experiment and got shelved and later revived.

So it's easy to imagine a scenario where the people who ultimately released it last week weren't really aware of how much it uses external libraries - mine, and also a 3D engine called Babylon.js (who also weren't contacted).

Modus operandi of predatory organisations.

Or, completely in keeping with the open source license he made it under?


Amazing - you are given the power to choose your own license and choose how you want people to view your source code, yet people are STILL unhappy and surprised when you comply in the exact way you wanted them to.

Having trouble controlling classic.minecraft.net on Win10/Firefox (with uMatrix but everything requested whitelisted). Anyone have a discussion site / advice?

Edit: got the mouse to switch by invoking 'b' to choose block. Going to be a learning curve, a near newbie in Minecraft.

Word to the wise: they have the mouse sensitivity set very low and there's no option for it, but you can open the JS console and twiddle "noa.cameraControls.rotationScale".

what an achievement, good job! I hope you'll get handsomely paid for it, cheers

Unless the parent were to be hired in some capacity, why would they be paid for it? The project has the MIT License.

and now the reason for the GNU GPL license becomes apparent. If some unfathomably wealthy corporation founded by one of the richest person to have ever lived isn't going to pay you for your work, at least you can get something out of it by making them open source their work.

As a maintainer of several OS projects with millions of monthly downloads I'm entirely fine with them using it for free. I get too much compensation and recognition for those projects as is anyway IMO and the swag is nice.

There are plenty of ways to monetise MIT like consulting, career building, training and so on - at least for smaller scale but popular projects. Plus OP can now say that a big game studio used his project and it could be a great conference talk :]

> I get too much compensation and recognition for those projects as is anyway

I think this is the first time I've heard an OSS maintainer say that!

I think that the micro-celebritism is tiring and toxic for our industry, most of my open source stuff is stuff other people could write and I'm just glad I have the privilege to help.

I'm literally writing this comment from an airport at a country I wanted to visit and was flown into because of open source I wrote (they paid for a vacation for a conference). I'm having a hard time complaining :]

It's not like maintainer burnout isn't real and there aren't issues in open source but we also really need to fix the culture around it IMO.

If this library was GPL licensed, Mojang/Microsft wouldn’t have bothered taking the time to even evaluate it.

How do you know? I always evaluate GPL code, keeping in mind I could try and offer the maintainer a fee for a private license.

All code is implicitly dual licensed, for the right price. Only some of it explicitly so :)

It's only that simple if it's all written by the same person.

A maintainer can't just re-license the whole project unless all other authors agree (or already agreed to that e.g. by accepting some contributor agreement).

Or did you mean a price high enough to just ignore the existing license?

That's an interesting dilemma. If your goal is to get your source code to be used by lots of people, then it seems logical to use an as permisive license as possible to "compete" with other open source projects. But it might be short-sighted, because then if your code gets incorporated in proprietary projects it may become used a lot, but it won't propagate, it won't generate new projects that might get even more use. If on the other hand you want to get your source code into the hands of as many people as possible (that is not only users but empowered ones), that's different, and a licence like the GPL that is inherited (I don't like the term "viral" very much, it seems too pejorative) seems better, but then they can't compete against more permissive licences, so they can't "reproduce" that well either !

This is a "tragedy of the commons" of sorts. If all open source projects could collaborate and choose a single license, what would it be ?

> That's an interesting dilemma.

It's not a dilemma at all for those that explicitly choose the GPL over MIT because they believe in Free Software (others might choose GPL for other reasons....).

Being Free and having every user of the software retain their Freedom is the literal point of the GPL. Saying "hey, your software would be used by lots more people if we make a proprietary product out of it" is undermining the entire point of the Free Software movement....

So it's more ethical if 10 people use your software and they retain their Freedom, then it is for 10 million to use it bundled in a proprietary product.

> If all open source projects could collaborate and choose a single license, what would it be ?

I don't think this is possible really. Even the FSF who IMO are some of the most vocal supporters of user and developer empowerment created the LGPL to solve this very problem. Some of their software (like glibc) is licensed under the more permissive LGPL instead of the GPL to foster adoption[0].

An except from [0]:

> This is why we used the Lesser GPL for the GNU C library. After all, there are plenty of other C libraries; using the GPL for ours would have driven proprietary software developers to use another—no problem for them, only for us.

[0] https://www.gnu.org/licenses/why-not-lgpl.html

Then in that case a developer like the guy who made that library would have gotten paid!

This sort of thing is the entire purpose of the MIT License, though. It’s like saying “Hey world, I made a thing. You’re free to use it for whatever you’d like if you’re interested”

Which is why we need to stop promoting it as the default choice for everything.


I think it is great that the default option is "hey world! Do whatever you want with this!".

Anything that promoted the free flow of information, technology, and innovation is a good thing IMO.

> Anything that promoted the free flow of information, technology, and innovation is a good thing IMO.

Absolutely. And MIT fails spectacularly on that, since it doesn't consider the behaviour of downstream dependees.

GPL likely wouldn't have had any effect here.

Classic is offered over the web, so only the AGPL would be relevant (or well, I'm not actually sure how GPL applies to JS apps served over the web but run in browser), and anyway, it's not like MS is making money from Minecraft classic, for a lot of people they did get something out of it: a cool game.

When JavaScript is served to a browser, it is distributed and thus anything that uses a GPLed JavaScript library must be GPL too.

I don't think any experts (including the FSF who wrote the license) believe this to be true. That's why the AGPL exists.

Chris, you know better than this nonsense. No experts know the answer, but the FSF strongly advocates the position that JS running on your computer is just like any other software running on your computer. The AGPL was written to require a server operator to free their patches to software running on their server, not in your browser.

https://www.fsf.org/news/announcing-js-labels https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/javascript-trap.en.html

It isn't at all clear how courts will decide the case if such a case ever comes to trial.

The AGPL exists to close a loophole for code running on the server. Code being served to the client obviously needs the permission of the code’s copyright holder. Otherwise, all those movie piracy streaming sites wouldn’t get constantly shut down.

> it's not like MS is making money from Minecraft classic

Of course they are, it's part of the franchise so at the very least it's an advertisement for all the other Minecraft things you can buy.

In the same way that this OSS game engine is an advertisement for the developer who created it.

To some extent, but going down this road leads to "artists should be thankful for exposure".

MS is a for-profit company. If offering Minecraft classic made them no money, they wouldn't do it.

This is a cynical and wrong viewpoint. Companies are made up of people, and people don't always act in the absolute for-profit interests of the companies. Further, companies can, and do, sometimes take actions that aren't directly profit oriented. And the trope about shareholder liability making it illegal for a company to not act in a directly profitable way is wrong.

It's a cynical and mostly correct viewpoint. Companies that don't make their workers act in their profit interests exist, but they aren't successful. Microsoft is not among them.

When the market works, at least. So it's actually quite possible that Microsoft is being nice and "inefficient" here.

“Mostly correct” is also “somewhat incorrect”.

Also, I think there are probably sufficiently small decreases in expected profit ithat many large companies would tolerate.

And even aside from that, there is the possibility of a choice between options which does not have any large-enough-to-predict-or-evaluate-its-direction impact on the bottom line, and in these cases, the decision will likely be made in accordance with how some people working there prefer.

> “Mostly correct” is also “somewhat incorrect”.

No model is perfect. I guess I should prioritize rhetorics in the future lest someone use my honesty against me.

> Also, I think there are probably sufficiently small decreases in expected profit ithat many large companies would tolerate.

There aren't. A company that accepts decreases in profit does not become large, it fails against its more psychopathic competitors.

> And even aside from that, there is the possibility of a choice between options which does not have any large-enough-to-predict-or-evaluate-its-direction impact on the bottom line, and in these cases, the decision will likely be made in accordance with how some people working there prefer.

If a company cannot predict whether an action is profitable, it will always decide against it and instead invest its resources in something that is.

When I said "sufficiently small" I was including stuff on the order of "an average of .01 cents total as the result of the policy".

> it fails against its more psychopathic competitors

I see no reason why choosing to lose an expected value of .01 cents total, would result in failing against a competitor which does not do so. That just doesn't make sense. It isn't like there is a ranking of "what company in this field made the most profit", and then all of them other than the top 1 or 2 are immediately destroyed each month. No, a company runs out of business when it is not sufficiently profitable. Now, if something results in their products being more expensive, or something like that, in a way that significantly changes their profitability, or other things which might slightly change their per-unit profitability, then yeah, that could make them non-viable.

But, like,

have you worked in a large company? There are certainly inefficiencies in large companies which are the result of the continued choices of individual employees, even among large successful companies. This is obvious.

Companies are not able to perfectly optimize for profitability, even if they wanted to.

All of that is just companies making errors, not intentionally foregoing profits.

> It isn't like there is a ranking of "what company in this field made the most profit", and then all of them other than the top 1 or 2 are immediately destroyed each month.

The process is not that quick, but in principle, this is exactly how markets work. The most profitable companies undercut all others, which then go under. Provided markets work, that is.

This would lead to only a single company.

Like I said well upthread, this is a cynical and wrong viewpoint. The real world doesn't operate as an efficient market, doesn't operate over infinite timescales, doesn't have ways to exactly calculate the proftabilitiy of a decision or action.

It is overly cynical, and mostly wrong, to take microeconomics 101 theory and try to apply it to a world that doesn't fit any of the microecon 101 assumptions.

On the other hand, you can make a profit-driven motive argument for practically any action a company takes if you try hard enough, even literally giving money away.

Had it been licenced gpl, Mojang would probably not have used it.

Then someone would have gotten paid to make it.

fenomas used a MIT license so Microsoft doesn’t have to pay them, unless Microsoft feels charitable.

Sure. Doesn't change the _hope_. There are lots of good things in this world that happen for reasons other than legal requirements.

And it doesn't have to be charity either - MS could recognize a good chance to spend an insignificant (to them) amount to get good PR in an open source community they've been trying to warm up to.

The best compensation they could do is reach out to Microsoft/Mojang for a job. Being the author of the game engine for a company's product is probably #1 in qualifications.

Unfortunately Minecraft Classic is just a recreation of the game from 10 years ago in the browser. I doubt it's going to get further development.

That said the author of the engine has definitely achieved something here.

Sucks that a multi-billion dollar franchise looks like it is walking all over you, are they contributing anything back?

Funnily enough, it looks like noa is built on the Babylon.js engine, which was the side project of some Microsoft employees, released under the Apache license, written in TypeScript. So it seems that open source software has stimulated some mutual benefit to all involved -- and rather more directly than usual.

Yes, Babylon does the 3D rendering while noa does meshing, physics, entities and such.

Curiously, the Babylon people also didn't hear about the minecraft game until after it launched, even though their engine is being used and they're all under the Microsoft umbrella.

It's under the MIT license. Sure giving something back would be a nice gesture but there's no reason to say they are 'walking over' them.

The FPS counter is horribly off.

Not sure why the negative points here. The game plays extremely laggy and with input delay on my Surface Pro 3, yet the FPS counter shows always above 40fps, usually over 100.

The FPS counter is horribly off and does not represent real life.

I agree, the counter is certainly odd. That bit of code is Mojang's, I'm not sure what it's measuring.

That said, I take no responsibility for it being laggy - the version of my engine they're using is from 2017 and I've done some performance stuff since then :D

Thanks for the reply! Not blaming you (you've done awesome job here!), just bringing up an interesting point and was hoping to get insight but apparently not so much :/

I hear you. FWIW I think they might be measuring how long the render takes and then showing the inverse of that as the FPS. If so, that would equate to a kind of theoretical maximum frame rate. The code is minimized though, and I didn't look very carefully.

This reminds me of when I first discovered Minecraft in university. I was just going to play for a couple hours before bed, and I got sucked into the game-loop and before I knew it the sun was coming up. A few days later, I was walking toward the railroad crossing I often had to wait at between my house and campus, and just for a moment looked at those tracks and I seriously thought about where I should place the Minecraft blocks to build a bridge and avoid waiting for the train.

I decided to take a long break from Minecraft after that.

>A few days later, I was walking toward the railroad crossing I often had to wait at between my house and campus, and just for a moment looked at those tracks and I seriously thought about where I should place the Minecraft blocks to build a bridge and avoid waiting for the train.

This is called the tetris effect. I've had it with, you guessed it, tetris. Whenever I get a bout of addiction and play tetris for an hour at a time I get up from the computer and just start seeing the stuff around me start fitting together in an interlocking fashion.

Happened with 2048 as well, I vividly remember being stopped at a red light and feeling the car in front of me fusing the one ahead to make a bigger-numbered car. Very weird.

Happens when coding as well, in fact it is happening right now as I type this! I'm having this very strong urge to wrap all "key" words in this post [like so], in ocaml documentation syntax.

(* Brains are weird! *)

Try spending ~20 hours in a week playing serious racing sims complete with wheel and real-feeling pedals, then hopping into your car on the weekend to drive cross-state to visit family.

I also got this with programming at least once. I had been spending all night trying to get something with my WPF view models working (and failing). When I finally got into bed, I was having trouble falling asleep because I was just "seeing" endless lines of code scrolling through my head. I very distinctly remember thinking, "What order do I have to call these methods again to successfully enter sleep mode?" Quite a bizarre experience.

I once was woken up in the middle of the night by stomach cramps. The project I was working on for a financial customer was in crunch mode, so as I sat down on the crapper I started thinking if I was pooping from a balance or an off-balance account. A moment later I realized that was a dumb question: you can't keep the food you've eaten on your balance sheet! It took me a minute more or so to finally come to my senses.

I've had experiences like that with a crying newborn in the middle of the night. I visualized a terminal full of log messages and considered what commands to run or if I should just reboot and see if that fixed the problem. Started laughing when I woke up a little more, haha.

I've had some similar experiences. When that happened I couldn't sleep very well and pretty much dreamt of code.

My sleep code always compiles and always works as intended.

It was really easy to tell dreams apart from reality until the compilers started working.

This happened to me back in college when I was into NFS Underground which gave players points for swiping as close to oncoming cars as possible ("Near Miss"). After a few long and intense sessions I would have the urge to swipe close to cars IRL anytime I went out in my car. It was fascinating and a bit scary; not only did I have the urge, it was really strong as well.

Happened to me with Portal.

I blew up on CivIII in the 90s and have not been able to play anything more intense than "Just Get 10" on my phone since then.

I mean, this is better than the time I stayed up all night playing GTA San Andreas in a friend's dorm room during college and while drowsily stumbling home felt an intense need to flee when I heard police sirens approaching.

I was relieved when that story didn't end with you taking your money back from a dead hooker.

I received Shenmue for Christmas, 2000. The in-game date shows on every loading screen, starting on December 3rd. I played it so much that first week, the dates intersected and then passed the real life date. Until I beat the game, I kept thinking it was the Shenmue date in the real world. It was a surreal experience.

My kids are obsessed. Literally everything they say to me starts with "Daddy, on minecraft, ...." It's all they talk about, including with each other. They even act it out in playtime. Although as someone who has never played I basically understand nothing they are telling me.

It seems pretty creative tho, and they seem to be learning a lot from it, so not too bothered. That said they are limited to 1 hour per sat and sun.

Mine got into it aged 8 and 9 and at least one of them still plays occasionally. She's 14 now. No regrets, it’s been good for them. It’s 21st century Lego. They create homes and worlds and share them with their friends, play competitive building games online, play team games of all sorts. It seems like a great online play space with a strong creative streak in it.

I think it's a much better use of their time than watching cartoons. Although I did get my girls into Sailor Moon and the modern run of My Little Pony. I'm a strong believer in giving kids a grounding in the Classics.

The classics for me were Urusei Yatsura, Lupin III, Captain Tsubasa, Mirai Shōnen Conan, Goldrake/Grendizer... man, I feel old.

"...a grounding in the Classics." Thanks, that made me laugh!

Minecraft is one of the few games that I think everyone should try. It's not just "another video game", but something quite unique. It hits a certain part of the brain in both "creative expression" and "exploring the unknown" that we exercise so rarely in day to day life (or in other games). It's no wonder it really sticks with kids and becomes a way for them to express imagination. Make sure you sit down and try playing with them at some point, it'll be a fun learning experience for everyone involved.

I don't know; I tried minecraft, and just...couldn't get into it. I did play dwarf fortress briefly, though, and I think that gave me some of the feelings people who get really sucked into minecraft get.

most people find it more engaging with friends (like most games), but df will definitely scratch a lot of similar itches

I prefer to explore alone, no creative mode. I let my kids in my world sometimes.

You should give slime rancher a go. It has some neat mechanics while still being somewhat open world.

What would be a sensible minimum age for minecraft?

As soon as they can use a mouse and keyboard or controller. Seriously though, there's no mature themes in it at all, and if the gameplay is too difficult there's always creative mode which is literally digital legos.

There's also a multiplayer where they can connect to servers and play with other people. That's where you might want to use some discretion, as the experience will vary from server to server.

Solo modes: whenever they can manipulate the interface.

Online/shared server modes: when they understand the evils of the internet well enough to be safe.

Setup and admin a server yourself. Watch how they play. Dont let it get too big. A dozen or two per server. Dont let them play with thousands of total strangers. That always ends in tears.

Can a server be hosted at home, or does it need to be on a proper hosting platform? Windows or linux?

The server is in java, so can be run where you want really. You can check this out: https://www.minecraft.net/en-us/download/server/

You can host the java version of the server on any machine.

You can also just expose any client's game instance to your local LAN - that's all I do when playing with my grandkids.

There are ways of doing multiplayer on your local LAN with a single account as well by simply editing your name in a single config file per machine. Google is your friend there. :)

On top of what others have mentioned:

There are basically two version of Minecraft at this point. The "classic" Java version, and the MCPE version, which is what you get on Apple devices, Android and the "native" Windows 10 version.

The latter has "realms", where you can just pay to have Microsoft host it for you, and is tied into Xbox Live.

The official names of the different versions are "Java Edition" and "Bedrock Edition".

Java Edition is the one that lets you run your own server, is more moddable, and works on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Bedrock Edition is the one that works on Windows, consoles, and mobile. People can invite people into their own world as long as they're online. Your only private server option is Realms, which is a subscription service. (Edit: Apparently there is finally publicly-available server software for Bedrock Edition. I doubt it's very moddable though, so don't expect to be able to run a public server with all the modded tools you'd expect if you were familiar with running Java Edition servers. Also, I don't think the console versions of Minecraft can join arbitrary servers.)

The Java Edition and Bedrock edition are not cross-compatible with each other. They are fully compatible within each-other though. Bedrock Edition supports cross-play between different consoles and PC, etc.

I play what I thought way the recent version and I can play with my daughter (on the same LAN) by selecting Friends and clicking her game.

you can run a server at home, also the java client can run as the server so if people are on the same LAN they can connect directly to whoever opens their world to LAN. If you want to play with friends or relatives remotely then the easiest, but not the cheapest, option is Minecraft Realms which allows you to control the player access list.

There is a Bedrock Edition server now. Very light on resources over the Java version too.

I've used this:

- https://gamocosm.com/

to host an Internet-accessible server pretty easily (on a DigitalOcean droplet).

For playing alone in the game? 5 years old.

For playing with random internet people? 30 years old

My daughter started around 4 after she could hold an Xbox 1 controller. She could hardly push any buttons or move the characters around in the beginning, but within a few weeks she had mastered the common stuff. She usually sticks to creative mode because the monsters used to scare her. She got over that too after learning how to spawn them herself and then it became: how many skeletons can I fit in my house? It's been amazing to watch her growth.

As soon as they always want the tablet you're better off compromising on Minecraft than fighting screen time head on

My littlest were scared of the zombie pigmen. I'd say around 7 or 8.

You can set the difficulty to 'peaceful' to get rid of all the scary stuff.

the tedious mining is definitely unique...

holding down the mouse button to mine is creative expression?

There’s always Creative mode if you don’t like the resource constraint dynamic. The mining in Survival mode is a challenge to think your way out of. You have to be smart to know the most productive ways to get the resources you need. You have to evaluate trade offs between your ideal structure and materials against what’s available in the environment. Sometimes you have to strike out to explore for greener pastures.

It’s way better than automated skinner boxes that pretend to be games...

>holding down the mouse button to mine

And football is just kicking a ball in a pitch, and racing games is just going in circles in a track. Obviously there's more to it than that simplistic reduction. In particular, you have to think where you mine, how you organise your explorations. Then, you can run into myriad things as you explore: caves, water, lava, dungeons, monster spawners, many types of ore and rock...

And if you don't fancy that and just want the equivalent of a bottomless box of legos, just fire up creative mode.

> you have to think where you mine

Never straight down. Or straight up. Ye gods, the lava.

You might have missed the point.

Sounds like a good time for a valuable life lesson about gauging counterparty interest in the topic at hand. Which so many people in the CS program at uni could have used.

shudders, remembering a 20 minute "conversation" about DnD crossbow rules I somehow ended up in

Eh, sounds like these are young kids. It's more important to let them be excited about something and share that with you. Besides, what shared interests do you really have as a parent? It's not like your kids are going to discuss politics or their critique of Avengers: Endgame.

(not the gp)

I agree with you, ethbro, it is a valuable life lesson. I can personally attribute most of my social successes to the ability to gauge the interlocutor and their interests, and such a skill will gain one a rep as a good listener.

Not in reference to the aforementioned children, because that's normal behavior for kids, but I think of active listening as not being a conversational sociopath.

I'm convinced some people instead have a mantra of "When do I get to talk again?" looping in their head whenever someone else is speaking.

On the other hand, I feel like some people have internalized this idea a bit too well, and apply it in places it doesn’t belong, becoming offended (for social-norm-violation reasons) when someone gives a tangential reply in a threaded comment system like HN’s or Reddit’s, because the tangent is “derailing the conversation” or “not addressing the topic.”

Except, of course, that’s impossible; a tangential reply likely won’t even be the first reply people see in the sub-thread, after they get re-sorted by vote, so the only people who will engage with it are the people who never cared about the original topic in the first place.

Sounds like you caught a drift of the Tetris Effect.


When I was playing Assassin's Creed I kept analyzing buildings for the best way to parkour to the top. Now I'm playing Stardew Valley and every vacant space looks like a good spot to plant strawberries.

The difference is that empty spaces really are a good place to plant strawberries.

I always get these weird experiences when I've been really into playing some game, and then happen to half wake up in the middle of the night. I'll be in this bizarre half-awake, half-asleep state where I'm quasi-dreaming that I'm living in the game world and I won't be able to get the dream/hallucination to stop.

Right now I'm getting seriously into Factorio, and I had this experience a few nights ago. I half-woke up and kept having these thought-hallucinations about the best method to use to optimize the way my resource refiners were feeding into my main bus, because I needed to make X% more sleep-cogs in order to go back to sleep.

It's actually kind of infuriating when it happens, sometimes it keeps me in that half-awake state for as long as thirty minutes. Been happening to me since I was a kid.

I have the same thing but with Breath of the Wild. I want to climb buildings and hang glide across the city.

That reminds me of when I first discovered emulators as a kid and was playing a lot of SNES Mario classics and shamelessly abusing the quicksave/load functionality. I was playing so much I remember walking around IRL and having the thought pop into my head "this would be a good time to quicksave"

Similar thing happened to me—I downloaded it in the evening, because I'd heard people talking about it and it sounded interesting. My wife came down at 3:30 in the morning wondering where on earth I was.

It happens to me with Google, When I lose something at home the first thing I think about is how do I google where to find it

The first time I played it (infdev or indev) I think I played it nonstop for 24h+, then I basically never played it again.

As for the "seeing blocks". I had a period where I played some form of match-3 game, and while walking around I couldn't stop imagining arranging people walking into threes.

This looks ambitious enough to be met with skepticism. What matters most for gameplay is the UX implementation and AR has serious barriers to overcome in that regard. Holding a device up at eye level for extended periods, interacting with the game by touching the same device that is also serving as the viewport and battery limitations are just a few practical hurdles that have yet to be overcome.

What is really hard to believe is that one can recapture the experience or something close to it and that this is not just the expansion of a brand into a new product. Like Pokemon Go, this will likely be Minecraft's equivalent to the Star Wars Christmas Special but without the "so bad it's good" quality.

The biggest issue I see is building, because builds take a long time and you don't want to stand around using the worst input imaginable (touch screen) to do nice builds.

Other than that, it seems like they're making a Pokemon GO clone with Minecraft mobs (collect passive mobs and fight hostile ones).

W.r.t to your "Pokemon Go::SW Christmas Special" you're absolutely wrong, while the initial popularity didn't stick around, the game is at a very strong and profitable point and the ideas introduced in the GO app have moved into actual Pokemon titles, notable the "no fight, just throw to catch pokemon" mechanic was ported to Let's Go Pikachu/Eevee Switch remakes of Gen 1. Basically the opposite of the SW Xmas Special!

As a (modded) Minecraft player there's a lot to be excited about in this concept, but my suggestions would be

* Allow players to explore the virtual-real-world that they've visited with the phone app from a console or computer. So you can "tag" your local park, a cool bit of a forest, etc, then go home and explore a digital version.

* Allow players to build at home

The point here would be that you go out side, collect building materials, catch some passive mobs you want, then go home to take advantage of these collected goods to start a pretty build.

This would also fix UX issues because the goal of using the phone app would be moving around, collecting, interacting, NOT standing still and building.

I'd play the heck out of that, it'd be another reason to get out of the house and an interaction between phone game and console/pc game could be huge.

> ideas introduced in the GO app have moved into actual Pokemon titles, notable the "no fight, just throw to catch pokemon" mechanic

Which is why I won't be buying the Let's Go series... I might as well be watching TLC reality TV shows all day for all the intellectual stimulation I'm getting out of swiping pokeballs with my finger.

I'm mainly curious as to how team Mojang plans to solve multiple builds in the same location. Ranked by popularity? Swarm mechanics like Niantic?

Idk. I could see myself getting some good wows from this after a few years when the most talented builders have come by and placed some cool stuff. I don't think it's bad, it's experimental tech which continues to break new ground in a game I've enjoyed for a good decade.

Sure, they'll probably bumble it just because this is unexplored space and Daddy Microsoft is at the table, but I think Mojang is just excited to be in a position to try something so interesting.

> Which is why I won't be buying the Let's Go series... I might as well be watching TLC reality TV shows all day for all the intellectual stimulation I'm getting out of swiping pokeballs with my finger.

Wild battles were never especially intellectually stimulating anyway? Even trainer battles are only sometimes of any particular interest beyond grinding, and those are still in Let's Go completely unchanged.

There is significantly more intellectual stimulation in encountering a Pokémon, determining if it is worth capturing (good base stats, rare personality, rare moves, colors, etc), and choosing from a set of capture strategies depending on the circumstance.

Maybe this Pokémon flees if attacked or frightened. That's OK, use Bind with a high-speed starter. Needs a particular status condition? Can't get their health too low? Only a particular grade ball works? Only a special ball made out of fruit by some weird creep in the neck of the woods? They only come out at certain times? You have to track their migration patterns? Hold certain items? Complete certain tasks?

Little to none of these nuances carried over to the Let's Go series in their fleshed-out form. Sure, a lifetime of grinding out wild battles makes them feel a bit stale, but it doesn't mean the nuance isn't there. It just becomes routine for experienced players. These experienced players feel like they have nothing to do or think about when the entire strategy is just repeatedly flicking a Pokéball with their thumb.

Ultimately, design choices like this meant to bring in the casual audience are cheap and non-cognizant of veteran fans. You think Nintendo would have learned from this after failing to recapture most of the transient market acquired during the Wii run once they attempted to usher in the Wii U.

Let's Go still has most of that, or at least a comparable amount to the prior games set in Kanto (which didn't have most of the more-complicated wilds).

You can't tell stats or nature with much detail until after it's caught, but you never could. Move rarity isn't a thing in wild battles in any generation as far as I know; every individual of a species has the same learnset and known-moves for wilds are determined by level. You can see the species and whether it's shiny from the overworld, without going to a battle. There's never, ever been any "only a particular ball works", though some will be more effective, but that's still in Let's Go. Fleeing is almost completely exclusive to a few legendaries, none of which appear in Let's Go. Not sure about whether Let's Go has time-of-day or swarming, but at least in principle there's no reason why it couldn't.

> using the worst input imaginable (touch screen) to do nice builds.

Minecraft's controls for building stuff is very simple - you just point and click to place or remove stuff depending on your active item. Here you can point (via gyroscope, etc) and tap and you could even "scrub" to remove stuff. This could be done with just a hand (the phone in portrait mode, you tap/scrub with your thumb).

One scene in the trailer showed a smaller model on a table; what if they use the Minecraft for mobile's UI to create a model in-game, which you can then place (to scale) in a location?

I was going to say the same thing. I'd be really surprised if they didn't have some sort of blueprint link from full game -> mobile.

Seems a no-brainer.

Do you even play, bro? Building is not performed while standing still, also it is quite finicky. Walking around touching the screen will get old really fast.

According to the verge preview they have some sort of mechanic where you build on a "table" and then use AR just to place.

I'm not a Minecraft player, but if the intent here really allows you to build your own virtual community together (to see what others are building around you and contribute, etc) that would be pretty fun to play. If you want a bigger screen go to a tablet (spurring a new market for tablet easels I guess)?

Who wouldn't want to put a fortress around your house that everyone on the "inside" could see?

This could also be a pretty great starting application for AR goggles, Magic Leap, HoloLens, etc. Kinda pricey to play Minecraft but bootstrapping via phones isn't a terrible idea and would get the tech in the hands of more people.

All of this is clearly an optimistic interpretation of what could happen, but good on them for trying something ambitious. I hope it jumpstarts the AR future we've all been promised.

Of course since Microsoft owns hololens and and open source AR strategy, they’re motivated to do this well.

One could certainly see Azure as a big beneficiary here. Skepticism is always applicable but it seems like Microsoft has the resources to pull this off. From the point of view of Augmented Reality layers being an important and large business in the future, getting something running at large scale now would be a good idea. Between Magic Leap and Microsoft, I would put my money on Microsoft.

The big wildcard, as others have pointed out, are a bunch of penises everywhere. Very hard to actively moderate.

I wonder what kind of rules it has for interacting with other people's work.

"oh god steve dropped a giant penis on my front yard AGAIN, fuck it lemme drop a bunch of TNT on it"

Yea I'm with you on this. I think the UX of holding a phone to interact with AR is awful. Google glass and some sort of glove or camera on the glass that can recognize gestures is the way to go, a la Minority Report. I've wanted that to take off more as an unobtrusive way record/interact with the surrounding world and layer on top of that AR as needed. I think we'll see more of that going forward as hardware tech continues to advance. Just don't think it's there yet, in a non clunky way, to support that UX yet but it will be

I'm not excited about this release either, but Microsoft is behind Hololens. I imagine that this just needed so ship to stay alive and relevant. The version I would get excited about would be paired with an affordable version of Hololens.

This cant turn out much different than other persistent AR games. They are always too expensive and not very fun for long, without an accessible device to switch living inside the AR smoothly (eg: google glass). This is doa, but is good for making ppl more aware of where AR is....ie the engines have gotten much better at detecting, targeting and discerning surfaces.

The ad for Minecraft Earth, reminds me of a cyberpunk novel, Spook Country, by William Gibson.

In the novel, there are layers of augmented reality where people have put their mark on the world with AR Dioramas scattered through-out the world. In the book, AR scenes might depict historical events, art, or information.

If your planing on Playing Minecraft:Earth, you might want to check it out.



Really neat idea and has the potential to be the next Pokemon Go in terms of engagement, kids roaming around to build in certain real world areas, etc.

(Though I am a little sad it's not Minecraft but with a single 'world' server where every player is present.. I would LOVE that :-))

Just how high can a minecraft server scale in player number? I know the worlds are effectively infinite (well, until you get so far out that the terrain generation algorithms actually start to break in the Edgelands), so space isn't an issue... I definitely used servers with hundreds or even thousands of players in the 2000s, so they can scale relatively high in a single instance. I wonder if a clustered minecraft instance could scale effectively infinitely, as long as they synced time?

Based on this paper from 2014 [0], you're probably gonna hit resource limits in the late thousands unless you apply some special techniques. Apparently the highest number of players that's been seen on a minecraft server simultaneously is somewhere around 10 000, but I don't know the details of this.

[0] https://exaquark.com/blog/scaling-minecraft-to-millions-of-u...

Yeah but if you rewrite a Minecraft server to scale it would probably be possible. The Vanilla minecraft server runs on 1 thread and is written in Java so there is a lot of space for improvement.

Indeed. Some years ago a friend of mine wrote a Minecraft server in Golang and it ran on something ridiculous like 10MB of RAM with genuinely excellent performance.

It could definitely be done.

by limiting the data to only send and recieve changes in the local area you could probably scale it to a very large number of users, especially since latency isn't a super high concern for building. the part i think is difficult to solve is how to protect people's builds from vandalism while still keeping to the idea of a shared creative server. most public servers of minecraft i saw seem to have this problem, atleast thats the way it was when i played it a long time ago

In my experience this was never a huge problem -- if I remember correctly, servers I played on actually had some ability to "own" areas of the server so you were the only one with edit privileges for that area. And of course there's always the idea of hiding your construction underground or underwater somewhere hard to find :)

From what I understand edit privileges were done using server admin/moderation tools, not sure how well that scales to big mmo type world with thousands of players, especially when you want people to collaborate on big builds.

You might like Boundless, it's a voxel builder in an MMO world. A little light on the MMO content but delivers otherwise

I am already disappointed by the vast gulf between how I imagine Minecraft could work as an AR game and how I imagine it will initially be implemented as an AR game.

The problem with Ingress and Pokemon Go, is that the player has to go places in real life to have fun in the game, and one attraction of fantasy sandbox worlds is that you have mobility capabilities that are impossible in your real life.

In regular Minecraft, creative mode, you can fly and hover. This is extremely alluring to a kid who may otherwise only be able to ride a bicycle around their own boring subdivision neighborhood during daylight hours. Hey, it's even nice for people who have cars. If the kids have to beg Mom or Dad to drive them across town in the real world to mine virtual diamonds, that's not going to end up being fun for anybody.

People play games where they live, and if the AR game does not include people's homes as a legitimate place to play, then having fun includes some amount of inconvenience that sours it. Some people can tap a Pokestop or Portal from their bedroom or living room. Other people have to drive ten minutes to reach the nearest one.

The best I can come up with is that players use their mobile devices in the real world to mark their territory or drop warp points or exchange friend tokens or do discovery, and they can still build or explore the whole world from home. Geo-tagged photos might be able to update textures and geometry.

If someone builds a grand castle in the neighborhood park, that's not going to work in AR if you have to climb stairs that don't exist or go below ground when there is no real-world hole. But maybe you could see there is a castle there, through the discovery glass at the park, tap the block that grants your user read-only visitor access to it, and then go back home to climb the tower or explore the dungeons.

If someone else builds a different castle overlapping over the same territory, you can decide which user's construction appears in your personal sandbox.

From the looks of the promotional video (glassy boxes displayed around every object), it seems like the implementation of this is closer to "geotagged Minecraft objects, which are NPCs or finite-sized voxel volumes" than "Minecraft overlay on the real world". I'd consider that to be a safe-but-boring option for them to go with - the implementation is easier and you can probably control access to your creation to prevent it from being destroyed by griefers, but on the other hand there will probably be no way two discrete objects could be spontaneously linked up in a creative way, no irreverent and fun third-party modifications to objects of the sort that their creators would have rejected if asked to allow upfront but would grudgingly admit to be pretty clever afterwards, and (although the last point is quite subjective) interacting with what are essentially more intricately customised Google Maps pins will probably never feel as immersive as navigating a unified overlay to the real world.

I would imagine it would be really hard to make the voxel coordinate system spatially coherent over the whole planet, so placing smallish regions of buildable space at various geotagged points seems like a pragmatic approach.

You could still design it to get the types of interactions you're after.

Edit: To clarify I think it’s hard because of the earth not being flat but also because of the difficulty of syncing AR tracking to GPS tracking in a device independent way. You’d get a lot of error depending on how you attached the two reference frames together. Having many smaller buildable spaces means you can have lower accuracy from GPS but still make the world feel populated. The cubes wouldn’t align between volumes but the volumes can be in close proximity.

Good point about the coordinate system; you'd run into one sort of trouble or another if you want to go with anything that's approximately "cubes" (i.e. say each voxel is a "cube" of fixed height × fixed #degrees of latitude × fixed #degrees of longitude) unless you exclude two circles of the planet's surface from the game (say, some radius around each of the poles), and even then, you would have to contend with voxels having a different size depending on where on earth you are.

Possible (if off-brand) solution: a Minecraft based on the extrusion of an icosahedral tiling of the sphere [1], with voxels that are triangle prisms rather than cubes. Maybe an idea for someone who wants to design an AR game and does not have to sell it as a Minecraft variant.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geodesic_polyhedron

Oh man - the thought of trying to build structures with "straight" walls using triangular prisms is giving me the heebie-jeebies. Entirely aside from the impossibility of creating smooth surfaces and right angles - I can imagine coming up with a pattern that reasonably approximates a straightness (to a viewer at a reasonable distance, just like Minecraft's current diagonal patterns [0]) at least on a local scale but which would quickly require somewhat ad-hoc and constant adjustment for structures past a certain size.

I assume the center of gravity of such a world would be the actual center of mass of however the voxels are arranged, meaning players could affect it with large enough structures or small enough worlds. Without adjusting "straight" "horizontal" structures to conform the curvature of the world, gravity would no longer be a force that was normal to the surface of the structure at some points on it.

I can also imagine people digging to the center of a world to find the gravity flip-flop point and playing with it. Or hollowing out the interior of the world in order to get a zero-G chamber (assuming no atmosphere) [1]. Or building gravity trains [2].

[0] https://imgur.com/a/0J5RoE1

[1] http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/Mechanics/sphshel...

[2] https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Gravity_train

Giant. Dongs. Everywhere.


From the Verge review I get the impression you only see stuff your friends have placed. They're playing around with ideas on how to let other content in but are well aware of the dong & swastika problem.

Slack on the other hand embraced that problem so much they made their logo a combination of the 2

I will never be able to look at their new logo the same way again. Thank you for that.

I don't see the dong... but I'm too afraid to google "Slack dong".

Four of them. One in each color.

<Picard> There...are... four... dongs! </Picard>

Thank you, now I'll never unsee it.

"the dong & swastika problem" -- not the future I had envisioned as a kid (where's my flying car?). Jokes aside, glad to see a company being proactive, rather than reactive, to the "dong & swastika problem". Hopefully that becomes more of a trend.

That solution leaves out kids without friends; I understand why they do it but it may be a price too high to pay.

Why is it everything has to be padded and safe and inclusive for everyone all the time now?

Do you people not remember your own childhoods?

Yeah - it was only padded, safe, and inclusive for people like me. Those where the days.

Ask Notch, he doesn’t favor being inclusive at all anymore.

You’ve never played a game online where you joined a lobby and none of the people playing were your friends? They probably mean a friends list. Restricting it to your actually friends is a good way to choke the game growth.

Both Pokemon Go and Minecraft are lots of fun single-player even though they are primarily thought of as multi-player games. I suspect the collect-build-place mechanic of Minecraft Earth will also be fun single player.

> Just imagine a middle school desk in a low income area.

Why just low income? All kids at some point find low brow humor funny. Some grow out of it.

I suppose it's more about the broken windows theory, than kids from low income areas.

This doesn't look like a freeform building game. It's really hard to tell from the trailer but it looks like you can pick some pre-fab constructions or animals and plop them down into specific places in the world.

Maybe I'm wrong, but if I'm right 1) boring 2) that will at least keep minecraft earth from being covered in swastikas and genitalia

I suspect you will build a prefab yourself, in a petri dish, and then place it in the real world.

I say this because, you won't want to climb 100 feet in the air, to place a block on top of that castle.

As the protagonist skated past the cafe she saw what I would assume to be the petri-dish construction occurring on the cafe table.

you could still place multiple prefabs in the from of a swastika/penis then id imagine

This looks like an expansion of Microsoft’s hololens tech demo from a few years ago, which did a lot of work around identifying in-room surfaces and allowing building on them.

I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that this will be very very popular. This is pitched as virtual collaborative lego, but you get to use your phone at the same time.

Hopefully we will see artists play around with it as well; William Gibson wrote a little about AR-based art in the blue ant trilogy; I always thought it was an idea worth thinking a little more about.

It would be really cool if this enables "Minecraft artists" to build and place impressive models. I'm an avid hiker and would love knowing I can pull out my phone at the top of a mountain to see a digital model that doesn't exist anywhere else in the world. Sort of like an imaginary geocache.

The YouTube trailer doesn’t show any real footage of the gameplay, sadly.

It's probably the same as with Pokemon Go[0]. The game is fun on its own, and the geo aspect makes it different and get's you out of the house. But the reality of the VR is grossly overrated and more often a nuisance than something adding to the experience.

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sj2iQyBTQs

Pokemon Go gets better when you turn off the AR mode.

Being able to virtually build something in AR mode in Minecraft seems pretty sweet, especially if your friends can see it. Getting the AR to work right won't be easy though, phone positioning is imprecise and it will be really hard for the phone to line something up exactly the same if your friend is viewing it from a different angle.

This is one of those game concepts that looks like it would be fun an easy but turns out to be a real nightmare to implement I think.

Yup, we just don't have mass-deployed sensors with high enough precision and accuracy yet. We'll get there.

Let's hope this[0] doesn't repeat.

0: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYNriatnYkE

The verge's preview has lots of expository detail, but no footage either: https://www.theverge.com/2019/5/17/18627341/minecraft-earth-...

To me, this feels like the perfect app for AR. It's creative (you make stuff) and your creations live in the real world, encouraging people to get out there.

If this turns out to be a really great app and it isn't successful, I wonder if we can take that as a signal from the market that people aren't that interested in AR, at least not in its current phone-based state.

How sad is it that my very first thought was, "How are they planning to manage griefing?"

They don't need to, Rockstar and some others have shown that you can make a mint with largely broken games, and even encourage griefing.

IRL 2b2t, it's going to be great

This is brilliant... and PKDickian (is this a term? it should be).

We can imagine a distopic future with a thin boundary between the physical world and VR where you would travel through totally destitute neighbourhoods in real life, while seeing great works of art in VR that were built by the users of a virtual world game akin to this.

That would be super cliche.

This will probably be huge. Minecraft is still super popular, and being able to show off cool real-world footage on YouTube will fuel the fire, engaging others.

In the official reveal trailer, they seriously have the actor take out their phone and walk backward into the road while looking at their phone. Who cleared that?

[1] https://youtu.be/dYKxBKj29dI

This existed in 2012, and was called “minecraft reality”:


Just give kids some legos...

Ok but you pay them

  This version of Minecraft
  requires a keyboard.
  Please try again on another device.
But I have a bluetooth keyboard connected to my phone...

Reminds me of "Rainbows End". Remember the scene when the kids go to school and overlay the building on the way? (And all the other overlays/skins.)

This is my favorite augmented reality game:


Notes from the FAQ:

> Minecraft Earth will be free to play.

> Minecraft Earth is coming to iOS and Android this summer on AR-capable devices. We’ll have more to share soon.

Interesting. I can't imagine they're doing all this out of the goodness of their hearts. Wonder if they'll follow the cosmetic upgrade store, or something more akin to PokemonGO's monetization mechanics

The Verge article mentions an in-game currency (rupees) so I expect they are going down the 'in-game shop' route. With the option that you grind for the in-game currency or you can just swap real money for game money. Hopefully they wont make this pay to win and stick to just cosmetics. They have stated in the FAQ that they are not doing loot boxes so there is hope.

wait, something that teenagers can see, but parents can't? who would want that?

($B in 15 minutes)

> Picture the scene: you’re walking through your neighbourhood and see a patch of grass. Grass is lovely and all, but you see this patch every day. It’s getting a little dull and is practically begging for a talented builder to brighten it up. So you take out your phone and craft a beautiful Minecraft build on a nearby picnic table. Then you place your colourful new Minecraft creation on the real-life grass.

So now we're gamifying gentrification and incentivizing the idea of covering the earth with human constructions? (It's certainly arguable, but at least Pokemon Go encourages physical activity and social interaction.)

Yes, I know I'm being reactionary but this just feels wrong, not to mention a misguided application of the Minecraft concept. Is this is the best they could do? Is this really all we can expect of AR at this stage?

I want to see a gameplay video. the occlusion effect in AR doesn't seem to be easy to implement. I previously saw a startup doing it using a detailed 3d scan of a city.

The occlusion would need scans form the phone which I can think of one company that can do it fast, then you need to figure out where in the world the user is if you want to occlude using buildings, etc. I know of one company doing that. Neither are working with Microsoft as far as I know.

(I work for the latter company and we do VPS: the thing you'd need to build the game I assume people will glean from the video but they are totally not releasing.)

The first thing I got while watching this was a flash of the apocalypse when Gab (the social network) inevitably comes out with their own version.

i foresee kids dying after falling from cliffs or buildings, trying to build things "in the sky".

Mark my words, i said it first

Wordmarked i could see this happen

I was going to sign up for the beta but then was asked to log in with a Microsoft account. Thanks but nope.

I wonder if you can choose the block size to make your creations look more realistic?

Dicks, dicks everywhere.

Is this just minecraft pokemon go?

Is any AR game now “[insert name] Pokémon Go”?

Every FPS is a doom clone.

every FPS is a wolfenstein clone

Every FPS is a MIDI Maze clone.

Every FPS is a Pong clone

Pong has no first-person perspective.

There is a building element to the game but the announcement doesn’t give any details about it. I’m worried it’ll be superficial where you combine materials then just place the single item somewhere.

Part of me is like "this is dope!" and another part of me is like "are we so lazy/poor due to income inequality that actually learning how to build things is out of the picture now?"

The desire to build stuff as a kid without the funds to buy wood/metal is what got me into programming.

I could have either bought materials for 1-3 projects and then not been able to build anything else, or build a computer (back then it was cheaper to build than buy) and then have limitless ability to build things digitally.

I don't think the two are mutually exclusive. Virtual building is great because it lets people build things without having to be limited by the space they have available or the materials they have to build with (in Minecraft (creative mode, at least), you never run out of the color block that you need, unlike playing with Lego in real life).

Building things is expensive and requires lots of resources. Kids don't have those.

You “see a patch of grass” could read awfully dystopian. That opening paragraph might come back to haunt them. With climate change possibly accelerating unless global coordinated activity, I giggled at first to this opener that basically says cover that “patch” of “real-life” nature.

> Picture the scene: you’re walking through your neighbourhood and see a patch of grass. Grass is lovely and all, but you see this patch every day. It’s getting a little dull and is practically begging for a talented builder to brighten it up. So you take out your phone and craft a beautiful Minecraft build on a nearby picnic table. Then you place your colourful new Minecraft creation on the real-life grass.

What is the technical term for being a “doom and gloomer”?

Because i have to tell you, when even video game posts that mention grass can be about climate change - it’s not helping the cause. It’s going to make people sick of hearing about it - regardless if they agree and won’t sway someone if they don’t.

I assume there is a better term for scandal fatigue. That some smart HN user knows.

That seems like a fair reaction. I suspect a trigger for me was watching Bill Nye light the globe on fire yelling at us to wake up. https://www.washingtonpost.com/science/2019/05/13/you-idiots...

Back to the announcement, parents might be more receptive if the advertisement was more about enhancing the outdoor experience.

Are you proposing that due to climate change, there is a serious possibility of the extinction of grass?

Agreed on the skepticism. Grass is the plant equivalent of cockroaches. There will always be grass. (And specifically, the C4 species are pretty robust)

Not by any means. The narrative is covering nature, covering the limited park space with augmented reality. This is likely going to sour some parents on it. It would have been much smarter to speak to an urban setting.

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