Most video games have goals, scoring systems, and winning conditions. However, some games do not have missions or narrative to follow. The PC space is known for hosting these kinds of games: sandbox games and simulations. Minecraft is one of those sandbox games as there are no well-defined conditions and as it is up to the player what they want to do with their time playing. While Minecraft first came out on PC, it has become a rare success blowing up in the traditional video game console platforms where players are historically not that receptive of sandbox games.
It is not Minecraft’s graphics that made it popular. Although, it is worth mentioning that today the implementation of ray tracing with Nvidia’s RTX graphics cards made Minecraft’s visuals jaw-dropping. The blocky and pixelated look of characters and environment may deter those who enjoy bleeding-edge technology, but they are the minority. The addicting gameplay loop of the digital Lego makes Minecraft a game that anyone can pick up and play.
Minecraft’s other aspect that made it incredibly attractive is its “seeds”. Seeds are values made up of characters that can be positive or negative integers that procedurally generates every world in Minecraft.
Procedural content generation is not a unique feature to Minecraft. Several games employ this tool in creating content for games and even making procedural content generation as the core gameplay like in Rogue-likes and -lites like Terraria, strategy games like Civilization, and even space exploration game such as No Man’s Sky. A procedural content generation tools had been used in various titles such as Diablo’s dungeon generation, and in Dwarf Fortress, the map and history generation. Minecraft and Diablo are examples of commercially successful games where this particular method was a major component in the core gameplay experience. Procedurally done content is an attractive tool for game developers, especially those who are running on tight budgets like Minecraft once was.
Although there is a degree of randomness in generating seeds, the genius of Minecraft is it builds worlds logically. It makes worlds that includes peculiar features but it remains consistent with at least something that resembles logic. Players will not expect a snowy area right in the middle of the desert. However, there might be a snow cap in a mountain located on a desert. Impossible? Yes. Improbable? No. This is the reason why hills with a shape that resembles an animal will have an impact on the player, since it is jarring for a game that lays out a rigid structure to have this interesting diversion.
Minecraft is not just a wildly entertaining game because of its building aspect, but also in its world-building aspect. A seed may be unique, but it is also a shared world. Other players can use the same seed and make them experience the same world discovered by other players on their own terms. Minecraft gives something that is essential to an escapist’s hobby: control.
The World of Minecraft
The Minecraft world is divided into three different dimensions: the overworld, the nether, and the end. The overworld is a dimension in which the player spawns and starts their journey with nothing on them but themselves and basic tools. This overworld is a complex environment that features varied biomes, oceans, plants, caves, daylight cycle, mobs, and structures. As for the other dimensions, these are later accessed via portals in the overworld and also contain various materials and mobs. The player must build its way until it can finally make a portal.
Biome, in Minecraft, is an area that can be classified due to the presence of specific animals and plants. Each biome has unique geographical features that may not be available in another. Biomes (in the overworld) in Minecraft are separated into 6 different temperature classes: (1) Snowy Biomes, (2) Cold Biomes, (3) Lush Biomes, (4) Dry Biomes, (5) Ocean Biomes, and (6) Neutral Biomes. As of this writing, there are 67 biomes in the overworld and can be distinguished by the grass and leaf colors. Additional five biomes for the other two dimensions which most players do not even reach as they just play the overworld until they restart.
Unfortunately, seeds do expire. Seeds change every time the game receives an update. This is understandable because updates bring in new biomes, tools, and creatures. A seed would result in a different world as time passes by as more types of environment and things are being added to the game.
Caves and Cliffs
Recently, the older build of Minecraft, the Java Edition, received a snapshot of what could be added in the upcoming update. The previous incarnations of the game had caves, but they are not as fleshed out in its procedural generation as compared to other areas of the game. This is a bit of a bummer since the caves are where the hilarity happens. Mobs in Minecraft operate in the dark, where the sun does not shine. Obviously, other than nighttime, it is the caves that provide the chaos. Caves generated by the game have this terrible layout that impedes enjoyment in the game. There are sudden pits blockages that are not just fun. While chaos is appreciated in this game, it does not allow players to operate in the caves.
The Caves and Cliffs Update is planned to be released in Summer 2021. It is the largest update in a while, providing new items, mobs, blocks, ores, and the focus on terrain generation of caves and cliffs. It is these tiny little details that should make this update the best in a while. There will be flowers having particles dripping from them. There are moss blocks and moss carpets, which is a great complement to the cave’s vines and glow berries. The lush caves should add more possibility to what is already an elaborate content generation in Minecraft. Players usually hang out in the overworld, over the plains and hills, and rarely inside the caves. With these azalea bushes, dripleaves, and decorative blocks aimed at caves, players will start to dig holes and never get out of them.