Emergent gameplay is a relatively new concept made possible by the advance of computing technology and refers to games that don’t have a defined set of rules, instead of giving players the ability to play freely as they see fit. Garry’s Mod, one of the most popular titles in this type of games – commonly known as “sandbox games” – allowed players to construct complicated contraptions with others online, as well as build forts and houses. The person (that’s right, just one guy) behind Minecraft decided to take this concept one step further, by letting players modify the world itself.
You start out in a completely randomly generated world, filled with natural terrain ranging from mountains to complex cavern systems, and you’re completely empty-handed. Your first tasks will be to collect some basic building materials like wood and stone, with which you’ll then build tools and start mining for more. You’ll want to have a basic home set up before the first-night hits, as the game randomly spawns monsters (zombies, skeletons and others) in dark areas – which include the entire world during the night, and all of the caverns regardless of the time of day.
After you’ve progressed enough, you’ll find yourself digging deeper and deeper underground, creating mine shafts and carving tunnels to get access to the rarer metals like iron and gold. Eventually, you’ll start making weapons and armour, too, which will allow you to defend yourself against monsters and explore the deepest caverns in the game, which are usually filled with treasures and rich strains of valuable materials.
Graphics and System Requirements
One thing you’ll surely notice about the game is the low quality of its graphics – everything is very pixelated, and the world is built of square blocks. However, you should keep in mind that this is the only way that today’s hardware can realistically handle randomly generated terrain that’s also theoretically infinite (the game keeps generating new areas of the level as you move towards its edges). It does have some visual effects, as best as the engine allows for – such as a realistic day/night cycle.
The system requirements are both high and low – you won’t need a good graphics card to run Minecraft well, so don’t worry about that – but you’ll definitely benefit from having a good processor and a lot of RAM. If you want to enable the maximum draw distance setting, make sure you have a very good CPU to handle the computations – otherwise, you will lag.
The game is continuously updated, and every Friday is known as “mystery update day” when the developer releases an update with hidden surprise features, which are usually discovered by the community in a matter of hours. Also, it has a multiplayer mode where you can freely build without limits (i.e. without having to mine for materials), but bear in mind that others can easily ruin your creations, so don’t get too attached to them.
Minecraft, despite being still in development, has the potential to become an absolute hit – and you should get it now while it’s still cheap, as its developer has stated plans on increasing the price after the game is completed.