Minecraft for Educators Week 1 – What is Minecraft?

For the first weeks assignment we have been asked to discuss the various platforms that Minecraft can be accessed on and to note the differences and limitations that various versions may have.

Minecraft was created by Swedish programmer Marcuss ‘Notch’ Persson and developed and published by Swedish company Mojang first launched on the PC in May 2009, this first launch of the game was a very basic gameplay in which blocks were placed, or destroyed. Various developments were made to the game before the game Minecraft 1.0 was officially released in November 2011. .

The PC Edition holds the full game play experience, and runs on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. There are 6 modes of play

Survival, Creative, Hardcore, Adventure, Spectator and Demo.

The game includes 40 biomes, or environments which can be grouped into 5 broad descriptions – snow-covered, cold, medium, dry/warm, and neutral.

The PC edition also includes 34 possible achievements.

The worlds in Minecraft are made entirely of blocks. By destroying, or placing blocks the player can change and develop, design and create their world. Playing in Creative mode opens all the possible blocks and items and allows the player to create and design freely without having limits on the number or type of blocks available to them.

Survival mode requires the player to mine for resources and create the items needed to find or build shelter to survive the night, when various nasty ‘mobs’ will roam and more than likely kill any player who has not managed to create some kind of shelter. Therefore the player must make a crafting table and forage for materials, and from what materials the player collects, tools and other items can be made. This is achieved by placing resources onto the crafting table, which is presented in a 3×3 grid, in a specific pattern. Also in survival mode the player must find, and often cook food as there is a hunger bar which will deplete.

Other types of crafting within the game are brewing – similar to the crafting interface but with a different grid. The interface gives you a brewing stand which mixes water with various other items an this way potions can be created; and enchanting which allows the player to create armour for protection against the mobs.

One of the best features of the PC Version is the Mulitplayer gameplay which allows users to connect together in the same world and interact with each other. Players can create their own servers and invent, design and create their own worlds – and then invite all their friends to come and join them.

Minecraft PE (pocket edition), was released on Aug 16 2011 and debuted on the Sony Xperia Play Andriod smartphone, which combined the smartphone with the hand held console. It was made available to all andriod devices on 7th Oct 2011. Other subsequent releases for mobile devices were: iOS – 17th Nov 2011, Amazon Fire – April 2nd 2011, and Windows Dec 10 2014.

There are some significant differences in the PE versions – most noticeable is the way the game is played using touch screen controls. There is no brewing interface or hunger element in the PE and the crafting system is very different. In the PE edition the MATTIS (Minecraft Advanced Touch Technology Interface System) system is used. Using this players do not need to place items in a specific order, items that the player hold will be automatically placed and the player will be able to see which tools can be generated from the items they hold, and how many; all the player needs to do is touch a button to craft the item.

There are some features that are exclusive to the PE which include more vibrant and smooth graphics; burning mobs; shadows; pink clouds during sunsets; fallen trees; a biome called the Far Land; some food items – beetroot, beetroot seeds and beetroot soup; and some exclusive blocks – Nether reactor core blocks.

Console Edition – Minecraft is also available on the Xbox 360, Xbox one, PS3 PS4 and PS Vita. There are some new features including tutorials on digging, crafting, building your 1st house and surviving 1st night, fishing, enchanting and brewing.

It can be played in splitscreen mulitplayer with up to 4 players and can be played in multiplayer mode with up to 8 players if the user has bought Xbox Live or subscribed to PS Plus.

Crafting is a cross between the PC version and the MATTIS system in that it uses a grid system, but the items do not need to placed by the player in a specific pattern. The console version also categorises the different items into groups.

Finally there is a version of Minecraft for the Raspberry Pi, which has been developed for educational purposes for novice programmers. As yet the only mode available on the Raspberry Pi is creative and no mobs spawn. This edition is very similar to the PE in its gameplay.

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