Minecraft is a sandbox building game that has existed in some form since mid-2009. It started as a 3d Dwarf Fortress (and can still read Dwarf Fortress maps) and was inspired heavily by Dungeon Keeper.
Wake up on a deserted island, the world is made of cubes. Start punching trees to break them into small cubes you can pick up. Turn the wood cubes into planks, to make a shack, and a workbench, and sticks, and use the sticks and the planks in the workbench to make tools, so you can break more cubes. Et cetera, et cetera.
It has a single player and a multiplayer mode, most public servers you will encounter are in 'survival mode,' where you start with nothing and must harvest the blocks and craft tools yourself. Back when Minecraft was free, before version 1.0, 4chan had a 'creative mode' server running, where everyone had a limitless supply of cubes to build with.
Minecraft 1.0 was released on November 18th 2011, coinciding with the Minecon convention.
- If you're running Macintosh or Linux, it's a good idea to replace the LWJGL pieces with the latest from Sourceforge to fix crap like sticky keys.
How Do I Do Stuff?
- Mouse moves your view, currently selected cube is behind the crosshair and should be outlined in faint black lines. Left-click to punch/attack, right-click to use what's in your hand, mousewheel to cycle what's in your hand from the hotbar.
- Movement is WASD, jump is 'space', chat is 'T', cycle view distance is 'F', hotbar is 0-9 and inventory is 'E'. Double-tap the forward key (usually 'W') to sprint.
- Config settings is 'esc'. Any controls I didn't mention here you can find there.
- Difficulty settings controls monster spawn rate and health regen in single-player. Put it to 'hard', don't be a pussy.
The first thing you want to do is make shelter; almost any surface that is dark enough will spawn monsters who will try to wreck your face, and when night falls, well. Start picking up cubes by punching dirt or tree-trunks until they break (hold down the left-mouse button, you'll see a cracking animation on the cube). A player is one cube wide by two cubes tall, so in an emergency you can just dig three cubes down, replace the top cube with dirt, and wait out the night in your makeshift grave.
Minecraft wiki did the work so I don't have to: Starting Minecraft Survival Mode
Your shelter should have a roof, because spiders can climb walls.
There's a buttload of information at the Minecraft wiki, and plenty of YouTube videos. Most of the videos are crap, with boring "uuuhhhhh" narrators, but two that stand out as not-sucking are:
Notch was pretty annoyed that we reverse-engineered his game to add improvements that he was too busy or too stubborn to add. Minecraft itself is compiled with an obfuscating-Java compiler, so figuring out what pieces of code do what is a pain. Still, people wrote mods. At first Notch was mad, but then calmed down and said he'd write a mod API so we don't have to clobber his code nor tear it apart. We're still waiting for the Mod API.
There are three mod types: server-side, client-side and single-player. Server-side mods only work if you modify the SMP server, and are different for each SMP server you can run. Client-side mods you only need to change the software you've installed, and most of them make changes that other players on the same SMP server cannot see. Client-side mods will work in multi-player and single-player. Single-player mods only work in SSP, and can make some radical changes.
First step is finding out where your minecraft.jar file. The easiest way to do this is:
- Start Minecraft
- In the main menu, click "mods and texture packs"
- On the next screen, click "Open texture pack folder"
- a file browser should've opened up.
- Go up one directory, find the 'bin' folder, go down in it. 'minecraft.jar'
How to open it up:
- rename 'minecraft.jar' to 'minecraft.zip'
- double-click it.
- while you're looking inside, find the 'META-INF' folder and delete it. Doesn't hurt the game, and it interferes with any mods you'd install.
- After you closed your zip viewer, remember to rename 'minecraft.zip' back to 'minecraft.jar' before you start the game.
- Should probably copy 'minecraft.jar' to 'mincraft.clean.jar' right now, in case a mod screws things up.
If you completely mess up your minecraft.jar piece, or the lwjgl stuff, just delete the 'bin' folder and it will be re-downloaded next time you start the game.
Flying in single-player is easy: use the Single-Player Commands mod or Zombe's Modpack. Since version 1.5, if you're in the air for too long an SMP server will kick you off with a 'flying is disabled on this server' error message. Some custom-made server softwares may detect your use of a flying hack and kill you on the spot. For now, there's no shame about getting caught, since the vanilla server will kick you off for flying for non-flying reasons, like walking on top of fences, or using the jumping-water-elevator glitch. When these get fixed, expect some server admins to ban you for flying. Oh hell, expect admins to ban you for no good reason; find some other server when that happens.
Mods you want
Do not try to install a mod for a previous version! Until Notch finishes (or even starts) working on the mod API, every client-side and single-player mod needs to replace pieces of the java code, and the pieces move around between every release.
- MCPatcher HD textures - allows texturepacks that have more detail than the default 16x16 pixels. (Though you don't need this because Notch fixed it in minecraft 1.3.1.)
- Risugami's ModLoader - This is a prerequisite for almost every mod except for MCPatcher. Risugami was tired of waiting for Notch, and wrote her own mod API. Another modloader named 'Forge' is getting popular.
- Rei's Minimap - gives you an overhead map in the corner, with your X/Y/Z coordinates, and indicators for per-server waypoints you set.
- Optifine - replaces a lot of the crappy OpenGL code that is in Minecraft with better stuff. Replaces the in-game "Video Settings..." menu with more controls.
- Single Player Commands - debugmode / godmode commands for when you're playing SSP. This is what YouTube video makers use when you see them flying over the landscape. Also lets you do worldedit shit, like spawning a sphere of smoothstone in one step.
- Mine Little Pony - for those times when you think Minecraft just isn't gay enough.
- zombe's modpack - mostly single-player, but some crazy stuff anyways: boom, builder, cart, cheat, cloud, compass, craft, dig, fly, furnace, ore, path, recipe, resize, safe, spawn, sun, teleport, weather, wield. Warning: some servers can detect when you're using the 'fly' mod, and might kick&ban you for it.
Change the way your world looks with a texturepack. They're *.zip files you put into your minecraft/texturepacks subfolder. From the main menu, click 'mods and texturepacks' then 'open texture pack folder'. There's no "the" place for texturepacks, but try MCTextures and filter by 16x16 unless you have xau or Khar's HD Textures patch.
The default textures are 16x16 pixels for each block face; the texturepacks you find ('specially the pretty ones in YouTube videos) are probably 32x32 or up to 256x256. You need to install a client-side mod to allow for different-sized texture packs; search for 'HD Textures mod'.
It's getting harder to fuck people's shit up. Custom server software will usually have an anti-griefing module like "BigBrother" to log all block breaking/making transactions, and a big "undo" button to wipe out your creations. Expect that any destruction or vandalism you do will be undone in less than an hour from when it's discovered. So the lulz to be had are the practical-joke type instead of the you've-ruined-Christmas-for-everybody type.
- Stealing stuff from other people's chests is totally babies. Don't be a baby.
- Plant a tree in someone's well-lit yard. The top of the tree will be too far away from any torches on the ground, so monsters will spawn there and drop down on someone's head.
- Rearrange torches to leave a one-square gap between them dark enough to spawn monsters.
- If you really need to do some property vandalism, like build the word "FUCK" so large it can only be seen from space, the hardest blocks to break are brick and obsidian.
- Land mines: classic. Stone pressure plates use the same texture as (smooth)stone, so players will step on them without noticing. Same for wooden pressure plates and planks blocks. Simplest use is to put a TNT block underneath, or adjacent (such as if the landmine is near a wall). Player will hear the click of the plate, the hiss of the TNT, but may be confused enough to stick around instead of running for his life. If TNT is too crude, you can use the pressure plate with some redstone behind the walls to trigger some water or lava to recalculate flow, and pour into the tunnel.
- Pistons. So many possibilities for building traps, from the obvious 'crushing wall' and 'vanishing floor', to "ceiling opens up, fill the room in gravel" and the classic dwarf "open the magma gates."