The First Moments of Minecraft

Graham Smith


On May 17, 2009, 04:24:07 AM, Markus Persson posted an alpha version of Minecraft to the Feedback forum on The image above was the screenshot, and there was a link to launch the in-browser Java applet. "The main inspiration for this game is Infiniminer, but it's going to move in a more Dwarf Fortress way, gameplay wise. =)".

You'll often find articles that tell the "oral history" of something, with direct quotes from those involved telling the story of a band's success, or a TV show's creation. With Minecraft, to begin with, there was just Notch and the internet. Instead of an oral history, you have a messageboard history, as the game was rapidly updated and players commented.

When Notch posted that first Minecraft link, the game was only at version 0.0.11a. It took 7 minutes and 57 seconds for someone to post the first response: "Their animations pretty crazy," said forum user Schtee. Over the next 24 hours, 4 pages of comments were posted. Looking through the full thread , it's remarkable how quickly the game seemed to capture player's imaginations.

We've quoted some of these comments below to try to tell the story of those first few moments with the game, including the first screenshot shared by a player, where the Minecraft name came from, and two game modes that were planned but never made the cut.

You can see people's excitement at the concept immediately.

Reply #2, twelve minutes after launch :

"Oh hell, that's pretty cool. I just dig around in the ground a bit, and suddenly I'm in this underground cave! Great sense of exploration already."

Reply #3, 15 minutes after launch , comes from Increpare, the developer of the recently released puzzle game English Country Tune .

"i hope you make something really good of this, dude; i think it has a lot of potential."

This image isn\'t chronological, but helps break up the text. Hello!

Reply #4, 20 minutes after launch , comes from Notch himself and outlines some of his plans for the game. What's striking here is how early on he had ideas that wouldn't be implemented till just shortly before Minecraft's 1.0 release, like the need to eat in Survival mode.

"Survival mode

Singleplayer / cooperative. You have a health bar and need to eat in order to keep healthy. You have to gather the materials you wish to use, and construction takes time. Mining through stone is slower than through dirt.

Monsters, animals, play on levels made in Creative mode, or play on random levels.

Does this mode need a goal?"

There are also two modes listed that didn't make it in to the game.

"Team survival mode

Same as Survival mode, except players are divided into two or more teams.

Fortress mode

After having built a level in Creative or Survival mode, you and your friends connect to another fortress made by some other people. The map gets bigger so it fits both maps, and you play a game on this map. Perhaps Capture the Flag, perhaps something else"

Reply #7, 49 minutes after launch , forum user Muku posts what I think might be the first ever user-shared screenshot of something built in Minecraft. Ready for this?

The first ever user-made Minecraft screenshot, possibly.

Yeah, it's a single-block wide bridge, four blocks off the ground.

Plenty more screenshots follow, from tall towers, to small castles. The contents of the screenshots aren't significant, but it is remarkable that so soon after release, people already felt compelled to share what they were building. It's a little under an hour before someone posts the first video of a castle they had built. Sadly, the user has since removed that video from YouTube.

Reply #17, two and a half hours after launch , jwaap posts the first piece of sprite art made in-game. It's-a him, Mario!

It\'s-a me! Copyright infringement.

Later down this page, there's some disagreement. One forum user thinks you should have to chop down trees to make stuff, while another thinks that's a bad idea because the fun is in building stuff.

Reply #44, 19 hours after launch , from user Muku again:

"I just have my doubts whether it is a good idea to make every single block "cost" something. Why would anyone want to spend half his play time mindlessly gathering resources? It's no fun."

Notch himself responds, four posts later.

"It's a bit scary to try to shift the core of the game away from what's actually fun, but I'm still going to try it. I've got a feeling there's an interesting game on the sidelines of just building stuff.

If it TOTALLY sucks, I'll change it. It's not set in stone. ;)"

It's great that I'm in the future, because it means I can feel smugly superior about knowing things these people in the past do not.

The terrain generator improved a lot later, I guess.

Reply #47, 20 hours after launch , is the moment Tim became interested in the game. The first giant cock built in Minecraft was described by forum user Türbo Bröther:

"The cock I made was just massive, much larger and more bulbous than the first one I made. Where the bottom of the level cuts off to the maximum height you can build to. It was such a thing of awe that Firefox decided to pack it in before I could snap a shot of that mofo. I feel cheated but hell I had my moment, which just happened to be a cock in the sun."

Reply #56, 26 hours after launch , you get the origins of Minecraft's name. Forum user Paul Eres says:

"i think i'm the person that named this game (in irc, we kept throwing out names and you liked minecraft)."

Notch confirms it, two posts later:

"It's a great name! It's perfectly light weight, descriptive, catchy, and just slightly ironic. Thank you. =)"

What's not mentioned is that this isn't the original full name. Three days before posting the public release, Notch wrote on his own blog : "The awesome but insane people in #tigirc helped me come up with a title for this game, and it's Minecraft: Order of the Stone."

Thank goodness that changed, then.

The thread continues for a total of 123 pages, until early last year. But in these first few moments, everything that made Minecraft such an enormous success, and such a vibrant community, is immediately apparent. That's amazing, and looking back now with the knowledge of the past two years, it looks like gaming history in the making.

You can read the full Minecraft Alpha thread on the excellent TIGSource forums .

Around the web