Minecraft is a creative game of construction, design and survival. The smash-hit sandbox-style title was first launched in the year 2011 and was the brainchild of Markus “Notch” Persson and his company Mojang. Since then, the software juggernaut Microsoft has bought out the hugely successful development team, taking Minecraft to dizzying new heights.
Players can explore the vast 3D world, gathering resources, building houses, mining for rare materials and creating tools. Different modes in the game prioritize a different set of skills but they’re all great fun:
- Survival mode – player has to gather resources to improve their chances of survival. They can build dwellings to protect themselves from monsters, mine for rare minerals to create more useful tools and craft various interesting items for use in their plight
- Creative mode – player has unlimited resources to build and create. The only limit is their own imagination
- Adventure mode – players can use custom maps created by other players and solve puzzles, complete assault courses or attempt to survive the nighttime
- Spectator mode – player can flip through blocks and fly but not destroy them
Players can download the game for free with limited rights and accessories. The full version costs around $24 from http://minecraft.net. The premium account (as they call the paid version of the game) unlocks all the content for players. This account can be used to login and play single or multiplayer conquests.
As with any other software, Minecraft requires a launcher to be installed. The Minecraft launcher is a package which provides login and downloading options before you start playing. This package is responsible for downloading the necessary java packages, mainly minecraft.jar and LWLGL.
There have been four versions of the Minecraft launcher Indev, Minecraft 2.0, Beta 1.9 being the three earliest. The current one is the fourth version of the Minecraft launcher and is the first one that automatically updates itself.
This launcher also acts as a copy restriction for first-time players, making it mandatory for them to download the paid and legal version of the game. Whenever a user tries to login to the game, it checks the .Minecraft directory for user profiles in a file called “launcher_profiles.json”.
If the user is not found in this directory or it is corrupt, they are automatically diverted to a demo version of the game which has limited access and facilities. One has to buy a premium account in order to get the full-fledged version of Minecraft.
If it happens that the internet connection is lost while trying to login, the launcher offers a play offline mode as it does not match the profiles in its directory.
When connections are available, it checks for the version of the game downloaded and provides an update link in case the device has an older version installed for the selected profile. If the prompt is accepted, the launcher downloads all the newest Minecraft components with the java binary files. The ‘assets’ folder also gets updated automatically in this process.
Some features of the Minecraft launcher:
- It manages multiple profiles through (“launcher_profiles.json” files) and each profile has a control on the game directory, the Minecraftaccount, game version, in line arguments in the java directory and so on.
- The launcher provides a refresh token instead of storing the password locally.
- It updates the libraries like LWLGL automatically.
- The launcher is currently only available in English.
- It runs in offline mode.
- Players can report crashes to the Mojang support site. They can then fix errors using a database containing troubleshooting information.
Moreover, the launcher makes it possible for players to play the older versions of the game (alpha and beta versions). For enabling the older versions, users must create a new profile. Players will then get the option to select an older version of the game.
Currently, the pre-classic, classic and indev are available for playing. However, these versions being prone to bugs and crashes, Mojang advises to play these game versions in separate directories.
Another important update of the launcher is that it will now be made available for download without java installation being mandatory on the client machine. This is quite a relief because of the insecurities the java system is prone to. Many Minecraft users complain about constantly needing to update java to keep their system secure.
By the end of the year Mojang should come up with the new launcher for Windows thus improving the service.
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