I decided to check into the game and find out what all the buzz was about for myself.
A waterfall in Minecraft.
First, upon arriving at a dilapidated website for Minecraft I was greeted by a message explaining the condition of the site. Apparently a surge in popularity overwhelmed their servers, resulting in them having to go with a bare-bones webpage just to stay online.
After a few seconds I had the game downloaded, and as I often do (for better or worse) I jumped straight into the game without doing any research about how to play.
THE MINECRAFT CONTROLS
The games controls are pretty intuitive. The "W" and "S" keys move your character forward and back respectively, while "A" and "D" strafe left and right. The space bar makes your character jump.
In addition the "I" key will open an inventory where you can view any items you previously gathered. Items are gathered by walking over them. In addition this screen allows you to craft new things. I use the vaguest terminology possible when I say "things" because the range of items you can create in this game is extremely vast and impressive (but more on crafting later).
Your view and the direction your character moves is controlled by your mouse, while right clicking (holding it down) with your mouse interacts with anything in the environment (usually destructively).
Gather wood from destroyed trees.
THE MINECRAFT WORLD
When you begin the game, you are plopped down into a massive world full of trees, animals, ore, plants, and (as you find out at nightfall) horrific creatures like zombies, skeletons, and spiders.
The key aspect to this game and its world is that everything is destructible. The trees, the ground, the rocks, and even the animals can all be bludgeoned into smaller, usable components. THIS is where the game gets interesting.
By smashing up trees you can gather wood, which can be turned into lumber using the inventory, which can then be turned into sticks. From this point a player can craft a work bench which allows the creation of chests, swords, pick axes, shovels, ladders... virtually anything!
Prepare to spend your first night hiding in a make shift shelter.
These weapons and armor are needed, because at night the lands of Minecraft become overrun by monsters. Be prepared (specifically on the first night) to be hunkered down in a makeshift shack as zombies attempt to eat your polygonal brains!
And yes, he wants to eat your face.
The amazing amount of freedom the game allows is refreshing. Players can choose any path they'd like. Some people have produced works of art using the game world, while others have erected massive fortresses.
I'm currently in the process of building my own fortress, and will post pics when it's ready!
With no defined goals, the game truly is limitless and has massive potential as an entertaining time sink. I can already see myself losing far too many hours to this game!
Check out the game at: www.minecraft.net.