In response to Brickmuppet’s inquiry (and hey, I’m not as doctrinaire as Steven, but do try to put comments on the appropriate thread), I suppose I could explain just what Minecraft is.
It’s frustration incarnate, at times. It’s also a great game for people who like to build things, because it’s a sandbox. There’s three modes in which to play it: Creative, in which there are no monsters, no hunting for resources, no worrying about food. You have as much of any item as you like, and the world is your toy. Build anything! There’s even some primitive mechanisms, powered by a substance called “redstone”.
Then there’s Survival, where there are monsters (especially at night), you have to find resources, and grow food to eat. You’ll start pretty much empty handed, and if you’re a first time player, and there are no trees around your starting point, I strongly suggest you delete the world and restart. It’s not impossible to survive the first night, but it’s not for the inexperienced. Then there’s Hardcore, which is Survival…with one life. Ever. You die, everything you’ve done goes to waste. Finally, Adventure allows for player-designed maps and limits what you can break without the proper tools.
You can play in single-player or multi-player worlds in all of those modes; obviously the most popular games are Survival Single Player (SSP) and Survival Multi-Player (SMP). The server I was trying to recruit for was a SMP for up to six people (expandable if needed) but between lack of interest and some bad changes made by the server provider (300ms to Phoenix? Really?), I closed my multiplayer server.
The graphics are fairly primitive (16 bit), but there are mods to improve that. One of the reasons it looks so odd though, is the concept of the “block”. Essentially, everything other than the player is an “item” or a “block”. By mining stone, dirt, ore, or picking up water or lava in a bucket, you can convert a block into an item in your inventory and then move it somewhere else; when you set it down, it becomes a block again.
There are special blocks which have abilities, such as furnaces (add coal and ore, get ingots), craft tables (add items per recipe and make something else), and animals which can be harvested for resources. Shearing sheep (takes shears, made by two iron on a crafting table) will produce wool; three wool and three planks make a bed (relocates your respawn spot after using it). Wood planks are made by cutting down trees and processing the wood blocks in a crafting table or your inventory crafting slots (the table is bigger and more versatile, but the built-in slots are always with you for bootstrapping a new base).
Left is a picture of an NPC village, with one of the villagers present. These guys can be helpful in terms of trading, but they’re usually too expensive to start. Nevertheless, whenever I find a village, I move in, fence it off to stop monsters from killing the residents, post torches all over the place to stop them from spawning inside the fences, and then start building apartments (the more doors in your village, the more villagers that can spawn).
There are few types of monsters in the normal world (the Overworld):
Skeletons — archers
Zombies — melee
Witches — poison, missiles (potions)
Spiders — aggressive at night, can see through windows (most mobs can’t)
Cave Spiders — only found underground, highly poisonous.
Endermen — mysterious, tough creatures that aggro if you look at them for a few seconds, even accidentally. They’re also the only mob that can move blocks.
Silverfish — rarely released when an “infected” block of stone is broken. Aggressive as sin and if you don’t kill it quick, its friends show up…
Slimes — can be really annoying, with their “splotch, splotch, splotch” while moving.
Creepers — Creepers, Creepers, Creepers. Never to be sufficiently damned Creepers. How can such a creature exist? It lives to hunt you down, sneak up on you in absolute silence, and then EXPLODE! Which, I’d like to point out, has rather nasty effects on the buildings around you.
There are at least two other planes of existence in the base, “vanilla” game:
Nether — hell-like zone that requires a teleport gate to enter, and has a few nasty mobs.
Endworld — the home of the Endermen, and the Ender Dragon, which is more or less the final boss mob. Not that it “ends” the game…
One final note: the game is highly modable, and there’s tons of add-ons to the game. However, the release of v1.7.2 has brought all that to a screeching halt, as the mod community has not been able to figure out the new system after over a month. However, one great thing about Minecraft is you can play any of the older versions by creating a new profile for that, and then choosing it; the loader will generally only add compatible mods, and ignore any that are for different versions. I played 1.7.2 for a while, but got frustrated and dropped back to 1.6.2 with some mods.