Minecraft Earth is the augmented reality spin-off of the highly popular Minecraft. Microsoft is fully responsible for the production. The title was announced in May 2019 and is one of the projects prepared for the tenth anniversary of the original Minecraft. The game, running on iOS and Android devices, is free-to-play and uses advanced augmented reality technology, the processing power of Azure servers, and the experience that developers have gained during the development of Microsoft HoloLens AR glasses.
Minecraft Earth is an adaptation of the classic Minecraft and offers only a part of its functionality: a system of fighting, crafting, equipment, gathering resources, as well as a way of interaction with the game world. The title continues to use the camera of our phone, overlapping 3D game elements on the video image.
The main attraction of the title is the construction mode, in which we can create our own constructions or large projects together with other players in our immediate vicinity. We have at our disposal construction boards of various sizes, unlocked along with the progress of the game. The constructions submitted by us after being accepted by the game can be placed in a real environment as monuments seen by all players.
In order to get the components necessary for building, we must, however, go into the world. Like Pokemon GO, the title encourages users to take long walks in the open air. On our way we will come across randomly generated containers with little material to start the dream construction. We will also obtain materials in specific and predetermined places. In urban parks we can, for example, start cutting down trees, and at water reservoirs we can cast a rod and catch fish. Developers use the OpenStreetMap map website, which is developed and updated by users. All hot zones with resources are manually placed by manufacturers to prevent controversial situations and accidents known to Pokemon GO owners.
Minecraft Earth also offers dynamically generated missions, known as “adventures”. Making them allows us to quickly gain new levels of experience of our hero and obtain necessary building materials. The objectives of the tasks are varied, but to a large extent they boil down to the elimination of mine-rafts monsters in a way known from the original game. However, it is important to note that many people can participate at the same time – they must, of course, gather in one place in the real world when participating in the adventure.
### Game modes
Minecraft Earth allows you to have fun on your own, but its biggest attraction is the wide range of cooperative gameplay possibilities. The impression is that in real time players can see each other in the virtual world and interact with each other, e.g. fighting the same creature, sharing healing potions or collecting materials in a building mode. Players can also share their saved designs and modify them with the owner’s consent.
### Technical aspects
Minecraft Earth utilizes the computational power of Microsoft Azure servers, as well as the rich experience of developers in developing HoloLens glasses. Special algorithms and geostationary data collected from players (GPS information, video recordings and photos) make that regardless of the camera in the phone, three-dimensional objects of the game do not “fly around the screen”, but give the impression of static and solid buildings e.g. in a busy street.