The new game from Mojang answers the eternal question, what if Minecraft and Gauntlet had a baby? Minecraft: Dungeons is a brand-new game inspired by classic dungeon crawlers like Wizardry and Ultima Underworld, and it turns the series' traditional formula on its head. Instead of providing a vast, open canvas where players can let their imaginations run wild, Dungeons is an adventure game filled with discrete quests, characters, items and enemies. It still looks like classic Minecraft fare, complete with cube-headed characters and 3D swords with jagged, pixelated blades. While players are free to explore this new blocky universe, Dungeons is decidedly not an open-world game.
Hidden away somewhere in my attic is an old Xbox 360 that I'll never throw away. On its hard drive is a Minecraft save file that contains the first house my oldest son ever built in the game. He was seven and, coming from a boy on the autism spectrum with a limited vocabulary and no patience to draw and paint, his creation was a revelation. Sure, it is a monstrous carbuncle, a mess of wooden planks, cobblestone and dirt. But it is also the greatest building I ever saw.
Playing video games like Minecraft may help to get your child's creative juices flowing, new research suggests. Video games that foster creative freedom can increase creativity under certain conditions, according to a study from Iowa State University (ISU). Their experiment compared the effect of playing Minecraft, with or without instruction, to watching a TV show or playing a race car video game. Those given the freedom to play Minecraft without instruction were most creative, experts found. Playing video games like Minecraft may help to get the creative juices flowing, new research suggests.
Minecraft is about to enter its final form. In August, the Better Together update will land and unify the game across nearly every platform, from iOS and Android to Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. This unification comes courtesy of the Bedrock Engine, which currently powers all mobile, Windows 10, Amazon Fire and VR versions of the game. Now, it won't matter which platform your friends use to play Minecraft -- every version will be the same, they'll share DLC and updates, and all players will be able to create new worlds together. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox 360 versions of Minecraft are not included in the initial Better Together update.
Microsoft has shown that Minecraft can be an excellent test-bed for innovative AI development as its Minecraft AI challenge stumps machine learning systems. Artificial intelligence and machine learning have managed to solve some pretty complex problems in recent years, but it struggles with some problems that humans find easy to solve. Google's DeepMind AI researchers recently managed to train an AI to play the video game Starcraft II to such a high standard that it could beat most top players, but it couldn't cope with many unexpected and improvisational strategies. Minecraft has seen popular use as a learning tool in classrooms to engage young students in everything from physics to electronics, and now Microsoft is using it as a test-bed for artificial intelligence. The Minecraft AI challenge tasked coders around the world with building AI agents that could achieve several simple objectives that players tend to work out quickly: hunt for Diamonds.