Biomes

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Biomes in Minetest are a part of the map generation. Biomes are areas with similar ground and underground and vegetation.

Contents

Biome types

The biomes depend on the map generator used. Most map generators have the same biomes, but v6 is different.

Note: Blocks written in bold in the “Blocks” column are the land surface blocks of this biome.

v5, v7, valleys, carpathian, flat, fractal

Biomes in these map generators are defined by mods. If these are not defined, these map generators only generate stone worlds. Biomes in these map generators are not linked to the terrain shape; this means any biome (including grasslands) can form in flat or very mountainous areas. This section shows the biomes used by Minetest Game.

Land biomes

Name Blocks Description Images
Grassland Dirt with Grass, Dirt, Stone,

Grass, Flower, Bush Leaves, Bush Stem
Grassland has large amounts of Dirt nodes and Dirt with Grass blocks, on which flowers, Grass and bushes may appear naturally in this area. The underground is made of stone.
Grassland biome, as of 0.4.15
Coniferous forest Dirt with Grass, Dirt, Stone,

Pine Tree, Pine Needles, Grass, Flower, Red Mushroom, Brown Mushroom
Coniferous forests grow in colder areas and are filled with pine trees. Fallen pine tree logs and mushrooms can be found here, too. A similar biome is the taiga (see below).
Pine tree forest in 0.4.13.
Deciduous forest Dirt with Grass, Dirt, Stone,

Tree, Leaves, Aspen Tree, Aspen Leaves, Apple, Red Mushroom, Brown Mushroom, Bush Leaves, Bush Stem
Deciduous forests form in temperate zones and are home to regular trees, apple trees and aspen trees. Like in other forests, logs of fallen trees can be found here. Deciduous forests are frequently bordering surround grasslands.
Forest with regular and aspen trees in 0.4.15
Rainforest Dirt with Rainforest Litter, Dirt, Stone,

Jungle Grass, Jungle Tree, Jungle Leaves, Brown Mushroom, Waterlily
Rainforests (or jungles) are made of large jungle trees which grow thickly packed together. Jungle Grass and Jungle Trees bearing Jungle Leaves spawn here naturally. On fallen jungle tree logs, brown mushrooms may appear rarely.
Rainforest biome in v7 as of 0.4.16
Savanna Dirt with Dry Grass, Dirt, Stone,

Dry Grass, Acacia Tree, Acacia Leaves, Acacia Bush Leaves, Acacia Bush Stem
The savanna is a dry land which is not a desert. It is populated with plenty of dry grass and occasional acacia trees and acacia bushes. There are also a few fallen logs of acacia trees.
Savanna in 0.4.16
Desert Desert Sand, Desert Stone,

Cactus, Dry Shrub
Deserts contain large amounts of desert sand and desert stone. Cacti and dry shrubs also spawn here naturally on desert sand. Cacti can form in two different shapes. Deserts form in hot and dry areas.
Desert biome in v7, as of 0.4.15
Sandstone desert Sand, Sandstone,

Dry Shrub
Sandstone deserts are large barren areas covered by sand with sandstone below. They form in temperate and dry climates.
Sandstone desert, as of 0.4.15
Cold desert Silver Sand, Stone,

Dry Shrub
Cold deserts are large barren areas covered by large amounts of silver sand on top of stone. They form in cold and dry areas.
A cold desert, as of 0.4.15
Snowy grassland Snow, Dirt with Snow, Dirt, Stone,

Bush Leaves, Bush Stem
The snowy grassland biome usually borders grasslands and is completely covered by a thin layer snow on top of dirt with snow. A few snow-covered bushes can be found here.
Snowy grassland, as of 0.4.15
Taiga Snow, Dirt with Snow, Dirt, Stone,

Pine Tree, Pine Needles, Dry Shrub, Brown Mushroom, Red Mushroom
Taigas are cold snow-covered biomes with rich vegetation with snow and dirt with snow as surface. They are populated with snow-covered pine trees. In pine tree forests, mushrooms may appear rarely on fallen pine tree logs.
Pine trees in a taiga, as of 0.4.13
Tundra Snow Block, Stone,
Ice[1], Gravel[1]
Tundras are barren biomes in very cold climates with no vegetation and a single layer of snow blocks on top of stone. They are usually found between taigas, snowy grasslands and glaciers. This is one of the few biomes where snow blocks (rather than just snow) occour.

In the valleys mapgen, the rivers are frozen and made out of ice but they may be tricky to find because they are often buried below the snow blocks. Below the ice you can find a riverbed of gravel.

Tundra in 0.4.15
Glacier Snow Block, Ice,
Gravel[1]
Glaciers form only in the coldest regions and are made of large amounts of ice, covered by a thick layer of snow blocks without any vegetation. Glacier biomes can be either mountain-like as in the screenshot or very flat. Glacier biomes generally border ice sheet biomes near oceans.

In the valleys mapgen, glacier biomes have frozen rivers like in tundras.

A large glacier formation, bordered by a regular snow biome, as of 0.4.13

Beach, shore and dune biomes

These biomes form between land biomes and ocean biomes.

Name Blocks Description Images
Grassland dunes, Coniferous forest dunes Sand,

Grass
Dunes are made of sand on which occassional grass grows. They form 5 exactly blocks above sea level and border grasslands and coniferous forests.
Grassland dunes in 0.4.16
Deciduous forest shore Water, Dirt,

Waterlily
A deciduous forest shore is the area exactly at sea level bordering deiduous forest biomes and has dirt as its floor (instead of sand). In the shallow water there is a chance to find waterlilies.
Deciduous forest shore in 0.4.16
Rainforest swamp Water, Dirt,

Jungle Tree, Jungle Leaves, Waterlily
A rainforest swamp is a small biome which only forms at sea level next to a rainforest. Rainforest swamps have jungle trees like the rainforest, but their roots are flooded with water. Waterlilies may occour here on shallow water.
Rainforest swamp biome as of 0.4.15
Savanna shore Water, Dirt,

Papyrus, Waterlily
Savanna shores are usually small areas of shallow water with a dirt floor. They occour when a savannah reaches the sea level. There are plenty of papyri growing on single dirt blocks, but it is the only place in which papyri occour naturally. A couple of waterlilies may be found on the shallow water as well.
Savanna shore in 0.5.0-dev
Tundra beach Water, Gravel A tundra beach consists of nothing but gravel and may form when a trundra meets the ocean.
Tundra beach in 0.4.16

Ocean biomes

Oceans are large bodies of water and usually have sand as the sea floor with occacional patches of clay. There are several ocean biomes in Minetest Game, one for each land biome. Each ocean biome has the same temperature and humidity requirements as its land counterpart.

Name Blocks Description Images
Tundra ocean, taiga ocean, snowy grassland ocean, grassland ocean, coniferous forest ocean, deciduous forest ocean, cold desert ocean Water, Sand, Clay, Stone These ocean biomes have sand as the ocean floor. With the exception of tundra oceans, these include sand beaches which extend up to 4 blocks above sea level. Like in most other ocean biomes, blobs of clay are common inside the sand and occour between levels Y=0 and Y=-15.
Ocean in 0.4.16
Savanna ocean, Rainforest ocean Water, Sand, Clay, Stone,

Coral, Coral Skeleton
Savanna and rainforest oceans are the oceans bordering savannas and rainforests, respectiveley. Coral reefs can form in the water close to the surface.
Savanna ocean and rainforest ocean with a coral reef in 0.4.16
Desert ocean Water, Sand, Clay, Desert Stone,

Coral, Coral Skeleton
Ocean variant of the desert. It has desert stone instead of stone. Coral reefs can form in the water close to the surface.
Desert ocean in 0.4.16
Sandstone desert ocean Water, Sand, Clay, Sandstone Ocean variant of the sandstone desert. It has sandstone instead of stone.
Sandstone desert ocean in 0.4.16
Ice sheet Snow Block, Ice, Water, Sand, Clay Ice sheets are the ocean pendant to the glacier biome and thus form only in the coldest regions of oceans and border glacier biomes. Ice sheets are quite tall and consist of a single layer of snow blocks with up to 10 layers of ice beneath, “floating” above water in deep oceans.
Ice sheet in 0.4.15

v6

Biomes in v6 are rather simple, but there are some unique features not found in other mapgens. This mapgen has a few biomes and 4 tree species. In, v6, the biomes do determine the terrain shape to some extent.

In Minetest Game, some blocks are not generated at all, but nothing essential. For example, there are are no aspen trees, acacia tree and corals.

Technically, the v6 map generator has a predefined set of biomes which can't be changed by mods directly. The outcome in different games will generally be very similar. Games usually only add to the v6 mapgen by creating so-called decorations, for example flowers and grass.

Biomes

Name Main Blocks[2] Decorations[3] Description Images
Normal Dirt with Grass, Dirt, Stone,

Tree, Leaves, Apple
Grass, Flower, Brown Mushroom, Red Mushroom The Normal biome is the most common biome in v6 and forms in temperate zones. It includes grassy plains and forests with regular trees and apple trees. This biome is rather flat and covered by Dirt with Grass. The plains are large expanes of land. The forests consist of regular trees with occasional apple trees.

In Minetest Game, Grass and flowers are spread over the entire biome; mushrooms may grow next to trees.

Plains, as of 0.4.13
A forest of regular trees in 0.4.9
Desert Desert Sand, Desert Stone Cactus, Dry Shrub Deserts contain large amounts of desert sand and desert stone and often form large cliffs or canyons. Deserts are normally covered in desert sand, but at a few cliffs, the bare desert stone may be exposed without desert sand on top. Deserts spawn underground rivers and lakes which can be over 200 blocks deep.

In Minetest Game, Cacti and dry shrubs also occour here naturally in clusters on desert sand. The cacti form in a “column” shape of up to 4 blocks high.

Desert biome, as of 0.4.7
Jungle Dirt with Grass, Dirt, Stone,

Jungle Tree, Jungle Leaves, Jungle Grass
Flower, Grass Jungles contain large jungle trees which grow thickly packed together. Jungle Grass and Jungle Trees bearing Jungle Leaves spawn here naturally.

In Minetest Game, flowers and Grass might appear here, but only rarely so, the jungle grass generally dominates in jungles.

Jungle biome as of 0.4.16
Taiga Snow Block, Dirt with Snow, Stone,

Snow, Pine Tree, Pine Needles
The surface is covered with Snow Blocks on top of Dirt with Snow. This biome includes snowed plains and snow-covered Pine Tree forests.
The two main features of taigas: snow blocks and pine trees (0.4.15)
Tundra Dirt with Snow, Snow, Stone Dry Shrub Tundras are large open fields of Dirt with Snow without any trees. In Minetest Game, these fields are populated by a few dry shrubs.

There is also a less common variation of this biome in which the surface is just snow directly on top of stone, exposing the stone's sides. No dry shrubs can be found here. This variation may occour sometimes at plateaus.

Tundra biome in 0.4.15
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 This block is only generated in the valleys mapgen
  2. Blocks generated by the core v6 mapgen
  3. Additional blocks added by Minetest Game, can be controlled with the map generator flag decorations. See also: Map generator features#Shared features

Landscape features

Landscape features form (more or less) separately from biomes.

Name Blocks Description Images
Sand beach Water, Sand, Clay, Stone Sand beaches are made out of sand and form at at height of Y=2 and below, which is near the sea level by default. Sand beaches often extend deep into the ocean, which can easily turn a large part of the ocean floor into sand. The sand replaces the floor of other biomes. Depending on the terrain shape, sand beaches can be short or very long and wide (as seen in the screenshot). Clay can be found in the sand and forms in small to medium-sized “blobs” underwater (Technically, clay is generated like an ore by Minetest Game).

Sand beaches are generated based on height and Perlin noise; they technically form independent of the water of oceans. This effect can be noted if the water level (with the setting water_level) has been reduced.

A sand beach bordering a desert in 0.4.15
Ocean Water, Stone, Dirt, Sand An ocean is just a large body of water that reach a depth of around 25 blocks with the water surface at Y=0 worldwide (by default). The natural ocean floor is dirt (which is different from the other mapgens), but sand is also common because of sand beaches. Oceans usually spread across 250-300 blocks, but this can vary greatly. Oceans are a landscape feature that seemed to be implemented around 0.2.20110731_1 Pre-Alpha.
A large ocean in 0.4.15
Island All blocks from the v6 biomes, Water Islands occur many times in oceans. Islands usually raise out of the ground 3-10 blocks, but can get as large as 40-80 blocks tall.
A small beach-style island, as of 0.4.7
Ice sheet Ice, Water, Dirt, Sand Ice sheets are two layers of ice on top of ocean water. They generate when a taiga or tundra biome hits an ocean.
Ice sheet in 0.4.15
Mountain Blocks are similar to those of forests and plains Mountains are the most treacherous to scale. Trees grow here naturally. It is quite easy to be killed in a mountain landscape if you don't pay attention to where you are going.
Mountains, before 0.4.7
Plateau Almost all blocks from the v6 biomes A giant structure that seems to have appeared from version 0.4 on, plateaus are very common in deserts but also in mountainous terrain. Plateaus can even float above ground and generate miniature biomes on top of it.
A plateau, as of 0.4.7
Water cave Water, Stone Water caves are caves that only occur at sea level, which turn into a huge underground river or lake. In extreme cases, these caves can lead thousands of blocks down and are extremely easily to get lost in.
A water cave, as of 0.4.7
Gravel field Gravel Very rarely, unusually large gravel fields can appear on the surface. These areas consist of nothing but gravel. A gravel field can occour in any biome and simply replaced the surface material (e.g. dirt with grass) with gravel.
A gravel field in 0.4.15

History

Minetest development

Early chaotic mapgen, no biomes at all
An undefinable biome (pre-0.0.1)
Early mapgen version 6 with forest and desert biomes (0.4.0)
Snow biomes in mapgen v6 (0.4.13)
Mapgen v7 supporting the Biome API. Shows the now removed sandstone grasslands from Minetest Game (0.4.13)
  • Before Minetest had version numbers, biomes were undefinable and only consisted of 4 materials: grass, stone, light and “water” (as seen in the images).
  • 0.0.1: It brought actual biomes to the table, but before 0.2.20110529 Pre-Alpha map generation was a bit of a mess. Biomes would cross into each other, and were generally undefinable.
  • 0.3.0 and before: Biomes were very basic. There were only grasslands, forests, oceans and beaches.
  • 0.4.0: The map generator version 6 was introduced. This map generator had the same biomes as before in its early versions. Deserts and later jungles have been added later.
  • 0.4.13: Taigas and tundras have been added to the v6 mapgen. Around this time, work on the Biome API has begun, but it was not useful yet.
  • 0.4.14: The Biome API has been introduced for the v7 mapgen which allows mods to create their own biomes from scratch. This was a major milestone because the Biome API is much more flexible than the hardcoded v6 biomes; the biomes can be much richer now. All mapgens now support the Biome API, except v6, which continues to have its hardcoded biomes.

Minetest Game biomes

  • Before 0.4.14: Minetest Game did not create any biomes; all biomes were created by Minetest instead. Minetest Game merely added some decorations to the v6 mapgen, like flowers, papyri, cacti, etc.
  • 0.4.14: Minetest Game started to use the new Biome API which made the v7 mapgen finally suitable for playing. Minetest Game used the Biome API to add glaciers, ice sheets, tundras, taigas, stone grasslands, sandstone grasslands, coniferous forests, deciduous forests, deserts, savannas, rainforests, swamps and beaches. The v6 biomes are unchanged.
  • 0.4.15: Snowy grasslands, cold deserts and sandstone deserts have been added. The sandstone grasslands have been removed.

See also

For more detail on the evolution of the map generator, see the Map Generator Evolution page.

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