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Minetest Game is a simple and peaceful “sandbox game”, this means there are no goals and no built-in computer enemies. The player is thrown into a world made of cubes and can attempt to explore the surface and hitchhike through grasslands, forests, deserts, jungles, snowy and arctic regions, explore the seas with a boat or swim and dive, and collect various materials and craft tools from them. Using a pickaxe, the player can dig into the depths and collect precious minerals, but a careless player can also be cooked by lava. Or the player could become a farmer or forester and plant trees and crops. Almost every block can be removed with the correct tool and with the collected blocks almost every building can be erected—only the imagination is the limit. Minetest Game has a focus on creativity, building and exploring worlds, rather than being a challenge, so the gameplay naturally is sandbox-style.
Riding a boat on a river
- Over 200 block types to mine and built (See Blocks for an overview)
- Deep underground with 7 different minerals and lava
- 6 tool strengths from wood to diamond
- Creative mode in which (almost) all items are instantly available
- Several biomes to discover: Grasslands, desert, jungle, ocean, savannah, decidious forests, coniferous forests, snow, cold desert, glacier
- Underground dungeons
- Small and large underground caves
- Underground lava pockets
- 6 minerals: coal, iron, copper, gold, mese, diamond, used to craft tools and stuff
- Rare mese block at below Y=-1024 (equals 9 mese crystals)
- 6 tree types: “normal” tree, apple tree, jungle tree, acacia tree, aspen tree, pine tree. Includes saplings to grow new trees
- 6 flowers (used to create colors), waterlily, mushrooms and some other small plants
- Tools to destroy blocks: Pickaxe (for stones), shovel (for dirt and sand), axe (for wood and trees), sword (for leaves and small plants)
- Most tools can also be used as melee weapons
- Screwdriver (used to rotate stuff)
- Bucket for collecting liquids like water
- See Items for more
Other gameplay aspects
- Go over the sea with boats
- Build rails and ride in a cart to transport yourself and items
- Use the furnace to smelt ores to ingots, use ingots to craft new stuff
- Basic farming: Till soil with a hoe, plant wheat and cotton seed, put water nearby and watch them grow
- When a player dies, the player might lose the items in the inventory which can be retrieved from a bones block
- TNT and gunpowder
As default game
Minetest Game is included by default to give some initial single player content when Minetest is downloaded in the single archive file from the download section of the homepage. It includes some basic mods that add enough game content to offer a simple playable game. Control keys and basic gameplay activities are set to function similar to other games of the genre to make immediate playing possible.
Minetest Game is not needed to play on other servers as all game content is controlled and "served" by the hosting server. Only when running an own Minetest server is some playable content needed that is normally a collection of mod scripts in a “game” folder. “Single-player” may be viewed as a special case when the local Minetest program acts as local game-server, hosting a local game and then connects to its own self as client.
As basis for new games
The gameplay can be modified considerably by Lua scripts organized in mods. As a lot of mods, offered by the community, name “default” as dependency, Minetest Game is thought as the basic content on which game designers may build their own games. Thus if compatibility with most mods is the aim of a new game, it is advisable to start building the new game by adding content to a copy of Minetest Game.
As collection of modding examples
Although this may seem trivial this function of the Minetest game should not be forgotten as it often offers the first example of how to code things for modders.
It contains the following mods:
- Gameplay-related mods
- default: This is the most important and biggest mod in Minetest Game. It adds most blocks which occour naturally and most artificial blocks, ores, many basic crafts, furnace fuels, tools, items and all the stuff which is not covered by the other mods in this game
- beds: adds beds of several sorts.
- boats: adds boat
- bones: adds bones
- bucket: adds buckets
- carts: adds cart
- doors: adds doors, trapdoors (like the wooden trapdoor) and fence gates
- dye: adds dyes
- farming: farming-related stuff: Cotton (plant), wheat, cotton seed, wheat seed, strings, flour, bread, hoes and soil
- fire: adds fire, permanent flame and flint and steel
- flowers: adds flowers, mushrooms and waterlily
- screwdriver: adds screwdriver
- stairs: adds stairs and slabs
- tnt: adds TNT and gun powder
- vessels: adds drinking glass, steel bottle, glass bottle, glass fragments and vessels shelf
- walls: adds walls
- wool: adds wool in 15 colors
- xpanes: adds glass panes and iron bars
- Setting-related mods
- Server commands
- sethome: adds the server commands “sethome” and “home”. (See here)
The following mods were contained in it for certain amount of times before they were removed:
Notable things not included
As Minetest Game was included in the download archive it was supposed to be lightweight and as gameplay-neutral as possible. It therefore often irritated new players that particular things known from similar games were not included by default:
- No monsters, animals or NPCs  are included and no API for these is offered.
- There is no crafting guide
History and plans
Since early 2014, Minetest Game (then called “minetest_game”) was semi-officially under feature freeze. It was not dropped and was kept available in maintenance-mode as basis for all mods that depended on "default". The consensus of the Minetest developers seemed to be that Minetest Game should be changed as little as possible (feature-freeze) and rather no new content added. Thus offering the most compatibility to old mods and leaving the bulk of game content for game designers to develop.
To give more examples of the possibilities of the Minetest engine it had been discussed to include more example games in the download archive. The only other game that was included in the 0.4.9 versions of Minetest was Minimal, which is only recommended for testing purposes. Games suggested as example games have been Dwarves, PilzTest, Nostalgia, Realtest, Eden or a game based on the Ethereal mod. More recently BFD, Minetest NeXt and Carbone have been considered among others. The idea is to showcase a variety of different gameplay, environment and atmosphere concepts.