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Posted: Aug 11, 2020 in Discussion
On the menu screen of Minecraft, you can see a rendered world revolving around a foggy view. For most of Minecraft’s lifespan, this world was the image you’d see every time you played Minecraft. But, have you ever wondered what that world really is? Is it a real Minecraft world that you can generate? Was it conjured from the inner depths of Mojang? Well, it’s tricky. Let’s jump in.
To put it simply, the world you see in the background is a seed generated like any other. It isn’t particularly special in any way, but in typical Minecraft fashion, the community must find something to do. So the mystery of the title screen seed was born. Nobody knew what the seed of this world was, but they would find out. A group of hardworking players was assembled by Tomlacko, a member of the Minecraft community. But, where would they start? Well, that is what today’s story is about. Witness the journey of the title screen seed.
Tomlacko understood that the title screen was too blurry to gather any valuable information, so he found a way to take the unaltered images from the game files. Next, he needed to find out what version of the game the image was taken in. This was distressing at first since between Beta 1.7 and 1.8, Notch had been working on major changes to the world generation system, which included dozens of dev-builds that have no public release. The chances of actually being able to discern the version would be very unlikely. However, a little luck was on our side, when looking through the image’s metadata indicated the exact date the image was saved. June 27th, 2011. This was months before the Beta 1.8 pre-release, assuring us that the picture had to have been taken on Beta 1.6, or Beta 1.7.
After this, Tom decided to start looking for other people to assist him. A recreation of the image started to be crafted, and a simple program that overlaid the recreation on top of the actual image. This was a significant help for the team and their work.
With the newly assembled team and a dream to count, Tom and his crew set off at record speed. While the recreation was underway, the next push was to find exact coordinates of where the image was taken. Everything in the picture was utilized, but what stood out were two things.
First, cloud formations were used to find the z-axis. Second and more importantly, tall grass. If you’ve ever taken a good look at tall grass, you’d see that they are mostly offset from the center of a block by a few pixels. At a glance, these patterns may seem random but they are in fact similar to every other seed in the game. The formation is actually not random at all. This is also exactly how bedrock patterns behave.
Tom now brute-forced his way through a world on the z-axis by just placing tall grass everywhere along a line until he got a formation recognizable in the image. Sure enough, it eventually worked. In the version of Minecraft where the picture was taken, there were 2^48 possible seeds. That is A LOT of seeds. Too many to search through using terrain. One of the team members, PseudoGravity noticed that the colors of the tall grass were different from each other due to the biome blending in the game. He then took the color values and coordinates of all the tall grass, and then graphed the blending. He could then eliminate all the seeds that did not have that exact blend on those exact coordinates, shaving down the number of possible seeds to 2^36.4.
After all of these methods were used, there were few enough seeds to brute force render and check in real-time. (around 12 million) This process takes a while though, typically 1k-5k seeds per second on your average CPU. Eventually, due to the generous donation of processing power by tons of volunteers and the efforts of some very talented people, the seed was found! Actually, there were two! This is because some worlds have multiple valid seeds. The seed was also found fairly early, only delving into around 12% of the remaining millions.
A journey ends. We’ve arrived at the destination, and we have that feeling of fulfillment to go along with the sudden realization of what we have accomplished. Now, if you so desire, you can open up Minecraft 1.7 and load up either
8091867987493326313 to witness history. The world is real, and you can play on it. The coordinates for where the picture had been taken are
[x=60, y=77, z=-67].
Wow! Isn’t it crazy what a community of determined people can accomplish when they put their minds to it? With a little talent and a lot of help, we can do anything. The biggest mysteries of our beloved pastime have been solved, and it doesn’t seem like anyone can stop us. A huge round of applause to the talented team members and volunteers who made this possible. You can find all of them and what they did to help here. These guys should be written in the history books! With that said, you all have a wonderful day, until next time.