Posted: Dec 8, 2023 in Minecraft
By Kevin Lott
Minecraft is a game that deserves praise through and through. No doubt about that. But have you ever wondered how we got here? How our beloved block game has developed throughout the years? There is bound to be limitless history to the creation and expansion of the world’s most popular video game, so I’ve put together a chronology of the most impactful events in Minecraft history. We’ll go over what has brought us here, how they’ve impacted the game, its community, and so much more. Let’s begin.
On May 10th, 2009, Cave Game was born. That’s right, Minecraft wasn’t actually called Minecraft at first, and it didn’t have many of the defining features that it currently has. Cave Game was a small demo that included Cobblestone and Grass Block which brought very simple physics, the player, and basic caves. There were no mobs and not much world generation to speak of, but the basic chunk-loading system and lighting were basically fully developed. Humble beginnings to say the least.
In a few weeks, creative mode and multiplayer were added to this demo. This included a new variety of blocks like bricks, flowers, glass, wool, gold, coal, iron, bedrock, sand, gravel, and much more. This is what most people would consider ‘early classic creative’ Minecraft.
The Birth of Redstone
On July 3rd, 2010, Redstone was added to the game. This included many different Redstone blocks like Destone Dust, Redstone Torches, Levers, Buttons, Pressure Plates, Iron Doors, and more. This is the first version truly named Alpha as Alpha v1.0.0 was only called ‘Alpha’ retroactively upon the release of v1.0.1. This update was the birth of one of Minecraft’s most defining characteristics, Redstone engineering. We wouldn’t have all of the amazing contraptions that people have thought of or developed without this update.
While this particular version of Redstone was definitely simple and limited to extremely trivial uses, it set the foundation for one of the most creative gameplay systems in the gaming industry, offering pseudo-electrical engineering to a game where gameplay was filled with otherwise typical survival and combat features.
The Nether, aka the ‘Hell’ dimension made its debut in the Halloween update which was released on October 30th, 2010. Honestly, 2009 and 2010 are starting to look like the best years of Minecraft! This was a major update to the game, as it brought Minecraft’s first new dimension which offered a whole new experience to players. Building a Nether portal and entering the odd hellscape was extremely intimidating, yet compelling. The vast lava lakes caked in Netherrack islands along with the dangerous Ghasts that cast fireballs were something completely alien to the player!
The Ghast was actually made to be as unfair as possible, with Notch saying on Twitter ‘I just made the most unfair mob ever even more unfair. You will hate the Ghast”. Ha! New blocks, new biomes, and new features. At this point, Minecraft was starting to have an identity and make a name for itself.
Well, not really. Moreso the place than a state of being. On November 18th, 2011, Minecraft reached its official release while also updating the game to include the newest dimension, the End. This update was absolutely massive, bringing the End, enchanting, potions, and breeding. But it also brought forth villagers, mushroom islands, nether fortresses, more nether mobs, snow golems, and hardcore mode!
This update most certainly leveled up Minecraft BIG TIME, being the official 1.0 release of the game, also known as the Adventure Update. Interestingly enough, this was all done during Minecon 2011, making the game officially released after two and a half years of development. All of the new features truly personified the whimsical adventuring nature of Minecraft, and this update will probably go down in history as Minecraft’s best update yet.
Expanding Upon Greatness
On October 25th, 2012, the pretty Scary Update dropped. This update did not have any specific purpose but added lots of now iconic aspects of the game. Withers were added, which are now known as just as iconic as the Ender Dragon, in terms of boss battles. Anvils, Beacons, Bats, Carrots, Potatoes, Pumpkin Pies, Item Frames, and Flower Pots. Lots of items expanded upon Minecraft’s extensive library of blocks and collectibles which improved variety in gameplay. But most importantly…
The release of Command Blocks! Command Blocks are an extremely interesting block that most certainly satisfied the creative community, as it led to an unparalleled boom in Adventure Maps! Command Blocks brought forth the automation of vanilla commands, and with the extensive updates being made to the possible commands that could be inputted, it only meant that vanilla adventure maps would have more options than ever. One of the most useful blocks ever, which surely changed the course of the modding and creative community forever.
As if Redstone wasn’t already a cool enough implementation of engineering, Mojang felt the need to one-up themselves! The Redstone Update was released on March 13th, 2013 to impressive fanfare because of the multiple unique blocks it added which improved the utilization of Redstone tenfold. Hoppers, Redstone Blocks, Redstone Comparators, Trapped Chests, Nether Quartz, Weighted Pressure Plates, and improved lighting.
This update also brought some odd functionality, for example, a ‘scoreboard’ option. In general, many players saw this as a much-needed quality-of-life improvement to previous systems, and it only improved the game by adding new mechanics to features that were already present in a way that didn’t undermine what was already there. Updates like these are how Redstone and its community became one of the ‘big three.’
The Corporatization of Nostalgia
Now, I mean this in both good and bad ways. In November of 2014, all of Mojang was acquired by Microsoft for 2.5 billion dollars. This, of course, included our favorite block game, Minecraft. The process began a few months earlier, and many expected the acquisition was happening due to Notch’s repeated signs on Twitter.
While it may be universally frowned upon to sell your IP to a larger corporation, Microsoft hasn’t necessarily been terrible to the IP. In fact, with all the changes and reworks that have been made to Minecraft’s infrastructure, it could be argued that some of the best qualities of the game could not have been achieved without Microsoft’s resources as a major corporation. Amazing improvements such as total crossplay across all platforms and the Minecraft Marketplace which, despite my gripes with it, is a great place to find high-quality community-made content.
The Most Controversial Update
The most controversial update that the game has ever experienced, Minecraft attempted to make its simple yet effective combat system into a complex, intricate one with many different aspects that work together. On February 29th, 2016, the Combat Update was released. The features of this update included End Cities, Elytra Wings, Combat changes, the Outer end Islands, Shulkers, and Shields, but also brought Igloos, Subtitles, New arrows, a revamped Ender Dragon fight, dual wielding, and better command blocks.
Some aspects of this update were considered objective improvements, like the new ender dragon fight and two handing items, but others were reworks that pleased some and disgruntled others. For example, Elytra. Elytra were a new item that allowed the player to quite literally fly, and while they are incredibly fun and empowering, many believe they undermine the numerous other, now outpaced, methods of travel such as minecarts, horseback, or boats. You could no longer block with a sword, but instead, a new ‘shield’ has been added which blocks 100% of melee damage. You can see how Mojang really attempted to revitalize their game’s combat by changing things to work more like other games, in a way.
The World of Color Update was released on June 7th, 2017. While this update was fairly decent by itself, it didn’t necessarily add anything crazy. Colored Concrete, Glazed Terracotta, Parrots, new wool colors, dyeable beds, and more functions were added. This improved the game for the creative community which very much appreciated the new building blocks, but that’s not what this update really led to.
World of Color was, for some reason, one of the most legendary versions of Minecraft for its wide plethora of high-quality mods that were released. For some reason, the modding community decided that 1.12 would be a solid foundation to continue developing mods and modpacks for, neglecting 1.13 onward all the way until 1.16 was released years later. I’m not sure why this is, but I believe its solid performance and lack of any major changes created a good setup for most mod developers.
An Honest Overhaul
After you leave someone with something for years on end, they’re bound to get bored with it eventually. And so the Minecraft community was starting to get bored with the more shallow aspects of the game, of which they believed the Nether was close to the top of the list. With few biomes and mobs to speak of, many viewed it as a mere stepping stone to acquiring an Elytra. That is until the Nether Update!
Released on June 23rd, 2020, the Nether Update brought a total overhaul of the dimension, adding three brand new biomes with their own associated blocks and generation along with a redesign of the classic Zombie Pigmen into Piglins, Hoglins, and more! They even added a new ore, which allowed players to upgrade their once-perfect Diamond armor into even better Netherite armor! Netherite was a new cool addition that brought that once-needed novelty back into the game once more.
Caves, Cliffs, and the Wild
This was the beginning of a less organized time where it’s safe to say Mojang bit off more than they could chew. It all started during Minecraft Live, the new replacement for Minecon which Mojang had devised as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unfortunately, the live stream event stands to replace Mincon still to this day) They had a very simple goal that they weren’t willing to let up because they believed it would truly improve the game experience in almost every way. They wanted Minecraft to have its world generation height level increase by 128 blocks.
This meant that there would be both deeper, more vast caves and larger, more tumultuous mountains. A complete world generation overhaul with the goal of making the infinite generation all that more impressive. Unfortunately, these systems and associated items took quite literally years for Mojang to develop, causing the mechanics and functionalities to be fed to the player base over the course of three updates: 1.17, 1.18, and 1.19.
We now make it back to our current day! At this point, Minecraft has established itself as the most popular game in the world. With consistent content updates and marketing campaigns with the sole purpose of expanding this franchise into other areas of the gaming industry, that isn’t bound to change any time soon. We’ve made it through good and bad times alike, and I have yet to lose interest in this lovely game and its communities. With all that being said though, I hope you’ve enjoyed this deep dive through history. Have a great day!