Official ‘Minecraft’ Magazine out in the UK, coming to the US “SOON”

It’s no secret that Minecraft‘s [$6.99] true intention is to be present everywhere, and the latest endeavor is another step in that direction. As announced recently, Mojang is working together with Egmont to publish an all new Minecraft: Official Magazine, which will exist in physical form. The magazine is already out in the UK and will be traveling to another countries “as soon as logistically possible.” The new magazine is 60-pages long and filled with all kinds of tips, tricks, survival stories, and much more. The tips and tricks part contains various builds broken down into detailed steps to help readers figure out how to improve their skills.

In addition to the aforementioned sections, the new magazine also contains a comic starring new heroes, Bear, Scout, Sparks, and Monty. As you’d expect from a Minecraft comic, these characters each represent a segment of the Minecraft player base. You have a survivalist, a warrior, a builder, and an explorer. I continue to be pleasantly surprised by all that comes out of the Minecraft universe, and I think this magazine is going to be another big hit with the game’s players. Expect it to hit the US shores in the not-to-distant future.

 

Official ‘Minecraft’ Magazine out in the UK, coming to the US “SOON”

Minecraft’s annual convention is now an online stream

Minecon is being replaced with a free, live-streamed show called ‘Minecon Earth.’

Minecon has been a popular event for Minecraft fans since 2010, but this year the good people of Mojang are switching it up. Instead of a physical convention, it will host Minecon Earth — an interactive, live show that will be streamed online.

In an announcement, the Minecon team said that with such a large following, it’s hard to maximize how many fans can attend the convention while still keeping the “friendly, intimate community atmosphere” of previous Minecons. So instead, on November 18th, you’ll be able to stream the 90-minute-long Minecon Earth or attend a special theater screening. The plan is to “take the best bits of our previous events and incorporate them into a condensed show dedicated to all things Minecraft,” which includes showing off your specially-made Minecraft-themed costume. You’ll be able to submit your costume ahead of time for inclusion in the show. Swag will also still be a part of Minecon Earth. Exclusive goods will be on sale during the show and viewers will be able to order them online.

However, Mojang does want to keep some sort of in-person experience in the mix, so it’s also going to support community events led by approved partners like Minefaire, Minevention and Blockfest. Like regular Minecon, these events will feature popular YouTubers and streamers as well as tournaments and costume contests.

More information about Minecon Earth will be released in the near future and for those who are bummed about not being able to attend Minecon this year, check out our coverage of the 2015 event that took place in London.

Minecraft’s annual convention is now an online stream

The Cubist Revolution: Minecraft For All

The cubist revolution, now in its eighth year, is thriving.

That’s Minecraft cubes, of course.

The game where you build virtual Lego-like worlds and populate them with people, animals and just about everything in between is one of the most popular games ever made; it’s second only to Tetris as the best-selling video game of all time. There’s gold in them thar cubes: More than 120 million copies have sold since Minecraft launched in 2009.*

So what’s behind the game’s enduring appeal?

For Isiah Hammonds, 9, it’s all about the creative potential every time you fire up your computer.

“You can build anything – anything that you put your mind to! You can work with other people. It’s social. It’s just super fun!” he says while focusing intensely on finishing his virtual ice arena with his multi-player team of fellow Minecraft campers in Richmond, Calif. “It’s for our ice boat racing.”

Hammonds, a third-grader, is in a basement room in Richmond’s City Hall, next to the cafeteria and a janitor’s closet. There are long, narrow white tables with black computer monitors on top.

A lot of tech summer camps like this can cost upwards of $1,000 a week — but these 20 children are in a city hall basement because the space is free.

So is the program, which is run by the non-profit Building Blocks for Kids Collaborative with help from a group called Connected Camps.

It serves predominantly low-income African-American and Hispanic children, many of whom face basic barriers to catching the tech and gaming bug — like access to the internet and access to devices.

A lot of the children here are playing Minecraft for the first time, explains the camp’s digital literacy director, Teresa Jenkins. That’s because a lot of the families who come here don’t have computers at home. Or if they do, she says, they can’t afford high-speed internet or it’s simply not a priority.

“Rent. Food. Gas. ‘How am I doing to get the kids back and forth to school? How am I going to get back and forth to work? ‘ ” says Jenkins, “that’s the priority.”

Richmond is gentrifying amid the Bay Area’s tech-driven economic boom. But the city remains one of the area’s poorest, with a poverty rate of nearly 18 percent.

Children here can see San Francisco from their city and hear all about nearby Silicon Valley and its bevy of industry-disrupting companies, “but they don’t imagine they can be a part of that industry,” says Jennifer Lyle, the executive director of Building Blocks for Kids Collaborative.

This Minecraft camp, Lyle says, is trying to change that ‘we’re not welcome in tech’ feeling some low-income families in Richmond have. “To get people to come here and say, ‘No, our child deserves to have access to this,’ ” she says.

It starts by introducing young people and their parents “to the kinds of things wealthier folks get access to because they have the means,” she explains, getting “grounding in computers they’re not getting in school.”

Minecraft gets high marks from diverse quarters for its education potential. The game can help teach the basics of computer literacy and the key foundations of coding, animation, circuitry and more.

Children can absorb the broccoli of computer knowledge while reveling in the popcorn of building elaborate worlds out of cubes. And in camps like this, they can learn to work together as a team, says Morgan Ames, a postdoctoral scholar at U.C. Berkeley who helped create this camp and has studied its impact.

Campers here, she says, get to work through “the steps of designing something technological that somebody else will play.” Using aMinecraft tool called redstone circuits, kids can “think through the basics of circuits.”

But to really get that full experience, kids need the PC or Mac version of the game. A version not all have access to, Ames says. Ames also co-authored a study of Minecraft, this camp, and equity and access gaps by race, class and gender.

“Generally we found that middle- and upper middle-income kids play the PC version more. Boys tend to play it more than girls. And in general, white kids tend to play it more than children of color,” Ames says.

And that’s troubling, she says, because the PC version is simply a richer version of the game. “It has more options. It has more opportunities to learn to code. And we wanted to make it more accessible,” she says.

More accessible for children such as Jaiden Newton, 9. On this day I find her eagerly conspiring with her brother in a multi-player game at the camp.

“So he’s trying to build an underground tunnel to the other person’s arena so he can steal the flag,” she tells me.

She makes her way past a dazzling cube inside one of her elaborate cube structures.

“Those are Ender Pearls. It’s like a teleportation,” she says.

How long have you been playing Minecraft? I ask.

“About three weeks,” she says.

Lots of studies (and books and reports) show African-Americans and Latinos continue to be underrepresented in engineering and technical fields, alongside women. Silicon Valley continues to have a serious gender gap problem.

Ames says she’s collecting more data but her preliminary look shows that the tools out there to learn more about Minecraft — online forums, videos and the like — are dominated by boys.

Camps like this are vital, Ames says, to help change that equation.

Or as program director Jennifer Lyle puts it, this camp helps send a message to our parents, schools and Silicon Valley “we belong here.”

*[Note: Minecraft was purchased by Microsoft Corp. from developers Mojang in 2014. The foundation created by Microsoft founder Bill Gates is a financial supporter of NPR and NPR Ed.]

The Cubist Revolution: Minecraft For All

This guy who recreated his entire high school on Minecraft must have really, really missed it

Now this is dedication.

A Mincecraft player in Taiwan decided to recreate their entire school on the sandbox video game because they missed it so much.

The gamer, along with a few friends who attended the Banqiao Senior High School in Taipei, started working on recreating their school during their first year of university.

It took them two years to recreate the entire campus:

The amount of detail is incredible. From the athletics field:

Image: @MINECRAFTPCSH/FACEBOOK

To the swimming pool:

Image: @MINECRAFTPCSH/FACEBOOK

And just the general facade — there’s nothing this Minecraft player has missed out on.

Image: @minecraftpcsh/facebook

“I started this [project] in my freshman year because of homesickness,” said the gamer in an online blogpost.

The gamer, along with three other high school classmates, then started on the project in 2014.

But the project is far from over.

“There are still many parts of the school that are not completed, because we are very busy,” they said. “Only 87% is complete.”

The group have set up a Facebook page, to keep people updated about the project that they hope to complete soon.

Given it already looks amazing, we can’t wait to see how it turns out.

This guy who recreated his entire high school on Minecraft must have really, really missed it

Why The Emoji Movie Fails

The Emoji Movie might have been 💯 . It might have been a work of quiet genius, in the manner of Toy Story or The Lego Movie or Inside Out: a quirky and soulful exploration of the worlds that exist in parallel to our own, investing objects that would seem merely to be dully inanimate with story and, thus, empathy. It might have been, too, a particularly timely exploration of smartphones and their contents: Here, after all, are objects that are with so many of us, at our sides and in our hands, humming bits of glass and metal that tell a million little stories with each swipe, and each tap, and each touch of a warm human pulse.

But: no. The Emoji Movie, instead, is a frenetic mishmash—not so much a single story of a parallel world so much as a roller-coaster-y tour of some of the apps of 2017: Spotify, Instagram, Twitter, Candy Crush, even Dropbox. Everything, here, is branded—even the parallel world itself, Textopolis, which is home to Gene, the offspring of two “meh” emojis. Gene is, in the grand tradition of such for-kids-but-also-not-totally-for-kids films, Different. He is not limited, in the way of the emoji, to one expression; he can make them all. But in order to realize that which makes him Different might actually make him Special, Gene first goes on a dizzying journey—through Textopolis, yes, but also through Spotify and Just Dance and YouTube and, in general, late capitalism as it is understood and manufactured by the Hollywood of the moment.

Because of that—and because also, ironically, of the premise that might have been 💯—critics eviscerated The Emoji Movie. Really gleefully eviscerated it. (Schadenfreudenunicoden?) The New York Times called it “nakedly idiotic.” BuzzFeed wrote that “it’s barely a movie so much as a confused attempt to both condescend to an audience about their short attention spans thanks to mobile devices while also trying to profit off of that very same audience.” Gizmodo did an all-emoji review of the film featuring, primarily, the Thinking Face emoji in several permutations. So critically unloved was this film—so squandered the promise it represented—that for a moment it seemed to be in contention for that rarest of honors: a 0 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. (Alas, even that moon-shooting was a failure: The film currently stands at an awkward score of 7 percent.)

In a weird way, then, The Emoji Movie is not just a critical flop, but also a metaphor for a Hollywood that is struggling to find the line between branding that audiences love and branding that audiences resent. Here is a film that takes some of the most intimate tools of people’s lives—the hearts and eggplants and joy-tears and tacos and other images that help them to express their love, and their desire, and their sadness—and considers how wacky it would be if one of those images was actually a guy named Gene. Here is a film that takes the revolution that has resulted from the advent of digital communication and whimsically brands it. Emojis, after all, are not just the little doodads that live in your WhatsApp. They are also, in the most basic and most profound of ways, tools—parts of a global continuum that has included everything from hieroglyphs to emoticons to text itself. They ask questions about what it really means for something, at this point in human history, to be “universal.”

The Emoji Movie, as it happens, shares a rough premiere date with The Emoji Code, the new book from the scholar and prolific author Vyvyan Evans. Evans’s book (subtitle: The Linguistics Behind Smiley Faces and Scaredy Cats) is an analysis—aimed at a popular audience—of the academic research that has been conducted about emojis since their creation in the late 1990s. It summons linguistics, and psychology, and cognitive science to consider why emojis have proven so popular and, so far, enduring. It reads, often, as a defense of what Evans refers to as Emoji, with a capital E: the complicated system of pictographs that augment text in digital communication. The collection of unicode that, Evans argues, “enables us to provide the non-verbal cues otherwise missing from textspeak.”

Evans’s book is a thorough exploration, in other words, of the extremely two-dimensional stars of The Emoji Movie. But it is also, in its arguments, something of an implied condemnation of The Emoji Movie. In Evans’s science-informed telling, emojis are not a language unto themselves, as has sometimes been suggested, but rather tools of communication that are productively basic: useful bridges of the emotional gaps that can exist in the dull black and white of text as it is rendered on a screen. The Emoji Code in many ways champions emojis against those who have seen the cheeky pictographs not as extensions of English, but as a threat to it—and to, by extension, language as we have known it.

And while that framing can itself occasionally read as overly two-dimensional—there are few people, at this point, who seem to believe that emojis will be the death of English, or any other language—it also situates The Emoji Code well with the ideas espoused by the linguist John McWhorter, and by the linguist Gretchen McCulloch, and by so many other canny observers of English as it lives and grows in its new digital environments: Language, breathing free, is its own kind of democracy. And that is evident online, in particular, where a good turn of phrase, or a new meme, or indeed a cleverly deployed emoji, can be so easily amplified and adapted and woven into the language. Emojis, in particular, are elastic in that way: They can mean whatever the writer, and whatever the recipient, decide they mean, together.

That can lead to a productive kind of ambiguity. Remember that tattoo Drake got a few years ago, which could be read either as two hands, praying, or as two hands, frozen in a high five? The star, as New York’s Adam Sternbergh pointed out, finally settled the matter: “I pity the fool who high-fives in 2014,” Drake clarified on his Instagram. But there would be many more debates in that vein. Are those dancing twins, symbols of female friendship, or Playboy bunnies, symbols of female objectification? Is that a toothy mouth-gape a grin or a grimace? When I texted “Drinks?” and you texted back, “🐙,” what did you mean?

This kind of ambiguity, Evans suggests, also gives way to useful flexibility. It allows emojis the kind of semantic suppleness that helps them to humanize, and augment, and otherwise expand, our text-based communications. Emojis can function as punctuation. They can work as pictographic versions of “lol.” They can convey personality—identity—with notable economy. Slack, the group-messaging service widely used for professional chatting, recently offered users the ability to add emojis to their handles, as a kind of status update—a 📅  would mean “in a meeting,” a 🚌  would mean “commuting,” a 🌴  would mean “on vacation,” and so on. Almost immediately, though, the service’s users expanded on Slack’s idea: They began using the emoji-status capability to augment their handles in more playful and expressive ways. Suddenly, Slack chats proliferated with people whose names were accompanied by screaming cats and expressionless faces and tiny, squared portraits of Jay-Z. The emojis had been used for a different purpose than the one originally intended. They had been made at once more fun and more expressive of users’ identities. They had been, in their way, democratized.

It’s a small point when it comes to emojis but a bigger one when it comes to the political power of language. Emojis are part of a broader phenomenon playing out across social media: English is exploding, at the moment, with new words and new grammars and new modes of human expression. It is alive—not in the way the creators of The Emoji Movie have imagined on our behalf (hey again, Gene), but in a much more meaningful way. As Evans puts it:

While Emoji will surely continue to evolve, and other systems and codes will be developed that will complement and, doubtless, replace Emoji as it currently exists, its emergence provides the beginning of a more or less level playing field, between face-to-face interaction and digital communication—better enabling effective communication in the digital sphere.

The Emoji Movie is notable in part because, in its very conceit, it pushes back against all of that buzzing evolution. It tries to brand it. It tries to turn it into intellectual property. As Alex French reported in a fantastic piece for The New York Times Magazine, there’s a booming business in Hollywood right now, one that involves taking existing intellectual property and, through the insistent alchemy of the studio budget, converting it into a Story. Angry Birds. Battleship. Fruit Ninja. Jumanji. And on and on.

Films like this are of course part of a much larger trend in Hollywood, the one that involves comic-book franchises, and sequels-to-sequels, and a hefty reliance on the general notion of the “universe”—films that give rise to anxieties about the reboot industrial complex and that cause people to wonder, extremely fairly, whether Hollywood is simply out of new ideas. (In 2016, La La Land was the only film of the year’s 20 top-grossers to have been wholly original—that is, not based on existing material. In 1996, nine of those 20 had been based on original screenplays.)

But The Emoji Movie and its fellow travelers are different. They aren’t merely adapting stories from another genre; they are taking something that has no story of its own—the toy, the game, the emotion—and attempting to inject story into it. As the producer Tripp Vinson told French, the changes that have come about in Hollywood over the past decade have “forced me to look at everything as though it could be I.P.” Sometimes, the results of that general approach to the world—everything can be a story—are delightful. Sometimes, they can be creatively Lego Movie-esque, their imagined worlds allowing for satire and allegory as well as entertainment. Many more times, though, those films read as cynical. They scan less as works of cinema than as weary exercises in forced anthropomorphism: big-screen versions of Clippy. (“It looks like you’re writing the script for a soulless cash grab! Would you like help?”)

And that’s another problem with The Emoji Movie. It takes all the productive linguistic experimentation that is happening every day—every minute—every second—in people’s phones and lives and reduces it down to stock characters who go through the motions of extremely conventional storytelling. Sony won The Emoji Movie in a bidding war against, reportedly, Warner Bros. and Paramount. In that sense, Gene belongs to the studio. But in another sense, Gene does not belong to anyone. Those silly little pictographs belong to us all. The Emoji Movie grafts its own plot onto the tools that real people, people who are not Hollywood studio executives, have been using to write their own stories, to have their own fun, to tell their own truths. No wonder the movie made them, in the end, a little bit 😡.

Why The Emoji Movie Fails

‘Schoolifying’ Minecraft Without Ruining It

Steven Isaacs — @mr_isaacs on Twitter — is a full-time technology teacher in Baskingridge, N.J. He’s also the co-founder of a new festival that set the Guinness World Record for largest gathering dedicated to a single video game.

The game that cements both halves of his life together? Minecraft.

(In case you haven’t heard, Minecraft, originally developed by Markus Persson of Sweden, offers players the chance to build a 3-D world out of “blocks.” Since its release in 2009, Minecraft has sold more than 121 million copies, making it the best-selling game of all time after another blocky favorite, Tetris.)

Other games allow you to fight monsters, construct giant castles, build power plants, navigate mazes, chop down trees for wood, survive in the wilderness or band together into guilds. Minecraft has all of the above. It is so open-ended, in fact, that some refer to it as a platform instead of a game, or an “infinite Lego set.”

It wasn’t long before an advance guard of teachers like Isaac started using the game in classrooms. One, Joel Levin of New York, co-founded a company called TeacherGaming which came out with a modified classroom version, MinecraftEdu.

In 2014, Microsoft bought Minecraft. This past school year, the company purchased MinecraftEdu and launched an official Minecraft: Education Edition.

Teachers are using Minecraft in every imaginable subject, from literature to social studies to math. Build a 3-D diorama of an archaeological dig; retell a Japanese folktale; test bridge designs in different materials. Isaacs’ students build video games within the game.

In Diane Main’s computer science class at a private school in San Jose, students interview each other and then build each other’s dream homes, based on what they learn about their “clients.”

“It’s the weirdest thing in the world to think about,” muses Meenoo Rami. A 10-year classroom veteran and national board certified teacher, Rami now works for Microsoft, spreading the Minecraft gospel to fellow teachers.

“A little tiny company creates a game and it goes insane,” she says. “It’s not meant for learning, but some adventurous teachers think it might be good for learning” and start doing, she says, “super cool stuff.”

Then, a giant corporation gets ahold of it.

The acquisition by Microsoft, and the transition from Edu to EE, has set up a classic tension: What happens when a phenomenon nurtured by amateurs suddenly goes mainstream? And will it be good or bad for students?

At the skate park

In the Edu days, teachers set up and maintained their own servers — a server is a single version of the game that a certain number of users can play in together. This required some technical know-how, but also allowed for lots of experimentation and customization, or “mods”.

“Scrappy educators and hackers and YouTubers kept adding stuff on, and it was very much an organic, geek-led movement,” says Mimi Ito, a cultural anthropologist at UC Irvine who studies how children and teens use media. She is also the founder of an online Minecraft summer camp.

Ito compares the game to a skateboarding park: a place that kids flock to and have a blast while also picking up wicked cool new tricks. “Kids are mostly hanging out, but they’re also learning from each other,” she explains. “Some are more advanced and are displaying their skills, so there are open invites to level up.”

Minecraft as a teaching tool wraps up so many contemporary trends in education. It’s inherently collaborative. “The multiplayer part is really at the heart of it,” says Isaacs, noting that many other tech tools available are, at best, “two kids, one computer.”

It’s creative, because it’s almost entirely open-ended.

And new features keep expanding the possibilities. The Minecraft material “redstone,” which simulates electrical circuits, offers the chance to layer-in engineering lessons too. Code Builder allows students to use programming tools to perform tasks within the game.

Stampy Cat and Gizzy Gazza, and Office365

But the most important factor that makes teachers gravitate toward Minecraft is that so many, many kids really love it.

That’s what Isaacs discovered when more than 12,000 “crazed fans and their parents” paid between $49 and $79 to attend the first Minefaire, last October in Philadelphia. They’re fans not only of the game itself, but of YouTube celebrities with millions of subscribers. Essentially, Minecraft has its own rock stars, with names like Mr Stampy Cat and Gizzy Gazza.

With all this grassroots enthusiasm, it’s not surprising that Microsoft would identify Minecraft as an important trend. The tech giant has been eager to re-establish itself in the classroom market. Microsoft Office was once standard in schools. But with Apple and Google now dominating in devices and Google in free classroom software, the company needed a new inroad.

Microsoft’s Minecraft is a little different than what came before. The Education Edition conforms better to traditional lesson planning, particularly grading. For example, you can take pictures of what you built with a “Camera” and create a “Portfolio” with commentary to document your project.

If you don’t want students shooting off fire cannons in the middle of a science lesson, you can block that feature. There is a “Classroom” mode and even “chalkboards.”

The Education Edition also has different licensing that makes it, in most cases, more expensive for school districts. It requires schools to be registered on Microsoft’s platform.

Taken together, the changes have some observers wondering whether the company is going to turn Minecraft into a product, with all the ubiquity — and all the fun — of PowerPoint or Office.

‘The scrappy, user-generated Minecraft’

“There’s some danger in having it become more packaged and commercial, losing that energy that was more about this scrappy user-generated Minecraft,” says Ito. In the old days, she explained, teachers bought MinecraftEdu once, with licenses for each machine. Students kept their individual accounts from year to year, and inside and outside school, as they wished.

Now, Microsoft requires that teachers buy licenses for each student who uses Minecraft — $5 per user per year — and to renew them every year. It takes less technical know-how than maintaining a server, but in most cases this is far more expensive than the MinecraftEdu model.

“It’s an equity issue,” says Diane Main, the teacher in San Jose.

Microsoft’s Rami responds that Minecraft is a great value compared with other ed-tech products. There are bulk discounts, and the company is exploring need-based discounting as well.

On Minecraft Education’s official message boards, there are complaints about the new sales model: “As an educator I look at this and I see opportunity,” one teacher wrote. “Microsoft looked at it and said: ‘How can I make a better profit.’ ”

Rami says the company is trying its best to listen to all the feedback. Microsoft has recruited 60 of the most enthusiastic Minecraft teachers, in 20 countries, to serve as “mentors.” They “inform our work by giving us feedback and keep us honest and grounded to the work that teachers actually do in the classroom.” Main and Isaacs are both mentors.

Mentors help bring other teachers on board with Education Edition and provide suggestions for new features.

“It’s a two-way pipeline of feedback,” Main says. This is a voluntary position, but there’s also the potential to earn money by leading professional-development sessions.

In the process of cultivating this community, Microsoft has converted potential critics into supporters.

“Microsoft has been fighting an image problem, but this has softened me toward Microsoft in general,” Main says.

“They’re one of the model companies in terms of ed-tech,” agrees Isaacs.

But an issue with the pricing and licensing changes remains, says Ito. Rather than accounts belonging to individual students, they belong to the school, like a textbook that is yours for just one year.

“It’s pretty significant,” says Ito. “The identity lives within the Microsoft suite. It’s not a user identity that the kid retains and has at home.” For that reason, says Ito, many of the old-school Minecraft teachers are holding on to their MinecraftEdu licenses for now.

Main is one of them. Despite her status as a mentor, she says she can’t use Minecraft: Education Edition in her own classes, because her projects depend on students being able to sign on from home and collaborate. She says she has hope that the company will soon figure out a workaround, based on the progress they’ve made on other issues raised by teachers in the last 18 months.

Nevertheless, the shift away from individual accounts to school-based logins is part of a bigger transition that may be inevitable.

The reason teachers brought Minecraft into the classroom is because young people love it. But anything that is incorporated into schools is touched by standards, tests and grades, and often becomes mandatory.

Isaacs and Main are using Minecraft as a fun gateway to other kinds of learning with tech — and an appeal to students who don’t necessarily see themselves as stereotypical coders.

But by definition, if Minecraft becomes standard issue in more schools, it will no longer be a passionate, personal discovery for most students, or teachers for that matter.

Will it still have the same appeal and foster the same engagement?

Main says she’s had this exact debate with one of her students, a former homeschooler. “She was talking about the risk of making Minecraft suck by schoolifying it. And I said, ‘Just because you schoolify it doesn’t mean you suckify it.’ It doesn’t matter what it is, anything can be done badly or done well.”

‘Schoolifying’ Minecraft Without Ruining It

Egmont launches first official Minecraft magazine with Mojang

Mojang has partnered with UK publishing house Egmont Publishing to create the first official Minecraft magazine, which launches this week.

The 60-page launch issue, which hit stores on Tuesday, is priced at £4.99 and will have a monthly onsale period. Inside, readers will find 14 pages of hints and tips on how to become a better build, a behind-the-scenes looks at Mojang’s offices in Stockholm, as well as a whole showcase of exclusive builds that have been broken down into detailed step-by-step guides.

The Minecraft: Official Magazine will also have its own team of adventurers created by Mojang exclusively for the magazine. Sparks, Beat, Scout and Monty will present both the tips and guides section as well as star in the magazine’s official comic strip, which has been co-created by Mojang.

Egmont has a long history with Mojang, publishing a number of official books that together have sold 9m copies in the UK market to date. The Minecraft: Official Magazine is the only Minecraft mag that has been developed in partnership with Mojang for its 55m active user base.

Cally Poplak, MD Egmont Publishing said: “Outstanding publishing for children means curating and packaging quality content in a desirable print format that they can collect and share with friends. We are proud to have done this with our bestselling Minecraft books and we cannot wait to share with the Minecraft community the only magazine that Mojang endorses.”

Laura Adnitt, publishing director at Egmont Publishing UK added: “We are thrilled to be bringing this exceptional product to the UK market this summer. The appetite for Minecraft is stronger than ever and we know that the Minecraft community will devour the exclusive content in our official magazine.”

Lydia Winters, brand director at Mojang also said she was “delighted to see this magazine come to market: it is the result of many months of hard work and all things Minecraft as we worked on making the best possible magazine for our community.”

Egmont launches first official Minecraft magazine with Mojang

3D printing now in Minecraft’s beta update ‘Better Together’

Microsoft has updated Minecraft and now 3D printing is part of the blocky world. ‘Better Together’ is the name of the beta release that works with Remix 3D, a Microsoft community where users can share their work.

Minecraft players can now export their creations to Remix 3D.

3D printed Minecraft architecture. Image via Minecrafters.
3D printed Minecraft architecture. Photo via Minecrafters.


The integration of Remix 3D

3D printing Minecraft creations is not a new concept and several options have appeared in the past allowing gamers to purchase 3D printed characters and 3D printed buildings. However, this is the first time that Microsoft has integrated 3D printing into Minecraft.

Better together is also Microsoft’s first foray in allowing players to be able to join each other in the game – regardless of platform. Players on PC or console will be able to create, inspire, cooperate and compete in the update.

3D Minecraft City Render. Image via Minecraft gallery.
3D Minecraft City Render. Image via Minecraft gallery.


Why would players want to 3D print their Minecraft creations?

Minecraft is created using voxels -aka volumetric pixels- this gives the game a blocky aesthetic. The look is frequently seen in 3D design. For example the chair below.

The Voxel Chair v1.o. Photo via Design Computational Lab.
The Voxel Chair v1.o. Photo via Design Computational Lab.

The update also gives players an item that is their own creation and allows them to create models for their own 3D printed, external Minecraft model world.

Beta consoles updates making creations easily accessible

Currently the beta update for Windows 10 and Android are available – Xbox One’s beta is coming soon. Eventually the update will include Nintendo Switch.

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Featured image shows the Better Together Update.

3D printing now in Minecraft’s beta update ‘Better Together’

Better Together FAQ

All the mysteries of the impending mega-update revealed!

The Better Together update is on its way! What does that mean? It means that we will soon be unifying Minecraft for console, mobile and Windows 10 into one lovely shiny edition of Minecraft. And what does that mean? That means players on those platforms will be able to join each other in-game, create, cooperate or compete together on massive servers, and access whatever swish skins and Marketplace adventure maps they own on any of their compatible devices. You can read more about the fancy features coming with the update here or jump in the beta to get an early (and probably slightly unstable) glimpse.

You probably have a few more questions about just how this whole platform convergence thing will shake down. And so we put together this crazy long FAQ for you. So many questions! So many answers! And we’re not done yet – we’ll probably be tweaking and adding to this FAQ as more info comes in.

So…

LET THE QUESTIONING BEGIN!

Q: Which version of Minecraft will you be using to unite Minecraft?

A: We’ve been developing the Minecraft version that is currently on mobile and Windows 10 since 2012, also known as our Bedrock Engine, and will be bringing it to Xbox One and Nintendo Switch as part of the Better Together Update.

Q: What will this version be called?

A: At launch, the Bedrock Engine-based version of Minecraft will be called simply Minecraft on all platforms. Our general rule of thumb is that if a version can play together with the others, it’s called Minecraft. The original Java PC version and all other isolated versions will have “Edition” names, like Minecraft: Wii U Edition and Minecraft: Java Edition.

Q: Why are you renaming the PC version of Minecraft? Does this mean that you are stopping development on the PC version?

A: Now that we have finally achieved a unified Minecraft which can be played on most devices, we wanted to simplify things and make it clear that they can all play together, so it felt to be the right time to simply call them Minecraft. We also found that the community refers to the Java PC version as the Java Edition, so it felt natural to rename it to make it more distinctive from the other versions of the game. We plan on actively supporting the Java Edition going forward with updates as we always have and have also welcomed several new members to the development team in Stockholm.

Q: When will the Better Together Update launch?

A: The Better Together Update will launch this Autumn, once it’s ready and we’ve satisfactorily evicted bugs from the premises.

Q: Who will be able to play in the Better Together Update beta?

A: All players who own a digital copy of Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition or Minecraft: Pocket Edition on Android will be able to participate in the Better Together Update Beta for Minecraft. The beta for Android and Windows 10 will be available starting today, and Xbox One will be available soon. Stay tuned to @Minecraft on Twitter for updates about beta availability.

Q: How do I get started with the Better Together Update beta?

A: Windows 10 PC beta testers will need to have downloaded the Xbox Insider app.

1. Go to the Store app on Xbox One or a Windows 10 PC.

2. Search for the Xbox Insider Hub app.

3. Download and install Xbox Insider Hub.

4. Launch the Xbox Insider Hub.

5. Navigate to Insider content > Minecraft Beta.

6. Select Join.

7. Have fun and find bugs!

Beta testers on Android will need to have devices that support Google Play and own a copy of the game purchased through the Google Play Store.

Q: I own Minecraft: Xbox One Edition on disc. Will I be able to participate in the Better Together Update beta?

A: Due to technical limitations, we’re only able to include owners of digital versions.

Q: I own Minecraft: Xbox One Edition on disc. Will I be able to get the Better Together Update for free?

A: Players who own Minecraft: Xbox One Edition on disc and have bought DLC or played for at least five hours in the past 12 months will be able to upgrade to Minecraft for free, for a limited time. If you haven’t played in the past 12 months, you can play five hours now and unlock your upgrade.

Q: Is the Better Together Update coming to all editions?

A: The Better Together Update will release for Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, mobile, VR and Windows 10 devices this fall. As long as players own the current Minecraft console edition at the time of the Better Together Update’s release, they will receive the new version of the game for free.

Q: What is going to happen to the old console edition?

A: The old console edition will not be available for new purchase after the full release of Minecraft on Xbox One and Switch. Existing owners will still be able to access and play the old console version and minigames, but those versions will not receive updates after the official release of Minecraft.

Q: I really like the worlds that I’ve built in the old version of Minecraft. Can I play them in Minecraft?

A: Yes, worlds from Minecraft: Xbox One Edition will already be there waiting for you in the play screen, so that you can continue playing. We are still working on exactly how this will work on Nintendo Switch.

Q: Are there infinite worlds in Minecraft?

A: Yes! And, if you play with a world from Minecraft: Xbox One Edition or Minecraft: Nintendo Switch Edition it will keep generating more world when you get to the old edge of your map.

Q: Is there cloud saving in Minecraft?

A: The Bedrock Engine can save files wherever they would naturally go on each platform.

Q: Will DLC content transfer over to the new version of Minecraft?

A: Our goal is to get all the existing DLC content to be transferable from the old version to the new version. For DLC pieces that are currently out on the old console version and Bedrock, like the Greek Mythology Mash-Up Pack, those entitlements will be available on the new version in Beta. A select list of content will only be available on the platform it was purchased on and not available in multiplayer. Herobrine has been removed.

Q: Since you only have to buy DLC once going forward, how will that work with console-exclusive DLC like the Halo Mash-Up Pack?

A: Platform-specific content will only be available on the platform it was purchased on and not available in multiplayer.

Q: What will happen to mini games and season passes? Will those transfer to the new console edition?

A: Players can still enjoy the existing mini games using the old console edition, and with the new version of Minecraft and community servers they’ll have access to thousands of new mini games to try out for free.

Q: Will the new version be available on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch?

A: While we are thrilled to be able to confirm the new version of Minecraft is coming to Nintendo Switch, we are still in discussions with Sony about PlayStation and have nothing to confirm. We would love to work with Sony to bring players on PlayStation 4 into this ecosystem as well.

Q: Will players be required to have an Xbox Live Gold account or Nintendo’s paid online service to use Realms or play online with their consoles?

A: We follow the multiplayer policies for the platforms that we are on, so for example, multiplayer on Xbox One will require an Xbox Live Gold account. Players on mobile will still be able to play in multiplayer using a free Xbox Live account.

Q: Are add-ons coming to console editions?

A: Users of the new version of Minecraft on consoles can access worlds that already utilize add-ons or resource packs, can download Marketplace content with add-ons, and can use add-ons on USB drives if the platform allows it.

Q: How close in parity are Bedrock Engine platforms and the PC/Java Edition these days?

A: There will always be small differences between Bedrock and PC/Java. Going forward we plan on releasing updates for PC Java and Bedrock in similar timeframes.

Q: How will the Better Together Update change my experience playing Minecraft?

A: The Better Together Update will bring the latest and most-requested features, and give more players the chance to connect in more ways – via Realms, massive multiplayer servers, and cross-platform play.

Q: Is the Better Together Update safe for kids?

A: The Better Together Update will enable players to discover new content and creations across all devices, as well as the option to find new and like-minded players, as with any multiplayer game. Helping keep kids safe online is a priority for Minecraft, and we provide parental controls across platforms via Xbox Live which help parents choose the content, communication and sharing settings that are right for their families. For many, the most important of these is making sure that your kids are using child accounts which you have control over. To do this on Xbox, you can find out more at http://aka.ms/xblsafety.

Servers

Q: How does server integration into Minecraft and the Minecraft Marketplace work?

A: Players will be able to find and access community servers right from within Minecraft itself using a server browser. The server browser has a list of vetted server partners that they can join with one touch. Not only are we partnering with these servers to offer integrated access directly from Minecraft, but we are also providing them with monetization, store, wallet and login backend support. This takes a lot of administrative and backend work off of their plate so that they can focus on creating and maintaining great online communities.

Q: Why are you adding servers to Minecraft?

A: Minecraft has always been a game about creativity, community, and innovation. Minecraft servers open up the world of Minecraft by offering players access to a ton of minigames made by the community and millions of Minecraft players who come together to socialize and play Minecraft online.

Q: How do prospective server partners go about getting incorporated into the server browser?

A: Server owners who would like to participate in our partner program can apply at http://developer.microsoft.com/Minecraft. While we will have four servers at launch, we are interested in bringing on more partners as time goes on.

Q: Who are servers for?

A: All Minecraft players can use the servers when logged into their Xbox Live account. Minecraft server hosts are required to have registered business identities to apply for the program.

Q: Do I need an Xbox Live account to join a server?

A: Yes, you will need an Xbox Live account in order to access servers from Minecraft. An Xbox Live account is an important part of the player identity that helps players keep track of progress, identity and purchases; and helps server moderators and Minecraft and Xbox support teams keep players safe.

Q: I could already join a server on Minecraft. What does it mean when you say “servers are coming to Minecraft?”

A: For the first time, some servers will be accessible from the game menus without any additional effort from the player – no copying and pasting IP addresses, it’s as simple as clicking a button.

Q: Which servers are included right now?

A: Lifeboat, Cubecraft, InPvP and Mineplex are our first four server partners. We will add them to the Better Together beta as they become available.

Q: Why did you choose these partners instead of others? Will you be adding more?

A: All of the server partners at launch have experience hosting servers for Bedrock Engine platforms, as well as experience managing servers with tens of thousands of concurrent players at any time. Similar to the Minecraft Marketplace, we encourage server hosts to apply at creator.microsoft.com/Minecraft to become a server partner. Also like Marketplace partners, server partners will need to have examples of their work hosting Minecraft servers, be a registered business and, for now, be able to host their own servers.

Q: Can I still access other servers via direct IP connect?

A: Players will still be able to access servers from beyond the servers listed in the server browser from mobile. On consoles, due to platform restrictions, server access is limited to partner servers only.

Q: What does this mean for the future of Minecraft? Will the studio stop updating the game because new gameplay and minigames are available via servers?

A: No, similar to the launch of Minecraft Marketplace, we will still share new content and update the game from a team standpoint, but we’re also implementing a range of options and new creations from the community.

Parental Controls/Safety

Q: Are servers safe for my children to play on?

A: Servers accessed via the in-game listings utilize Xbox Live accounts, which offer parental controls that parents can use to set limits for how their kids can interact online. Our official server partners have also taken steps to ensure online play is safe and comfortable for all ages, including chat filtering, in-game reporting, and live moderation. All server partners agree to enforce the Microsoft and Xbox Live code of conduct (http://www.xbox.com/en-US/legal/codeofconduct) which outlines a broad range of behavior that should be prevented, reported or banned in server experiences.

Q: Are there parental controls that I can use to limit how my child plays/interacts on servers?

A: Yes. Minecraft and server experiences integrate with the Xbox Live account parental controls which have some privacy and parent control settings including:

Parents can turn off chat, which will allow children to join servers but not see or participate in any in-server communication with other players

Parents can limit multiplayer to ‘friends only’ or ‘no multiplayer’ which prevent children from joining servers at all.

Q: What do I do if someone is harassing me? How do I report them?

A: Both servers and Xbox Live offer tools for reporting and blocking other players. You can no longer see chat messages from players you’ve blocked, and they can’t invite you to multiplayer games or join your Realm. When you report a player, depending on the severity of the issue, customer support and enforcement teams can affect a server ban, Minecraft ban or Xbox-wide ban.

Q: Will this change Minecraft’s ESRB game rating?

A: No, our ESRB rating will remain E10+.

Q: Do you require servers to sanitize content to comply with the ESRB rating for Minecraft?

A: To be listed in the in-game server browser, we require that servers provide moderation and ensure that their content is safe and appropriate for players of all ages.

Phew! That’s it for now!

Better Together FAQ

‘Minecraft’ PS4 Tips, Tricks Guide: Update 1.55 Comes With Plenty of Fixes; Better Together Update Goes on Beta

The latest patch update for “Minecraft” on PlayStation 4 is now out. Update 1.55 offers plenty of fixes and changes, including a free Glide track for users.

Reuters/Thomas PeterPlayStation 4 users get an update for “Minecraft” but the game is still not open to cross-play with other platforms.

Some of the fixes include removing the bugs affecting tasks like milking a cow, stacking crafted Banners and spawning Wheat, Ladders and Banners, as well as Monsters in the Woodland Mansions. The fixes also correct the unlocking of the Sniper Duel and Camouflage, as well as some displacements and colors.

The full list of the fixes was published on the Minecraft forum. It also outlined the general additions, including the free Glide track, which can be a big help to players’ efficiency during the mini-games.

The updates will appear automatically once a player logs in to the PS4 console. In addition, players can also purchase the Biome Settlers 2 Skin Pack, which will work with update 1.55.

Meanwhile, Sony announced in June that updates for “Minecraft” on the PS4 will continue even as the company opted out of the cross-play service, which goes to beta this week via the Better Together Update. This cross-play service enables players of “Minecraft” on the Xbox, PC and mobile phones with Windows 10 to use their saved games on any of the platforms, except PlayStation 4.

“Minecraft” developer Mojang tried convincing Sony to join the cross-play for years but remained unsuccessful. The developer, however, recently announced securing Nintendo Switch’s interest.

“While we are thrilled to be able to confirm the new version of Minecraft is coming to Nintendo Switch, we are still in discussions with Sony about PlayStation and have nothing to confirm,” Mojang stated on its official site. “We would love to work with Sony to bring players on PlayStation 4 into this ecosystem as well.”

During the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in June, Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe president Jim Ryan said their main reason for opposing and blocking cross-play for the PS4 is to be able to safeguard the kids playing on the platform.

“We’ve got to be mindful of our responsibility to our install base,” Ryan told Eurogamer. “Minecraft — the demographic playing that, you know as well as I do, it’s all ages but it’s also very young.”

Ryan added that the cross-play platform would not be able to protect the kids from external influences while playing “Minecraft.”

‘Minecraft’ PS4 Tips, Tricks Guide: Update 1.55 Comes With Plenty of Fixes; Better Together Update Goes on Beta

Minecraft Update Is Available On Windows 10 PC And Android With Improved Features

Minecraft is now available for beta-testing on both Windows 10 and Android platforms. Users will be able to play on this new cross-platform.

Microsoft had an announcement on their blog u to date according to which Minecraft will also be able to be played on Xbox One in the near future. Their blog update had the title: “Better Together” and talked about allowing all players to access and play Minecraft no matter the platforms they use.

The full update will be launched this fall after all the bugs have been “evicted”, but Switch won’t have a beta testing, though it will not be disregarded. New features for Minecraft players will also be added, such as stained glass and even parrots. Yes, parrots!

Players will also be able to access and play the old version worlds after the update and will be able to enjoy mini games that were on old console Minecraft editions.

Minecraft Won’t be Updated on the PlayStation 4

PlayStation 4 users will, however, be left out, since Sony doesn’t want the update for their consoles. The reason why Sony didn’t accept updating Minecraft is that they want to keep their users safe from other content than what’s to be found on their PlayStation Network. Microsoft had addressed this issue in their blog post, though.

Minecraft Will Keep Its Players Safe

They said that this update will allow players across all devices and platforms access the content and find friends alike in the multiplayer world of gaming. Minecraft will also be keeping the children safe, because Xbox Live provides parent control for all platforms and will let parents restrict and choose the content, adjust communication or settings regarding sharing content, making it a proper and family-friendly solution for gaming.

Microsoft added that a lot of parents are more preoccupied about their kids’ safety and prefer to have control over their accounts.

Minecraft Update Is Available On Windows 10 PC And Android With Improved Features

Square Enix Unveil Dragon Quest Builders 2, Coming to PS4 & Switch

Perhaps one of the biggest surprise releases last year — one that took many people by that very same word/term and proved it was more than just riding the Minecraft bandwagon — was Dragon Quest Builders and from the looks of it, Square Enix have heeded the call and responded to the sizeable acclaim of one of the series’ perhaps [at first] odd spin-off titles.

During a recent multi-hour live-stream celebrating the series’ thirty-plus years, it was announced that the building-RPG hybrid would be getting a sequel. Dragon Quest Builders 2, though confirmed for PS4, will also be coming to Nintendo Switch. Some of the new elements introduced for the sequel include the ability to explore underwater as well as an entirely co-operative multiplayer aspect that was absent in the first game. So far there’s been no confirmed release date even for Japan — let alone any news on a Western localisation — but stay tuned as we learn more about what the sequel to this surprisingly entertaining spin-off has in store.

Square Enix Unveil Dragon Quest Builders 2, Coming to PS4 & Switch

Dragon Quest Builders 2 Announced For PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch

This past weekend held Square Enix’s  Dragon Quest Festival in Tokyo, Japan. Amongst the numerous Dragon Quest related announcements and highlights, Square Enix took the opportunity to announce Dragon Quest Builders 2 for PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.

Dragon Quest Builders 2 will deliver the same great exploratory and building gameplay the first game was known for. Additionally Square Enix is promising the upcoming sequel will include several new features such as sloping platforms, the ability to craft waterfalls, swimming underwater, air traversal thanks to a new glider item, and probably the most exciting new feature, online multiplayer with friends, a feature that was sorely absent in the original Dragon Quest Builders.

Square Enix briefly showed off a tiny glimpse at the multiplayer gameplay, the new multiplayer co-op mode in Dragon Quest Builders 2 will allow up to 4 players to play, fight and build together in the large and expansive Dragon Quest themed worlds.  Those curious to see the game in action, can hop on to Square Enix Japan’s livestream archive footage available on YouTube.

The original Dragon Quest Builders first released in 2016 for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, the sequel will be the first time the series makes its mark on a Nintendo platform. Those unfamiliar with the original title, Dragon Quest Builders was Square Enix’s take on the ever popular Minecraft formula of game design.

The game featured voxel based environments similar to Minecraft, but what made the game really stand out was the Dragon Quest themed elements sprinkled throughout. Instead of facing off against generic skeletons or zombies, the game had dozens of classic and memorable Dragon Quest monsters, additionally the game featured a deep crafting system coupled a lengthy and engaging single player campaign.

No release date have been announced for Dragon Quest Builders 2 at this time.

Dragon Quest Builders 2 Announced For PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch

Dragon Quest Builders 2 revealed, coming to the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch

Dragon Quest Builders 2 revealed, coming to the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch

Minecraft styled RPG Dragon Quest Builders 2 announced for PS4 and Nintendo Switch

I have very few points of reference when it comes to both Dragon Quest as a staple RPG and Minecraft as a sandbox creation tool, but the two combined really struck a chord with me. Dragon Quest Builders gave you the freedom to build in a world very similar to Minecraft, but the the structure and objectives of a classic RPG. It directed my creative efforts in a way that made me finally appreciate its gameplay, so you bet your blocks a sequel is exactly the kind of news we need for a Monday morning.

Revealed during the Dragon Quest Summer Festival, Dragon Quest Builders 2 is currently in development for PS4 and Nintendo Switch. The original game launched for both PS4 and PS Vita, so it seems the rising popularity of the Switch is enough to usurp the Sony handheld for some upcoming projects. As a formula, Builders 2 seems relatively unchanged. The brief livestream of early development footage showed a familiar looking game, albeit with some slight changes that fans of the first game might pick up on.

Most noticeably, Builders 2 is expanding the range of freedom you have around its world. You’ll be able to swim and mine for blocks underwater now, while also taking to the skies in a very Breath of the Wild styled hand glider to traverse large spaces in no time flat. Slightly less noticeable are changes to some of the numbers – like being able to stack triple the amount of blocks than in the first game. Builders 2 will also feature 4-player co-op, which is a neat touch.

There’s no release date yet and the project looks to be in its early days, but anyone who had the chance to play the original Builders will know just how addictive its formula was. If this sequel captures that with a better range of motion, its going to be another game you’ll need to pick up immediately.

Last Updated: August 7, 2017

Minecraft styled RPG Dragon Quest Builders 2 announced for PS4 and Nintendo Switch

Harvest Moon, what have they done to you?

A minute of offscreen footage from Harvest Moon: Light of Hope has been unveiled via Nintendo World Report and fans aren’t happy.

With a like-to-dislike ratio strongly tilted towards the latter, it’s safe to say that this is not the Harvest Moon people wanted, at least not when it comes to its aesthetic with an awkwardly animated 3D model gliding over a terrain of cheap-looking assets.

It’s worth noting that Harvest Moon: Light of Hope isn’t actually made by the usual series developer Marvelous. In a strange game of legal hopscotch, Marvelous wasn’t able to keep the name of its own series when it switched publishers away from Natsume. Now the long-running series has been renamed Story of Seasons, and it’s distributed by Marvelous’ own publishing company XSEED in North America, while Nintendo publishes it in Europe.

As for the Harvest Moon moniker, Natsume kept the name and has continued to make its own farming sims under the known brand. First there was Talbot’s 2014 entry Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley, and now Natsume is trying its own hand at developing duties with Light of Hope.

Not much is known about Harvest Moon: Light of Hope, other than it’s set in a small troubled village where the player character finds themselves shipwrecked, and they must save the town through – what else? – farming.

Harvest Moon: Light of Hope is in development for Switch, PS4, and PC.

Harvest Moon, what have they done to you?

Minecraft’s cross-network update now playable in beta

Minecraft’s game-changing cross-network update is now available to beta test if you are on a Windows 10 PC or Android PC.

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Xbox One beta access will follow “in the coming days”, Microsoft stated in a blog update.

Each version will let you play with people on other platforms, such is the nature of Minecraft’s Better Together Update, which will launch properly this autumn. (There’s no beta for Nintendo Switch players, though Switch will also be getting cross-network play).

The update adds features yet to appear on console – stained glass, parrots, coarse dirt and perhaps most importantly, world conversion.

There’s a handy FAQ on how the update will work for each platform – which is just as well, as it is a little complicated.

PC folk can download the Minecraft Better Together Update beta now via the Xbox Insider App. On Android, it will be available to those who have already bought the game via the Google Play Store.

Worlds you have been building and playing on already will be present in the Better Together Update, and if you play with a world from Xbox One and Nintendo Switch then you’ll get extra world generated for you when you reach the edge of your map.

Microsoft has also included several details on parental controls and child safety, after Sony’s Jim Ryan told Eurogamer PlayStation players would not be part of the Better Together cross-platform update to keep them safe within the PlayStation Network.

“The Better Together Update will enable players to discover new content and creations across all devices, as well as the option to find new and like-minded players, as with any multiplayer game,” Microsoft wrote. Helping keep kids safe online is a priority for Minecraft, and we provide parental controls across platforms via Xbox Live which help parents choose the content, communication and sharing settings that are right for their families.

“For many, the most important of these is making sure that your kids are using child accounts which you have control over. To do this on Xbox, you can find out more at http://aka.ms/xblsafety.”

As for the likelihood of PlayStation people getting the update in the future? Microsoft continues to say it is open to the idea.

“We are still in discussions with Sony about PlayStation and have nothing to confirm. We would love to work with Sony to bring players on PlayStation 4 into this ecosystem as well.”

Minecraft’s cross-network update now playable in beta

Microsoft really wants you to know playing Minecraft online is safe

Microsoft recently released a big new update for Minecraft that marked the beginning of cross-platform play, and alongside the update updated its safety features for playing the game online.

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If you want to play Minecraft online you have to have an Xbox Live account.

In a lengthy article on the Minecraft website titled, “How to stay safe online,” Microsoft outlined safety tips for playing the game with others, and announced some new requirements.

An Xbox Live sign-in is now required for online multiplayer no matter which platform you’re playing on. That includes Android phones and, eventually, Nintendo Switch. You need a gamertag to connect to a Realm, an official server partner or a hosted Minecraft world via an IP address.

“By creating an Xbox Live account and gamertag, when logged in you can set your own privacy and multiplayer preferences, create and manage accounts for your family members, and stake your claim on your name in the Minecraft universe,” Microsoft said.

“Plus, because everyone will have an account, if you do run into any creepers ruining the fun, it’s easy to report them, and for our Enforcement team to identify the player in question.”

JASON!

Of course if you are playing on a local area network (LAN) connection, you won’t need to sign in to play with friends on the same network.

In the same article, Microsoft detailed how to add, mute, block or report players from the pause menu.

“We take reports very seriously,” Microsoft said. “All our players are expected to adhere to the Xbox Live Code of Conduct. When you report bad behavior you’re helping to create a positive and welcoming experience for all Minecraft players.”

There’s a lot more in the article on Minecraft online safety. Clearly, it’s important for Microsoft to highlight the work it’s doing and the steps it’s taken to keep Minecraft safe for users – and it’s easy to see why.

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Microsoft explains how to set privacy settings, parental controls and child accounts on Xbox Live.

At E3 in June, Sony executive Jim Ryan expressed concern about letting PlayStation gamers connect with those on other platforms. His comments came after Microsoft announced Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC, mobile and VR Minecraft players would all play together.

In defending Sony’s decision to block cross-play, Ryan told Eurogamer:

“We’ve got to be mindful of our responsibility to our install base. Minecraft – the demographic playing that, you know as well as I do, it’s all ages but it’s also very young. We have a contract with the people who go online with us, that we look after them and they are within the PlayStation curated universe. Exposing what in many cases are children to external influences we have no ability to manage or look after, it’s something we have to think about very carefully.”

Ryan’s comments clearly irked Xbox boss Phil Spencer, who told GiantBomb in a later interview:

“The fact that somebody would kind of make an assertion that somehow we’re not keeping Minecraft players safe, I found – not only from a Microsoft perspective, but from a game industry perspective – like, I don’t know why that has to become the dialogue. Like, that doesn’t seem healthy for anyone.

“We take the safety of Xbox Live, of our players across all of our games – inside of Minecraft, obviously an incredibly important part of that – it’s incredibly important to our team. We would never put Minecraft in a place where we felt like […] we weren’t keeping our players safe.”

Fast forward a couple of months to the release of Minecraft’s Better Together update, and you can see Microsoft hammer home Spencer’s point. The message is loud and clear: it’s safe to play Minecraft on Xbox Live.

While we’re on the subject of cross-platform play, Microsoft has said it’s still talking with Sony about PlayStation but has nothing to confirm right now. “We would love to work with Sony to bring players on PlayStation 4 into this ecosystem as well,” Microsoft said.

Microsoft really wants you to know playing Minecraft online is safe

Minecraft Marketplace adds 5 new community-created content packs

Minecraft is adding more community content to the Marketplace with a new batch of content packs.

A whole slew of content is hitting the Minecraft Marketplace today thanks to five new community-created packs. Most notable is the Infinity Dungeon EX map, which generates a new dungeon every time you enter. On top of that, however, players can now get their hands on a bunch of new skins with packs themed after summer fun, sports, medieval kings, and more.

Here’s a quick look at all of the new packs hitting the Marketplace today:

  • Infinity Dungeon EX – Fight alone or alongside friends through an intense randomly-generated dungeon full of horrible dangers, tricky puzzles and amazing treasure! Discover the secret of the Infinity Core, but make sure to watch your back…
  • Summer Festival Skin Pack – Throw on your summer gear and hop down to the beach! Live life like a turtle or a mermaid, and show off those summer colors with this seasonal skin pack!
  • Survivors Skin Pack – The world has gone to ruins, but these characters manage to survive against all odds. This skin pack is all about the rough-and-tough adventurers who use their strength and ingenuity to survive yet another day.
  • Kings and Paupers Skin Pack – From the heights of the castle down to the streets of the city, this pack will immerse you in the European medieval era. Serve as a virtuous queen, live as a beggar, bake bread, or handle the axe as an executioner in service of the crown!
  • Sports Skin Pack – Transform into an athlete with the Sports Skin Pack! Team player? Pick up a ball as a volleyball or soccer player. In the mood for gracefully sliding around? Become a figure skater or hockey player. Choose from 15 different sports and get your game on.

As far as cost is concerned, each pack runs 310 coins each. The exception is the Infinity Dungeon EX map, which is slightly more expensive at 830 coins.

This comes after the initial introduction of the Minecraft Marketplace in May, which is a place for Minecraft community creator partners to sell their work to players. Anyone on the Bedrock Engine, which currently includes Minecraft on Windows 10 and Mobile platforms, can pick up the new Marketplace content now. Minecraft on Xbox One and Nintendo Switch are expected to join the Bedrock ecosystem soon.

Minecraft Marketplace adds 5 new community-created content packs

Shigeru Miyamoto on Mario, ‘Minecraft’ and Working With Apple

Legendary game maker opens up about being a designer rather than an artist, his love of carpentry and why he’s not retiring any time soon

Shigeru Miyamoto – the man responsible for creating Mario back in 1981 – has been in the US promoting the December 15 release of Super Mario Run for iPhone and iPad all week, keeping a brutal schedule that has included playing guitar with The Roots on The Tonight Show and speaking to a packed crowd at the New York Soho Apple Store. His new game marks a massive change of approach for the pioneering company he’s worked at for more than 30 years, as it sees its crown jewel property appearing on devices not made by Nintendo.

We caught up with Miyamoto at the end of his big publicity tour and spoke to him about his creative process, his feelings about getting older, whether he’s thinking of retiring any time soon, and how he sees himself as a creator. He also reveals that he’s been able to find the time to work on ideas for Nintendo’s theme park partnership with Universal by not leading the charge on the company’s upcoming Switch console.

You mentioned in your presentation at the Apple Store this week that your core team has been together for 30 years. How do you keep that relationship together and keep it working?
It’s interesting, because people often ask me what I’m most proud of and for the longest time it was a question I always really struggled with. A few years ago I realized that the thing that I’m really the most proud of is that I’ve been working with the same core group of people for the last 30 years – and really it’s because you just don’t see that happen very often.

There’s myself, Takeshi Tezuka, Toshihiko Nakago and there’s actually a fourth member of our group too – Koji Kondo. Usually it’s the four of us that work on things together. There are probably a few reasons for it. I think we’re actually somewhat special because we’re all Nintendo employees, and that’s unique compared to what you’ll sometimes see with other creative groups. The other is that in working together over the past 30 years, we’ve all fallen into these very specific roles in the development process and that’s enabled us to work really well.

What are those roles?
Well, I’m the boss. Because I’m the oldest.

What’s key is that all that we do is work very closely together to make sure the thing we’re doing is really fun. That’s what we’re always striving for. One of the things we’ve done to maintain the relationship is that we spend a lot of time together. Japan is a country where people really work a lot, so every day we always eat lunch together and go to dinner together.

When there’s an idea for a game or something that we think is just going to be fun, generally the four of us share a similar opinion. We all kind of agree on the fundamentals. The other thing I’ve noticed is that although we have this strange convergence of opinions, when other people come into the group and see what we’re getting all excited about, people will often question us and say “oh, does that really seem that fun?”

We just really trust each other, and that came into play with Super Mario Run because it was easy for us to drill down and know what we should and shouldn’t do on mobile. We aligned very quickly.

So what did that look like?
This time from the very beginning we decided that we wanted to make the very simplest Mario game that we possibly could. When we first made Super Mario Bros. 30 years ago, obviously a lot of people played it and part of the reason they liked it was that all you did was move to the right and jump. It was pretty simple. Gradually Mario games have become more complex and it’s harder for people to control now. This time we started off with the idea of “what if we made a Mario game where all you do is jump and everything else is handled automatically?” Then we had to think about how we could take that basic structure and make it fun.

You mentioned earlier that you’re the boss because you’re the oldest. Do you ever worry about getting older and whether what you think is fun is really in tune with other people?
Even if I worried about that, it wouldn’t do us any good. For me it’s much more fun to see if the thing that I made is actually going to sell well. Rather than me trying to create something that I think other people will like, I just keep making things that I like and then I just see if other people like them too.

I kinda of look at it as if I’m running a talent agency, and I have all these different people that when there’s new technology and we’re doing something new with it, I always choose Mario to be the one to represent it

What’s your main contribution on the team? Are you the creative guy? What’s your main focus?
I guess if I was using a construction analogy, then I’m always focused on building the structural framework for the game. So, because of that, it’s become easier for me to decide whether changes that we’re making need to affect the overall game or just simple changes to specific small areas.

You’ve lived with Mario as your creation for 30 years. How would you describe your relationship with him? Are you sick of him yet?
I kinda of look at it as if I’m running a talent agency, and I have all these different people that when there’s new technology and we’re doing something new with it, I always choose Mario to be the one to represent it. Then, if we have something else that’s maybe not quite the right fit then we choose one of the other characters. That’s usually how I approach things with him. Also, we’ve always evolved Mario’s look – so we try and keep him fresh.

What inspires and influences you? In the past you’ve said you don’t really look at games for inspiration, but what about movies or TV shows?
Generally I try to not look at anything competitive, but what I will do is watch a lot of television. Especially dramas. I used to read a lot of manga when I was younger, and I was always very interested in which ones sold well and which ones didn’t. Lately I’ve been looking at all the TV dramas to try and see what it is about them that makes them successful. I’m looking at how they’re structured because I think there’s something to the way those TV dramas are entertaining people that can overlap with games in some way.

Beyond that, it’s all about my everyday life experiences and looking at how the things that interest me can really work in a game.

Like what?
Many years before we made Wii Fit there was this thing in Japan where people would get together in their homes and they would do this silly dance. I remember when I went over to someone’s house in the neighborhood and there was this guy who was a very well-dressed lawyer, and he started doing this dance in his living room. I saw his kids laughing so hard at their dad doing something silly, and he was obviously having a good time too. This was one of the images I had in mind when we started making the games for Wii Fit and the Balance Board.

You’re insanely busy still. How do you make the time for things outside of work?
I do tend to work pretty late during the week, but one thing that I always do is make sure that on the weekend I spend time with my family. My weekend time has generally been very separate for work. I don’t golf or gamble, because those things take up a lot of time. I’ve given up those kinds of things.

What do you like to do?
I used to go camping with my kids or just stay home. People would sometimes give me a hard time for not really doing anything. Now my kids are grown and out of the house, so I spend a lot of time gardening with my wife. The other thing that I like to do is carpentry. I like to build furniture.

Is that why recent games have had more creative elements, like Mario Maker or the Kingdom Builder in Super Mario Run?
I don’t know if it’s about the carpentry specifically, but whenever I start working on anything I always like to sit down a draw a picture of it first. When I actually start working on a project, then I’m thinking about it all the time. Whether it’s the carpentry or a game or whatever.

I’m a designer. I don’t think of myself as creating works, I really think of myself as creating products for people to enjoy. That’s why I’ve always called my games products rather than works of art

Do you still work in a pretty analog way? Do you like to draw things out by hand before doing work on a computer?
It’s less drawing pictures of what I think the game will be, and more a lot of graphs and flowcharts. Because I’m designing the structure of play, it’s really more of a drafting process where I’m crafting the flow of things and how it’ll work in the game. That’s what I always put on paper first. Even with the carpentry it’s all about drafting first. You need to make sure you have all the measurements, and then in your head you have to understand how you’re going to fit all the pieces together.

So are you an artist or a designer?
I’m a designer. I don’t think of myself as creating works, I really think of myself as creating products for people to enjoy. That’s why I’ve always called my games products rather than works of art. It’s not about coming up with an idea and trying to make that idea, the work of a planner is to work within the constraints of what you’re given and make the best possible thing you can.

It’s not that I ever said I wanted to make video games, but once I started making them I said “OK, now that I’m making them, I’m going to make the best video games I can.” Whatever I was building, video games or not, I’ll always approach it as trying to build the best possible thing I can within the framework I’m given.

A few years ago you talked about maybe stepping away or possibly retiring. Do you think you’ll ever be able to walk away from all this?
There was a misunderstanding around my supposed retirement. Really at the time what we were talking about was giving more opportunity and more leadership opportunity to younger people in the company. So rather than me leading everything we were really expanding that role out to others that had come up within the company. Somehow that got misinterpreted as the fact that I was retiring.

We have these younger people in the company who are taking the lead on Switch development and it’s really been them that have put this forward and designed this system. They’re the ones that have really shepherded it through the process. Because of that, what it’s allowed me to do is focus on other projects like Super Mario Run or the Universal theme park. I’m going to keep looking for these kinds of opportunities where I can do something new and fun.

What’s it been like working with Apple? How did the partnership for Super Mario Run come about? They’re supporting it a lot more than they usually do with individual games.
The timing was really fortunate for both of us. On the Nintendo side we’d been talking a lot about going into the mobile space but we hadn’t decided that we were going to make a Mario game for smartphones. As we were talking about what we were going to create we started asking ourselves about what a Mario game would need to be. So we were experimenting with some things and we came up with the base idea, and that’s what we eventually showed to Apple.

Part of the reason we took it to Apple was that in order for us to have the performance we wanted we needed some development support to ensure that the game would run the way we expected. Because Nintendo is always trying to do something unique we also wanted to try and do something different on the business side too. We really didn’t want to do something in the free to play space, but in order to make sure we had the opportunity to do what we wanted [offer a taste of the game for free, and charge $9.99 to unlock the whole thing], we had to talk to the people who are actually running the shop. Naturally the people on the App Store initially told us that the free-to-play approach is a good one, but I’ve always had this image that Apple and Nintendo have very similar philosophies. As we started working together, I found that to be true and they became very welcoming of trying something new.

It’s always seemed like Nintendo and Apple have some similarities in terms of the way they look at product and audiences. What do you see as that common ground?
Probably the that easiest thing to point to is the fact that Apple, like Nintendo, is a company that thinks about how people will use their products. We design things to be usable by a very broad range of people. They put a lot of effort into the interface and making the product simple to use, and that’s very consistent with Nintendo. I think Apple also likes to do things differently and take a different approach. In the early days when computers were very complicated things, computer companies were purposely presenting them in ways that made them seem very complicated. Then you had Apple who came along with their very simple and colorful logo and it all had more of a fun feel to it.

Actually, this reminds me that with the Super NES controller we put the multicolored buttons on the face of the controller, and then the US office decided not to keep that. I told that story to Apple, and how I liked the use of color in their old logo. That was like a bridge that had been built between us.

Their focus is always on simplicity. Their focus is always on really taking the user into account, making it easy to use and then having an environment that’s safe and secure that people can work and play in. They’re the areas where Nintendo and Apple really see eye to eye.

For Nintendo, we have a lot of kids that play our products. It was important for us to be able to offer Super Mario Run in a way that parents would feel assured that they could buy the game and give it to their kids without having to worry about future transactions. From early on, I thought that Apple would be a good partner so we could work on this new approach.

You’ve mentioned in the past that you play the cat-collecting mobile game Neko Atsume. Are there other games that you really love playing?
Not really. I do like Minecraft, but really more from the perspective of the fact that I really feel like that’s something we should have made. We had actually done a lot of experiments that were similar to that back in the N64 days and we had some designs that were very similar. It’s really impressive to me to see how they’ve been able to take that idea and turn it into a product.

Have you played Final Fantasy XV or The Last Guardian?
I haven’t played those yet, but they do look really impressive graphically. I do hope that people who are looking for a fantasy game in that realm will also keep in mind Breath of the Wild.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Shigeru Miyamoto on Mario, ‘Minecraft’ and Working With Apple