It seems strange that Minecraft hasn't been released yet, given that we (and almost everyone else on the Internet, apparently) have been playing it every weekend for the last couple of months. Strictly speaking, though, all we’ve accessed so far have been the alpha and beta builds.
Still, the beta build alone has been enough to keep more than one million players occupied for days on end. Minecraft’s main appeal is that it doesn’t impose any real structure on players; it merely deposits them into a huge, randomly-generated world made of cubes. After that, you can do what you want – cubes can be destroyed, placed and combined in order to make an array of items and structures.
It might not sound super-interesting, admittedly, but Minecraft’s open nature means that it's only limited by your imagination. Build a house! A monument! A working railway system! A 16-bit processor capable of solving simple equations! There’s a staggering amount of possibilities to be drawn out of Minecraft’s toolset, which is endlessly expanding.
There are more features planned for the final version of Minecraft too, which we’ll hear more about as the year unfolds and the full release gets nearer. Developer Markus ‘Notch’ Persson has already added mod support and a new Hell dimension in recent months, but there’s also talk of a story being added to the currently lonely singleplayer mode.
We still don’t know a lot about Subversion; the next game from the studio behind Darwinia, Uplink and DEFCON, but what we do know is enough to get us very interested.
Essentially a stealth puzzle game, Subversion will put players in the role of a master criminal overseeing a squad of specialists who will help him pull off the ultimate heist from an incredibly well protected, high-tech skyscraper. Each member of your team has a useful area of expertise, such as saboteurs who can use custom gadgets, and by directing these agents you can gradually clear out the opposition.
We chatted to Introversion’s Mark Morris about the game in April 2010, where he hinted that Subversion’s themes would be similar to films such as Ocean’s Eleven and Sneakers. That alone piqued our interest, but more details and footage have now emerged that show off the game's detailed, but very stylised design.
Mark also hinted to us that, while the game would encourage players to find the perfect plans and approaches to their problems, much of Subversion’s real appeal would be drawn from procedurally generated content and the moments when plans collapse. Apparently, having a Plan B in your back pocket will be vital for doing well in Subversion – another idea which sounds great to us, and brings back happy memories of games such as Hitman: Blood Money.