Modern! Minecraft Adds ‘Local Area Network’ Support

By Alec Meer on June 18th, 2012 at 3:00 pm.

Do Endermen dream of voxel sheep?

A proposed new technology will allow personal computers within the same building to share data with each other via a physical cabled connection. The innovation is believed to allow significantly better speeds and latency than existing ‘online’ connections, as well as less data loss, no risk of interference from local ruffians attacking nearby phone company equipment, little to no need for opening router ports and no reliance on an error-prone remote server. While this new ‘local area network’ technology is rare and experimental for the time being, little-known PC game Minecraft will be one of the first titles to include it as an alternative to existing multiplayer connections.

‘LAN’ is available as an option in the latest Minecraft snapshot, and can essentially turn any singleplayer game into a server which any PC on the same network as yours can then join, with practically zero lag, no risk of unknown undesirables from the other side of the globe popping in and burning your creations to the ground, and without the need for server expenses.

It’s clever stuff, Windows supports it out of the box and the cables required cost pennies – why don’t more game companies think of including LAN support? It sounds like it’s far superior to these internet connections we’ve been trying to put up with for years. Game devs would be insane not to include it. Unless they had some sort of wrong-headed anti-piracy/microtransaction-pimping plan that entailed them constantly requiring your game to be online, of course. But that would just be too insulting for words.

Minecraft’s LAN mode is experimental for now, but no doubt it will end up in the main version of the game before too long. Grab the latest Week 24 snapshot version from here if you fancy a go now, though.

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111 Comments »

  1. Hoaxfish says:

    L A N? That just sounds silly! Those crazy indie devs! (well ex-indie I guess)

    I can’t see it taking off, since I haven’t seen any AAA studios talking about it.

    • Tori says:

      I think ‘Indie’ means that the developer is independent from any publisher, so Mojang still is Indie in my book.
      Also Valve, and Double Fine come to mind as notable, big Indie developers.

      • Kaira- says:

        Then again, isn’t Mojang also going to be also a publisher?

      • Mistabashi says:

        Yeah, you can’t claim Valve as “indie” since they are a publisher (and dristributor) themselves. Mojang is debateable, since they’re publishing Cobalt, although I think most people would still call them indie at this point.

      • Melakias says:

        Notch himself has already stated they don’t consider themselves indie no more, he has stated that they outgrew the classification time ago.

      • Cerius says:

        Double Fine is FAR from big. Also they are still working with Publishers.

      • Camerooni says:

        There’s a pretty big difference between Indie and Independent developers.. The first has barely two sticks together and a small close knit you and us against the world attitude.. The second also has barely two sticks to rub together but has to constantly schmooze up to publishers for monies and invites to parties.

        The second group has been dying off for a long time and/or being absorbed into ‘in-house’ developer owned studios.. The first is just growing and growing ;)

        • Fuzzball says:

          Well…no. They’re the same thing. Indie is Independent is Indian is Indecisive is Indefatigable…is Innuendo? You get my point.

  2. DanPryce says:

    Are you sure I don’t have to sign into Origin or something? I’d feel safer if I did. This is some scary new technology.

  3. woodsey says:

    Pah! ‘LAN’ will never catch on – I bet it just stands for Losers And Nerds, amirite guys?

    … Guys?

  4. Bhazor says:

    Derpy sheep is best sheep.

  5. DrScuttles says:

    Just had a thought; what if a bunch of friends took their computers to one centralised location, connected them up using this local area network technology and played games together for a weekend fuelled by pizza and cheap 4% lager? Might be fun.

  6. MasterDex says:

    Wait just a second! Are you trying to tell me that PC gamers would like to play together without needing to go online? That they want to play in the same house or college using a local network?! INCONCEIVABLE!

    Next you’ll be trying to tell us that PC gamers would appreciate splitscreen multiplayer and local co-op!

    • Greggh says:

      I need this so bad (PC splitscreen, coop or versus).
      Nowadays that’s almost impossible in PC gaming :\

      • MasterDex says:

        Something tells me it’ll be hard to get it to become the norm. The “lone nerd in the basement” stereotype is still very strong for PC gamers. The idea that a PC gamer might have real life friends seems to be a strange concept to most of the industry.

        • Greggh says:

          Yep! And consoles are filing this gap so far (Nintendo particularly is keen on same-screen multiplayer for a long time).

          God I wish I could play some racing game in magnificent 1080p split-screen… FXAA, all the eye-candy that consoles can’t handle :’(

          • Floflo81 says:

            Try DiRT 3, it has split screen multiplayer on PC :)
            But it also has GFWL :(

            Also, on my PC, there are graphical glitches in split screen if in DirectX 11 mode. It works fine in DirectX 9 mode (forced through a command-line parameter…)

          • Greggh says:

            *looks at Rabbite picture*
            :3

            Thanks Floflo. I remember having these kind of glitches too, back when I had a GeForce 5200 (can you say prehistoric?).
            One day I cleaned my computer’s insides – with one of those pressurized air cans – and voilà! Glitches were never seen again (oh the pun!!)

        • SiHy_ says:

          I posed the question ‘why is there a lack of split-screen on PC’ to a gaming community ( http://www.reddit.com/r/Games/qim4g/ ) and one of the main sentiments from replies seemed to be the opinion that apparently PC owners simply don’t want it enough so there’s no market for it. Sigh.

        • Jibb Smart says:

          The answer is for everyone in the world to buy Serious Sam 3 and a couple of gamepads if they don’t already have some.

        • Phantoon says:

          The strangest part of it is the inclusion of the Facebook crowd into modern gaming to buy whatever rehashed shit the big companies throw out, but not the idea that there could be a push to get them to try things OTHER than That Game All Their Friends Are Playing (Call of Duty, Gears of War, Skyrim, etc).

      • Docslapper says:

        A lot of us have 2 monitors. I also have two keyboards (one loud clacky one for proper typing, one quiet one for late nights). I have any number of USB ports into which mice, keyboards and even game controllers will plug.

        My point being, of course, that split-screen on a PC is actually underselling the hardware capabilities a bit…

        • MasterDex says:

          Well, split-screen on PC could also mean playing from the one system on two separate monitors. The point being that there’s a severe lack of local multiplayer games on PC.

    • RaveTurned says:

      Don’t be silly. PC gamers want to be online just to play single player! Just ask those experts at Blizzard, EA and Ubisoft.

  7. Kdansky says:

    Why is nobody complaining about Diablo 3 yet?

    Serious: I find it really practical that I don’t have to lug my PC about 100 km to my friend’s so we can play a game together. Yes, the ping is worse, but we can do it daily instead of twice a year due to the hassle.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Still, is there a reason why you shouldn’t be able to do both?

      • Kdansky says:

        Adding LAN functionality requires additional hours spent in development. There are infinity other features I would rather have.

        • Brun says:

          While I agree that there are other features I’d rather have, I think that the amount of additional development necessary to implement LAN will vary depending on how their network code and architecture are designed to work. A lot of older multiplayer games used a dedicated server/player-hosted game architecture that would likely require little or no modification to support LAN (with LAN simply being an implementation of a player-hosted game).

        • Berzee says:

          I on the other hand, want LAN.

          So now what, Kdansky? Do we fight in the pit to determine what gets implemented?

          I think we do…

    • roryok says:

      Yes, you could do both. Also a suggestion would be to make some friends that don’t live 100km away.

    • Tiax says:

      “Serious: I find it really practical that I don’t have to lug my PC about 100 km to my friend’s so we can play a game together”

      That’s only because you’re too cheap to buy a 100 kilometers ethernet-cable.

    • Bhazor says:

      And I find it REALLY practical to have to be online for single player.
      There is no excusing that bullshit.

      • pkt-zer0 says:

        I did actually find it rather convenient in D3 that, despite being initally co-op-shy, I could just drop into a co-op game with my character without having to start over from scratch.

        Might not outweigh the downsides from your perspective, sure, but it’s not without its upsides (in D3′s case, anyway).

        • yutt says:

          The only reason you couldn’t do that regardless is due to another deliberately limitation by Blizzard.

          1. Blizzard creates limitation preventing you from using your single player character in network games with friends.
          2. Blizzard creates workaround to their limitation, by removing single player from the game.
          3. Everyone is happy about Blizzard’s ingenious solution to the problem they created!

          • Beelzebud says:

            I’m sorry, but on a game based around random loot, allowing a single player save game to play on their network would be a very dumb idea. Saved games are simple to hack.

          • Phantoon says:

            So is Blizzard’s authentication system, apparently.

          • Saiko Kila says:

            Why allowing a local save on local network would be a dumb idea? I see no reason for limiting it apart from Blizzard guys being jerks. This is my LAN and my friends, if we all agree to local savegames (or even cheats, openly) then we don’t need Blizzard chaperones telling us how to behave. Local saves shouldn’t be allowed on battlenet (*), but locally, why not?

            *) it would be even better if saves local saves are allowed but encrypted, in case the remote copy is damaged when server is hacked or something, I don’t have any faith in Blizzard storage while I trust in my own backup

          • Beelzebud says:

            Saiko, I wasn’t referring to a local network. We’re talking about Diablo 3 as it is, not as we wish it was.

    • wyrmsine says:

      I’m here to complain about Minecraft, actually. Every time I manage to put it away for a while, something gets added – in this case, incentive for my gf to buy a copy. She’s been trying to avoid it…

    • gwathdring says:

      As a laptop gamer, I heartily disagree. I want to be able to do the same thing my friends with consoles do–bring my computer over, plug in, and play together. It would also be nice to be able to do the things where we plug in multiple controllers and play on the same machine in applicable games and multiple screens in others.

  8. sektor666 says:

    Holy cow, this is revolutionary stuff! Why hasn’t anyone come up with this tech sooner? :O

  9. jezcentral says:

    LAN?

    Party!

  10. roryok says:

    I used to have a cable set up, but I gave up after it was pulled up by the CAT5 times in one month

  11. Lobster9 says:

    For me, the magic of Minecraft died the day you could no longer punch the wool off of sheep.

    • Mollusc Infestation says:

      I feel your pain. Same reason i had to leave the pastoral farming industry.

      • roryok says:

        sheep and shepherd imagery in the bible; are we merely livestock for jesus and his family? Does heaven harvest our souls only to put roast soul on a shelf somewhere? or soul wool jumpers?

        • RaveTurned says:

          Jesus had the wool punched off him so that we might not have the wool punched off us, but be fleeced for all eternity.

    • vagabond says:

      What? Outrage!
      Does that mean that if a creeper explodes near a sheep but not close enough to kill it, it no longer blows it’s wool off?

  12. LionsPhil says:

    Here’s one you perhaps didn’t know: the inspirational predecessor of wired ethernet was actually a wireless broadcast network.

  13. Bobka says:

    I miss the good old days of playing videogames with my father and sister, using only a single copy of a game instead of having to buy three, and without having to have an internet connection working.

    • MasterDex says:

      Me too. Interesting tidbit – Crysis Wars, the multiplayer component that came with Warhead, allowed the one disc to be used for LAN play on any number of machines. A rarity in this modern age for sure.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Even Tiberian Sun did that, published by EA of all people. (C&C1 was originally Virgin Interactive.)

        How the digital distribution age has changed things.

        • vivlo says:

          And, guess who allowed this too ? The same that pioneered in multiplayer games not with LAN, and in single players games with no offline, yeah, Blizzard with every pre WoW game, sure enough, everyone knows it but eh, irony of the thing strikes me.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      well, if you buy one home version of Microsoft Office… you’re allowed to install it on up to 3 machines.

      Turns out boring office software is more buyer friendly than games.

      • Thermal Ions says:

        Office never used to be like that though (according to their licence even if practically it wasn’t enforced). I seem to recall it came a while after they phased out their “Works” suite and I imagine trying to combat piracy and the encroachment of free/inexpensive office alternatives.

  14. roryok says:

    no risk of interference from local ruffians attacking nearby phone company equipment

    That’s actually happened a number of times around these parts. Most recently a petrol station was robbed, and beforehand the culprits decided to “cut the phone lines” for the area, severing all the fibre internet for the entire town and surrounds.

    They should be forced to use dialup for the rest of their lives

  15. rocketman71 says:

    Whoa, LAN?. Who wants that anymore?.

    Oh, yeah. Me.

  16. SteamySashimi says:

    Will never catch on. How can I buy multiple DLC packs for my games on day 1 if I’m not directly connected to EA? Maybe its possible but I don”t think the technology is there yet.

  17. El_Emmental says:

    LAN wasn’t already there ?

    Last time I played Minecraft with my brother, we would set up a server on the desktop computer, and connect the desktop and the notebook through my wireless router network, using the local IP (or just “localhost”, I can’t remember), and it worked like a charm, putting the latest version on a shared dropbox so we could play alone (to harvest stuff, finish a building) or when we’re far away from each others.

    It sounds like all that stuff is now fully-automatic (minus the dropbox/cloud part). I guess it’s good news.

    LAN ?

    And how am I going to share my experience with my friends on my social networks ?

    How am I going to see my achievements at any time on a website ?

    How am I going to be able to enhance my Game Experience with the ingame Store and its DLCs ?

    How am I going to ensure my copy is legit and therefore my computer is safe from Internet’s malwares ?

    No really, this technology is too dangerous, we should make LAN an illegal feature, it’s endangering our computers, gamers and the entire video game industry !

    Think of the children, how are you going to protect them from nefarious strangers on your unprotected LAN network ? Answer now !

  18. The_B says:

    I’m just not sure on the name of it, it needs something catchier. Something more marketable.

    How about “Close-proximity-interconnected-social-experience?” – rolls off the tongue much nicer.

  19. Mollusc Infestation says:

    Next they’ll be letting you stream your games directly from some sort of local, physical media. It would probably need its own drive though.

  20. roryok says:

    I have fond, fond memories of LAN parties in my house, playing CoD and FarCry (which even at the time were outdated, but still great fun), and sometimes Air Buccaneers. There’s something to be said for everyone being in the same room. Sadly we just can’t make up the numbers anymore.

  21. Wisq says:

    I’ve been playing Minecraft in “LAN mode” for ages already. Not that hard to fire up a server on a local machine.

    The real news here is that they’re moving forwards with their plan to merge singleplayer and multiplayer, where the former just becomes a one-user variant of the latter. In particular, it means mods will no longer be separated into two different camps, so I don’t have to choose between “all the most awesome mods” and “playing with other people”.

  22. mbp says:

    This sounds very welcome. I earned some serious dad brownie points when I rigged up a private minecraft sever so my kids could play together (and yes I did buy multiple licenses). However it was a pain in the neck to keep everything running and upgrades were a nightmare. This sounds like it will allow the same thing without the pain.

  23. phenom_x8 says:

    prepare ourselves for the rise of social gaming. believe me, its unevitable,folks! the future is now

  24. Kinth says:

    But have they actually added any reason to keep playing ?

    I loved minecraft for a while but I can no longer play it for more than about 15 minutes at a time there is just nothing to do once you have built your 100th castle. At first they were trying to add new promising features like the nether and NPC villages but they never properly fleshed them out, neither of them had a point to them. Now they don’t even bother with that sort of stuff they just add pointless new blocks and more pets.

    I got way more than my moneys worth out of Minecraft but it would be nice to see them come up with a good idea and then full flesh it out instead

    • Beelzebud says:

      That is the one area where Mojang is not above criticism. They have very little focus. In Minecraft there are a lot of half-baked ideas, that never got finished up.

      • Kinth says:

        Yeah notch seems to change his current project every month and nothing major has been added to the game since he left Jeb to work on it.

        It originally seemed like they were pretty clever with their development ideas Minecraft was popular and being updated and they used the money to fund scrolls which was coming along nicely. But now it seems like notch can’t stay on the same project for long. When he was working on Minecraft he would state a lot of stuff he was going to add then only like a quarter of that would be added and the stuff that was added had very little point to it because it was never really finished. They have great ideas on paper but these ideas never amount to much in terms of gameplay, things like putting a fully programmable CPU into his new game ox10c or whatever it’s called, it’s a cool trick but it’s also pointless. it seems he only knows how to program Java as well which is only going to limit what he and others can do with the things he makes.

        • Brun says:

          There’s a fairly substantial update in beta at the moment. So there’s still active development going on.

        • vivlo says:

          Moreover, the developpers have been saying they couldn’t do better at adding stuff than fanbase’s mods, because fans were outnumbering them and maybe more devoted to the whole thing. That might be the main reason they’re not overdoing it…

          • Beelzebud says:

            On that topic, where the heck is the mod API they’ve been promising for over a year? When they brought Jeb in they said it would be a focus, and they said the same thing when Bukkit officially joined the team, but still nothing.

          • Wisq says:

            Even the mods aren’t really keeping my interest any more.

            The problem is that ultimately, there’s no real progression — megaprojects are the only resource sink, and so once you’ve carved out a luxurious living space with all the possible amenities, and built/crafted everything your mods have to offer, it’s pretty much over and there’s really nothing left to do. Sure, I can go find another dungeon, but do I really need anything from it? Am I doing anything except wasting time?

            I guess I can’t really get into it any more for the same reason I can’t play the Sims. In fact, I think the Sims actually lasted longer, since there were more wacky things to subject my sims to before it got stale.

  25. Baines says:

    From what I’ve heard, the XBLA version’s local split-screen requires everyone have a Gold subscription (the paid online gaming fee). If only they’d take the concept of this amazing Local Area Network idea and apply it there.

  26. MythArcana says:

    I believe Doom had LAN 20 years ago…it’s too bad the game industry is held captive by greedy capitalists conniving new lame trends to impede technology. You know who you are…

  27. MadTinkerer says:

    Hooking things up physically via cables? Oh please. It’s not like PCs need more features designed for consoles. It needs to be the other way around: consoles need more convenient user-focused features, like DRM, limited installs, and potentially compromising private information by putting it on easily cracked servers.

    (Well that was the joke until I realized all of those have been implemented already.)

  28. lonewolf80 says:

    I thought this was already possible by the use of an offline mode (bukkit optional) server. Unless the LAN server is as customizable as bukkit, I don’t really see the point in this much besides a temporary server.

  29. DeanLearner says:

    So even if someone picks up the phone, I’ll still be able to play games with people in the local area? Scuse my French, but RPS, you’re talking shit.