Have You Played… Infiniminer?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

No, neither have I. Infiniminer was a team-based game in which players competed to collect more minerals than their opponents in a blocky, randomly-generated cavern. But during development in 2009 the source code was leaked by hackers. In the wake of new modified versions, the small community of players that had formed around the game dissolved. The developer made the game open source and shelved the project. Not long afterwards, a man called Notch started work on a little somethin’ somethin’. And it looked a wee bit like Infiniminer…

While the game’s influence on Minecraft is something that is broadly known in gamer circles, the wider world remains mostly ignorant of this slice of cultural history. Without Infiniminer there probably wouldn’t have been dozens of magazines in airports sporting the Creeper’s recognisable frown, the phenomenon that basically trumped LEGO may never have come into existence at all. That’s not to say the building game beloved by everyone is nothing but a cynical copy – Notch took the technology and made something much more liberating and complex than a simple team-based competition. But it’s always important to remember the foundations upon which great things are made.

And what about the guy who made Infiniminer? Well, you might recognise his name – Zach Barth of Zachtronics, a frighteningly intelligent creator who hasn’t exactly slouched around moping. As for the game itself, you can find it if you look hard enough. But being buggy and shelved there’s no guarantee it will work.


  1. Harlander says:

    I’ve not only played it, I’ve played it in multiplayer.

    Was kind of fun, though Minecraft really gave the formula some inexplicable kind of secret sauce. (Modding was probably a big part of it.)

    • Marr says:

      Java was a terrible choice of language, except for the bit where it’s so very hackable. Minecraft rapidly evolved from a game into a 3d operating system.

  2. Fnord73 says:

    If the world was fair, the Minecraft Inc. people should send the devs 10 000 quid each just as a present. Lord knows they can afford it.

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    Drib says:

    I played this quite a bit. In fact I even ran a modded server for a while.

    I used to think man, wouldn’t it be cool if this was an open world and there was more stuff to do?

    But then I got lazy and didn’t do it.

    I wonder what would happen if someone had modded it for all that.

  4. oyog says:

    Another fun bit of internet history:

    The thread Notch started on TIGSource for the game he was working on back in 2009.

    A lot of missing images and youtube videos, but it’s fun to see people’s reactions and read Notch’s plans for his Infiniminer clone.

    • Oozo says:

      Oh, wow, thanks for that link. Stephen “Increpare” Lavelle telling Notch: “i hope you make something really good of this, dude; i think it has a lot of potential.”…

      I don’t know exactly how that makes me feel. Old? Eternal? I mean, Minecraft seems to have been there forever, in way. It’s nice to be able to look at that thread and see gaming history in the making.

    • mukuste says:

      Oh, that thread… I was actually the second person to reply to Notch, and therefore probably one of the first people to play that public alpha.


      • DantronLesotho says:

        For what it’s worth, early encouragement and participation makes a big difference. Thank you for your contribution!

  5. DelrueOfDetroit says:

    What a silly idea for a game. There is no way this would have ever taken off.

  6. aRGeeBee says:

    I played the hell out of Infinimimer back in the day. I initially really disliked Minecraft for pulling away so many Infinimer players, making it difficult to get a multiplayer game going. Of course, now I’ve played many more hours of Minecraft than I ever did of Infiniminer.

  7. DantronLesotho says:

    Zach Barth is a genius whose works should be shouted from the mountaintops. He is not celebrated enough. I know this site does, but EVERYONE NEEDS TO ALL THE TIME.