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.