Update: I muddled up two mods with similar names, so have now updated this story accordingly. Thanks to hayshed in the comments for pointing out my mistake!
The creators of Minecraft server Civcraft have announced Praxis, a standalone game that plays with the same concepts as its forebear. Civcraft is an anarchy-server that runs a set of server-side mods designed as an "experiment for communities, political ideologies, debate and discussion," meant to foster an experience "not just about surviving the elements, but about surviving each other, where players can work together to create and shape civilization or to watch it crumble. A world open to any idea, manifesto or philosophy, created by the players." Which sounds pretty fascinating.
The standalone game will offer all of the same experiences, but on a purpose-built engine, as explained in an announcement post on the Civcraft subreddit.
Imagine if you stripped down Civcraft to the core ideas that drive all these awesome socially-emergent experiences, and then designed an entire engine and game around them. That’s Praxis. It’s an open world in which we provide you the tools to build the society you want.
Work on the project officially started over 500 days ago, although recently we’ve been formalising things and slowly moving towards something playable and marketable.
Right now, there are no screenshots or videos of the in-development game, although the team hope to include the Civcraft community in testing soon. The difficulty is that the engine is still in a state of flux, which is understandable given the ambition of the mod and this new version. There's mention of getting 10,000 people on a server all at once, and of a game that could contain a universe of planets and stars to explore. This is on top of an already ambitious set of mechanics, which allow people to collaboratively develop and grow societies.
It's been a while since there was big news in Minecraft land, hasn't it?