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The Amazingly Unlikely Story of How Minecraft Was Born | Wired

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In early May 2009, Markus uploaded a video recording (above) of a very early version of Minecraft on YouTube. It didn’t look like much more than a half-finished system for generating worlds and Markus gleefully jumping around inside it, but still, the essence of it hinted at how the game might look when it was done.

“This is a very early test of an Infiniminer clone I’m working on. It will have more resource management and materials, if I ever get around to finishing it,” is Markus’s description of the clip.

Someone on the fringes might regard what Markus did as intellectual-property theft. Without beating around the bush, he revealed where he found his inspiration and even went as far as to call Minecrafta clone of an existing game. But game developers, more than other kinds of artists, often find their starting point in an existing idea that they then work on, change, and polish. All studios, large and small, keep tabs on what their competitors are doing and frequently borrow from their games. Still, game developers seldom accuse others of plagiarizing. Almost all platform games originate from the mechanics that Nintendo put in place in the first Super Mario Bros., released in 1985. And more or less all role-playing games build on the structure that was developed in games such as The Bard’s Tale. That’s why Zachary Barth refuses to single out Markus as a thief. He even speaks about how he himself used Team Fortress 2 and the indie game Motherload as inspiration for Infiniminer. Actually, he’s tired of the constant questions about if he feels ripped off considering the millions of players and dollars that Minecraft has pulled in.

“The act of borrowing ideas is integral to the creative process. There are games that came beforeInfiniminer and there are games that will come after Minecraft. That’s how it works,” says Barth.

Imitation is flattery, until profits are involved...

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