Minecraft Earth brings an augmented reality version of Mojang’s iconic sandbox block-builder to mobiles. From what we’ve seen so far, it looks like a hugely impressive feat from a technical standpoint – not least because its game director has now revealed that some of the tech needed to get it working didn’t seem to exist when devs kicked off the project.
Minecraft Earth game director Torfi Olafsson has said (via Edge, issue 337) “one of the key technical dependencies is that anchoring in the real world. Working with Alex Pittman’s team, we sat down and and there was a point where we were like ‘okay, so we just need about two-and-a-half miracles.’ And we’ve embarked just fearlessly, knowing that there’s absolutely no way to do what we’re trying to do.”
However, Olaffson explained, it now appears that the devs have managed to make some of these miracles happen – he adds, “and today there is – 18 months later, there are some really good ideas that might work.”
The tech underpinning Minecraft Earth relies on a new innovation of Microsoft’s – the Azure Spatial Anchors – which will allow players’ creations to be rendered holographically over locations in the real world, persistently. A cool feature of how it works is that, when players get stuck into the game and start using their phones to point at specific locations, the tech’s algorithms improve, as they’re provided with more and more accurate data.
Executive producer Jesse Merriam adds, “those pieces of technology will hopefully be seamless, but there’s a number of them. It starts with it being really the first augmented-reality-first experience.”
The closed beta for the game kicked off in London and Seattle earlier this year, but sadly there’s no confirmation of a Minecraft Earth PC release on the horizon.