Swedish game development studio Mojang teased a new location-based mobile AR game during Microsoft Build 2019, and fully revealed its new project, Minecraft Earth, in mid-May. During Apple’s special livestream event that kicked off the World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) on June 3, the team took the stage for a live demonstration of the capabilities of Minecraft Earth.
First, the two Mojang staff members showed off a small creation transposed onto a table. The creation was made of various resources that a typical Minecraft player utilizes, and we also saw running water, fireworks, and mobs. Through the Minecraft Earth smartphone app, one player was able to see what the second player was holding in their hands. Via this, we saw one of the staff build in real time before adding her own character into the build.
There are gestures that can be done in Minecraft Earth, and we see this in action when the woman waves and her Minecraft character mirrors the action in two different ways. After this part of the demonstration, the team took the build off of the table and placed it on the stage. Through a people occlusion feature that the team says only works on iOS with ARKit, we witnessed mixed reality through the phone as one person stood within this Minecraft Earth build.
Beyond the structure that was built for the demo, there was a moment when the floor of the build opened up after a dynamite explosion, and we saw caves and creatures below. The cave could be lit from a distance by the player and teased some of the conflicts that players can run into while crafting their builds in Minecraft Earth.
Minecraft Earth taps a growing industry of mobile AR games, but it focuses more on building and collaboration versus exploring, though exploring is a part of the experience. Users will collect resources that are needed to make builds and can also breed mobs to populate their augmented reality builds. Minecraft Earth’s launch date is unknown, but it will be free-to-play on both Android and iOS. The first closed beta for both platforms will launch this summer and requires registration on the Minecraft Earth website.
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