Games4Mac: Minecraft

Minecraft Start Screen

If there was one game that has taken the world by storm in recent years, it would be Minecraft.  Just do a search on Youtube and you will find funny play-throughs, amazing creations, and an ever-growing community of builders and adventurers.  It has sold over 3 million units as of August 5th, 2011; pretty impressive for a game that is still in beta.

Minecraft is sandbox world with no real storyline.  The idea of the game is you’re a solitary person who has to survive in this world by building your home (or cave, hole, wherever) and create tools from wood, stone, iron, and other matter you find in the world.  By day, everything is happy and peaceful on the surface, but at night, hordes of monsters spawn in the darkness.  If they find you, they will kill you.  But you don’t just stay on the surface; you can, like the name suggest, mine through the caves.  As you go deeper into the bowels of the earth, you find stronger and better materials for tools, art, or over gameplay that allow to make things like mine cart systems (or trains), explosives, diamonds, and more.  But of course, in the darkness you will find more monsters, and their spawners.

This skeleton is riding a spider. It's fast and has range, but not something I've ever seen before.

Killing spawners allows you to access chests with special prizes and gear.  You can even create a portal to a realm called “The Nether” and explore that.

At first the game seems pretty graphically poor because everything is composed of blocks.  But that’s how the game is supposed to be designed, and it’s a cool deviation from the either hyper-realistic or cartoony graphics that the majority of video games have.  Even if you’re not much of a builder, you can’t help but think of how to improve your home, or getting better tools.  The other cool thing about the game is the fact that it is randomly generated.  As you move throughout the world, the game is randomly creating new territory, so no games or worlds will be exactly alike (which definitely appeals to my inner explorer).

But if you find that single player get boring after a while, then get online and play with your friends.  If you have a friend with a Minecraft server (or a public Minecraft server, like TechnoBuffalo’s), then you can go on their and play whatever game type they have, whether it’s just the standard game with friends, or a mod game.  That’s right, a modded game.  Minecraft’s creators encourage people to mod the game and make new game types out it, which is also why it’s common to see many player with custom skins, either downloaded or self-made.  But more than just skins, you will find downloadable packs from other players, ones that range from floating islands in the sky, to huge desert worlds, and many more.

For all the greatness of Minecraft, it’s not all a perfect, cube-centric world.  The game is still in beta, meaning that you will have occasional hangups and freezes; I actually had it as many as once every 5 minutes, with no apps running.  I respect that this game is still in beta, but this still seems like an unnecessary flaw.

A snowy day in my world

Fortunately, this generally didn’t happen when I was fighting monsters, but it made it all the more scary when it did happen then (and not the good kind of scary).

Another downside goes toward the game play.  Building is addictive, exploration is awesome, and fighting monsters can sometimes scare you silly, but it lacks a real adventure.  Yes, you need to survive hordes of monsters that spawn in the dark, and yeah you can download more adventure-themed mods, but I think this is something that should be in the game-play.  However, I think it is fair to note that the good people at Mojang have already announced that more features are coming out soon in the 1.8 beta update (called the Adventure Update), as well as future updates.  These include, but aren’t limited to sprinting, computer generated villages (which I have mixed feelings about), more monsters like Endermen, and even new environments like rivers, volcanoes, and more.  Hints seem to indicate that the game might be a little like an MMO (massive multiplayer online) game in the sense that it’s more of a free-roaming, sandbox style game with small quests and achievements you can get for certain things, maybe even boss battles.

One last downside, at least from a technical note, is the online login system.  After you make a free account with Minecraft, you can buy the game, and then log into the single player game and the many multiplayer servers.   However, when logging in, it requires the game to ping back to Minecraft’s server, which is annoying if you don’t have an online connection.  You can still play the single player game fine, but then you lose things like custom skins, and I also noticed in offline mode, I couldn’t get my wolves to stand up (though interestingly enough, they could still attack me sitting down if I accidentally hit them).

A sunset, with a strange Two-Towers style mountain range.

All things considered, Minecraft is a very open and innovative game.  It can be a little unstable at times, it uses a lot of memory and heats up your Mac like nobody’s business,

but it is a very fun game that has quickly made a name itself.  People who love creating, building, and exploring will find it exciting, while those who prefer adventure and action games have something more to look forward to in the months to come.  I hope in the time between beta and 1.0, Minecraft can be stabilized and cleaned up, but I look forward to its development.

You can buy Minecraft from for $21.95 while it is in beta and is available for Mac 10.5 and higher, as well as Windows XP and higher, and Linux.  iOS and Android versions are in development, with a beta Android version available for testing specifically on the Xperia Play.  There is also a Kinect-enabled version for Microsoft’s XBox 360 in the works.

If you have any suggestions for games to review, leave a comment or email me at  Also be sure to check out my Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube pages (see their respective buttons at the top of the screen).  Thanks!


  1. This game has never worked since they day it was purchased, which has resulted in many tears by my 9 yr. old. I have spent hours on websites trying to get it to work with no results. I have never been so disgusted with any company in my life. I have received no feedback from the company in the 3 months we have had this useless game.

      • It starts to download, then goes to a blank screen. I’m using Microsoft Windows XP. Thanks for the response!

        • The first thing I would recommend is try using a different web browser. Firefox or Chrome are the best, and here are the links to download them:


          Next, make sure Windows is up to date. Go to the start menu, all programs, and find Windows or Microsoft Update. Click on that, and follow the directions. Any updates listed as important should be installed.

          Lastly, MineCraft is a Java app. While it shouldn’t effect the initial download, it would be beneficial to make sure you’re using the latest version of Java. You can check for them through Java’s website:

          Try these things first and then let me know what happens.

          • Thanks Stuart, I finally feel like someone is helping me with this. I downloaded Firefox, then went to Windows and Microsoft update. There were no directions to follow but I clicked on update, and I received a message stating “There are no high priority updates for your computer available”. I then re-downloaded Java and went back to Minecraft. It is still just a blank white box.

          • Brenda,

            I think I understand now. I assumed that somehow this was a problem with downloading the initial file from MineCraft’s website. Now I understand what’s going on.

            When MineCraft was installed and run for the first time, it had to install some files and folders onto your computer. Somehow during the installation process, this was botched and now files are in certain parts of the MineCraft folder and not where they need to be. This means MineCraft gets stuck and we’re left tearing our hair out.

            The gentleman in the video’s solution involves deleting this folder created by MineCraft and then running MineCraft again. By deleting this folder, MineCraft believes it has never run and therefore forces the program to start anew, thus fixing the problem.

            In the start menu, go to the Run command and enter ” %AppData% ” (without the quotes).
            In that folder should be a folder labeled .minecraft ; drag this folder into the Recycle Bin, then reopen MineCraft. MineCraft should recreate the folder in the correct manner and then you and your son should be able to play.

            In the meantime, could you describe what you meant by MineCraft being connected to Google Chrome?

          • OMG Stuart, I think you did it! What I meant about it being connected to Google Chrome was that when I minimize the screen, the tab says
            Minecraft-Google Chrome. I just went to and it actually completed the initial download. I got as far as “enter server address” and wasn’t sure what to type in.

  2. I googled Minecraft servers and entered one that came up called and it seems to be working. I don’t know how to play but my son will be up soon. If this is it Stuart, you are my hero!!! What a sense of relief.

    • Glad to have helped. Yes server addresses are a multiplayer feature that allow you to play with others. Some a re large public servers that let most people in, others are private so that only you and your friends or family can play.

    • Glad to have helped. Yes server addresses are a multiplayer feature that allow you to play with others. Some a re large public servers that let most people in, others are private so that only you and your friends or family can play.
      If you go to the single player function, your son should be able to play by himself on your computer. Enjoy the game, and thanks for reading.

      • I can’t thank you enough Stuart. He is playing the game now, but apparently prefers single player. He now wants texture packs. Is this a difficult process as well?

        • A texture pack is basically changing the look of the game and the things in it. So instead of the default look, your son could make the Minecraft world look more like a cartoon, more realistic, an alien planet, etc. It’s not too difficult. Planet Minecraft ( and Minecraft Texture Packs ( are good places to start finding texture packs, but you can find more scattered across the web.

          First, find one that your son likes and download them (they’re all free, at least the ones that I’ve seen). It will be a .zip file, so the name will probably read “”. You will need to copy this Zip file into the texture packs folder. Fortunately, Minecraft makes this easy. When you launch Minecraft, hit the “Mods and Texture Packs” button on the start screen. It should only show one thing, which is the default texture pack. In the bottom left-hand corner, hit “Open Texture Pack Folder”. Minecraft will automatically open the folder where texture packs belong. Paste the .zip file you copied into that folder, and close it. You should then see the new texture pack under the default one. Select that pack, hit done, and when your son starts up his Minecraft world, his Minecraft game should look like whatever the selected texture pack is.

          If you want to add the pack manually, just go back to the .minecraft folder in the AppData folder, and paste it in the folder labeled “texture packs” I only mention this because on my version of Minecraft, I had to do it manually.

          One other note, some texture packs are more advanced than others. They may provide more effects in the way of shadows, water movement, etc. For that, you may need to use a tool called MCPatcher ( and run that before you install your texture pack. Likely you won’t have to do this, but I figured I would mention it. Texture packs won’t change your son’s gameplay experience, only the look of the game.

          The single player world is good for if you just need to get the hang of the game, want to play by yourself, or build something cool. Eventually he might want to join a server, especially if more of his friends and family are playing, which can be a lot of fun. I hope he enjoys it, and I hope this helped.

          • Unfortunately, nothing is simple for me on this computer. However, after awhile I did get it to work and added a few texture packs to the game. Once again, thank you very much. I cannot guarantee that you will not hear from us again 🙂

          • Hello Stuart. We have downloaded some texture packs successfully, however, there have been some sites on that we have downloaded which resulted in Minecraft freezing up, for example, Call of Duty Zombies. I went in and deleted these downloads. What I am confused about, is that just out of curiosity I went back and clicked on Run, then %AppData%, as we did to solve the initial dilemma. The minecraft folder had returned and I deleted it again. Minecraft began to work as usual, but we lost his original texture packs and had to re-download them. Why would this folder reappear, and will this continue to happen? I am assuming at this point that some downloads are not safe, even though it seems to be a reputable site, but I do not know how to tell the difference.

          • Brenda,

            The .minecraft folder is the folder that Minecraft creates when it is run. That is where all of the texture packs, mods, and his save files will be; it’s supposed to be there. The reason we deleted it initially was because it was somehow corrupted and needed to be removed. Somehow, when you tried to add the Call of Duty mod, it broke Minecraft. If you go to install a mod, you need to make sure you follow the directions on the site you found it on for how to install it (usually by putting it in the saves folder). If you need to delete the Minecraft folder again for some reason, make sure you make a copy of his saves and texture pack folder before deleting them, that way you don’t loose everything.

            Everything on should be safe to use, though it certainly doesn’t hurt to have Windows, your antivirus, and your plugins up-to-date to be safe. Mods are still modifications to the game and how it is played, so you always risk some problems. The short lesson is make sure you backup your save and texture pack folders, and read the directions on how to install a mod.

          • It just occurred to me that I may have implied Call of Duty Zombies was not safe. Just to clarify, that is not what I meant. It is listed under most popular, and has numerous “Diamonds” and many members. It just so happened that when I downloaded it, the screen froze up. I am now thinking I may need another App for this download. I did end up downloading mcpatcher before this event.

          • Hello. I have a new question. We “re-bought” the game this afternoon. I’m trying to run Minecraft and I am getting a pop up that asks “Do you want to run this application?”
            Name: net.minecraft.Launcher
            Publisher: Unknown
            I clicked yes and it popped up “This applications digital signature has an error”
            Name: net.minecraft
            Publisher: Mojang AB
            I clicked yes again, and it starts to load but doesn’t finish as what was my initial problem when we went into %AppData%. Then, when he gets to Single player- Create New World, it begins to build terrain and freezes at
            “Generating Level Simulating the world for a bit.”
            Then a pop up appears that says-
            The Plug-in is unresponsive Java(TM)platform.SE7u4, do you want to continue?
            I clicked yes and it went to a screen that states- It is out of memory and provides the option to “quit game.”
            This seems like something is very wrong, and at this point I am so confused I don’t know whether it is this defective game or my computer (Windows XP).
            Not sure if anyone can help figure out this one. I’d appreciate any feedback. Sincerely,

          • Brenda,

            I would advise uninstalling Java and Minecraft. Follow the directions here to uninstall Java: . The process to uninstall Minecraft is similar. Then reinstall both of them.

            One other thing to try is to create a new user account on the computer and then run Minecraft from there. If everything works properly there, then something with your user account is what’s causing the problem. If the same problems still occur, then something between the way your computer interacts with Java and Minecraft may be the problem.

  3. Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Thank you so much, However I am going through issues with your RSS.

    I don’t know why I am unable to join it. Is there anyone else getting the same
    RSS issues? Anyone that knows the solution can you kindly respond?

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