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The Overworld

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The Overworld, as seen in an extreme hills biome

The Overworld is the starting dimension in Minecraft. As with all dimensions in the game, the Overworld can generate infinitely. The Overworld is limited to 862 by 862 blocks on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 Edition, and 256 by 256 blocks on Old Pocket Edition worlds. At the edge of the Overworld, there is an animated world border. Nether portals in the Overworld can be used to teleport to the Nether.

The Overworld encompasses the level ceiling down to bedrock and extending in every direction on the horizontal plane. It is generated through a process which creates multiple noise maps to create differing elevations, general chunk shapes, and complex mountain and cave systems.

Most mobs in the game can spawn in the Overworld: wolves, bats, pigs, sheep, cows, horses, mooshrooms, chickens, chicken jockeys, squid, zombies, ocelots, skeletons, spiders, villagers, spider jockeys, witches, endermen, creepers and slimes all spawn normally. Zombie pigmen can also spawn near nether portals.

Mobs from the Nether may also pass through nether portals and enter the Overworld: zombie pigmen, magma cubes, wither skeletons, ghasts, and blazes (mobs from the Overworld can also enter the Nether through a nether portal). The ender dragon however can't enter the Overworld because there is no return portal from the End unless the dragon is defeated.

Seeds[edit | edit source]

Worlds in Minecraft are generated through a procedural formula that takes a random number as a starting point - a seed, and it will be used to generate all the terrain.

Using a specific seed generates exactly the same world each time, and thus interesting Minecraft worlds could be shared between players. The spawn is not on exactly the same spot, though, so it is wise to give coordinates instead of directions. The seed input is converted into an integer, so, for instance, the word 'Glacier' corresponds to a value of 1772835215, which generates exactly the same world when entered as a seed value.

Many seeds are chosen simply because they spawn the player near desirable resources, a stronghold or some certain special structure, such as a dungeon.

Sizes[edit | edit source]

In Classic and Indev, maps can be generated in "small" (128×128×64), "normal" (256×256×64), and "huge" (512×512×64) sizes.

In Infdev, Alpha and Beta, maps are somewhat infinitely big − They are made up of chunks; this means that as the player explores the map distant chunks are generated automatically, leading to theoretically infinite maps. In practice, technical reasons (the limits of 32-bit math[1]) force the maximum map size, including the Far Lands, to be around 9.3 million times the surface area of Earth [1], which comes out to about 4.7 quadrillion km2 (The hard limit where chunks are overwritten is at X/Z of ±34,359,738,368, making the world at most 68,719,476,736 meters wide and long, which is about 4,722,366,482,869,645 km2. When compared to Earth's total surface area, 510,072,000 km2, this works out to be about 9,258,235 times that). Whilst the horizontal planes of the maps are vast in size, the vertical plane remains at a fixed (soft limit) 256-block height [2].

Map limitation[edit | edit source]

Visual cutoff point of a Minecraft map (Left is normal Minecraft generation, the right is after limitation.)

While the map is infinite, the number of blocks the player may walk on is limited. The map contains a world border at +/- 30,000,000 x/z. The world border is an animated wall of blue stripes. As you get near it, the edges of your screen turn red, and you can not go past it. There is nothing past 16 blocks after the wall, just emptiness.

Because of these limitations the maximum blocks that can be generated in a world is approximately 921,600,000,000,000,000. This means that a filled world with no entities or tile entities would be 3,686,400,000,000,000,000 bits (409.27261579781770706 Petabytes) in block data alone due to the fact that each standard block is assigned 4 bits of information. The total area of this is about 8 times the surface of the Earth.

Generation[edit | edit source]

Generated blocks[edit | edit source]

Naturally generated[edit | edit source]

Naturally Generated includes blocks that are created through the world seed.

Icon Dec Hex Block
0 0 Air
Stone.png 1 1 Stone
Grass.png 2 2 Grass Block
Dirt.png 3 3 Dirt S B
Cobblestone.png 4 4 Cobblestone
Bedrock.png 7 7 Bedrock
Water.png 9 9 Water (stationary) S
Lava.png 11 B Lava (stationary) S
Sand.png 12 C Sand
Gravel.png 13 D Gravel
Gold Ore.png 14 E Gold Ore
Iron Ore.png 15 F Iron Ore
Coal Ore.png 16 10 Coal Ore
Wood.png 17 11 Wood S B
Leaves.png 18 12 Leaves S B
Lapis Lazuli Ore.png 21 15 Lapis Lazuli Ore
Sandstone.png 24 18 Sandstone
Tall Grass.png 31 1F Grass S B
Dead Bush.png 32 20 Dead Bush
Dandelion.png 37 25 Dandelion
Poppy.png 38 26 Flower S B
Brown Mushroom.png 39 27 Brown Mushroom
Icon Dec Hex Block
Red Mushroom.png 40 28 Red Mushroom
Moss Stone.png 48 30 Moss Stone
Monster Spawner.png 52 34 Monster Spawner
Diamond Ore.png 56 38 Diamond Ore
Redstone Ore.png 73 49 Redstone Ore
Snow.png 78 4E Snow S
Ice.png 79 4F Ice
Cactus.png 81 51 Cactus S
Clay Block.png 82 52 Clay
Sugar Canes.png 83 53 Sugar Canes I S
Pumpkin.png 86 56 Pumpkin S
BrownMushroomCap.png 99 63 Brown Mushroom D
RedMushroomCap.png 100 64 Red Mushroom D
Melon (Block).png 103 67 Melon
Vines.png 106 6A Vines S
Mycelium.png 110 6E Mycelium
Lily Pad.png 111 6F Lily Pad
Cocoa Plant.png 127 7F Cocoa
Emerald Ore.png 129 81 Emerald Ore
Grid Sunflower.png 175 AF Large Flower S B
Red Sandstone.png 179 B3 Red Sandstone

Naturally created[edit | edit source]

Naturally created means a combination of events that cause a new block to be placed by natural causes, not the player. Some of these blocks may also be created as part of world generation.

Icon Dec Hex Block
0 0 Air
Grass.png 02 2 Grass Block
Dirt.png 03 3 Dirt
Cobblestone.png 04 4 Cobblestone
Water.png 08 8 Water (flowing) S
Lava.png 10 A Lava (flowing) S
Brown Mushroom.png 39 27 Brown Mushroom
Red Mushroom.png 40 28 Red Mushroom
Icon Dec Hex Block
Obsidian.png 49 31 Obsidian
Fire.png 51 33 Fire S
Snow.png 78 4E Snow S
Ice.png 79 4F Ice
Cactus.png 81 51 Cactus S
Sugar Canes.png 83 53 Sugar Canes I S
Vines.png 106 6A Vines S
Mycelium.png 110 6E Mycelium

Structures[edit | edit source]

Same as naturally generated, but these blocks are only created with the "Generate Structures" option enabled.

Icon Dec Hex Block
0 0 Air
Cobblestone.png 4 4 Cobblestone
Oak Wood Planks.png 5 5 Wood Planks
Water.png 9 9 Water (stationary) S
Dispenser.png 23 17 Dispenser
WebBlock.png 30 1E Cobweb
Sandstone.png 24 18 Sandstone
Sticky Piston.png 29 1D Sticky Piston
Piston.png 33 21 Piston
Brown Mushroom.png 39 27 Brown Mushroom
Red Mushroom.png 40 28 Red Mushroom
White Wool.png 35 23 Wool S B
Stone Slab.png 44 2C Slab S B
Bookshelf.png 47 2F Bookshelf
Icon Dec Hex Block
Torch.png 50 32 Torch S
Oak Wood Stairs.png 53 35 Wood Stairs S
Chest.png 54 36 Chest S
Crafting Table.png 58 3A Crafting Table
Crops.png 59 3B Wheat I S
Farmland.png 60 3C Farmland S
Furnace.png 61 3D Furnace S
Wooden Door.png 64 40 Wooden Door I S
Ladder.png 65 41 Ladder S
Rail.png 66 42 Rails S
Cobblestone Stairs.png 67 43 Cobblestone Stairs
Lever.png 69 45 Lever
Iron Door.png 71 47 Iron Door I S
Wooden Pressure Plate.png 72 48 Wooden Pressure Plate S
Icon Dec Hex Block
Stone Button.png 77 4D Button S
Fence.png 85 55 Fence
Stone.png 97 61 Monster Egg D
Stone Brick.png 98 62 Stone Bricks S B
Iron Bars.png 101 65 Iron Bars
Glass Pane.png 102 66 Glass Pane
Moss Stone.png 48 30 Moss Stone
Cauldron.png 118 76 Cauldron I S I
End Portal Frame.png 120 78 End Portal Frame
Tripwire.png 132 84 Tripwire I S
Flower Pot.png 140 8C Flower Pot I S
Carrot Crop.png 141 8D Carrot I S
Potato Crop.png 142 8E Potato I S

Chunks[edit | edit source]

Chunks are the method used by Notch to divide maps into manageable pieces. They are 16 blocks wide, 16 blocks long, and 256 blocks high, each containing 65,536 blocks. By adjusting the render distance, differing numbers of chunks will be loaded into memory, ranging from 25 to 1089. Only chunks which have been loaded may experience activity such as spawning, despawning, growth, fluid movement, or player interaction. Upon reaching the required distance away from a chunk, it will be unloaded from the memory, however not deleted. Thus, upon re-entering that area, Minecraft will reload the chunk(s).

Biomes[edit | edit source]

The Overworld is also subdivided into biomes. What biome you are in determines the physical aspects of the land above ground and can entirely change its appearance. It also influences which mobs may spawn and affects the behavior of the weather. Biomes may have varying sizes, and each has its own features.

Natural structures[edit | edit source]

The Overworld is able to seamlessly create new areas by using patterns found in the surrounding chunks and extend those into the newly created chunk. These patterns, while unique to each world, can be categorized easily by comparing them to a real-world equivalent, such as cliffs or oceans. While Minecraft is based on landforms found on earth, impossible formations, such as floating islands, can be found throughout the Overworld.

Navigating the Overworld[edit | edit source]

The Overworld can be navigated by use of the position of the sun and the moon, and the movement of the clouds and the stars. All of these rise in the east and go west.

Tools used for navigating the Overworld include the compass and map. The compass points to the world spawn point (sleeping in a bed does not change the compass operation), and the map displays an area around where it was made, and shows an overview at various scales depending on its zoom factor. In the Nether and the End, maps are much less useful.

The F3 key toggles a debug console which shows the player their absolute coordinates, where the X and Z coordinates show longitude and latitude, and the Y coordinate shows height, where Y=63 corresponds to sea level. The 'f' value indicates the direction the player is facing.

Day and night[edit | edit source]

The Overworld is the only dimension with a day/night cycle. During the daytime, the sun acts as a light source. This light is strong enough to kill zombies, and skeletons, make endermen teleport away from the player and also makes spiders neutral. At night time the moon is the only natural light source. However, it provides little light, allowing hostile mobs to spawn.

History[edit | edit source]

In addition to this, as new features get added, they will change Overworld generation.

Infdev
February 27, 2010 The world is infinite. Before this, it wasn't.
Alpha
1.0.0 Build limit increased to 128. Previously the build limit was 64 (32 blocks up from sea level and 32 down).
1.2.0 Biomes added. This changes world generation a lot.
1.2.3 The F3 key toggles a debug console which shows the player their exact coordinates.
Beta
1.3 The option was added for the player to specify the world seed.
1.5 Rain was added.
1.7 An 'f' value was added to the performance screen, indicating the direction the player is facing.
1.8 Players can find the current map seed by pressing F3.
Some biomes were changed, added, or removed.
Animals spawn on world generation, and don't spawn randomly as much.
The Far Lands were "accidentally" fixed.[1]
Official release
1.0.0 Beta 1.9-pre4 The compass needle and the clock will spin randomly within the End and the Nether.
1.2.1 12w07a New maps have a height of 256 thanks to the new Anvil level format.
1.6.1 13w17a Desert biomes do not generate large pools of water anymore
1.7.2 13w36a Cave Generation was tweaked, making caves less dense and interconnected.[2]
New biomes were added and some old biomes were changed.
13w37a An invisible barrier at 30,000,000 blocks was added. This removed the last remnants of the Far Lands.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • If someone made a 1:1 (1 block = 1 meter) scale version of the Earth, its area would be 510,900,000,000,000 blocks. Assuming the map is only one block deep and takes 1 byte/block, we get approximately 475,800 GB, or 464.7 TB. A Moon-sized map would be made of 37,950,000,000,000 blocks and would take 35,340 GB, or 34.52 TB.
  • 921.6 quadrillion (9.216x1017) blocks would fit in a Minecraft world assuming that it spreads from 30,000,000 to -30,000,000.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. a b