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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 on the horizontal plane (except on the Xbox 360 Edition, where terrain generation is limited to 862 by 862 blocks, and the Pocket Edition, where terrain generation is limited to 256 by 256 blocks). However, 30 million blocks away from center, all blocks are "fake blocks", and can not be interacted with, or stood on. This is usually called the end of the world.

The Overworld encompasses the level ceiling down to bedrock and extending in every direction on the horizontal plane. It is generated through a secret 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 appear in the Overworld: Wolves, Bats, Pigs, Sheep, Cows, Mooshrooms, Chickens, Squid, Zombies, Ocelots, Skeletons, Spiders, NPC Villagers, Spider Jockeys, Witches, Endermen, Creepers and Slimes all spawn normally, and Pigs can, very rarely, be hit by lightning, which turns them into Zombie Pigmen. Zombie Pigmen can also spawn near nether portals. Also, if Creepers get hit by lightning, they can turn into Charged Creepers, though this happens very rarely.

Mobs from the Nether may also pass through Nether Portals and enter the Overworld, the Zombie Pigman, the Magma Cube, the Wither Skeleton, and the Blaze (mobs from the overworld can also enter the Nether through a Nether Portal). The Enderdragon however can't enter the overworld because there is no return portal from the End unless the dragon is defeated.

Seeds

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 of the overworld (and the Nether).

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. Players often like to find seeds with other very important generated structures such as Abandoned Mine Shafts (possibly for the melon seeds and cobwebs) and NPC Villages (perhaps for a surplus of wheat, potatoes, and/or carrots). While Strongholds have a minimum distance from the spawn, a seed could also be chosen for a relatively close one. Seeds can also be chosen for useful biomes near the spawn point; notably, a Mushroom Island biome provides a large sanctuary from monsters, even underground. Other particularly useful biomes include Jungle (wood, cats), Desert (sand, open line-of-sight), Taiga (wolves, snow), Swamp (aboveground slimes), and Extreme Hills (emerald ore). Players can find the current map seed by pressing F3 or by entering the /seed command.

Sizes

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

Visual cutoff point of a Minecraft map

While the map is infinite, the number of blocks the player may walk on is limited. The map, counting air as a block, and not counting blocks beyond and at where block physics fail (32,000,000 from the center) from top to bottom, and all in between, is essentially always 2.62144 × 1017 blocks big. The last point a person may still play normally and not fall into the void, which in layman terms the very edge of the map as of 1.2.5 is X/Z: 30,000,000.

Beyond this edge, world generation is significantly simpler. It is interesting to note that if a person installs an x-ray mod, texture pack or just flies through with Creative Mode, he or she will notice that any chunk after the edge consists of just dirt, sand, stone and water with absolutely no vegetation. Caves do generate here, but no ores or structures appear inside, and the lighting in some of these caves may appear to make them look brighter with more contrast. If a person reaches it normally, be sure to notice that the sea floor of the chunks after the edge consists of only dirt. Making it stand out, another point to note is that if a person stands on the very border of the edge the ocean will look empty and 'seemingly' be able to see as though there was no water.

Generation

Generated blocks

Entries marked with a D require additional data to fully define the block in a Beta world. Entries marked with an I have a different ID as an inventory item. Entries marked with a B require additional inventory data to fully define the inventory item. Entries marked with a T have tile entities associated with them to store additional data. Blocks with IDs in red cannot be legitimately obtained in the player's inventory in the game; they can only be obtained by "hacking" (such as the use of Inventory editors) or, in multiplayer using the /give server command. Blocks available only in Creative mode are in blue, and blocks available in Survival mode only with the use of a Silk Touch-enchanted tool are in green.

Naturally generated

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

Icon Dec Hex Block type
00 00 Air
Stone.png 01 01 Stone
Grass.png 02 02 Grass
Dirt.png 03 03 Dirt
Cobblestone.png 04 04 Cobblestone
Bedrock.png 07 07 Bedrock
Water.png 09 09 Water (Stationary) D
Lava.png 11 0B Lava (Stationary) D
Sand.png 12 0C Sand
Gravel.png 13 0D Gravel
Gold Ore.png 14 0E Gold Ore
Iron Ore.png 15 0F Iron Ore
Coal Ore.png 16 10 Coal Ore
Wood.png 17 11 Wood D B
Leaves.png 18 12 Leaves D B
Lapis Lazuli Ore.png 21 15 Lapis Lazuli Ore
Sandstone.png 24 18 Sandstone
Tall Grass.png 31 1F Tall Grass D B
Grid Dead Bush.png 32 20 Dead Bush
Dandelion.png 37 25 Dandelion
Icon Dec Hex Block type
Rose.png 38 26 Rose
Brown Mushroom.png 39 27 Brown Mushroom
Red Mushroom.png 40 28 Red Mushroom
Moss Stone.png 48 30 Moss Stone
Monster Spawner.png 52 34 Monster Spawner T
Diamond Ore.png 56 38 Diamond Ore
Redstone Ore.png 73 49 Redstone Ore
Snow.png 78 4E Snow
Ice.png 79 4F Ice
Cactus.png 81 51 Cactus D
Clay Block.png 82 52 Clay Block
Sugar Canes.png 83 53 Sugar Cane D I
Pumpkin.png 86 56 Pumpkin D
BrownMushroomCap.png 99 63 Huge Brown Mushroom D
RedMushroomCap.png 100 64 Huge Red Mushroom D
Vine.png 106 6A Vines D
Mycelium.png 110 6E Mycelium
Lily Pad.png 111 6F Lily Pad

Naturally created

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 type
00 00 Air
Grass.png 02 02 Grass
Dirt.png 03 03 Dirt
Cobblestone.png 04 04 Cobblestone
Water.png 08 08 Water (Flowing) D
Lava.png 10 0A Lava (Flowing) D
Brown Mushroom.png 39 27 Brown Mushroom
Red Mushroom.png 40 28 Red Mushroom
Icon Dec Hex Block type
Obsidian.png 49 31 Obsidian
Fire.png 51 33 Fire D
Snow.png 78 4E Snow
Ice.png 79 4F Ice
Cactus.png 81 51 Cactus D
Sugar Canes.png 83 53 Sugar Cane D I
Vine.png 106 6A Vines D
Mycelium.png 110 6E Mycelium

Structures

(This section requires updates to 1.3.2)

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

Icon Dec Hex Block type
Cobblestone.png 04 04 Cobblestone
Oak Wood Planks.png 05 05 Wooden Plank
WebBlock.png 30 1E Cobweb
Grid Black Wool.png 35 23 Wool (Black) D B
Stone Slab.png 44 2C Slabs D B
Bookshelf.png 47 2F Bookshelf
Torch.png 50 32 Torch D
Wooden Stairs.png 53 35 Wooden Stairs D
Chest.png 54 36 Chest D T
Crafting Table.png 58 3A Crafting Table
Crops.png 59 3B Seeds D
Farmland.png 60 3C Farmland D
Furnace.png 61 3D Furnace D T
Icon Dec Hex Block type
Wooden Door.png 64 40 Wooden Door D I
Ladders.png 65 41 Ladders D
Rails.png 66 42 Rails D
Cobblestone Stairs.png 67 43 Stone Stairs
Iron Door.png 71 47 Iron Door D I
Wooden Pressure Plate.png 72 48 Wooden Pressure Plate D
Stone Button.png 77 4D Button D
Fence.png 85 55 Fence
Stone.png 97 61 Monster Egg D
Stone Brick.png 98 62 Stone Bricks D B (2)
Iron Bars.png 101 65 Iron Bars
Glass Pane.png 102 66 Glass Pane
Icon Dec Hex Block type
Moss Stone.png 48 30 Moss Stone
End Portal Frame.png 120 78 End Portal Frame

Chunks

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, whatever has been changed will remain changed.

Biomes

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. For example, a forest biome will have large quantities of trees, and a snow biome will have much snow and ice.

Natural structures

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

The Overworld can be navigated by use of the position of the sun and the moon, the movement of the clouds, and the movement of the stars. All of these rise in the east and go west (before version 1.0.0, there was some confusion about the sun's movement).

Tools used for Navigating The Overworld include the Compass and Map. The Compass points to the original 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=64 corresponds to sea level. The 'f' value indicates the direction the player is facing: 1=west, 2=north, 3=east, and 0=south. In version 1.4, the screen also shows your facing direction in degrees, with 90° angles representing the compass points.

Day and night

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. The only mobs that survive and stay hostile in the daylight are creepers and slimes. At night time the moon is the only natural light source. However, it provides little light, allowing hostile mobs to spawn.

Far Lands

Difference between >30,000,000 and <30,000,000.

The Far Lands used to be an area that formed the "edge" of the "infinite" map, but was later removed from a patch on Beta 1.8 due to the change in the terrain generation code. When players made it to the Far Lands, they experienced an excessive amount of lag and the world became severely distorted.

According to Notch, this distortion could be fixed, but since no one was likely to make it to the Far Lands without some form of cheating, he says that he was likely not going to fix it.

Since Beta 1.8, instead of a distorted land, there is a seemingly endless ocean. Normal terrain only starts to generate beyond the actual edges of the world, but block physics do not work at that point and anyone who enters will fall into the Void, unless they are in Creative Mode in which case they can fly through the illusionary terrain.

History

Alpha
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.
1.7 An 'f' value was added to the performance screen, indicating the direction the player is facing.
Beta 1.8 Players can find the current map seed by pressing F3.
1.9pre4 The Compass needle and the Clock will spin randomly within The End and The Nether.
Official release
12w07a New maps have a height of 256 thanks to the new Anvil level format.

Trivia

  • There is a bug that sometimes causes the files for deleted worlds to not be deleted from your hard drive. If a new world is created with the same name, this can cause the game to reuse the old files, and thus, parts of the old map, rather than generate an entirely new map. On Windows, this can be replicated by having the saves folder in .minecraft open when you delete the save in game.
  • If someone made a 1:1 (1 block = 1 meter) scale version of the Earth, the map alone would be 5,630 GB, or over 5 TB.
  • 1,048,576 trillion (1,048,576x1012) blocks would fit in a Minecraft world assuming that it spreads from 32000000 to -32000000.
  • The Overworld has a mass 2.22 * 1026 kilograms.

See also

References