“Look, ma, I’m in Minecraft!” Play Minecraft Earth at a real-world scale… [credit:
Apple / Mojang
Mojang, the Microsoft-owned studio behind Minecraft, used Monday’s WWDC keynote to unveil the world’s first live gameplay look at its next smartphone-exclusive game, Minecraft Earth. This demo also included the firmest tease yet about when series fans will get their hands on the augmented-reality game: “coming this summer to iOS.” This specific tease didn’t include any indication of whether that means the game’s promised Android version will take longer to land as a public beta.
The onstage demo began with two Mojang employees aiming their iOS devices at a table, where a blocky Minecraft game world appeared that both users could simultaneously interact with. By walking around the table and aiming their devices’ cameras, the staffers could use items and weapons, interact with switches, and drop or plant items in their inventories. One staffer also placed her Minecraft-styled avatar into the game world like a doll, which she could then animate by moving her real-world body. iOS’s upcoming ARKit 3.0 appears to support body gestures like hand-waving, and we saw one-handed and two-handed waves in this portion of the demo.
This was followed by a world shift from the top of a table to all around the WWDC stage, which resulted in the Mojang reps appearing as real people inside the blocky, virtual Minecraft Earth world—and having their bodies occluded by virtual content (like when one staffer hid behind a freshly planted bundle of flowers). While the players could walk around the real-world space to reach new parts of the virtual world, they largely relied on aiming their phones’ views to manipulate distant objects or lay down torches.